Investigator Day 1
Flying over the countryside on dragonback was not something that Lillet enjoyed, even now, but when she had to get somewhere in the Kingdom quickly, it was still the best way. And this was one of those situations that required her to move with all possible speed. The advantage of the situation is that it kept her mind off of the dragon that she was astride. When there were issues in the countryside with Sorcery causing murders, it wasn't always the best thing for the Mage Consul to be taking on herself... but the fact that she happened to be in the area helped. Plus, it was something she didn't want to hear secondhand. The murders that were happening in that area of the country were getting more and more common. And most of them had Sorcery involved. This had caused quite a ruckus among the Royal Magicians, and the rumors that had made it to the common people hadn't been helping. Lillet had been involved in too many meetings lately. Now, when the message had come, Lillet jumped at the chance to do some of her own research on what was happening.
Not that the Royal House of Magic was completely pleased with her doing that, but they really didn't have a choice in the matter. With all of the pressure that Lillet had bearing down on her because of the rash of improper magic, she probably would have chosen to respond to the message anyway. Lillet had been lucky enough to be staying in a town with a Royal Magician, and she had burst into the room where Lillet had been staying to tell her that a meeting was going to take place. Communication magic was sometimes hard to wield, but Lillet had proved up to the task. She did feel a little guilty extending her trip without letting Amoretta know beforehand, but she'd make it up to her somehow. She had sent a message, of course, but that didn't stop the guilt. She tried to get her mind more on the task at hand.
The town of Sallah was a relatively small one, and had grown up around a crossroads that connected the country to the west, Albion, the country to the south, Olika, and the main roads and thoroughfares through the Kingdom. The fact that it also seemed to be the dead center of the issues that had been happening in the area... well, Lillet was happy that there was a member of the Royal House of Magic that retired there. She didn't know Ms. Waldorf all that well, but she hoped that this would give her the opportunity to learn about the older woman. There had been quite a few strange happenings in the area surrounding the town, but this was the first time that something like a Sorcery-killing had taken place in the town itself, so far as the Royal House of Magic knew. Maybe Ms. Waldorf knew differently, but that was part of the reason that Lillet was heading to the town herself in the first place.
The town came into view as the dragon spiraled lazily down to land Lillet safely just on the outskirts of the road that cut through the center of town. She could see some of the local guard on the main roads, ready to direct any traffic, and others taking down some temporary fencing that blocked some other places. Lillet's dragon landed with a bump, and Lillet dismounted with practiced ease. She removed the saddle which had her supplies with a smooth motion and laid it on the ground before giving the hand signal that indicated that the dragon was dismissed. He would head off into the mountains to the north to feed on the local wildlife until she summoned him back to her.
Hoisting the saddle, which she maneuvered into a makeshift bag, she started heading down the road into the main area, toward the local Magistrate's office. A man by the name of Rupert Medoc was the Magistrate here, though Lillet remembered that his authority was less about the town and more about the surrounding area of well-traveled roads. Upon her landing, she surmised, a member of the Magistrate's guard must have gone inside the office, because the man that was now coming to meet her could be no one other than the Magistrate.
"There was no need for you to come," he said brusquely, with a hand gesture that meant to brush her to one side. "We have already apprehended the culprits that you were contacted about."
"Have you?" Lillet asked. "That's excellent. I won't have to question everyone about it, just a few people that were involved, then."
"There is no need, the case is closed." The man was insistent on this point.
"I assure you, I do not engage in activities that are not necessary. The office of the Mage Consul has been inter-"
He cut her off. "You tell the Consul that everything around here is under control, and there is no need for -"
Lillet cut him off in turn. "As the Consul, do you believe I would come here if I thought there was any possibility that my office should not be involved?"
This gave the man pause. "Well, ah... of course not... my Lady..." Ah, rank. Most of the time, Lillet hated people deferring to her because of her rank and office, but when it became necessary, she was thankful for its use in her duties.
"Good. If you've already solved the incident that I was called in on, that makes my job here simpler. I'll be out of your hair in a few days, I promise."
"Why did you not arrive with your carriage, my Lady? Or with warning? We would be happy to provide you with the noble's suite, but it is not yet ready..."
"I needed to come with speed, not pomp and circumstance, Magistrate. I imagine my quarters can be made well enough by this evening."
"I will make sure of it," the Magistrate promised, and then with a bow, he headed back into the office and started barking orders. Lillet didn't pay any attention to his barking, instead continuing down the lane towards a small shop that was just off the main road. Astoria's Greens didn't look like much from the outside, but the fact that even it was busy at that time of day was telling. Lillet walked in and placed her pack by the door quietly, trying not to disturb the proprietor as she dealt with a client.
