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Stupid Jenna is Dead

Journal entry for Lt Gwenn, a D&D character.

What a night. I’m exhausted.

After picking up a few accessories for the party, and a wardrobe that would be suitable for “Master Hodor,” we coordinated with Emilien for trouble signals and contingency plans. We determined that Firiel was going to be a solo agent tonight– a choice that may have come close to getting her killed. She approached Madam Felicia Fenton of Fenton’s Rest, who proved to be quite the character, and secured an invitation.

Our own invitation never made it to our hands, so when Tristram, Ordune, and I arrived by carriage, we were a little put out that “Evan Stone” wasn’t on the list of attendees. Jenna Stone, however, was…. I suspect “Evan” should be offended, but Tristram cares very little about the social offenses against an alias we were discarding tonight anyway.

I still cannot imagine how we managed to get through the night with only one person recognizing and confronting any of us.

I’d given each of our party instructions on persons of interest to approach. Ordune was tasked with meeting the dwarven leader of Malparna. Much to his chagrin, he reports that the head of Malparna is a man of extreme abstinence and moderation, valuing industry and education above all things, and having benefited from the church of Ioun when he was a youth. I appreciated the insight– even though Ordune was unable to make the connection, I am confident that this intelligence will serve us well later.

Tristram was given the job of speaking with Lord Tanlin, to try and lure the lordling with financial promises. And the mayor of Mussel Cove, who we do not know. The mayor was missing, and it seems Lord Tanlin has decided to downsize his forces and has found some other means of funding his troops. I look forward to finding out what they are.

Firiel had already performed her task before the party even began, by soliciting Felicia Fenton’s aid. She went further when she accidentally kidnapped the bardic leader, but that’s neither here nor there. Madam Fenton, at least, seems to be sympathetic to our cause. Or at least she finds us entertaining for now.

My job was to contact Vicar Simon and Marco. I started by simply greeting people as I met them, low or highborn, generally mingling. I kept Stupid Jenna in check with only one slip, when I was dancing. For indeed, I danced last night– and it was lovely.

Lord Tanlin asked me to dance first. I was apprehensive– had he recognized me as the courier? But no– as it turns out, he was merely looking for an easy mark of a stupid lesser noble girl. I played Stupid Jenna to the hilt, complete with obvious hints about being marriage-minded, and a nod to my chaperone.

Lord Tanlin, however, was frustrated in his pursuit of an easily-lifted skirt, when Marco swept me off my feet.

Well… not exactly Marco. Not outwardly so, though I cannot imagine who in their right mind would be fooled for more than a few seconds. A handsome, dark-haired, brawny young lordling disappears from his own party, and an unknown blond-haired man of similar height and bearing appears just moments later? Surely, most are not so stupid as to be duped?

As it turns out… most are. I suspect his mother knew, and probably those who know Marco can change his shape in such a manner knew. But my friends did not realize. For a moment, I was myself confused, but that was mainly because he called me by the wrong name.

He called me Genvieve Tremblie. I remember Genvieve. We’re almost the same age. We were… friends. Or what passes for friends in Kindel’s high society. Friend and rivals, a bit, but I was so young, that rivalry was merely a shadow-play. Had we been allowed to grow into womanhood together, I have no doubt we would have been fine friends, once our futures were settled. But Genvieve’s family disappeared shortly before the war began, and of course, I’m officially dead now. I hope she headed north, away from the war. I hope her family saw what was happening and got away. They could have stayed, to be voices of reason, like Rob did, and that would have been a noble and brave path to take. But look where that got Rob.

In any case. We danced, Marco and I. First finishing out the set that Lord Tanlin had begun, then a second, much livelier pavane. I was, at times, literally swept off my feet, but I will admit– I more than held my own. Marco is a good dancer– easily my match, which is high praise. There is one way in which I always distinguished myself in the social world of the parties and balls in Kindel, and that was my ability to dance. If not for Rob and Fariga, I’d probably have never learned other skills. My needlepoint is that of a child, and I’m only a passable singer. But dancing… the only way he could have outpaced me is if he’d unfurled his wings and flown. I think I’d have trouble keeping up with that, though I could fire signal flares into the sky….

And there I go off daydreaming again. It’s better to put these kinds of thoughts away. I am sure it’s only the thought of finally connecting with someone who is not in my crew that makes me reach for him. A lonely orphan’s desperation… nothing more.

And yet, Firiel’s teasing tonight stung. Had my head not been full of stupid dreams, I would probably have realized it for what it was, but… accusations of love are hard to bear, when they strike so close to home.

I am infatuated. Not in love. I do not have to be experienced to know there is a difference, and the proof will be what happens to my feelings when we are parted for a time. This trip to Vilnera will be good for that– a solid job to do, with a clear task we can accomplish. And hopefully a few weeks of time to let the heat in Sava die down a bit.

That can be taken literally, of course.

