RP:Khamsin Household Won't Be Cowed
Part of the Rise of Larket Arc
Summary: Kelovath returns to his home after discovering that he has been framed for the murder of Andurla by Macon. He tells Josleen the latest development in this Larketian drama. The couple resist the urge to despair, for the evidence against Kelovath is quite damning. Josleen must leave the next day for Frostmaw. She will ask Queen Hildegarde to back Kelovath's alibi, and look for a private investigator to dig up dirt on Macon. Meanwhile, Kelovath will touch base with Sabrina and Artia, Larket Councilmembers, to build his case against Macon.
Khamsin House, Northern Outskirts of Larket
Josleen heard his steps on the slate tiled path that led to their side door, which they had both taken to using over the main, double breasted entrance. The side door led to the kitchen. She had been listening for his return, oblivious to the mob that gathered elsewhere in Larket, after having spent the day thinking mostly of her visit to Frostmaw and what could happen there. No fantasy was undeserving of Kelovath’s love and trust, of course, but perhaps a little deserving of his criticism--thoughts just bad enough to have made her feel guilty. She fought back the guilt by focusing on her love, and planned a pleasant evening before she leaves the following dawn for the City of War. She baked minced lamb pie and cakelog, bought wine (more for herself than him, but he too receives the benefits of her intoxication) and bread. She indulged in a glass while preparing the savory smelling meal. The wine relaxed her, made her mind heady, and her body warm. She hid behind the kitchen hutch as he entered and stayed hidden, planned on leaping out behind him as he passed her, a playful jump scare. Boo!
Kelovath kept his head low as he moved through Larket. He’d just left the mob and Macon behind after a sudden outburst. Marcel was able to get the paladin out of that situation and soon after suggested that the man head on home. With a grumble he agreed and off he went. Unfortunately, before getting too far from the angry, rock throwing, mob, Kelovath took a few shots to the head. Nothing serious, but unknown to him and apparently Marcel, the man was bleeding some from the left side of his head. Keeping your head low wasn’t exactly enough when you’re also bleeding from it. A few people, neighbors of course, saw him and started to question, but decided against given his body language. Kelovath picked up his pace a few feet from the house. The side door was chosen and opened in a rush. The smell of food hit his nose and he calmed some, but then Josleen did probably the worst thing ever after what the paladin had experienced less than an hour ago. The scare caused the man to yell in response and lift his arms up like he needed to protect his face, head lowering shortly after. A few steps were taken back as the man peered over his arms and saw Josleen. “What the…?!” He was angry, obviously, shaking his head and heading right for the sink to wash his hands out of habit. Since moving into the house, the paladin has become sort of a germaphobe simply because the sink was there and available.
Josleen had no inkling of Kelovath’s mood and state, and as soon as she jumped out she regretted it. Everything was as it should not be: the blood, the posture, but worst of all, his fierce expression. She took a step away from him reflexively when he yelled, but quickly assessed the situation and followed him to the sink.”Oh no, babe…I’m sorry I didn’t realize...” She rubbed his back comfortingly as he washed his hands. “What happened?”
Kelovath shook his head when she asked. He wasn’t refusing to answer, the man was angry. Before speaking, he finished washing his hands and dried them. An entire 30 second process until the man said something. Which was a sigh, followed by, “Macon.” The super dramatic moment of a person grasping the sink with both hands, lowering their head took place here. “He’s back. In Larket.” Clean knuckles turned white as the paladin tightened his grip, “He’s framing me for the murder of Andurla.” There was much more, but with his emotions running on high, the thought to explain further was lost.
Josleen felt tense throughout the silence. Thirty seconds felt much longer. Her hand stopped smoothing over his back as she considered that perhaps that wasn’t the best thing to do. When he finally spoke, it took her a second to remember who Macon even was. His name finally clicked. “Oh gods… Surely no one will believe him. You’re… well you’re you. Paladin of Arkhen, Lord Kelovath of the Council,” she stressed the title as she pulled out a chair and gestured for him to sit. “Let me take a look at your head, love.”
