This article contains plot or ending spoilers.
Though not a true mage, Brian Castere had apprenticed with a Mehrat mage until the border conflict became heated again. A neighboring Teal resident with a three-year-old daughter, who considered Castere his best friend, described how Castere used to use magic to speed his wagons on their way, "bind magic to the wheels to keep them sound", and entertain the children with simple tricks. A "gentle, sweet man," Castere ostensibly traded in cotton, silk, cloth of all kinds, dyes, ribbons, and linens. The local baker described him as friendly, kind to children, a good neighbor, but seldom home because of his trading business.
Upon Castere's death, presumed to be the result of a riding accident, the whole town went into mourning. The bakery closed to bake loaves for the next day's funeral party, and doubted any of the town's shops would be open on that day.
The townsfolk remarked on strangers in the tavern asking questions about Castere, and a strange break-in at Castere's house. Brother Alexi, a Brother of Kor from the monastery south of Burlen, arrived to officiate at the funeral, remaining overnight to deter further break-ins. Castere was buried in the graveyard south of Teal, with flowers, a fine marble headstone, and a funeral party with the baker's loaves.
Unbeknownst to his neighbors, Castere was a traitor to the Empire, smuggling weapons from Antara across the border to the Mehrat. A young boy from Teal witnessed a crate of swords falling off the back of his cart on the road leading west; Castere swore him to silence and gave him a new knife to seal the promise, which the boy tearfully polished up extra shiny for the funeral.
During his smuggling career, Castere's contact, "G.F.," repeatedly accused him of withholding money from their prearranged 50-50 split of the proeeds. After one such note, which called Castere a "double-crossing carlith kisser" and claimed to have information from a Mehrat contact, Castere obtained the Red Key to G.F.'s house and sent a note denying the allegations, breaking down the expenses, and offering to meet to explain in person, meanwhile burying the Key south of Teal and concealing a map of its location. The meeting led to Castere's death.
Arriving in Teal and learning of the community's recent loss and the unexplained factors surrounding it, William Escobar and Aren Cordelaine return after a night away from town to find that Castere's grave has been desecrated. Setting it to rights, they discover the map to the Red Key, a vital clue to the mystery.
- Despite Castere's denial in the note left in G.F.'s house, William believes that he was indeed cheating his confederate, resulting in his murder.
- Brian Castere's Journal, also found in G.F.'s house, can boost Aren's magic skills.