Chapter 28: An Uneventful Arrest
Strong wind, swirling leaves.
A pattern without pattern.
Like reading tea leaves.
~ Miyara Miwa
Expecting trouble from Gerig and his faerie Sutami, all of us prepared ourselves to make the arrest. Our war-like appearance alarmed the village leader, who asked us to please arrest him only. He allowed that we could fight in our own defense, but implored us not to kill him if we could help it. I agreed for us all, and we walked in a group to Gerig's house, accompanied by both the village leader and the watch captain.
Res Li opened the gate in the wall, which swung with a rather ominous and surprising creak, which I did not remember from our previous visits. However, all within was quiet. Res Li peered through the door reported there was nothing of significance inside. Hosei knocked on the door with his cane, also speaking loudly, "We need to speak to Gerig." There was no response, nor was there one his second try. Res Li opened the door, which again creaked, surprisingly.
Gerig appeared around the corner as Ash and Jeisan entered, Jeisan calling out, "Anyone here?" Gerig said, "Excuse me," and Jeisan escorted him outside. He seemed somewhat perturbed at being marched out of his own house to be confronted with us, but he did not resist. Jeisan reported that he appeared to be unarmed and unarmored.
The White Faerie asked about Sutami, who Gerig said was out running errands. He claimed not to know where his own servant was or what he was doing, which I did not believe.
Jeisan escorted him before the village leader, who told him, "I arrest you in the name of the Duchess of Nulun for the murder of, " and he listed everybody who had died recently, added necromancy, conspiracy, and a bunch of other things I did not understand.
Gerig was shocked, and he spoke as a friend to the village leader, asking where these accusations came from. He insisted it was all a terrible mistake, he had no idea what the village leader was talking about, and was completely unacquainted with the two in jail. He agreed to accompany the village leader to the jailhouse to "work things out."
Ash, the White Faerie and Res Li wanted to stay at the house to search it and wait for Sutami to reappear. I set the White Faerie to watch the front door, Ash the side door, and I told Kyosuke to stay and watch the back door. Res Li and I walked around the perimeter, inspecting things carefully, then we searched inside the house. We found no person and no manbane. We did find a shed full of springwort, a safe full of cash and papers, and several lockboxes holding papers. Res Li was able to read the papers through the walls of the lockboxes and said they were contracts and ledgers involving purchasing and leasing buildings and lands all across the Empire.
Jeisan has returned after escorting Gerig, so he, the White Faerie, Kyosuke, and Ash stayed at the house to watch it overnight. I ensured Kyosuke knew he was waiting for Sutami and Martin. Hosei and I took the lockboxes, unopened, to the village leader as evidence. We also informed the village leader of the safe and the springwort.
Hosei returned to the inn and sent Sun over with some food, and also to ask the village leader to come to the inn for a "town meeting" to pass along the real news to everyone. He said he would have to send word out that it was safe to travel through here again: no traffic had come into town since the mass exodus.
We ate and traded watches around to combat fatigue. The night passed quietly, with no unrest in the jail and neither Sutami nor Martin making an appearance. The doctor returned during the night, and came to the jail to ask if someone had broken into his house. The village leader calmed him down, which was made easier by the fact that we had not actually removed anything. The doctor looked at the prisoners' conditions, with Ravena glued to him to prevent him from doing anything. He wandered back home, apparently satisfied.
Ravena, Caramela, Tasuke, the watch captain, Res Li, and Sun stayed at the jail. The woman was still unconscious, and the illusionist was recovering from his wounds at a natural pace. We locked up Gerig's house and the rest of us went out to search for the missing conspirators. Ash picked up a scent of Sutami, and we followed him.
The trail headed east, and Ash said it was about a day old. At a travel pace, it will take us at least a week to catch up, but I thought he probably went a distance out of town and then holed up somewhere so he could return later. After about five hours, Jeisan and Hosei wanted to return to the town. They did so, and Ash, the White Faerie, Kyosuke, and I continued following the trail until we camped for the evening.