"Bring him over here," David barked to the two knights that held Romeo's shoulders. Looking over, I could see the one named Mila nudging Romeo forward.
"What is this?" Romeo asked, digging in with his heels and pushing back against the knights.
"Move," Mila yelled. She pushed Romeo forward. He stumbled, but regained his footing and pushed back again.
"Mr. di Marti can walk without your support," the Sheriff said, walking over and, with a brushing motion of his hand, indicating that the knights should turn him loose. The one called Percy complied, but Mila just stared at the Sheriff. "Please, Mila," Freddie said, smiling, "let him go."
"Do it!" came a loud voice from across the room. Looking over, I saw a small man in a brown tunic enter the room. The tunic was open at his chest with a collar of grey fur and reached down to just below his knees. On his feet he wore boots of animal skin, with fur lining showing at the top. He was short but broad and muscular, with tan skin, black, stringy hair and full cheek bones that gave him an Asian look. Seven others, knights I assumed, walked behind him.
Hearing him, Mila quickly released Romeo and bowed her head. "Forgive me, Lord," she said in a clipped voice. David and Percy bowed their heads also.
"David, what is this?" the Knight Lord, asked.
David raised his eyes from the floor and looked at the small man. "This man," he said, indicating Romeo, "was involved in the treachery of our traitor, Lord. We've brought him here to validate his story and to question him."
"As far as I'm concerned, David, you have yet to establish in what treachery, if any, this man may have participated. Until you do, I expect him to be treated as a free man."
"Sheriff," said the Knight Lord, smiling and walking over to greet the Sheriff, "it is good to see you."
"Always good to see you, Inuichuk," the Sheriff responded. "Thank you for welcoming me."
"You are welcome any time," Inuichuk said. "and I assure you we will respect your rights and your jurisdiction just as you have always respected ours."
"Thank you," said the Sheriff. Then, turning to me, he said, "And have you met Wayne's son, Al? He's only just arrived."
Lord Inuichuk looked at me for a moment, seemingly lost in thought, and then walked over to me. "The old Sheriff's son? Really? He'll be sorry he wasn't here to meet you, and I am sorry for that too, since I sent him away." He reached out as though to shake my hand, but instead he slid his hand up and grasped my forearm just above the wrist. Unsure of what to do, I grasped his forearm as well. This seemed to be correct. He gave my arm a firm squeeze and a shake, which I returned, and then let me go.
"Thank you," I said. "I look forward to seeing him soon I hope."
"And you will," he said. He turned to David. "Tell me what's happening, David."
"Romeo," David said, his tone much more subdued and calm in the presence of his Lord, "please join us over here. I'm sorry I was so angry before. We're just going to talk."
"Am I on trial here?" Romeo asked, still afraid to move.
"It's okay," said the Sheriff. "You'll be treated fairly. I promise."
Romeo stared into the Sheriff's smiling face for a minute and then, sighing in surrender, his walked over and stood beside me.
"We can hear the stories in full later," David said, "but here's what we think we know. Please," he added, looking at Romeo, the African and me, "correct me if I get anything wrong." He turned back to Inuichuk, "The Fate that has our traitor's body came, at length, to Fort Worth, Texas. There he attended occult meetings looking, I would assume, for an accomplice. Once he found Romeo," David indicated Romeo again, "they began some sort of plot that involved a study of piece of Fate-lore called 'The Maker Song.' We don't know yet what this has to do with our traitor's larger plot. The Fate plot involved kidnapping a woman. My shallow understanding of this is that this woman is supposed to know this 'Maker Song,' a fact that is important to the Fate. Agreeing to kidnap the mother, Romeo here submitted to a Fate and arrived here."
"Fates," said Inuichuk, rubbing his chin and staring away at nothing in particular. "We have never had conflict with them before. Why now?"
"We don't know," said Davis, "but there's more, a string of coincidences."
At the word, Inuichuk's stare snapped back to David. "Tell me," he said.
"Simon, my son, was awakened a couple of days ago by a Whim. In the song, it told him about this woman, and about her daughter. It even told him about the Maker Song, indirectly. Following this whim, he found the daughter at her house. The mother was already missing. He brought the daughter here to me, and we discovered a little about the Maker Song. In speaking with a friend with the Greeters, we found the name Romeo di Marti linked to the mother as a cousin, which is a lie. This is a crime, I believe," David said, looking at the Sheriff.
"What is a crime?" the Sheriff asked. "You mean Simon looking into the woman's records? You're right. I'll have him arrested immediately!"
"I was referring to Romeo's listing himself falsely as a cousin," David replied with a wry smile. "But we'll not split hairs."
"Fine by me," the Sheriff said. "Romeo, no more of that, okay?"
"Yes," Romeo said, eyes still wide with worry. "I'm sorry."
"He's sorry," said the Sheriff. "That's enough for me."
"So," David continued, "Simon is now out there looking for this Romeo. In the meantime, the Sheriff here shows up at my place and tells me that Wayne's son, Al here, has arrived while Wayne is still gone. I agree to go and welcome Al. The Sheriff here also tells me where I can find Romeo. So, I go and collect Al and bring him with me to Romeo's place. When we get there, Al goes nuts and attacks Romeo." At this, the Sheriff cocked his eyebrow and looked over at me.
"He killed me," I said in my defense. "Well, I mean, the Fate in his body killed me or whatever."
Inuichuk looked shocked. "No!" he gasped. "You are killed by this man who is working with the traitor? This is no coincidence. We sent your father to find this traitor! How were you killed?"
"What?" I asked. "You sent my father where?"
"Your father, Wayne, is there in Texas, looking for this traitor," Inuichuk pointed at the African in the cell. "This must be why they killed you!"
"That means they know about Wayne," David said. "And now, Simon is out there looking for Romeo."
"Simon is in danger," Inuichuk said.
"Let me go to him!" David pleaded. "Someone has to warn him. Please, Lord!"
Inuichuk stared off again, deep in thought. "Too many coincidences," he whispered. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply in and out several times. Everyone was silent, waiting for him to speak. When he finally opened his eyes, he focused on David. "Who sent the Whim?" he asked.
"We don't know."