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A Convenient Way to Hide Evidence

Writers: Estelle, Paula
Date Posted: 1st November 2019

Characters: Tasni, Ueltin
Description: Tasni asks Ueltin to help with her investigation of the fires at Emerald Falls
Location: Harper Hall
Date: month 13, day 18 of Turn 9
Notes: Mentioned: Jayala, Corowal

Since the trial of the bandits, Tasni's days had become busier than
she'd expected. While many Southerners still balked at seeking legal
advice from a woman, her name was now known and a small but steady
stream of holders came to her looking for representation or to have
documents drawn up for them. On top of this, she still had to do her
usual work in the archives, practice the gitar more than she liked to
avoid the withering comments of Master Jayala, and to write her reports
- open and secret - to the Masters in the North.

With all this going on, she'd hardly had time to continue her search for
Calenta's husband, the former guard. She felt guilty about it, but in
truth she seemed to have reached a dead end. There was nothing in the
Hold's Records to indicate where he might have gone, or even where he'd
come from or who his family were. He had never been charged with the
arson at the Harper Hall. It seemed as though after the accession of
Lord Corowal, he had simply left Emerald Falls and never been heard from
again. He might be Holdless, or dead.

She had found a good deal of interesting information about fires,
though, and that gave her the idea of talking to Journeyman Ueltin
again. He'd been there when she started her research. Perhaps he'd know
how to get information out of the guards. She was sure one of them must
know something.

Despite the risk of scandalising the Hall, she decided to go and seek
him out in his room. It would be better than talking over dinner, where
anyone could overhear them. She checked that the corridor was empty
before knocking on his door, not wanting to get into trouble with Jayala

Ueltin was strumming his guitar and tuning it. It was brand new, one
he had built to replace the one he had to leave behind.
"Come in," he called.

"It's me." Tasni slipped into the room and closed the door behind her.
"Oh, you have a new gitar!" For a moment, she forgot the problem of the
missing guard as she admired the instrument, which gleamed with varnish.
"How is it to play?"

"Still needs tuning," Ueltin grinned. "It even sounds new. So, what
brings you my room?"

"I've been back to the Hold's archives. You remember the time we went
there before, when I was looking for records of the fire at the Hall?"
She sat down on the end of the bed, deciding to find out if he was
interested - or _too_ interested - before she asked more specific
questions. "I tried looking for other reports of buildings burning down
in Emerald Falls. There have been several. Some where lives were lost.
It's almost like there's a pattern."

"Buildings do burn down," Ueltin said but he frowned thoughtfully.
"Most of the buildings around here are built from stone. That doesn't
burn so easily. Also, unless there's smoke poisoning involved, most
people do get out, ordinary fire doesn't spread _that_ quickly."
Ueltin had travelled a lot and seen his share of fires too.

"Yes, and the two people who died were quite young, and healthy. There
was no reason they couldn't have got out. The records said the man had
been drinking, but there's no healer's report...it seems odd. Then there
was another one that got blamed on a holdless boy who escaped. Very
convenient." Tasni's eyes were bright. She loved a mystery. "Maybe
they're linked. If only we could find the guard who was accused of the
first fire, at the Hall. He might know something."

"Fire is a convenient way to hide evidence," Ueltin said thoughtfully.
"The Hall's fire was no accident, but we weren't able to find evidence
_who_ set it up. If it was this guard of yours, he may not want to be

"Or maybe someone doesn't want him found." Like the Lord Holder, Tasni
thought. If Gilbek was a witness that the former Lord had ordered the
burning of the Hall... "I'm sure one of the guards must have an idea
about where he went. Some of them must have been around at the time, and
known him; they can't all have been brought in by Lord Corowal. But it's
hard to get them to talk about it, especially to a woman."

"That too. Or if I were innocent and framed to be guilty of something
that serious. There's plenty of potential reasons to disappear. Yes, the
guards are more likely try to flirt with you."

Tasni grinned. "I'd be flattered that you think the guards would be
attracted to me, Journeyman, but I suspect we both know some of them
would chase anything in a skirt. It's a problem." She gave him a
speculative look. "Maybe you'd have more luck with them."

"You're asking my help?" Ueltin asked.

"I'm offering you the chance to be part of solving one of the greatest
historical conundrums of Emerald Falls. Your name could be renowned
among Harpers. Not as much as mine, of course. But famous enough." She
leaned closer, giving him her best hopeful, wide-eyed gaze. "Please?"

"Who can resist an offer like that?" Ueltin laughed, fighting with an
urge to just kiss her.

"Thank you! It'll be so helpful. I'll be sure to credit you in the
records," she added, blue eyes sparkling. "I can't wait to hear what you
find out." The best part was, she'd get to see him again to learn what
he'd discovered. He didn't treat her like an oddity or a flitter-brain
like some of the Southern men...and he was very good looking. And, she
thought mischievously, he had his own room. Unlike her, he wouldn't have
to worry about a roommate walking in at the wrong moment.

Last updated on the December 18th 2019

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