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05 January 2007 @ 04:08 pm
19 Flamerule 1372 DR -- Afternoon/Evening  
I swear, I rode halfway to Olostin's Hold before turning back. Pity I couldn't just keep going. But I had things to do, people to see, more false trails to lay.

The roads right around Everlund were pretty crowded with merchants and other travelers leaving and entering the city. All I wanted was to have people report seeing a drow headed south on Evermoor Way, but I didn't think it would take so long for the crowd to thin out. I asked a few of them how far it was to Noanar's Hold, and found a merchant willing to buy my saddle. Told him I needed coin for the road. When the road was finally empty, and I was far enough from the last traveler I passed, I ditched the horse. Besides the fact that it would be more difficult to double back through the forest without leaving a trace if I were riding, the horse wasn't used to me, and it was skittish. I had already given Seledra some gold to replace it (it was her parents', but not a particularly important one), so I took off the rest of its harness, which fit nicely in my pack, gave the creature a slap to send it running off further south, and made my way into the forest without leaving a trace.

I traveled as quickly as I could without leaving a trail, and stayed as close to the road as possible without attracting attention. I made it back to Everlund and into the city via the Upriver Gate without incident by staying in the forest until I knew I was east of the city. I didn't want to go back in the same gate, lest the same guards be there and suspect something.

It was probably late afternoon. For about an hour, I killed time by visiting a few merchants and stopping in a tavern to eat. Truth be told, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do next. I needed to make it look like I left Everlund and headed for Sundabar, but I wasn't sure how to do that as visibly as I did with Dhavra. As it turned out, someone made that decision for me. As I walked out of the shop of a rather pushy weapons dealer, two unfamiliar guards came up to me.

"Are you Corael Sh'aneth?" one asked.

Oh, why not? "Yes. Is something the matter?"

"Please come with us." They didn't tie my hands, but they flanked me in such a way the I knew they wouldn't hesitate to do so if I made the wrong move. They brought me to a small building near the Hall of the Elders, where I was politely shown to a room and locked in.

They left me there for about an hour. Then a different guard, a male half-elf, came and took me to a larger room, inside which were a higher-ranking guard (a female human), Thralia, Tordrin, and another Harper I didn't recognize, a female halfling.

They watched as I was shown to a chair in the center of the room. "Yes, this is the one who came to my room," said Thralia, with an impassive expression on her face. This should be interesting.

"Have I done something wrong?" I asked.

The female guard replied, "A young woman named Dhavra Drii Upoth indicated to our guards and this Harper agent," he nodded toward Tordrin, "that you have been chasing her, with the intent to abduct her. Agent Ma'frejya confirms that last night you broke into her room at the Friendly Dwarf, asking questions about Miss Dhavra."

"I will admit that when I came to Everlund I heard she was here, and yes, I thought to find her in order to earn back my position at her former House, but I assure you my intent was to convince, not to abduct."

Thralia barked a contemptuous laugh. "We know most of your past activities and associations. I find it hard to believe you would simply talk to Miss Dhavra and let her go in peace if she refused to go with you."

"Well, I don't know how Dhavra knew I was here, because I didn't even see her, much less try to make contact. I decided this morning that my contacts in Sundabar would profit me more than a risky return to the Underdark. I have done nothing wrong. It is not illegal to follow someone or to consider doing so. You cannot hold me here."

The other guard spoke. "What about breaking into this lady's room?" He gestured toward Thralia.

"Her window was open, and I entered no further than necessary to speak with her. In fact, I requested and received permission to enter before doing so. I neither threatened her not stole anything from her." The guards looked at Thralia.

"Well, that's true, but only because I knew I had people surrounding the place, not to mention my bodyguard, and I knew I was in no real danger."

The female guard looked at Thralia, irritated. "Well, unfortunately, it means we can't do anything. Technically, she's done nothing illegal; we can't keep her here without reason, and we can't spend time and energy on a crime somebody hasn't committed yet when we have a real, and very serious, crime that was committed this morning."

"Perhaps we can at least have someone offically escort her out of the city?" the unknown Harper offered. "She says she's bound for Sundabar, someone should make sure that's where she's really headed."

