Journal of Miyara Kyosuke (24)

    We arrived back in Krutzhoffen late in the evening.  By then, the lady was dead, stabbed and her body thrown overboard.  No-one talked about her death or who had killed her.  We were invited to the Red Bull by Benito and Guido, who supplied us with a marvellous dinner and lavished praise and thanks upon us.  The evening just emphasized how much better this inn was than the awful Black Eagle.  I bet people don't die here as often as they do on the other side of the river.
    Quite a crowd had accumulated when Guido announced to all that he was indeed the rightful Duke of Merigliano, apologized for putting everyone at risk, and stated that he needed to move on.  Benito was clearly shaken by this, but as Miyara translated, said he would go with him.  This left open the matter of what was to happen to the Red Bull -- would this miserable village be left without any decent place to stay or eat?
    Later during dinner, the Dorufurikata had a quiet word with Miyara.  She told me he said that they were short handed on watch last night, but that there had been no sign of beastmen for two days.  She convinced him it was in the best interests of everyone to wrap matters up quicky, and to hold the inquest tomorrow.
    Unfortunately we returned to the Black Eagle to sleep.  I don't know why the barbarians insist we live in such a dump when such an obviously better inn exists -- for a while at least, until the owners leave.
    In the morning, Hosei went off to visit the bakery.  Miyara said that he and Pireseri searched the other boat last night, but found nothing.  She never did tell me what happened at the bakery, but did say that Ashu now said that the water smells funny too, as did the locally brewed beer, a very subtle smell.  The wine was fine, however, so we drank that instead.
    The watch captain came by to deliver a message from the Dorufurikata: the inquest would be at 2 pm this afternoon.
    We had, however, other matters to attend to -- Ashu believed we could deliver a message to the druidess by going into the woods, and it certainly seemed worth a try, however strange.
    Before we could get too far, though, we heard a terrible scream from the woods, a woman's voice nearby.  We came across Britt Stultenburg, one of several women in the town who the barbarians among us thought good looking.  This lady was about 19, blond, and kept house for her brothers Willhelm and Erich, laborers.  She had been frightened by the sight of another good looking woman, lying as if thrown into the bushes, bleeding slightly from her neck.
    Aside from the obvious fear, Britt herself seemed to be fine.  As for the other woman, I treated her; she had been struck on the head, and had two small puncture wounds on her next, as if from a vampire   The town of course had stories of vampires in the past, when some angry mob burnt down a mansion said to house such creatures.  I pointed out the marks to Miyara, but other than the blow on the head she was in good health.
    Ashu quickly sniffed around and picked up the tracks.  The woman had been returning to the town down the path and hour ago -- well after dawn -- and was attacked by someone hiding in the undergrowth.  After the attack, this person then retreated back into the woods.  Ashu could not tell us much about the attacker, but if it was a human, it was a small human.
     Miyara then talked to Britt and asked her to take the woman back to the Black Eagle so Rabena could treat her, but the townswoman ran off quickly, saying she would get help.  Ashu wandered off into the woods, no doubt to follow some trail or other.  He would eventually return, admitting he had lost the trail and blaming it on the person being very good at covering his tracks.  The person would have to be a boy or woman, about 5' tall and weighing 100-120 lbs.  The trail just went off into the woods in no particular direction.
    Since the woman had run off, Miyara asked me to follow her, at least back to the inn to fetch Rabena; Omi spoke Nipponese, and so could translate for me to the barbarian herbalist.  I followed the woman back into town, where she fetched her brothers and returned towards the woods.  Since she had completely disobeyed Miyara's instructions, I went to the Black Eagle myself to fetch Rabena; Hosei and Carimera accompanied us back.
    When we arrived, Rabena checked the woman who had been attacked.  The brothers were very distressed at this, and tried to stop her.  Miyara explained to me that as soon as the three townspeople had arrived, the brothers had immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was a vampire that had done this.  No amount of reason from Miyara could get through to the barbarians -- on being told it could not have been a vampire since it was day, they exclaimed "A vampire during the day!" and stepped further back from the poor woman.
    For a moment I forgot myself and suggested to Miyara that the girl could have been bitten before down and hit on the head after, but she pointed out that she had been walking around after dawn.  I apologized profusely.  I have much to be shameful about these days.  Nevertheless, Miyara still translated for me, unworthy as I was of her attention.
    Hosei tried to help by performing a fake blessing on the woman, telling the Stultenburg boys that he had removed the curse and she could safely be carried back to town.  The laborers were amazed, but stopped making stakes and dared approach her at last.
    Rabena pointed out that the woman was his on the head, and whatever made the puncture missed the jugular by about 1/2".  What kind of vampire would hit the victim over the head, and then miss the jugular as well?
    Finally Rabena convinced them of something, obviously, because they picked up the girl to carry her back towards town, and from their manner they would indeed look after her unless she woke up and attacked them.