Kelovath turned and sat down, although what she meant about his head, “Oh…” He whispered, feeling the dried blood with a single finger. The realization of the blood calmed him some as his feelings came to mind. He needed to relax. Allow it all to sink in. “The mob at Lucy’s Crossing seemed to believe him. When I arrived, they all looked at me like…” He tried to lean forward, but Josleen was probably tending to the small cut on his head, so he settled for a sigh. “The High Priest came to the square with a chest! Said that I buried it below the chapel. It was locked but…” His hand rose and grabbed Josleen’s key. “They knew I had this. It unlocked the chest. More of the plague was inside. In a jar…” Whether Josleen was still cleaning up the cut or not, Kelo shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t understand…I didn’t do any of this…” The high priest hurt him more than anything. “How did this even happen…?”
Josleen took a clean cloth from a drawer and dampened the soft cotton in the sink as Kelovath spoke of the mob. She dabbed at the cut and determined he didn’t need stitches. It will heal on his own. She scoffed at the involvement of her key-necklace. “That opens any minor enchantment. That’s hardly proof! Did you say that?” But Kelovath continued, speaking about the priest and his disbelief. She kissed his cut sweetly and stroked his cheek lovingly. “I know you didn’t do this. And most importantly, so does the Council and most common sense people in Larket. That man is wicked, and he will get his. You say he had a jar of the disease in a chest? How can they link that chest to you? Simply because of the key?” She snorted femininely and derisively. “Circumstantial. They have nothing on you. But why would the priest support Macon? I wonder if the priest has been threatened or blackmailed…”
Kelovath shrugged some, doing his best to not lash out at Josleen. It was easy, because it was Jos, but the entire situation boiled his blood. “They have witnesses, I guess? Which…They can’t, ya know? I wasn’t there. I wasn’t even in Larket when the guard and woman were killed. Or when the disease started. The high priest...” It pained him, knowing that someone of such high regard lost their faith in him. His gaze lifted to Josleen, “The key unlocked the chest that I was accused of hiding. The high priest claimed I buried the damn thing.” Anger growing once again. “His word is a powerful thing in Larket. And having it against me is…It’s bad, Jos. All of this. Enough people believe Macon and the ‘evidence’,” The word enunciated more than the rest, “is stacked against me. The council…” His eyes widened as the council came to mind. “Oh no…What if they believe Macon?! What if they think I killed Andurla?!” The paladin was starting to lose it.
As Kelovath continued to lay out the facts, his panic became infectious. She resisted despair, for both their sakes. He was allowed this one moment of panic. One. Because to Josleen, who has suffered more than her fair share of licks, she knows that, yes, it looked really bad for Kelovath--for both of them--but there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, she didn’t know where the exit tunnel was even located in this labyrinthine ploy against her lover, but she trusted an exit existed. She slid a chair before him and sat. His hands she pulled into her lap and his attention she commanded with her cool stare. Although sympathetic and cognizant of the troubles that lay ahead of them, she refused to be unnerved. Not yet anyway. “Listen to me. Your word is also a powerful thing in Larket, too. And besides, you have a strong alibi. Many people saw you at the coronation. Sabrina was there, surely she could vouch for you on the council. Artia saw what Macon did. Queen Hildegarde couch speak on your behalf. I will see her tomorrow. I will make this a priority. It looks bad, but… you have the truth and your innocence on your side.”
Kelovath had completely forgot that Artia saw there with him during Andurla’s murder. He’d also forgotten that Josleen was leaving and that sparked something in his mind. Not a bad spark, but it did cause more concern. During this, he remained silent and thought about how badly he was going to miss her. She wasn’t going away forever and her leaving now was probably for the best. She could talk to Hildegarde while he found Artia. Cover all their bases. But, Jos was still going to be gone. A deep breath inhaled and a few nods of his head. “Okay. Yeah. You’re right.” His eyes stayed on hers. A smile would have be the usual thing to follow, but his mind was distant. “I should find Artia...And Sabrina…Talk to the council, probably.” He continued to nod as he made his list. “Make sure Marcel is close. Stay away from the gathered citizens…” His heart raced as he thought about the crowd at the crossing. So angry. Quick to judge. Even Marcel seemed off, but there was no way to know the real reason behind it all. His body was tense. On edge. A lot of blinking happening as the man tried to mentally prioritize his next few days. “You have to go, huh?” That definitely slipped out, but it was a legitimate question.
