Well, this stranger’s name was Alex, an older blonde girl of a street aesthetic, and she had already met Sabine before. She’d even worked against her! And she was looking for Linda, and that seemed to win Savvy over. Savvy demanded what exactly Alex was going to do, and well, I didn’t know what to say since all that came to mind was to reprimand Savvy for being rude. That would go over as well as a lead balloon.
Alex didn’t get upset though and just asked what were doing that Sabine had gotten our attention. I managed to explain about Justin and the letter, and that he was now gone. I felt like a guilty wretch as I got to that part, especially when I saw the look on her face. It was an expression of pain.
She collected herself faster than I would have (or ever had). She pointed out a few obvious facts about Khaan. He was big, he was black, and he left fiery hoof prints. He was as trackable as a fox in winter time, to put it in poetic terms. I felt like an idiot for not thinking of that myself. We found the tracks, and they were leading straight to Moorland. So much for her not knowing the way.
We ran back to Moorland, not stopping until we hit the south beach, and I could see Alex turn white as a sheet. Sabine and Justin were on a barge and leaving. Something about the containers on the barge upset Alex. They all said D.C. on the side, which rang a bell in my mind but I couldn’t place it. Alex wouldn’t say any word on the matter, and she sent us back to Thomas with the news. I felt like one of those men who delivered telegrams during the wars when soldiers died in the field and their families needed informed.
Thomas wasn’t happy. Not only because of the safety issues of traveling by container barge, but something about the dark side.
I’m going to have nightmares all summer, aren’t I? Or at least I will if this nonsense keeps up!
Thankfully, he recovered quickly and urged us to help Alex with getting Justin back to Moorland. Hoping it would help, I mentioned that Alex had gone back to the winery and we would meet her there. That seemed to set him at least a little at ease. All the way back, though, I could hear Savvy muttering to herself, though I wasn’t sure what.
Alex was waiting for us at the winery stables. She mentioned feeling bad for Justin, and she had some more information for us. Apparently the baroness was Justin’s grandmother, paternal grandmother. I know I jumped, startled. Baroness Silverglade was the mother of Thomas Moorland? Why the name change, why the subterfuge? She’d made no secrets about her other son, Aaron. To further muddy the waters, the baroness claimed her husband was dead. But Jasper wouldn’t have gone through such measures to send a letter, and I certainly don’t think Justin would need to go by barge to see the old man!
Savvy pointed out the only logical answer was that someone was lying about something. Alex agreed,and we needed to know what exactly it was. She suggested checking the Silverglade records, though the different last names was going to make things a little tricky. We went to the village, and talked to Councilman Gilbert. The records were open to the public, but the Silverglade family records had been burned by a fire a few years ago. Of course, because nothing could be easy.
However, an old mayor had kept copies at his summer house near the Silversong River. It was a ruin, so it wasn’t going to be as simple as talking to someone for the information, but it was a start. I was willing to take that. Once we got there, we started going through the piles of rubble. I at least knew vaguely what I was looking for. Books, I know. That was a bit of comfort, really. A stack of books looked to be right, and a glance in the front cover of one gave me an index so I knew which number I needed of the set. Thankfully, it wasn’t in too bad of shape. It said the baroness had married Mr. John Sandman in 1964 in Firgrove. The man’s name was shady, as Savvy immediately pointed out. I put the book in my saddlebag to show to Alex.
On our way back to the winery, we ended up running into Sonja of all people. She was picking up a bunch of the trash that had been just left behind in the woods. We gave her a hand picking it up, and she was quite happy with the results. I admit, the woods could be very pretty, but something about these trees bothered me. Maybe because I’m used to them being more manicured than this (which would make it an orchard, not a wood, now that I think of it). At least she was out of the grape fields for a little while.
Back at the manor at last, I showed Alex the book. She didn’t know who Mr. Sandman was either, but she left with the book to show it to someone she thought might in Valedale. By then, it was dinner time. I know I walked into the kitchen with a heavy heart, feeling like nothing had really gone right today.
We had just sat down with our trays when Nikki arrived and joined us after a quick dash through the buffet. When she asked, Savvy told her a little about Sabine, and Nikki’s curiosity was piqued. She offered to dig around in Jarlaheim and see what she could discover there. That was enough of a cue for me to change the subject, since this was just depressing me. Her chatter was at least of pleasant, everyday things, which was a comfort after everything that had happened today.
We got back to our room, and I could tell that Savvy was in a mood. In a flash of insight, I realized she hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to Derek, since we were so busy or distracted every time we went to Silverglade. I found the letters I’d written to my parents and Mrs. Kettle and I asked if she would like to take them to the post office for me. I made big, innocent eyes at her, and I don’t think she suspected anything.
While she’s been gone, I got my shower and wrote this entry up. It all seems so unreal, until I put it in ink in this little book (which if it keeps being busy, I’m going to have to send for more blank versions of before I run out of pages). I don’t know what to think or to feel. Was it only a few days ago I was just worried about what was ahead of me this term at school and how to get unstuck in my current video game? Everything has changed so fast…and that scares me.
Now I’m going to hide under the quilt with Zizzy until morning. Maybe everything will be better with the dawn of a new day.
Money: 3475 SC, 2935 JS
Have a question for Misty about her experiences at Moorland or before? Ask her over at Ask Mountain Song over on tumblr.