The female guard looked uncomfortable. "Well, since she hasn't committed a crime, we really can't even ask her to leave the city."

Tordrin looked thoughtful. "Well, I do think it's best if we make sure Corael leaves the city. Surely there is some small infraction we can make a case for. Disturbing the peace, perhaps?"

"I suppose . . . "

"Wonderful, it's all set then!" Thralia said. "Why don't you see to having the appropriate paperwork drawn up. Rilla, would mind accompanying Corael as far as Lhuvenhead? I'm sure Moongleam Tower can spare you that long, and we want to make sure she doesn't lose her way and 'accidentally' end up on Evermoor Way. I'd send Tordrin, but right now, he must accompany me to my next assignment." The halfling nodded. "Good. We'll arrange some riding dogs for you; I'm sure we have one that's large enough for Miss Sh'aneth."

The two guards turned to leave the room, followed by Thralia. As they did so, Tordrin turned to me and winked.

He's definitely flirting with me.

Thralia returned with the female guard. They discussed a few minor details, and then Rilla, the guard, and I made our way to the Upriver Gate. It was just dusk, and the guards had just finished closing the gate. One was arguing with some folk who wanted out of the city and had arrived a hair too late, and they didn't want to pay the fine. Our escort had a written order to open the gates if necessary; the guards weren't happy about it, especially since they had to let everyone else through, as well, but they had no choice. Naturally, it caused a commotion on both sides of the gate.

The on-duty guards were told not to let me reenter the city on grounds of my having disturbed the peace, and the guard left my name and description at the guardhouse so tomorrow's shifts would be on the alert. We rode out a brisk pace.

Once we were far enough away from the city, Rilla looked up at me. "You realize, of course, that we're not really going as far as Lhuvenhead."

"I hope not, I have a wedding to attend," I replied, as I tried to keep my balance on the huge dog's back.

Rilla laughed.

"Why is Thralia going to so much trouble on my account, anyway?"

"There were an unusual number of drow trying to enter Everlund this morning, and all but one of them was looking for 'Dhavra.' Thralia had promised your mutual friend that she'd help out with a little misdirection to keep them off her path, so we used the information you gave Tordrin this morning. If I'm not mistaken, though, Thralia has a not-insignificant interest in you, as well. As does Tordrin."

"I'm flattered. You said all but one were looking for Dhavra; what about the other one?"

"He wouldn't give a name. They did get him to say he was looking for an Eilestraee follower. He said she expected him, that he was joining her group, but the guardsmen wouldn't let him into the city. He came later than the others, incidentally. Seemed very comfortable in the daylight, much like you." She made sure to sound very casual; I'm sure she was hoping I'd offer some information. He could be from Cormanthor, but he could also be just about anybody. He could even have been telling the truth. There are more followers of the Dark Maiden than most think.

"If we're going to travel together," Rilla continued when I didn't reply, "you may as well tell me your real name."

Yeah, that's about to happen. "Mayurra Aerynrae." Not that she'll have any reason to be suspicious; that is the name I go by among Seledra's friends.

We traveled a bit farther and crossed the river by way of a ferry that, if my suspicions are correct, was only there for today. I looked at Rilla. "How . . ."

"You see, we do know most of 'Corael Sh'aneth's' past activities and associations. We questioned one Nimos Talerlir, and so we knew about Sundabar before we had the town guard apprehend you."

"You Harpers are almost as good as I am," I said jokingly. They're far better, in fact. I could learn a thing or two. Rilla grinned.

"So, why are we riding dogs, instead of horses or ponies?" I asked as the dogs gingerly stepped onto the raft.

"First, I'm a little more comfortable on a dog. More my size. Second, dogs aren't as skittish with strangers, and the agent who followed you this morning saw how much trouble you had controlling your horse." Rilla winked. Gods, I can't do anything anymore. "Third, the dogs are smaller and will leave less trace in the forest than a horse or pony would, so we won't have to slow down. If we travelled by foot, it would probably take us at least a full day, because we couldn't travel that far without stopping to rest several times."

I nodded my understanding as we stepped off the ferry. We then turned to go into Turlang's Wood, and Rilla picked out a path toward Olostin's Hold. With the dogs, we should easily get there by morning.
 
 
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