They say nobility cling to each other like rats in a storm, but anyone that’s ever been to Silphspire knows that’s not true. Every noble there from Earls to the Prince himself can smell an adventurer like a shark can smell blood in the water and they swarm similarly.
Shaldür Astermeyer had never been to the courts at Silphspire, but he knew how to traverse them like he’d been there for years. Thirty years traveling the lands, bringing Tyr’s blessing and news of the far off kingdoms had earned him many a jaunt through similar palaces, and as such he knew how to handle the place accordingly. What looks told him a noble sought to use his position for political gain, which servants could get him out of sight if he needed just by the way they greeted him, all important skills he’d learned in time.
His companion, Teacher as she was known, was another story. The gasp he heard behind him told him she had stopped to stare at something she found marvelous, again. At the rate they were going, wars would be waged and won before they made their way out of the courtyard.
“My lady, please,” he urged, his voice deep, but not unpleasant as some half-orcs were. “We’re to meet with the Marquee before the Council is summoned, and if we do not hurry, I fear we may not see him at all.”
The gnomish woman shook her head as if rousing herself from a daydream. The book she held aloft snapped shut, and Shaldür spied ink on her fingertips. She had been sketching something, again. “Of course, of course,” she said, exasperated, “I’ve forgotten myself again. So many wonders, my friend, so much to see…”
“And I promise you, my lady,” Shaldür said, walking in step behind her now as she scurried forward, “We may wander around at your leisure the moment our business is done.” He saw her nod, though her mouth hung agape as she walked, her head swiveling this way and that, somewhat like a child at market. A smile crept slowly onto his face. She was inquisitive, and he could not fault her for the wonder with which she saw the world.
The scent of lavender perfume wafted under his nose, and Shaldür’s smile vanished. His gold and silver armor rattled as he came to a stop and turned, scanning the crowd around him. Through the throng of nobles chattering and servants being ushered about, he caught sight of cobalt blue robes, trimmed with silver, and felt his stomach drop.
Teacher turned, realizing that for the first time in some many weeks, she had left him behind. “Shaldür?” she asked, walking back up to him before scanning the crowd for the source of his apparent distress. “What is it? The Marquee?”
“No,” the large half-orc said in a whisper. A bead of sweat rolled down his neck as he caught sight of crimson eyes. “Far worse.” A woman with flowing brown curls emerged from the crowd and made her way toward the pair, striding towards them dressed in waves of silk, and smiling as though she had just heard a bawdy rumor.
“It’s the Marchioness.”