King Blackthorn paced back and forth through the bar in his castle, wondering how such a travesty could have happened. On the bar in front of him were a few bottles of wine that had been poisoned; the same wine that almost took the lives of everyone in attendance at the previous Governor Meeting.
“Well, I don’t think it could have been the goblins… do you?” Inquired King Blackthorn as he took a seat on a stool in front of the bar.
“They have been at odds with you in recent months. They even broke in here before and stole a spear from your collection of artifacts… I wouldn’t rule them out just yet.” Replied Vladimir the Ranger.
King Blackthorn sat at the bar, and rested his chin on his fist as he pondered who could have snuck into the castle, and poisoned his supply of wine. He then continued:
“I do not believe it was intended for a specific target… Why poison several bottles of wine if only one person was to be assassinated? No, I think whomever did this was waiting for the right moment to strike, and take out as much of the city leadership that they could!”
Vladimir sat and thought for a few moments about what the King had just said, and nodded in acceptance.
“What of the Governors themselves? Do you think one of them could be capable of something like this?” Inquired Vladimir.
“Highly unlikely. If one of the governors in attendance poisoned the wine, they also drank from the bottle. Now if one of them was hesitant to take a drink, we may have a suspect… But all of them drank the wine.” Replied Blackthorn.
Vladimir sighed as he pondered other possible suspects and motives for the poisoned wine. He then inquired:
“What of your servants? Do you think one of them could be responsible? Perhaps not one who wanted the Governors dead, but the one to taint the wine?”
“That could be a possibility. We should interrogate the servants who were here that night, and see if they can give us any useful information… Maybe they saw something as well.” Replied Blackthorn.
Vladimir looked down at the parchment in front of him that he was taking investigation notes on, and scratched off a few possibilities with his quill. He then stood up, walked to the doorway and then turned around to inspect the interior of the bar.
“What I don’t understand, is how someone could just walk in here, poison several bottles of your wine, and escape without being detected. Surely the servants or guards had to see someone!” Said Vladimir.
King Blackthorn shook his head, and replied:
“I do not know Vlad. We are living in very troubled times. There are many enemies of the Kingdom, and they all have their reasons for trying to kill the Governors, and myself. I can only hope that your investigation will turn up the party responsible.”
Vladimir nodded, and looked down at one of the poisoned bottles of wine. He picked it up, and shook it ever so slightly so the wine contained inside swirled around. His gaze was taken by the label on the front of the wine; it appeared to be peeling back, covering another label. He then set the bottle down, and carefully peeled the top label off, to reveal the true brand of wine.
“Your majesty, Look!” Exclaimed Vladimir as he held the bottle up for King Blackthorn to see. The King inspected one of the poisoned wine bottles next to him, and it also contained a counterfeit label masking the real brand of wine.
“By the Virtues!” Exclaimed Blackthorn.
“Do you know what this means?” Inquired Vladimir. Blackthorn shook his head, as Vladimir continued:
“The wine wasn’t poisoned here… it was brought here! They simply put your label over theirs!”
King Blackthorn stood up, and looked at another of the poisoned bottles of wine, it too had a counterfeit label on it. He set the bottle back down, looked over at Vladimir and inquired:
“When can we muster the Royal Guard to conduct a thorough investigation?”
“Very shortly, sire.” Replied Vladimir.
King Blackthorn smiled, and turned around to leave the bar area, but something caught his attention. He walked over to the corner of the room, and crouched down to look under one of the tables. Underneath was a worn shoe. He reached for it, and held it up for Vladimir to see.
“This isn’t mine, is it yours?” Inquired Blackthorn. Vladimir shook his head and replied:
“Perhaps we shall start the investigation here…”