Pierre begins tending to Maurice’s arm, but doesn’t get very far before the door to the chambers flies open and Lord Alexandre enters, followed by a rotund man in robes and two guards. Alexandre, out of breath and in a panic, seems to think that it was Lady Valerie who was dangling from the window. Although he is relieved that it wasn’t her, he is disturbed to find that Sir Henri and his party are still within the castle.
The rotund man, whom Alexandre introduces as Dr. Poitier, talks shop with Pierre while the latter continues to work on Maurice. Sir Henri hints that it was Lady Valerie who brought them to the tower, and more or less says that, if he and his party are discovered by Baron Stephane, that he would prefer to take all the blame for trespassing rather than have any of it fall on her.
Lord Alexandre seems quite fine with this, but is also insistent that the party leave at once, if not sooner. He begins to ramble about how very bad it would be for everyone if Baron Stephane learned that Sir Henri and his friends were not only hanging about the castle, but also a floor down from the scene of the murder in Lord Alexandre’s old chambers.
Pierre announces that, now that Maurice has been tended to, they can freely depart. Sir Henri attempts to give a silver coin to Dr. Poitier for his services, only to have his generosity rebuffed by Lord Alexandre. The baronet informs Sir Henri that Dr. Poitier is the household physician and is paid quite a considerable sum, thank you very much. Dr. Poitier, for his part, is crestfallen.
Moments later, the group is all but thrown out of the castle gates. Night has fallen over the valley, and the group contemplate their next move.
Lurking About Maisy, Part One
Sabina and Andre visit the kitchen to talk to Ines. They find her much more talkative, if still somewhat sharp-tongued. Ines is both grateful and surprised that Baroness Louise did not turn out or execute the kitchen staff in the aftermath of the poisoning. She goes on to say that the baroness wanted everything to be perfect for the dinner party for Constance. Ines thinks that this is in part because the baroness prides herself as a hostess, and in part because she wanted to rub the fact that she was housing Constance in the face of Grandcamp. Ines says that the baroness even came to the kitchen herself to see to the preparation of the meal, which Ines notes was unusual.
Upstairs, Garnier chats with Dame Jeanne. The knight informs him, in clipped terms, that yes, all of the knights have angered the baroness at one time or another, but that those who were at the party had either wronged her most recently or were multiple offenders. She also says that, in the baroness’ opinion, the knights at the party were the weakest of Maisy’s knights.
“But what’s weird,” says Jeanne, “is what she did with their armor.”
|Dame Jeanne of House Maisy|
Garnier prods her on this point, and learns that local custom is to bury all fallen knights with their armor and other equipage. Instead, the baroness buried the knights without any gear at all, and set up their armor in her receiving hall, presumably as some kind of memorial. Dame Jeanne no longer likes going into the receiving hall and finds the display of the armor of her dead compatriots to be especially ghoulish.
Dame Jeanne departs for her own quarters as Sabina and Andre return. The three of them compare notes, decide to let Magnus sleep off his rich meal, and resolve to explore Castle Maisy—first separately, then together. Frieda stays behind to watch over Magnus.
A Return to the Shrine
Outside Castle Grandcamp, Sir Henri notices his two squires are engaged in a rather heated discussion. He butts in to ask what’s going on and is told by Jim that he’s trying to convince Jules to tell “good Sir ‘Enri,” something that he noticed. When pressed, Jules mentions that he is pretty sure that he saw a concealed door in the walls of Lord Alexandre’s old chambers. He quickly adds that he doesn’t know how to open it, or where it goes, but he’s definitely probably sure there is a door there. The group file this information away, hoping that they will be able to re-enter Grandcamp later.
Pierre suggests to Sir Henri that they travel south to Maisy to see how the others are doing. Sir Henri agrees, but says that he would first like to stop at the shrine to speak to Constance.