"Well... if the root didn't work, then there's probably something I can do with some Fae help that will increase your chances. I want you to stay on the root regimen until I do, though. It could still work! None of these methods are perfect, after all."
"Thank you, Astoria," the customer said, bowing, though it was obvious that she remained troubled as she left. There remained only one other customer besides Lillet, but as the other customer was browsing the wares kept on one side of the shop, Astoria's eyes went to Lillet.
"Can I help you, young lady?" Lillet noticed that there were bags under her eyes. She probably hadn't slept a wink the previous night.
"You're the one who sent a message to the Royal House of Magic, Ms. Waldorf," Lillet admonished gently. "I'm the one who's supposed to be helping you."
The older woman's eyebrows went up. "That was fast of you. Who might I have the pleasure of meeting? I know you weren't a Royal Magician when I retired..."
"Lillet Blan, at your service."
Somehow, the faded eyebrows went higher, then Astoria Waldorf bowed deeply. "The Mage Consul herself. It is an honor to meet you, my dear. Though it is hard to believe that they promoted one so young into the position, your exploits are quite famous."
"Thank you. I heard that they caught and have arrested the culprits for the murder that you had sent us about?" The remaining customer, realizing that neither woman was paying attention to her, quickly left.
Though she had risen from her bow, Astoria's eyes remained downcast. "Yes, so they say. They were caught in the act of killing my... my apprentice just a day later. They were thrown into jail for the crime, and have been under heavy watch since."
"You doubt that they have the right people, Ms. Waldorf?"
Astoria's eyes came up. "Please, call me Astoria, Consul. I... I have to doubt it, as when they killed my Am... apprentice they used no Sorcery at all, and I know that there was Sorcery involved in Sammy's death."
"Sammy Siliam was the one that died the day before yesterday, if I remember correctly from your message to the Royal House, yes?" Lillet received a nod in confirmation. "Who was the recent victim?"
"Amy... Amy Foster." The older woman took a steadying breath.
"You were close?"
"Yes." The woman could barely choke out the word.
"I'm sorry for your loss, Astoria," Lillet said softly. "I only need one more thing from you: where is it that Sammy was killed?"
"She... she ha - has a garden near the Western road. She was found there."
"Thank you," Lillet said, and she gathered her things from by the door. "I promise that we arrest the culprit for Sammy's murder, and if I must, I will take the murderers of your apprentice to the Capital for proper punishment." She received another bow, and bowed back before leaving the shop.
As the remaining residue of any magical working faded over time, the most important next step was obviously to check out the garden where Sammy had been killed... but Lillet was not hopeful that there would be any residue of the Sorcery there after almost two full days. If the murderer had been smart, the summoning of the creature that had done the actual deed would have been done far away from where the deed took place. But, it was worth a try in any case.
Walking along the street that lead toward the western road, Lillet very nearly ran into a young woman about her own age who came out of the inn. The woman was startled and pushed her spectacles back up her nose. "I'm so terribly sorry!" she said as she flushed. "I really should watch where I'm going, hmm?" she giggled a little bit, then looked directly into Lillet's eyes and froze.
The woman dropped into a deep curtsey as her flush became even more pronounced. "And I nearly flounced into the Mage Consul! I'm so terribly sorry, my Lady...I cannot believe..." she babbled on for a little bit before Lillet brought her up short.
"That's quite alright, Miss..." though a small part of her told her that she should know this name without being prompted.
"S-Silvaner. Gertrude Silvaner." She bobbed another curtsey and, when Lillet made a move to go around her and continue on her way, positively fled down the street away from Lillet. Lillet allowed herself a small chuckle at the antics of village girls before continuing her own way at a much statelier pace.
The garden was a little hard to find, as the trampled flowers and plants looked a lot like the wild bushes and grass that surrounded the small town. Rolling hills of grass and small vegetation were visible in all directions, so long as one of the many buildings that had sprung up around the crossroads weren't in your way. As the garden was located on the outskirts of town, and had apparently been completely trampled and destroyed, it was difficult to determine what was "the garden" and what was just surrounding vegetation. The fallen fence was Lillet's best clue as to what she was looking at.
Once she was sure, Lillet placed her pack to one side and took out some tools, with which she quickly and efficiently drew a rune that she had drawn hundreds of times. Once completed, she charged it with mana, and set about drawing a second rune, which she had drawn many times, but not nearly as many as the first, which she had used in her time at the Silver Star Tower.
The second rune, called the Devil's Tool, allowed Imps to Advent Chaos Sensors. Once the rune was complete and an Imp popped out of the first Hell Gate rune, Lillet ordered the little devil to create the Advent right in the center of the garden. Waiting for the Advent to coalesce completely in the world, Lillet took a better look around at what was kept in the garden. Various fruits, vegetables, and a ton of flowers littered the area, none of which seemed to be in any usable state anymore. It was impossible to determine where exactly the deed had taken place or where the body was found – there was too much that was wrong with the place.
