May 13th - Negev
The news of Lord Jon Paul's death spread quickly, aided by the fleet footed agents that a certain organisation maintained throughout Fontan and beyond. And with the news there came a proclamation, faded by time but bearing the seals of the Chancellor, the Supreme Justice and the Master of the Lions. It read:
Having considered all evidence with due diligence, and proven to their fullest assurance that treason has been committed against the very foundations of the Democracy of Fontan, we the undersigned warrant the bearer to act as they deem necessary to the preservation of the realm.
Lady Moira Dubhaine, Supreme Justice of Fontan
Lady Katalynfae Dragul, Chancellor of Fontan
Lord Sulliven Koga, Master of the Lions
Moira studied the letter, written in her own hand and addressed to the scribe of the Assembly. At last the truth could be revealed.
Nobles of Fontan,
Today justice has been done. I urge you all to set aside the divisions of the recent past and remember the true virtues of Fontan: tolerance; duty; honour; the rule of law.
Many months ago, at the start of my last term as Supreme Justice, I was approached by the Chancellor on a very delicate matter. She had been given evidence by Lord Sulliven that there was a traitor deep within the highest echelons of our society, passing military secrets to Sirion. The evidence pointed to Duke Richard but was not sufficiently substantial to bring to trial, and Lady Katalynfae rightly insisted that it be investigated further through the most confidential of channels.
A warrant of execution was prepared and issued to a trusted agent, the identity of whom is known only to myself, and affixed with our state seals as authorised under the democratic mandate of the nobility of Fontan. Lord Sulliven added his seal to ensure that no door would remain barred and the trail was pursued wheresoever it might lead. But our quarry was a traitor of the blackest competence and managed on several occasions to confound our efforts to unmask his identity: the botched search of Marshal Ertugrul's manor was arranged to undermine the Chancellery; a spate of attacks attributed to Elven agents removed vital witnesses; dissension in the military academy and assembly paralysed the apparatus of the realm; and the attempted assassination of my own sister as she ferried humanitarian supplies to our friends in Ibladesh was calculated to implicate Duke Richard further.
As the web became ever more complex I came to believe this shadow menace would never be stopped, but the investigation continued and I dissembled. However as Lord Sulliven became increasingly fixated on Duke Richard's apparent role in the conspiracy I was unearthing, still I lacked the vital piece that would link all together and provide conclusive proof of his guilt or innocence. At that time I also imagined the Duke to be the hidden hand and attributed the actions of his apparently innocent apprentice to some greater scheme. I now know that to have been wrong and I publicly apologise to Duke Richard for having doubted his loyalty to Fontan.
The breakthrough in my understanding came unlooked for. An acquaintance in Ashforth with an interest in finance came into possession of an accounting book, detailing irregular financial transactions by a number of local merchants, suspected smugglers profiting from the war with Sirion. Some of their shipments of luxury goods were traced back to a consortium of merchants operating in An Najaf under a monopoly issued by Lord Jon Paul.
You may recall that when the case of the Democratic Congress -v- Lord Jon Paul came to trial I had the regional accounts of An Najaf audited as part of the investigation, and at that time I was suspicious of certain irregularities which gave the merest hint that the Count might be evading his tax liabilities. However as with much in this investigation the evidence lacked the substance required by a court of law. In this new set of accounts I recognised the same hand, capable of massaging figures with extraordinary care. The false trail to Duke Richard was now laid bare for what it was, as was the incalculable malice and lust for power with which it had been prepared, for I no longer had any doubt as to the identity of the traitor.
I considered warning the Duke, but with the increasing tensions regarding religious freedom I was concerned that he might accidentally arouse Lord Jon Paul's suspicions.
By this time Lord Sulliven had realised the grave mistake he had made in supporting Lord Jon Paul's ascendency as General and sought to rectify it, only to find himself outmanoeuvred. Had I acted at that time I should have saved Fontan much trouble and Lord Sulliven his life, but I still needed to know whether or not Lord Jon Paul was acting on his own account or as the hand of a greater power. I did however warn the Guild Master to double his guard and prayed to Darton for the best.
However I had gravely underestimated the speed with which matters would spiral out of control and with the assassination of Lord Sulliven and many of his closest advisors - for assassination I can now reveal it to have been - Fontan seemed close to collapse. I weighed the evidence and considered making it public, but the Count renewed his historic attack on the judiciary and it became clear as the assembly once more devolved into chaos that the man could not be tried successfuly in open court.
Therefore with a heavy heart I gave my agent the go-ahead to execute the warrant. This morning Lord Jon Paul attended a private meeting at the Lions Guildhouse in An Najaf where he expected to meet with the Senior members of that worthy guild to offer them his peace. I can reveal that the Count not only intended to assassinate these nobles, but to claim that they had themselves sought to assassinate him. To this end he had a message apparently from the Guild delivered to his manor and travelled to their foundation apparently without bodyguards.
What he didn't realise was that the messengers he sent to Lord Elberan and his confederates were intercepted and under duress agreed to falsify the responses. By the time he reached the Guildhouse his carefully placed assassins had been neutralised, and execution of the warrant proceeded without incident. He died as he lived: a traitor to all he professed to hold dear. A traitor to Fontan. A traitor to his Wife. A traitor to the Church of Ibladesh.
Lady Moira Dubhaine, Marchioness of Negev