Demy-Sefrab sighed deeply, and rolled his eyes. "Look," he said, exasperated. "I would really like some answers right about now. Tami, do you have any such answers, as they seem less than helpful in that regard?"
"Tar-Sul is dead," Tamyra responded. "A two-headed crocodile took a bite out of him as we returned, and he fled in terror. The swamp has him now. As for the chest, they refused to tell me as well, saying that they wanted answers of their own before they responded to our questions. I figured it'd be best if you told them what had occurred. Now, if you will excuse me, I shall go scout, to see if they're here yet, to see how much time we have."
Tamyra disappeared into the town, heading down South Street, lightly jogging, as Demy-Sefrab turned to the rest of them.
"You want to know what happened, then? Aye, I have answers for you. I hope you'll tell me your side of the story after I tell you mine," Demy-Sefrab began. "I sent you to get Tar-Sul to get the chest, which I hope to Ilaxas you found. But that is the middle of this sorry affair, and I should start at the beginning. Abdul-il-Weli came to town about a week ago. Nice chap, for a tax collector. It is that time of the year again, and it is time for our tribute for the Khira to be taken to Gamma-Sol. So, as usual, I presented Abdul with the list of all the taxes the citizens owed the Khira, and he went and got them all. With the help of his guards, of course.
A curious thumping noise, a regular One-Two, One-Two beat to it, started to be heard by the group. It was faint, however, and issued from the north, if the street signs were accurate in their names.
"Abdul was taking the tribute in the chest that I hope you found when he got ambushed by the bandits you went to kill. I know not the particulars, I just know that Tamyra found the bloody scene, and could not find the tribute-chest. I thought all was lost, that we as a town would be enslaved by the Khira for missing a payment when I heard that Tar-Sul had found the chest in the bar. I sent Tamyra to go get the chest from Tar-Sul, which was when I found he had been kidnapped."
The thumping sound grew louder and louder, interrupted by a momentary scream and the banging of a violently closed door.
"If you found the chest, please hand it over. I have the 500 gold I promised you in my home- I may have cheated on Werstone's taxes so that it could prosper as it deserved. All I care about is the good of this town, and it sounds like the R-"
And they were there. A platoon of the Royal Guards, resplendent in their gator-hide armor, stood at the opposite end of North Road. A look of fear, absolute fear, took over Demy-Sefrab's face for a moment, before he whispered under his breath to the party, "I am so sorry about it this."
And backing away from the five, he pointed and shouted at them, "It is they! They ambushed the tax-collector! They stole Werstone's tribute! They robbed the Khira! It is them!"
At the head of the Royal Guard, the Lieutenant removed a bugle, and raising it to his lips, sounded the call to charge.