    We returned to town too, dropping by the Doctor to inform him.  We then went on to the Dorufurikata, where Miyara and Hosei told him what he needed to know.
    The man seemed somewhat overwhelmed by the situation.  This was not helped when Hosei said that Ziggy might not have suicided, but have been killed to bring the legend to the forefront.  He continued to tell the Dorufurikata about Ashu's sense that the bread, water, and beer smelt odd, and that it was influencing people to act strangely.  He presented his case that someone was trying to scare people in the town.
    The Dorufurikata himself, like most of the more socially elevated barbarians in town, obtained his water from collecting rainwater, while those of lower class used streams and even the foul river.  The Black Eagle did get its beer from in town.
    The doctor dropped by briefly and joined in briefly.  I think he was confirming what Miyara had told the Dorufurikata about the vampire attack being fake.
    Soon we left.  Miyara and I (accompanied by Ashu) went back into the woods to try to contact the druidess, as she explained to me.  This time we went to a different place.  Miyara told me to stand quietly and think hard about the druidess.
    Three large blackbirds arrived, and Miyara told me that Ashu welcomed them as messengers.  She went on to tell me that we all had our own messages, and I was to tell my bird that Bastia was dead, and how that came about, and at whose hand.  She would tell her bird the same thing.
    Our birds flew away, and my hands no longer hurt.  I respectfully informed Miyara that I could be more useful to her now, little use as I was, of course.
    Ashu had a longer conversation with his bird, but it too flew away.  All three of us went back into the town for the inquest.
    Back at the inn, Hosei asked me if there was dew on the woman.  There was not, but I also told the monk what Miyara had told me that Ashu had said.  He in return told me that Britt had seen and heard nothing until she found the body.  He also told me that Rabena had treated the woman, but she had seen nothing either but would not believe that it was not a vampire, and remained hysterical until Rabena drugged her to calm her and help her sleep.  Our healer explained to the Stultenburg boys that she was not going to become a vampire, but the barbarians around here do not respond well to reason.
    We went on to the inquest.  On the way, Ashu caught a scent as he passed a water barrel, and called Rabena over.  Miyara told me what the herbalist had found, that the barrel contained springwort.  This herb was a mild stimulant, and caused nervousness and restlessness as a side efffect.  It builds up in the body so the effect accumulates, and there is no known antidote.  Only time will allow it to clear the body.  It ws most likely to be an infusion poured into the barrel, and someone was clearly doing this deliberately.  This was the first time even Ashu had scented it in town, and so the criminal was being very careful.
    There was no time to tell the Dorufurikata of our discovery before the inquest began.
    The inquest of course was conducted in the barbarian tongue, but the attitude and bearing of officials convey their message no matter what language they speak.  Miyara spoke first, and obviously told the complete story.  She was introduced to them as Miyara Miwa, a noble from Nippon, and they seemed to give her the respect she deserved.  In response to various questions, Hosei also spoke, as did Goru.  Doctor In Tesan gave a lengthy speech, probably his report on the cause of death, but it ended with a comment that obviously displeased the Dorufurikata.
    Next to be called was the gamekeeper for the estate, followed by three other people who didn't appear.  Miyara told me that these were all from the estate.  At this, the Dorufurikata became quite agitated, but continued.  Most of the town was here, a hysterical seething mass of nervous people ready to turn into a mob -- under the effects of sprinwort, obviously -- and this hearing had to continue to maintain some semblance of order.  Notable among those not under the effects of the drug were the Dorufurikata himself, the watch captain, and Reefugo.
    Since no-one was here from the Eisenstadt estate, the Dorufurikata opened up the floor to anyone who wanted to speak, noble or even peasant.
    Immediately Benito stood up, speaking dramatically and gloriously, no doubt on our behalf.  He seemed to have quite an effect on the audience, and when he eventually sat down there was a lot of murmured approval from the crowd.
    Next to stand up was Brunhilde.  She sounded like a peasant sounding off in criticism of her betters, but no doubt Sir Theodocius was indeed as bad as she said.  Whatever it was she said, of course I could not understand, but it seemed that the nervous mob was definitely on our side now.
    Joseph Gehrig then stood up, the man who owned a big house at the western end of the town.  Beside him stood a small fairy like Goru but not white all over.  He seemed to be making a speech about morals, and from his significant glances in our direction it was clear that he considered us to be bad examples.
    The crowd became quite restless during this speech, and when he sat down some of them began to stand up belligerently.  The Dorufurikata could see his control over his barbarian subject slipping, and took charge quickly.  He slammed his hammer down and called for order,  He clearly said the inquest was adjourned until he reached his decision, and dismissed the crowd.
    As the crowd dispersed, so did we.  Many of the peasants showed their support crudely as they passed us by; those who had opposed us were the first to leave and slipped out quickly, obviously fearing the wrath of the barbarian mob.  Rabena, Jeison, and Carimera stayed behind to talk to the Dorufurikata, no doubt to explain about the springwort.