By the time the group had arrived at Silverfell spring’s freshness could be felt on the air. The snows were beginning to melt and the storms were becoming less powerful on the coast. For the entire journey only Roger had wondered whether this was an unusual detour or not.
They were met by Jaker Falstaff on the docks. He wasn’t aware of the other visitors, so he had only arranged for one carriage for the Baron. Despite the inconvenience the group found it interesting to walk to the palace through the city. It was far larger than any place they had ever encountered and the press of people was almost stifling for everyone. Except Pratch. He was running to and fro, chatting and carrying on with everyone.
Once they arrived at the palace they were invited to dinner with the Duke, but were encouraged to bathe first. The members of the party found it very uncomfortable to be handled by the servants like they were, with Roger and Magnus forcibly removing them from their rooms.
At the dinner they met several nobles and a host of toadies whose names could not even be remembered. The Duke seemed quite taken with the boys from Dunhill and engaged them all in conversation. The shrewder observers of the party took note of how things didn’t seem quite right with the whole affair. However, the food was good and the group felt that whatever would come on the morrow, would come.
The next day Roger was invited to duel with the Duke. The foils and masks they used hampered Roger as much as the strange rules, but in just a few short seconds his skill overcame the impediments and he handily scored a series of points that forced the Duke to concede the match.
At that point the Duke asked Roger to join him for a private walk in the garden. Roger reluctantly agreed and joined the Duke. It was then the Duke told him of the history of the royal lines and how the Corwins were actually kings for longer than the Alwins. In fact, it was only through subterfuge and manipulation that the Alwins had obtained the throne upon the death of Geoffrey’s great grandfather. He also revealed that the current king murdered the previous one and usurped the throne from the rightful line of succession.
He pointedly told Roger that there was more money at his disposal than he knew what to do with and should one look out for the ducal interests they would be richly rewarded. Roger seemed to like the thought of having more money than he could know what to do with, so he agreed to ‘look out for the Duke’s interests’ as he said.
During this time Elwin had become engrossed with the palace’s library. He found dozens of books and hundreds of informational manuals to peruse. He was quite like a kid in a candy store, hampered only slightly by Arthur’s completely illiterate ministrations. By the end of the day he had discovered several new spell references and even found a completely magical tome that no one else could see.
Pratch had encountered Roger during this time. He confessed that he had overheard the conversation between the swordmaster and the Duke. After a disagreement as to the Duke’s intentions, Roger suggested Pratch converse with the Duke about his misgivings, sure that the Duke would set the young bard straight.
However, Pratch did not meet with the Duke and wandered into the common room set aside for the Dunhill party’s use. It was there that he laid out the maps to the very palace they were staying in. He was adamant that there was something they need to investigate, but wasn’t very clear on what that might be.
That afternoon they met for lunch and Roger confronted the Duke about what the Duke wanted Roger to do. He assured Roger that he didn’t want Roger to do anything wrong, but rather keep the bad things from happening if he should see them. He also promised to hasten the Baron’s preparations and hurry the departure for Landhaven.
Upon returning to their rooms the group discovered Pratch had disappeared. With a sigh and resignation the group decided to begin looking for him. Trouble was Pratch’s only other companion when they were not there for him.