Winter in Hieron 11: The Importance of Names

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Background[edit | edit source]

Episode description[edit | edit source]

Associate van der Dawes,

There are actually three distinct sections to the treaty that allows the Golden Lance to operate in Rosemerrow, and I came upon them quite strangely, in three different ways. At first, I received the end of the document, a series of bound pages traded to me in exchange for a collection of measuring spoons. The document did not identify the parties; Presumably this occurred in the introduction, and for this reason I did not know what I had. And then, after several weeks, the introduction came into my possession, slipped between the second and third chapters of a copy of an old law book that smelled of sea salt. That city in the south, the city on the island was mentioned, as were “Lance Nobles,” as was a system of justice and governance that was as fiery as it was sure. Combining the two, it became clear that an agreement had been made. In exchange for their services, the Golden Lance were granted the jurisdiction to operate within the boundaries of Rosemerrow. There was a map. There were ringed circles and careful measurements. It had been signed, and countersigned.

The third part came to me yesterday, and the document was complete. I say “came to me,” but that is a lie, for it had been sitting on my personal bookshelf for a period of two years. I believed it to be a novel. I believed it to be a work of fiction, a fractured procedural, as much a puzzle as a detective story. Paperwork. Folded silk. A woman becoming a flock of birds. The East Wind described at once as a person and a phenomenon. Knives stolen from slaughtermen and sold to tailors.

When I reviewed the untitled work, back at the Archives, as part of my departmental review of literature, I had no idea that I was holding in my hands the final piece of the Lance Charter, Author Unknown. But I was.


This week on Friends at the Table: The Importance of Names

Elgash, my man, how many times do I have to tell you? Just cause something "isn't a novel" doesn't mean that it isn't a novel. The people who wrote these things—treaties, contracts, accords—they're all story tellers, too. What, you think the Golden Lance could've just sent in a piece of parchmant like "Hey, let us come through and do some of that hard justice in Rosemerrow?" There is no—and has never been—any difference between a very good story and a very good argument. Anyway, man, I'll be back from Westshore tomorrow. Lemme get a look at that third part before you file it away, alright? 


Cold open[edit | edit source]

Balion Whythe, Venture Captain of the Withered Root Mercenary Company, has saved the life of Rosemerrow's chancellor, Gilbert Lutz, six times.

First, from the clutches of the western waves, back when the Long Sand still had trees and the two, still children then, found themselves caught in a deadly dare. The second time was metaphorical, yet no less meaningful, as Lutz was fond of saying, when she convinced him to elope with her instead of marrying the cruel but influential patriarch of the Belgrave dynasty. The third time came on the day of Lutz's ascension to the chancellorship, when Whythe uncovered and dismantled a heinous plot from those very same traitorous Belgraves, yet nevertheless, the two were forced to flee Rosemerrow, Lutz beginning his career as the chancellor abroad. The fourth and fifth times came as the duo found every sense of the word romance in those bellicose hills and valleys of Hieron. They were only a couple for those brief years, but there's a life bond that only comes by way of a well-placed shield and a throat stitched closed.

And when Lutz finally returned to the capital to reclaim his seat of power, Balion Whythe saved him one last time. The Belgraves had been devoured from within, their power broken, their network shattered, and yet, they made one last desperate attempt on Lutz's life. The justice she served was anything but desperate. It was calm, even, and complete. Let me be clear: there will be no Belgraves in today's story, or tomorrow's, or the next's. There will be no more Belgraves at all.

Things have gone quiet since then, but still, their story persists. You hear it whispered in the inns at night. Children play their parts in the streets and fields. Balion Whythe has saved the life of Chancellor Gilbert Lutz six times! Six times! Today will be the seventh, the people of Rosemerrow joke on days of torrential rain or devastating heat or, more recently, unpredictable snows. Or an unlifting dark. Today will be the seventh, they say.

And then, at the request of Lutz himself, Balion Whythe was sent away, westward, to intercede on the behalf of an informant and mapmaker. You, Adaire. And they did, stopping a company of Ordennan Anchor before they could trample the village of Old Man's Chin. And it was there, battling on the cliff face side of the Rose River bed, when Balion Whythe felt her old friend and lover slip away. Balion Whythe, Venture Captain of the Withered Root Mercenary Company, has saved the life of Rosemerrow's chancellor, Gilbert Lutz, six times. She will not save it a seventh.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Setup[edit | edit source]

But you don't know any of that. Here is what you know: after leaving the Anchors you stole hidden in the trees, Hella, you and yours, Adaire, Throndir, and Hadrian, left Twinbrook on a bridge repaired by the remaining Ordennan Anchors, arriving to a Rosemerrow shaded in dark yet lit by the activity and chaos of an assassination. Lem, Fero, Ephrim, Fantasmo, you saw the news spread like fire throughout the city: Chancellor Lutz killed in his High House in Roseheart. And in the days that followed, you heard as nearly every district of the city, each just so autonomous and just so eager to earn political capital that they rushed to capture any likely suspect.

Sitting in a balcony at her penthouse at Wistful Peaks, Ariana Sleighton, Lutz's most recent ex, is held under house arrest. It is, people whisper, always the ex, isn't it?

Down on the docks of Crescent Creek, the Water Wardens hold the halfling thief Blake Bromley in a cage. There are times and places when being a notorious criminal is a plus in Rosemerrow. Unfortunately, just blocks from the scene of the crime on the night of the chancellor's murder is neither.

The ambitious mayor of Westshore-upon-Sea is an unlikely candidate for murder, but even in this town of treachery and self-interest there is no one more wormlike, more sallow, than its mayor, Lenny Lenova, held now in custody by his very own police.

There is always one suspect in the wind, isn't there. And this time, it is Iduna Fel, Ordennan firebrand and Justiciar-Captain. There are, people say, two prices on her head, one from the nobles of Knoll Hollow, and another from the Ordennans themselves, whose growing military camp pens in the equally expanding group of refugees who flee from those selfsame Ordennans. The only question about Iduna Fel is, who will find her first?

And then, there is Mother Glory, leader of the gnolls of the Southwood, ascendant of her people. She held off the militias of Flank Fields for as long as she could, but now, she too is held, somewhere, her snarling face burned into the memories of those who saw her dragged down. There are, of course, two other suspects as well, and you all know this, because you hold in your hands a letter and a badge. They call on the old treaties, the sort that would be dismissed if not for Rosemerrow's obsession with contracts, and they deputize you in their names. You eight walk the endless night streets of Rosemerrow as deputies of the Golden Lance. And it is up to you not only to locate the true assassin, but to clear the names of Lance Noble Victoria Solomon and her loyal partner, Dr. Gloria Lake. The only question I have for you is: what do you do?

Persons of interest[edit | edit source]

Cast[edit | edit source]