My child spies reported a mustached guard inquiring about me around town. After meeting with Marilla at the extravagant bath house, I was told I’d be given a “test trial.” Meanwhile, Casper the Foolsbane hears from a priestess at the temple that Ebon once came through Ramsford putting anyone in the town that had worked with the bandit queen Talia to the blade.
To the south, Commander Burell continued driving the caravan to Old Stones. He sends Aden, our best scout, to Ramsford to check up on us and look around for the Mire Knight’s horse. Burell and the caravan reaches Greyhedge, a primarily stone town with lots of masons left over from the construction projects by the Mallister nephew. Many of these people (if not all) now work for Ebon. Ignoring the rumors of a witch, Burell leaves Greyhedge and sets up camp at Old Stones. Flute music greets them, and Burell has a lovely conversation with ‘the witch,’ a youngish eccentric woman named Hazel.
Aaron Deddings arrives by ferry to the well barricaded Eatermead docks. After giving the guards searching them a tongue lashing, Aron meets with Governor Inmain, who explains all of these measures were based on their trouble with Ebon’s men who invaded across the river. Ebon was winning the war, but without explanation they stopped invading. It is also learned that the Kales, a lowborn family and master of arms for the Vypens, deserted during this conflict. Deddings continues his journey to speak with the Vypens in Lydcove.
Casper the Foolsbane, hearing from Aden, finds a horse loosely matching the condition of the Mire Knight’s in the stables. He leaves a message of warning for the Mire Knight with the septon. I pick up a few things to accomplish whatever Marilla’s mystery job might entail, then I meet up with Casper Foolsbane. We share our knowledge, then split up once more. Foolsbane goes on to recruit and arm all the embittered young men of Ramsford: dock boys, cobbler sons, any who will say ‘yes’ for a gold dragon.
“I beg you: please do not ask my son to fight.”
“Let me be honest with you: I am absolutely going to ask your son to fight.”
With this group of armed recruits, Foolsbane marches them South through the evening to meet up with the camp at Old Stones. Once there, Foolsbane learns that Commander Burell had broken off earlier to pursue a man in blue riding west from Greyhedge.
Burell follows this man to where he made camp for the night on the road. He fails to get the jump on the blue man, who escapes and backtracks to Greyhedge. But Burell, not one to be out maneuvered, corners his quarry and brings him down by lance.
Meanwhile, in Lydcove, Aaron Deddings meets with Lord Vypen and his son. The son begins an unwarranted provoking of Deddings. Swords are drawn and it comes to blows, ending only when Deddings follows a parry with a swift punch to the son’s nose. Lord Vypen then explains it was a test, as the last person they met with had no spine. The lord explains that during their war with Ebon, House Blackwood sent aid, but they were unwilling to cross the Blue Fork. Aaron’s group must be the aid requested of House Mallister. He also shares that Ebon is fighting near Fairmarket, having tried to bend them for the past year. Through some convincing, Lord Vypen agrees to militarily support our cause once we’ve rounded up more men and “taken the situation in hand.”
The next morning, Aaron returns by ferry to Ramsford. On a nearby rooftop, Smiley ‘the assassin’ nudges a masked and shirtless Lenny Rivers. Lenny takes careful aim with his longbow and shoots Deddings once through the stomach and again through the chest. He also shoots the accompanying guard, but not before taking an arrow himself. Using a rope to repel down, Lenny outruns Smiley, revealing his true identity to a still standing Deddings and telling him to play dead. Deddings reluctantly goes along with it, taking the mimed stab and performing an admirable death scene. For good measure, Lenny fishhooks some milk of the poppy into his mouth and spills pig blood across his neck. Lenny is then chased away by Aaron’s squire, who momentarily sees Francesco’s face before losing him in a panicked crowd.
Back in Old Stones, Draven is appointed to train the new recruits. Commander Burell rejoins the camp, and he and Casper the Foolsbane make plans for their next target.