Constance is first surprised to see the group and is then heartened to learn that Sir Henri and the others are working hard to clear her name. She becomes even more hopeful when she learns, from Sir Henri, that Lady Valerie still likes her and thinks she’s innocent.
Pierre shows Constance the bloodied kerchief, and asks if she ever saw anyone in Grandcamp with a similar one. She admits that she’s never seen anything like that before. Sir Henri, who has been curious about something ever since first becoming embroiled in this mystery, then asks Constance how she escaped both Grandcamp and Maisy.
Constance replies that, when she was imprisoned in the dungeons at Grandcamp, Lady Valerie took pity on her and released her. The young noblewoman also took care to reposition and distract the household guards, so that Constance could leave through the castle gate.
Being imprisoned at Maisy was another matter entirely, and Constance was sure that she was going to be executed once the baroness recovered. However, before that happened, Lady Josephine was able to rise from her sickbed, released Constance, and escorted her down into the lower levels of Maisy. There, she showed Constance the culvert that ran beneath the castle and told her which way to go to escape. Constance admits that Lady Josephine didn’t seem to like her very much and had no real motive to do this.
Confused, and with yet more questions, Sir Henri promises Constance that the company will continue to try and exonerate her. He and his friends then proceed to Maisy.
|All in All, Constance is Still Just Stuck in the Wall|
Lurking Around Maisy, Part Two
Andre prowls around an upper floor walkway that overlooks the courtyard. Seeing a guard, he hides himself and waits. A moment later, Lady Josephine, who has just finished her practice in the yard, happens to pass buy. The guard rather forwardly asks if the lady is all right, as he suspects that she has gotten into another fight with her mother. Lady Josephine upbraids the guard for his overfamiliarity and strides off to her chambers.
Under the pretext of checking on her horse, Hellbitch, Sabina crosses the courtyard to snoop around. She sees the aftermath of Lady Josephine’s training session, including a dagger shoved through a sturdy board. Recalling that the final deathblow to Baronet Arthur had been a dagger blow through his sternum, she begins to grow suspicious.
Between them, Garnier, Andre, and Sabina locate the castle crypts, the reception hall, and the chapel to the Lady. They decide to search the crypts first. They descend the steps and find a lantern hanging on a hook just outside the entrance to the crypts, which they take and light. Upon entering, they find the sarcophagi of the baroness’ ancestors, as well as ten temporary coffins made out of wood. The lids on all the coffins are nailed shut, but Andre easily pries one open with his dagger.
The body within the coffin is seemingly naked and wrapped tightly in a winding sheet. Andre lifts the body and Garnier holds the lamp as Sabina unwinds the sheet to get a look at the corpse. The dead knight beneath is already decaying. He bears awful, claw-like marks on his neck and across his eyes. He is also unnaturally pale and withered, and seems to be devoid of blood.
Andre, who grew up in Kislev and has heard all manner of terrible folk tales, immediately suspects vampires. He begins to relate his opinions to the others, who only become more nervous. Garnier insists that they unwrap the rest of the body and, when they do, he bends to inspect every inch of the dead knight’s flesh. He finds no other wounds or puncture marks other than the injuries on the neck and face, but he realizes that none of these injures would have caused the knight to lose all of his blood.
The group then hears a quiet tread on the stairs leading down to the crypt. They stuff the corpse back into the coffin, push the lid down as best as they are able, and douse the lantern, before hiding in between the sarcophagi. Their alarm is more or less for nothing, as whoever came down the stairs reaches for the lamp, doesn’t find it, and, with a huff, proceeds back up the stairs.
The Reception Hall
Thanking the Lady for their good luck, Garnier, Andre, and Sabina wait a few moments before leaving the crypts and heading up the stairs. Andre and Garnier suspect that whoever nearly entered the crypt will probably come back, and so they both wind up hiding in a too-small alcove to wait for their return. Sabina has had enough of crypts, and says that she will search the receiving hall and return to see how Magnus and Frieda are doing.
