The White Badge of Deceit; Chapter 14

When the sun came up, it found Debreken in a state of martial law. Gates remained sealed as soldiers and Karcher’s men went door-to-door through all of the city searching for any trace of the mysterious elf. They spent all day searching, and didn’t find one trace of the fellow who called himself Taimblore.

They did, however, find the men that had been sent after him when he had first fled the palace. One was floating in the river, his body wedged against the gate in the water. The other body was found in the back of a butcher shop up on the north side. Riders were sent to Hessra to confirm rumors that the elf was from there as several people had reported. Yvonne determined that a teleport spell had been used, a very short-range spell, so the elf could not have exited the city with it. In fact he had to be in the city when the searches started last night. But nobody had seen any sign of him. The only other thing out of the ordinary was a stable hand on the far western side of town had been found murdered.

Karcher rounded up every common criminal he could get his hands on, and was trying his best to get information out of them, but to no avail. The entire city had been tossed upside down and not one elf could be found that didn’t belong there. Yvonne had no choice but to admit he had gotten away. And this put her in a very awkward place.

Her fiancé, Archduke Klarence Balderisch von Hersterrn, had been informed that the meetings with Romillia had been infiltrated and the notes from the meetings purloined by an unknown power. The Archduke was furious, and was on his way to take over matters himself. Karcher had enjoyed this turn of events, and had mockingly patted Yvonne on the hand and told her “Looks like you have to give the ring back, Ms. Faustenburg.” And then he had laughed, a cold chilling laugh that made her shiver.

It was another two days before anyone thought to check the one place they hadn’t been allowed to check. The cathedral. Yvonne secured permission from the Archbishop to examine the sanctuary. After an exhaustive search, she finally located the sigil that the elf had placed on the wall under the belfry. That led to the realization that this was where he had teleported to. She continued scrying and found that a magical gate had been opened here. With a hesitant tone, she informed Karcher that they now knew the elf and the notes were long gone. Although the magic at Yvonne’s disposal allowed her scrying spells to pry into every corner of the city, there were barriers within the sacred confines of the cathedral; therefore, the elf had avoided detection. The riders that had ridden to Hessra reported back that the mysterious elf was indeed from that village, or at least according to some of the people there they had talked to. They seemed bewildered that he would have been caught up in espionage; all who knew him there claimed it was completely out of character for him.

Karcher didn’t have Yvonne imprisoned, but he should have. He was reluctant to cross her even now that she seemed to be a waning star in the political machine that ran Geldenreich. She was, after all, still engaged to marry Karcher’s direct superior; and she was a far more dangerous sorceress than he was a warrior. Even after they stopped the search for the long-gone elf, Karcher was content to keep a wary eye on Yvonne Faustenburg. He should have kept both eyes on her because two days after that, Yvonne vanished too. When the Archduke arrived to hold her accountable for the security breach, nobody could find her. While this infuriated von Hersterrn, it delighted Karcher. His problem had gone away, and he could now return to running his security duties in the province.

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