Murder at Dinner

He watched, looking mostly unimpressed. Kline was not one for fancy sword play, he was a man to approach most things with the most practical manner possible. A fancy style was nothing when faced with one hundred pike men. In war it was numbers, not some fancy sword play that won the fight.

It was nice to watch.

His eyes were on Kalena, mostly, watching her move. The way her hair would float when she ducked or sidestepped. How her legs would move, and the muscles would flex, catching the briefest glimpses of flesh as she lifted the skirts or twirled, and the hemline raised. She was not in the most practical clothing to fence in, clearly when her skirt tripped her up.

When the boy had hold of her he arched a brow. He had style, something Kline did not bother with. The Baron looked at the clothing he wore. It was fashionable, nothing like he would normally be caught dead in before being a noble. Did she like that, style?

He let the thought go, it was pointless, there were bigger issues at hand.

Yet, it stuck.

He was starting to dislike that Eliza woman, she was a sycophant, and that was something he had grown to hate. She lavished the two with praise, and Kline was happy to be out of her sights for now.

His men exchanged money, Froggy taking it from the other two. Interesting the half infernal would bet on the boy, likely because none of the others would have. Would have been wrong to bet against someone you killed with. Soldiers have a strange sort of brotherhood that was formed almost instantly on the field, you may hate a person but when you locked shields in the wall, you were brothers, or sister, in her case. Those who never experienced it would never understand it.

Eliza approached her and Lafayette. "How are you two so fast? I have never seen anything quite like that. I bet if you two fought side by side you could kill over one hundred men easily. Like in a story book or a bard’s ballet."

Kalena smiled at the noblewoman's admiration, but in the presence of veteran soldiers felt compelled to put a bit of a damper on it. "As Baron Lowson can well attest, this was more stylized dueling than anything else. Useful techniques for the street or home defence perhaps, but certainly not the kind of sword fighting one usually sees on a battlefield."

Kalena looked to Kline and Gularzob with a cheeky smile. "There, gentlemen, you see? I was able to spar well enough, and without suffering so much as a scratch or a tear. Of course, an épée doesn't have a cutting edge or even a sharp point," she said, gesturing to the silver-plated knob on the end of her sword before handing it off to an attending slave.


“You think I was worried, that is cute.” Kline responded. “I was worried for the boy, but it seems he can handle himself.” He noted the blade. “Perhaps next time you will fight with more then children’s toys?” He smiled tauntingly to Kalena and then looked to Gularzob.

The orc had been quiet during the fight, but then, most had except for Eliza. You let the fighters focus, seemed everyone knew that, because all the men there had been in a fight. Gularzob was big, even for an orc, and here he was making armor, for Dalen. He remembered the wars, he spoke with men in the lines who fought with the orcs, and he saw them in battle. He personally saw an orc tear the head off a man in armor, literally rip the head and helmet from the shoulders. In his line of work, he never met an orc who did not fight, so seeing one who was a craftsman was something of a unicorn, a legend.

He stopped one of the slaves, giving them instructions to get Van for the meal. He really hoped the boy did not need another bath.

The house was large, that was not an understatement, and they left the indoor training room walking down a lavish alabaster hallway to the dining hall he suspected. Art lined the hallway noting Kalena’s love of beauty and culture.

His clothing started to feel a little off, either that, or he was feeling the soldier in him starting to get nervous. It was a feeling he would get just before they would call a charge, an itch, like one should be ready to bolt and forget everything. Let instinct take over and let the battle and energy of the men around you take grip on your mind and body and all things fade away but the fight.

Count Chiren entered. He knew the Count, he had served under him in the wars and he was close to the Queen. The Count would make appearances at the war camps, in the war tents, and make like he was a grand general or master mind, and he was clever, Kline had to admit that, but he never took to the field. Mostly he would sit on his horse in fine armor and give what he thought were inspiring speaches. He was there when Kline had been raised, and even fashioned the last name, Lowson, likely as a joke. The Count was not a stranger to him, and he was a bit impressed he would come to dinner with Kalena. He always thought of the Count as a self-serving little so-and-so, and he suspected having Kalena as a friend was in his best interests, likely was for anyone close to the Queen. He and his men all knew the Count.

When he entered Froggy stopped and just stared at the Count. This caught Kline’s attention, but only for a moment as he was thin introduced.
“Please welcome Her Majesty's advisor....Count Chiren Soldor.”

“Your Grace!” Kalena exclaimed, delighted. “You're late, but as they say: 'better late than never'.”

“I planned to arrive earlier Ms. Valade, but sadly work interfered. It seems some nobles are making back door dealings with some unsavory characters as of late. However, by the lovely smell in the air it seems I am just in time for a fabulous dinner. So do tell what did I miss?”

Nobles making backroom deals with unsavoury characters of late? What was this? Had it any possible connection to the attack on Kline? Kalena's gray-green eyes instantly grew intent, her features taut. But then she quickly schooled her face back to a charming mask of warmth and hospitality.

“All in good time, Chiren, but first allow me to introduce a few of my guests.” She gestured elegantly to a rather tall man in a red velvet jacket who came forward. “This is His Excellency Baron Kline Lowson. You likely have drunk some of the fine vintages from his prestigious winery. And this is Lafayette Le Renard, a representative of the world-renowned Dubois Trading Company, and Gularzob Nugbu, whose name you may have heard spoken of around the capital.” Kalena indicated the red-haired foreign man and the towering green orc respectively. “You know Eliza of course,” she finished, lastly nodding to the popular young noblewoman. “As for what you sorely missed out on, the baron showed us a new card game called Ransom. Gular took to the game well and almost cleaned us out. Who would have thought a blacksmith could be such a card shark!” She let out a charming laugh. “And Lafayette and I just enjoyed quite an invigorating fencing match, which worked up my appetite. Come, let us reconvene in the dining hall to partake of the feast my dear and immensely talented cook has prepared for us.”

Kline offered his hand to the Count as well as a small bow. “The Count and I know each other.” He said and smiled. “It has been sometime since we last spoke.”

There was not any space for long chatter as they were led into the dining hall where the food was being laid out. Kline looked at Kalena as he saw the sausages and potatoes. He laughed, the first time he had all night, all day really, he let out a deep rolling laugh.

He sat to eat, and Kalena started to speak to the Count of the attack. “The leader was a former petty officer. Sargent Grigol, I knew him, he was a Dalan regular.” He added as he got his plate filled by one of the slaves serving the food. “He had perhaps a full unit of men, twenty, they all seemed to have some training, not the best, but enough to make them trouble.” He added to the conversation.

The dinner was good, and he could not wait to enjoy it, and to hear the reply of the Count, when a shriek was heard from the guest house.

Kline’s men stood and instantly moved to leave, and Kline half stood before realizing it was likely not proper for a noble to go rushing out like some crazy person. Kalena likely had house people for this. It was when the slave boy he sent out to get Van came running in. “He is dead! Killed!”

Out in the guest house, Van was draped over the chest, left at the foot of the stairs. His body punctured with dagger strikes, not lethal, but the toxins they held were. The slave he was with, taken, if they could not have the chest of gold. There was no sign of the thieves now, the alarm was raised, they needed to leave, and a chest of gold was far to cumbersome to leave with. The boy had protected it with his life.

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