Leaving her companions behind, Sabina finds and enters Castle Maisy’s large and ornate reception hall. There, she sees the armor of the ten dead knights standing on pedestals, though the arrangement feels less to Sabina like a memorial and more like trophies. She hesitantly approaches to inspect the armor and finds that most suits have bloodstains on the inside.
She quickly departs for the sleeping quarters.
A “Chance” Meeting
Andre and Garnier do not have to wait long before Lady Josephine comes down the hallway, holding a small lantern. The duo watch from their hiding space as the lady begins to descend into the crypt. At this moment, Andre steps out to confront Lady Josephine, who accuses him and Garnier of snooping. Garnier insists that they were just walking around the castle that they were guests in, and ask what Josephine was doing.
A frosty moment follows and Lady Josephine excuses herself. It is clear to Garnier that she was up to something, but also that she will not tell anyone else that she found Andre and Garnier near the crypts.
Andre and Garnier return to the sleeping quarters.
|Lady Josephine, Caught Wandering at Night|
Sir Henri’s party arrives at Castle Maisy and, after some curt questions from the guards at the gate, are permitted to come inside and rejoin the others in the sleeping quarters. Garnier shoves Magnus awake before leaping back to avoid the knife that Magnus keeps under his pillow.
The company shares what they have learned with one another and discover that there are two hemophiliacs in the same valley. With this new knowledge in mind, Garnier and Magnus decide to re-interview the cook.
Ines is none too pleased to see Magnus again, but agrees to follow the duo into the hallway so that they can converse more privately. Garnier enters into a very intense conversation with Ines, in which he circumspectly remarks that he knows there’s someone else in the valley who suffers from Ines’ condition, and that Ines might want to know that this other person is living happily and well.
This upsets Ines so much that she drags both Garnier and Magnus into a kitchen storeroom to continue the conversation in double private. After some questioning, Ines tells Garnier that her blood condition is a Chaos mutation, which she inherited from her grandfather. Her grandfather worked for a noble several miles away from the valley and, when a young man, was ordered to help clean up an area that had been befouled by Chaos. The close contact caused her grandfather to become afflicted and change, “though not so anyone could see,” and the noble released her grandfather from his service so that he could find another place to settle and live the remainder of his life in peace.
Garnier is now fairly certain that Ines is Valerie’s biological mother, though a later conversation with Sabina creates a new possibility: That Ines was Valerie’s wet nurse, and that she passed her Chaos mutation to Valerie through her milk. In either case, there is a connection between the two noble houses, though the reason for its obfuscation still remains a mystery.
Magnus, having heard about Andre’s talk about vampires, decides to test Ines by “accidentally” opening a sack and spilling several beans on the floor. He asks if Ines needs to count them obsessively to see how many there are. Annoyed, she shoos both men out of the storage room and grabs a broom.
The company reconvenes. Magnus asks if there is a chapel in the castle, as he suspects that vampires would not leave such a place of worship unmarred if they could help it. Sabina, having found the way to the chapel before, leads the group to it.
The chapel is small, peaceful, and properly adorned for the worship of the Lady. While most of the company feel better standing in it, Sir Henri once again feels the strange “attention” he experienced around Guillaumette at the Truce Inn. Renee’s injured arm begins to itch most fearsomely.
A quick search of the chapel reveals a locked door concealed behind one of the room’s thick draperies. Frieda is once again called upon to pick the lock, which she does without difficulty. The entire company produces lanterns and torches before disappearing down the spiral staircase beyond the door.
They soon end up in a small chamber that reeks of a sickly sweet, coppery odor. In the center is a large cauldron, filled nearly to the rim with clotted blood. On the opposite wall, two large, rust-encrusted blades hang on either side of a banner that bears a strange symbol featuring the snarling heads of two wolves. Frieda consults her notebook and tells the company that this is one of the symbols of Khorne, the Chaos God of war, hatred, martial skill, and blood.
|Blood for the Blood God™|