Josleen‘s body tensed too. Although she knew logically that her words were true, that the truth would prevail, a seed of fear settled deep in her gut. She stood and circled behind Kelovath to rub his shoulders, knead through the tension. “I need to be there tomorrow. But I can cut the trip short to only one night. I can reschedule everything else if you need me here.” Her kneading hands lowered along his shoulder blades. “Did Macon say where he has been all this time? Maybe we should look into that. Might give us an idea of what he has been up to.”
Kelovath lifted his hand up to hers when she started on his shoulders. It felt good, but her skin on his calmed him more. “No. I...You should get everything done that you need too. Then you won’t have to go back as soon.” He needed her badly, but preferred for longer periods of time than shorter. A small groan when she worked on his shoulder blades. Couldn’t feel her skin, but damn that felt good. “He didn’t say. All of a sudden he came back and he obviously had a plan. It’s working, I think, too.” The feeling of dread returned. Too many unknowns and now there was suddenly a lot to get done to derail the anti-Kelo train. “Everything’s going to be fine…” He whispered, running his fingers through his own hair. It was hard to believe the words, but saying them aloud helped.
Josleen could hear the dread in his voice and it broke her heart. She’d never seen him so scared, not when facing Revan or on a battlefield. He’d dived head first into trouble to rescue her, but this was different. He knew good versus evil, but this social and political game was different. The rules were unclear and although Josleen just said the truth will prevail, she knew this wasn’t always true. Innocent people sometimes wind up behind bars. She shuddered involuntarily at the thought and to keep Kelovath from picking up on her distress she slid her arms over his shoulder and folded them over his chest. Her cheek nuzzled his from behind. “We’ll find a way. I’ll see if I can get someone discreet from Frostmaw to look into Macon’s past, and maybe tail him a little, like a private investigator.” She kissed his cheek then stood up and announced. “I made dinner. Let’s just enjoy it. The world hasn’t ended yet,” she jokes darkly. The ghost of Andurla knocked a fork to the ground. Clearly she didn’t enjoy the joke.
Kelovath held onto Josleen’s arms as she leaned over. His head leaned against hers and nodded in agreement. “Yeah. That’s a good idea.” The man actually laughed some at her joke, but the mood was still sour. And the ghost was not helping as the fork landed on the ground. For the paladin, this was becoming more of an annoyance than a scare. With a sigh, he stood from his chair and pushed it back to its proper place, then picked up the utensil off the ground. “Scary…” He mocked on his way to the sink. The fork was placed there, the paladin found another and put it back in the spot. Ignoring the ghost, Kelovath began preparing for dinner and helped Josleen get the food together. He saw the wine bottle nearby and for a moment, a weakness came over him and he thought about taking a drink. The thought was rushed away, thanks again to the ghost of Andurla, who knocked off the replacement fork to the ground.
Josleen set the table as Kelovath fought wine temptation and ghost. “Say, darling, what is that...wrinkled… thing hung above the fireplace?” Then the second fork dropped. “I’ll see if I can get a two for one special on private investigator and exorcist,” she joked, but then it hit her. She froze in place. “Say, Kelo, what if we held a seance with the ghost? If it -is- Andurla, perhaps she can point to Macon as her murderer?” She grew excited as she poured Kelovath a glass of wine; he needed it.
Kelovath smiled to himself, stifling a laugh as well. “Um. It’s a gift! From Huerig, the merchant. It’s a…Breeding tusk!” Quickly, he brought the conversation back to Macon. “A séance? Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. It’d be some hard evidence against him.” The paladin picked up the fork again and replaced it. He saw the glass was wine being poured for him, but didn’t say anything. Didn’t think of anything either, other than the smell of food was wonderful. He truly couldn’t remember when he’d eaten last and the dinner Josleen prepared was surely going to be delicious. “Smells great, babe.” Finally, a genuine smile.
Josleen shook her head at Kelovath’s declaration that they have a ‘breeding tusk’ hanging on their wall, but can’t help her small, amused smile. “I was afraid you’d say that...Oh, Hureig...” She nodded at the seance plan. “Let’s do it then, when I get back.” She handed him his wine, plated the food, then sat down at the table. Bread, salad, potatoes, lamb pie, and cakelog for dessert, it was quite the spread. She waited for Kelovath to pray over the food as he always does. When he had done so, she lifted her glass of wine and made a toast, “To Macon, may he rot in jail soon.”