The gates of Falmourn Fortress looked the same as Chesparin remembered, albeit in much less a state of disrepair. Seventy-five years had returned an aura of majesty to the head of Leinster, despite the latter still recovering from the semi-recent smiting of Duach. A pair of burly guards, spears in hand and domed caps upon their skulls, blocked standard entryway into the fort proper, which was not at all what he had expected.
"Perhaps I have arrived at a moment of concern," Chesparin mused, apparently to no one.
"I highly doubt it chu," Melfindi, his faery familiar, chided him. "I shan't remind you that a simple jaunt into the past dost not return'eth arms to their sides instead of on their hilts."
Chesparin raised an eyebrow, craning his neck up slightly. "Why are you talking like that?" he asked with due curiosity.
Mel gave him a blank stare. "I'm tryin' to fit in with all these other shmucks," she stated. "Is it working chu?"
"No, you sound downright silly," the man said, with a barely-concealed smirk. "Don't try to be someone else, I didn't bring you here to be someone other than yourself."
"Bein' myself causes fights, though," she reminded. "You said so yourself."
"You can be yourself without being mean," Chesparin said.
"Ho there!" one of the guards suddenly exclaimed, having drawn notice to the man and his faery bickering back and forth. "What are you goin' on about, then? Don't be dallying around the gate, you're liable to be mistaken for spies!"
Chesparin blinked, standing up straight at the sudden call to attention. "Oh, my sincere apologies!" he offered, drawing closer to diminish any insinuation of wrongdoing. "I'm actually here on business, you see, t'was but a mere moment of sidetracking. Tell me, good sirs, is your lord available for an audience?"
"He's not," the other guard huffed, "and if you haven't been living under a boulder for the last 3 months, you'd well-know why, besides. There's rumors abound of espionage from outlying cities, and the fort is on alert for suspicious characters." The guard lowered his spear, but not yet threateningly. "Suspicious characters such as yourself. What do they call you, anyway, lad?"
"Don't get yourself thrown in jail!" Melfindi hissed into his ear from her perch on his shoulder. "I don't like jail chu!"
"My name is not important," Chesparin announced, withdrawing a folded parchment from somewhere under his jerkin, "but the contents of this address certainly are. If I may not bear witness to his lordship directly, would it be such a task to ask for this letter's direct and hastened delivery, instead?" He held the note out patiently, waiting for it to be accepted.
The guards exchanged quizzical looks between one another before one of them reached out to accept the missive, but stopped suddenly, hand outstretched as he noticed something. "Hang on there, now," he said, squinting. "Is that a faery on your shoulder, or am I daft?"
"It is," Chesparin calmly responded. "You're not daft, I assure you."
"Why is there a faery on your shoulder?" the guard interrogated. "Faeries don't like humans. Or giants. And especially not orcs. Even most of the elves have a hard time being cordial with them."
Chesparin shrugged. "This one does," he admitted.
"Most of the time, anyway," Melfindi added.
The guard looked between them, with more than an ounce of mistrust. "Somethin' about this whole things smells right fishy to me," he said, but took the note anyway. "If you're here to be playing tricks on us, you'll find yourself nice and cozy in the dungeon, you will." He gestured to the other guard. "Don't let him out of your sight until I return. I don't like the looks of him, or his fluffy pink friend."
"Did he…?" Mel started to gripe, but was quickly silenced. The aforementioned guard strode away into the fortress, disappearing beyond the portcullis.
"I can understand your distrust, just so we're clear on the matter," Chesparin said openly, to the remaining guard. "A fine sight I must be, boldly strolling up to the head state of Leinster and demanding an audience with its lord, with only a sheet of paper and a faery to go on. I don't decry your concern or judgments one stone."
"Then you'll also know that the fae typically aren't a welcome sight here, either," the guard gruffed. "We don't have time for silly games and cantrips."
"Rest assured," Chesparin offered, "there will be no games. Or cantrips. Only business."
"Huh," came the reply. "Well, we'll be seeing about that. Just hold your feet for the time being."
Within a handful of minutes, the original guard returned without the note, and boasting a somewhat baffled expression. He exchanged a few unheard words with his comrade, before addressing Chesparin himself. "The lord awaits you in the main hall," he said, still holding much confusion in his tone.
"Ah, my thanks, good guards," Chesparin thanked them. "I appreciate your hospitality, and I shall put in a good word for your efforts with the lord, as well." The guards moved aside as he spoke, allowing him entry across the drawbridge and into the looming stone keep.
"They're lucky I'm only one-hundredth of their size chu," Melfindi fumed once they were out of earshot. "I'd have knocked him flat on his metal bum for that sort of remark! 'Fluffy'? Of all the nerve!"
"And now you see that we aren't all so different," Chesparin admonished. "You're not the only one who can't keep her tongue in check when it is ill-advised."
"Guh, humph," she huffed. "What was in that letter, anyway chu?"
"Nothing extraordinarily special, just a series of preparatory setups that would guarantee us an audience," Chesparin said.
"Like…?" Melfindi pushed.
"Like the entire layout of the fort from the inside, a record of the reigning lord's birthday, as well as his son's, who I would remind you was the last lord in our present time, and also the true names and manners of death of the last three lords before him, as well as the last words the late lady spoke to him before she succumbed to illness and passed away."
Mel blinked, taking it all in for a moment. "Most of that seems pretty… dark? Would you have really considered that necessary chu?"
"'Tis better to be overprepared than under," Chesparin pointed out. "Simply put, I wasn't born seventy-five years ago, so without significant research and inside knowledge from an existing lord, which I did and possessed in the then-current time, there is no way an ordinary person could know the things I have just explained to the reigning lord. In either case, he'll either brand me a sorcerous heretic and have us burned at the stake in Leinster Square, or be curious enough to hear what else I have to say. I'm banking on the latter."
"I feel like your optimism is often misguided…" Melfindi said warily.
Chesparin grinned in spite of himself. "We're about to find out."