The emperor observed him for a moment. “Hmmm. Somehow I thought you would appear more impressive. No matter.”
Mandrean began reading aloud from the scroll. “An assassin was dispatched to Valia. When he arrived Linvin had already left. He did, however, learn a great deal about our distinguished guest. After studying with Sedemihcra for a number of years, Linvin joined the Valian Army. He served with distinction and advanced through the ranks at an unprecedented rate. The half-elf Sedemihcra called his Greatest Student Ever became Supreme Commander of the Combined Armies of Valia.
“For years we had sent armaments to the Swamp Goblins in the Southern Marshes in hopes of destabilizing Valia. Despite all our efforts including training their warlords, the man you see before you checked us at every turn with meager resources. At one point the goblins even managed to lay siege to the capital, but Grithinshield dealt them a crushing blow with a minimal force at his command. In all he won over a dozen major battles and earned the honorary title ‘Defender of Valia’. After winning three startling victories to completely crush the largest invasion attempt to date, Grithinshield abandoned his men and resigned his commission.”
Mandrean looked at Linvin in disgust. “You were at the peak of your power and you quit? It says here King Hardurian even offered to adopt you as a son and make you his heir. Even then you refused and asked to be discharged. For a man who is reported to be a genius on the battlefield, you certainly have no grasp of politics.”
Linvin remained silent in his rage, not seeking to indulge the inferior man addressing his character. The twins gazed at Linvin in awe. They’d never fully realized the scope of his accomplishments.
Mandrean continued. “By the way. It says here they just completed your statue when my man left Valia. It depicts you on horseback with a sword in one hand and pointing with the other as though you were giving orders. The statue is on a pedestal in the City Square. The whole thing sounds a little ostentatious for my taste but I suppose some people need their ego stroked more than others. Pity you will never see it.”
Turning his eyes to the scroll once again Mandrean read aloud. “So you left Valia and returned home just prior to my spy’s arrival. With you back in Fraylic there could be no doubt the staff and key were in Grithinshield Manor. Linvin established himself at the head of the Grithinshield commercial empire and entered Society. Even during a gala held at the estate, our agents could not search the grounds thoroughly. We needed someone inside.
“It was about that time Linvin moved out and opened a store in Missandor of Sartan’s Elvin County.
Eventually one of the assassins was hired on to the house staff at Grithinshield Manor where she began looking for the items. Once they were located, it was decided his mother must die so as not to alert anyone of their theft. Without wanting to attract attention, it was decided to slowly poison her so her death would look natural. In the confusion of her demise it would be possible to confiscate the items and bring them to me.
“When she finally passed on, however, the staff and key were gone. Her only visitor since the items were last seen was Anvar Greenlith. After ransacking his home the assassins followed the next logical link in the chain. They paid a visit to Missandor to find Linvin Grithinshield. When they arrived, his tree was unoccupied. Another search ensued and nothing was found. A local elf mentioned they’d left town heading south and so the team did so as well. After finding no other reference to their trek to the south they turned north to the next nearest relative, Caritha Greenlith and her pathetic sons Bander and Rander.
“They’d guessed right. Linvin and Anvar had indeed gone there. They recruited the Greenlith boys and set out for the Territory. My agents once again just missed their query. It was clear from local accounts and the information the team already knew the quartette was searching for the Red Sapphire. Necromancer told me one of the uses of the staff was to lead its owner to the gem. Since I had the prize in my possession it would only be a matter of time before the staff and key were brought to me. I recalled the assassins and alerted everyone between here and Sartan of a bounty on you…alive.”