Once the Advent had materialized, Lillet dismissed the imp and frowned as she noticed what the Chaos Sensor was indicating. While it had the faint glow that indicated that Sorcery had been cast sometime in the past few days somewhere within about a mile, it didn't have any better indication. There was no obvious red light shining from the eye-looking contraption in the center to say that there was Sorcery being cast now, or a purple glow from around the eye to indicate that Sorcery had been cast within thirty feet from the Advent in the last day or two (all, of course, ignoring Lillet's own).
No hints – It was nothing that Lillet didn't already know. There was a Sorcerer that practiced around here, but that didn't necessarily mean anything criminal. Sure, the uses for Sorcery were often only defensible by the self-defense argument... but it couldn't just be assumed. So the magic had, essentially, been a worthless exercise. Lillet dismissed the Advent and the runes, taking some of the spent mana back. She'd have to find out if there were any significant mana sources nearby, just in case.
Unable to think of another good place to attempt the use of the Chaos Sensors, Lillet collected her pack together and headed back across town to the Magistrate's Office. While she didn't have any run-ins like with Miss Silvaner, she did notice that the townsfolk that she passed were somewhat wary of her. Just because they hadn't seen her before, or because they knew who she was? It didn't matter too much which it was, but Lillet was curious.
The Magistrate's Guards let her into the office, but directed her to wait in an outer room for the Magistrate to call her. Lillet took the opportunity to go over in her head what she knew about the case. One, Astoria would not have notified the Royal House of Magic if she did not truly believe that Sorcery were involved in the case. Two, there had indeed been Sorcery cast in the area relatively recently. Three, the Magistrate believed that he had caught the culprits and was holding them in the cells below. Hopefully in a place small enough that there was no chance of drawing a rune... or in a place that was properly warded against Rune drawing. Probably not, which was all the more reason for Lillet to take a look. Also... something didn't quite add up with the Magistrate's actions. Lillet had a bad feeling about all of it.
After a good half-hour of waiting, Lillet started to think that the Magistrate was trying to stonewall her. Not the smartest option for him, considering that Lillet could easily remove him from his position once she returned to the Capital and her normal day-to-day duties. Just as she made the decision to stand and go downstairs herself, the Magistrate burst into the room from the outside. "Consul Blan. I apologize for keeping you waiting, but I was making sure that the inn could handle your needs. They are ready for you now."
"I wanted to speak to you, Magistrate."
"I don't know what I can do for you, other than tell you that we caught them in the act of another killing yesterday, and they were using magic to do it. The case has been satisfied to my specifications, though I'm still trying to get them to confess to the murder two days ago. I think we're all set here, and there's no need for you to burden yourself with these issues."
"I want to see them," Lillet said.
"Absolutely not," was the response.
"Perhaps you misunderstood me. I will see them."
"It is my authority to control the access to any prisoners I have that I suspect of any crime. I cannot let you possibly endanger our efforts to prove them guilty of their crimes. You may not see them."
"I am the Mage Consul," Lillet said, bringing her authority into it, even though she hated to. "My authority is over all magic-related matters in the Kingdom..."
"This case is completely under control, and there's no need-"
"I must insist, Consul."
Lillet fixed her best singular glare on the Magistrate. "If you believe that having the rest of the day will help your investigation, fine. But do realize that I am the final authority in this case, excepting only Her Majesty. If I believe that you're stonewalling, I can get you hauled in front of Her Majesty for treason." To a guilty satisfaction of Lillet's the Magistrate blanched. "I don't want to have to do that, and I agree that you need to have the freedom to do your job, but I also must have mine. I don't need to speak to them today, necessarily, but I do need to by tomorrow. When I come back tomorrow, I expect to have access to the prisoners, no matter the state of your investigation. I will attempt to not hinder you, but I will speak to them. Am I clear?"
The Magistrate chewed on his lip a little bit while he thought about his response. "We will clearly talk tomorrow, then," he said finally. Lillet thought that he was being very thick about the situation that he was in, but decided that if she was going to have to usurp his authority, then she would do it all tomorrow, and take no half-measures to that end today.
"So we will," Lillet said after a short pause, mostly to let him stew a bit on her possible reactions. "My room is ready?"
"Yes, my Lady."
"Then I will retire for now. I expect to see you tomorrow afternoon, Magistrate. I also expect that your prisoners will be able to talk to me."
"I'll have one of my guards take you to the inn." A ray of the setting sun came through the door when the Magistrate opened it to speak to his guards. Lillet hoped that tomorrow she wouldn't feel like today had been such a waste.