An Applewood Gallows; Chapter 10

Before going to grab a few essential items, Oskar and Hilde made a detour to Army High Command. Belynda went with Trangdor to the inn to get ready, and Rackerby and Dellila were similarly tasked. But for the two siblings, they had an important arrangement to make.

Oskar led the way to the Inspector General’s offices, but when they got there, it was Hilde who took over. She marched right up to Lieutenant Kinchler’s work area and cleared her throat. Cairn looked up, as did the female orc who was just laying out the transcripts from Deckler’s interrogation.

Hilde said, her voice wavering ever so slightly, “My brother and I are leaving for Vorkelvale tonight. How long might it take you to be ready to leave, and take my father into custody?”

Cairn looked at the woman in front of her and stood from her chair. “I have two options, Shar Eigenblade.” She replied, her voice calm and smooth as any elven tone should be. “Given the high-profile of this situation, I should either proceed cautiously, in which case I might not be able to leave for some time. Or, because of the political firestorm that this may very well create, I might have to strike very quickly, and have the garrison at Vorkelburg take your father into custody before he knows enough to flee the country. I am aware that his home is mere inches away from the Dolonau River, and once across it, I can’t easily arrest him. But, he is also quite old, and I doubt that he is much of a flight risk.” Cairn set her hand on her waist, and cocked her head to one side as she asked Hilde, “Which option should I take, Shar Eigenblade?”

Oskar placed his hand soothingly on Hilde’s back, and his sister answered the shadow elf with, “In three days, move quickly. I’ll make sure he puts up no fight, if I have to shackle him myself.”

“Very well.” Replied the Lieutenant. “I will draw up the papers for our judicial inquiry into Major Deckler’s role in all of this, and then turn my attention to your father. I am sworn to relay no information to anyone except my superiors, so any word leaking out rests entirely on whoever else was in Selkirk’s Cellar this evening. I will treat anyone as an accomplice to the murder of Major Hossler should they allow your father to escape arrest, either intentionally or by mistake.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Said Hilde. “This measure of discretion means a great deal to me.”

Cairn stood at attention and bowed ever so slightly. “I can afford to be generous, Shar Eigenblade. Being the point officer in the arrest of the former Governor-General of Romilmark will make a splash around here, whatever the consequences for your father end up being. You chose a good lawyer for his defense. You best make sure that his only defenses are legal in nature.”

Oskar smiled grimly at the shadow elf, and whispered, “Thank you, Cairn.” Then, he and his sister left and hurried to their respective abodes to get ready for their trip to Vorkelvale.

Belynda had already grabbed the necessities for the trip, and Trangdor helped carry the baggage to Rackerby’s office. In front of the office building, there was a magnificent dark-green coach with silver trim, being pulled by four horses. In addition to the driver, there were three other footmen, heavily armed and wearing matching armor with the von Slothjem family crest. Dellila was in front of the building too and directed the footmen to load Hilde and Belynda’s luggage. Trangdor gave Belynda a long hug, and then Hilde. “You two be careful.” He said quietly.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come along?” asked Belynda hopefully.

The dwarf shook his head. “No, there isn’t anything for me there, only sorrow. I prefer to remember the Governor-General as I do.”

Hilde squeezed Trangdor hard, and whispered, “Send along your prayers.”

“Always and forever.” Whispered Trangdor in reply.

As the ladies climbed into the carriage, Oskar came strolling up, a satchel in his hand. He had changed uniforms and announced that he had left his cat in the care of a neighbor. Hilde giggled that this information was deemed vital enough to share. He handed the satchel to one of the footmen and climbed up into the carriage. He and his sister sat facing the rear of the carriage, with Belynda between them. Belynda, of course, had brought Cinder along, and the rat lay stretched out across her shoulders like a living stole.

Dellila waited outside of the carriage until Rackerby came out of the building and handed her a briefcase. In his other hand was a small trunk, and a footman took it and loaded it onto the carriage. Helping Dellila into the carriage, Rackerby then climbed aboard, too. He was sitting across from Oskar, and the two men shook hands.

“Polk has arranged for a change of horses along the way. I thought it best to travel as quickly as possible, and with minimal delays.” Rackerby said. “The Judicial Corps may move swiftly or cautiously, and whichever they choose to do, your father needs to be ready.”

Oskar chuckled. “Cairn gave us a head start.” He said with a smile. “Hilde asked for three days.”

Rackerby raised an eyebrow and grinned slyly at Hilde. “Clever girl.” He said. “We should have ample time, then, to prepare your father for what is about to happen.”

Hilde scoffed, and in a somewhat mocking tone, replied, “And who is going to prepare us?”

The footmen climbed up into their seats, and bundled up against the elements, they shouted to one another the all clear signals for their posts. The driver called out to the horses, and with a hefty jolt, the carriage was on its way. It was cold out, and winter was making her presence known in the air. The people in the streets made way for the magnificent coach as it clattered down the streets, and out through the city gate. Down towards Slothenburg it rolled, its magical lanterns dancing as the coach swayed and rocked to the ruts and bumps in the roadway. The footmen sang songs as the coach careened through the huge city of Slothenburg itself, and before long the carriage was rolling out of the city and down the causeway towards Four Corners.

Not long after getting clear of Slothenburg, Hilde and Belynda fell asleep, lulled by the movements of the coach. Dellila snuggled into a heavy fur blanket, and soon she, too, was asleep. Oskar was lost in thought for quite a while, and he was jarred back to reality when he noticed Rackerby eyeing his sister, a smile on his jorish features.

“Do you have an interest in my little sister?” asked Oskar, his voice louder than he intended, but the singing of the footmen prevented any of the women in the coach from stirring at his inquiry.

Rackerby hadn’t realized that he was staring at Hilde, and the question surprised him. He smiled awkwardly, and said sheepishly, “Not in the sense you are suggesting, no. But she does appeal to the romantic aspects of life, doesn’t she?”

Oskar smiled, and said, “I hadn’t ever thought about it. But now that you make mention of it, I suppose she does.” He looked at his sleeping sister, and then back at Rackerby. “I was already away from home and in the army when she was born. This is the most time we have spent together since my father’s last wedding. Other than the occasional letter, we don’t communicate all that much.”

Rackerby smiled and nodded his head. “She struck me when I met her as the kind of girl my father, at least in theory, would want me to marry. Honorable, headstrong, adventurous, and delightful. Not to mention tougher than a troll, and more intelligent than most anyone else I know. She is a force, your sister. I’d be afraid of being swallowed up and overshadowed by her grandeur.”

Oskar stifled a laugh but couldn’t help snorting his amusement at this assessment. “Father always said he could count on her to do the right thing. That is why he took her to Romilmark. He didn’t estimate just how great a force she is, did he?”

“The irony is delicious.” Said Rackerby, with a grin. And then, with more of a somber tone, he added, “We only hope that she comes through this ordeal stronger for the experience, and not diminished.”

A thoughtful look passed across Oskar’s face as he contemplated this. His duty now was to support his sister as she did what she felt she had to do. He would not let her down. She was not the only one in the family that would do the right thing, although up until this point, he had been content to be oblivious. Hilde’s boldness in virtue had awakened him. He would always be thankful for that and strive to be more diligent and proactive in the future. He looked back over at her slumbering form, leaned against the wall of the coach. She was a force, indeed.

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