It would be nice, someday, to depart from a place without smoke lingering in our wake.

Today… was not that day.

But let me backtrack, so I do not lose the thread of all that happened. Firiel, as it turns out, encountered the “mayor” of Mussel Cove, and she drank heartily of the wine he offered her…. much to her detriment. The drink was poisoned, and she was staggered for the duration of the party as a result. The mayor, as it turns out, had been replaced by our old “friend” Olos in disguise. Firiel arranged to meet him and cut him in on part of the silver, after the party. She sent him to the warehouse Emilien was trapping for our contingency plan.

I wonder, would we have not burned Sava if she’d sent him somewhere unrelated? Ah, well– it is too late for that. As I understand it, she was piqued due to having been poisoned by the little rat.

Finally, we come to Vicar Simon.

I wanted so very badly to confront him about Louis. I know that man was hanged to cover up his role in the ambush and prison scam, and I know that the evidence they must have used to convict him was the mark we put on his skin…. but I also know that any justice-minded man, such as I thought the vicar must be, would be willing to listen to reason when one asks how old that tattoo was. In less than 24 hours, the mark had not faded nearly enough to be a remnant from the war. Anyone considering it as evidence should have asked themselves how it got there, and whether Louis’ protestations of innocence (having met the man, I am sure he would not have confessed without duress, and what he confessed would not be welcome words to the church) were perhaps unfeigned.

That is, of course, unless the tattoo was used to merely excuse a fate that was pre-determined, no matter the outcome of questioning him.

These words were in my throat, but when Marco finally convinced Vicar Simon to come speak to me… they died on my lips.

It breaks my heart to see a man so heartbroken. The vicar is a good man who loves a woman who is as convinced of the righteousness of her cause as I am of mine. That she is wrong does not dilute the power of his emotion. Caught up, my heart still beating fast from the intense dancing, could I honestly say he deserved what had happened to him this week? Would Marco grieve for me the way the vicar grieves for the monsignore? Would anyone?

Justice was on my tongue, but mercy silenced it.

I wished him well, and released him. I could not bring myself to speak the accusation. There will be time enough for that later, I suppose. For now, it is enough that her setback will buy us time to get to Vilnera and confront the prison there.

Firiel, too, had the same problem, when she went to speak with him. I only saw her briefly, but she chatted with the vicar while standing behind his wife’s chair.

And then, shortly after, while she was talking with Madam Fenton… the signal light burst above the manor house, lighting up the sky.

The warehouse explosion that followed was perhaps less careful than the kind of distraction I was looking for, and it used up some of our valuable resources in the doing. I hope casualties were minimal– I really did not want Emilien to set Sava on fire.

I lost my shoes, too, which is a shame. They went well with the dress.

We ran. If anyone was looking at Firiel when the signal went off, they would have known she was ours– she looked right at me and Ordune! Poor discipline, but certainly understandable, considering we had no reason to feel that anything had yet gone south for us. I paused briefly to watch for stragglers. I saw the vicar carrying his wife out, to safety, and both Lady Venadi and Marco fleeing towards the garrison. Good– I was glad to see they both have sense to run away from exploding warehouses. Ordune grabbed Firiel to help her out of the gardens, when he noticed how slowly she was moving.

We met at Louis’ abandoned home, and I climbed onto the roof to watch for Emilien while I changed out of my dress and into riding clothes. Having lost part of my wardrobe already, I did not want to risk tearing or damaging this dress. Tonight, I will slice out the stitches holding the Jader family ring and my Harriers badge. I sewed them into my clothes, in case I was caught at the party. I may lie to his face repeatedly, but if I am captured, I want him to know who I really am, before I am hung or decapitated for my folly.

In any case, that did not happen, and the worst of my exposure was Emilien and Ordune seeing me naked while I changed. The underdress lends itself no better to riding than the dress itself, after all.

Firiel had brought Madam Fenton with her, which proved complicated. I had the two of them share Firiel’s horse. When Emilien arrived, we saddled up and fled through the gates. Fortunately, the gate guards had not yet realized that fugitives might be heading out that way.

About Felicia Fenton– her reputation is of a savvy businesswoman, but she’s bigger than life in person. Extremely impulsive– I fear the trust we’ve put on her in telling her who we are, what our mission is, and the dark history of Ilyria. Which we did, upon finally stopping to rest in the woods outside Sava.

We kept our personal secrets– Ordune’s blood-hunt, Firiel’s affliction, the source of Tristram’s power, and my name. There are things we will make known for the public record, but the private secrets we share within our team are our own to keep.

And… Emilien reported that Marco likes tall brunettes, or that’s who he visits at the Gilded Lily. I’d feel better if he sampled more than one, there– perhaps he’s simply sweet on one particular girl (and if so, who am I to be put out by that? I have no claim, as I keep reminding myself!) But…. he likes a tall brunette, and I’ll admit– the revelation gave me hope.

Stupid Jenna, indeed.

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