Wherein a princess becomes an exile in her own land.
Following a night of fire and blood, the Lady Tinshara Balonstead awakens in Lorder’s Grove, overlooking her ancestral home of Ironwall. What has happened is somewhat blurry: there was fighting and shouting, the appearance of a warband clad in scarlet and black and a confusing image of Lord Balonstead, King of Chybisa being led away in chains.
In the early morning, the bells of Ironwall ring out in a Royal Dirge: the King is dead, long live the King. But who is the new king?
Henry, injured as he is, guides Tinshara to his cabin in Lorder’s Grove. He has witnessed the death of his wife Sibyl and daughter Rose and other sights he did not necessarily understand: the Royal Guard set upon by men of Chybisa, a bloody melee and the death of the Guard’s captain, the second son of the King. Now in the morning, his path becomes clearer: a noble game of thrones has led to the death of his wife, one of the many smallfolk who served the kindly King of Chybisa. For some reason, Tinshara was a threat to them and they had attempted to set the small tower where she had sheltered alight. He had rescued her if for no other reason than to thwart those responsible and fled in the night.
At the cabin, he opens his cache and shares out his meagre possessions: some clothes, a hunting bow, a little food and his life savings of eleven silver florins. As this is happening, a call from without alerts him to the presence of Giles Oakstride, one of the foresters of Lorder’s Grove and a friend.
Henry proceeds outside where Giles stands with Godfrey, a verderer of the Chybisa, charged with the hunting of poachers and bandits. The latter has a poor reputation as a manhunter and general thug. Giles presents Henry with the old news of his Sibyl and Rose’s deaths. Honest by nature, Henry attempts to bluff it out and demands some time, following which he will return to Ironwall to see what he must. Godfrey becomes suspicious and probes around for more information. Demanding to search Henry’s cabin, he is surprised the appearance of Tinshara who acts the part of a demure castle servant come to tell Henry of the events of the following night.
Godfrey becomes surly and demanding and Tinshara’s pride gets the better of her. She reveals herself as the daughter of the king and (in an impressive display) demands to know his business. Cowed, Godfrey recoils, saying only that her brother Prince Balesir, soon to be king, has offered five gold talents for the return of any of the Balonstead siblings. They are to be “brought to the axe”, although whether these were Balesir’s words or Godfrey’s surmise left unspoken.
Under a withering flurry of words, Godfrey retreats. Henry bids Giles farewell, and the two set out before Godfrey’s courage returns. Deciding to make for Aldsfell, the home of her uncle (on her mother’s side) they begin the cross country trek. Crossing a stand of heath west of Lorder’s Grove they push on to Aldsfell making it by the early watches of darkness. They note the banner of the Baron is not present on the castle. Henry gets them a room at the River’s End Inn.