“That is wise and good of all who
are put in charge of others, and because I know that this is the way that you
view them along with the lands under you, your breach of conduct is something
easily mended. Now then, this matter of taxes, it is vexing every year that it
is brought up in council. It does seem lately though to be even more vexing as
it is brought up every year, whether taxes were raised the previous year or
not,” King Ored states with a pointed look towards the table Eogden and his
advisors sit at. Seeing that Eogden either disregarded his slight rebuke or did
not notice it, Ored feels slight frustrated. At least all of the parties are
calmed if not completely collected, he sits back on his throne, where from his
raised platform he can look down on the three long tables arranged before him.
He pauses, allowing the tension in the room to lower a bit more, and as he does
so he studies those who are privy to this inner council. To his left is the
table of the Warden of Liben, with Sioned and two of his nobles sitting at it.
Sioned is still worked up as he stares with barely constrained dislike towards
Eogden. Several fores behind them in a single chair is the figure of Wyland, who
is showing intense interest in the whole affair. Though his presence is against
tradition Ored allowed it so he might see the way that the council works and
prepare for his own day on the council as the warden of Liben. In the middle of
the room is the table representing the province of Vermoth. It is thus placed
due to the fact that it is the central and royally controlled province of the
realm. Seated there is Lord Luroe as the ranking noble of the land covered in
lace with perspiration running down his balding pate, along with the royal
advisors, Lord Montvik, the royal treasurer, whose clothes have seen better
days. Also Lord Turin, the royal Senchel, wearing his large chain of office and
Lord Zavur, head of the Royal Lancers with his proud countenance sit there as
well. Last is the table to the king’s right, and it is at this table that his
gaze lingers over the longest. The table of the warden of Luquador is filled to
bursting with various nobles, puffed up in their velvet and gold. Sitting
between them is the warden himself; his bulk dominating the space, Eogden is
easily the center of the table and the center of the differing nobles’ attention
“Well”, says King Ored after the short pause, “It seems to me that we will not
be getting anywhere on this matter today. That is, if we ever do.” His lips
twitch at his own bit of mirth. “So, we will break off the council meeting
early, in fact we will be done within several minutes. Then, we will get out of
this drafty room, concentrate on the issues already presented over the past few
days and come back early tomorrow ready to discuss this all calmly.” These last
words are said with a pointed look towards Sioned. For the next minute or so he
ties up a few matters with the royal advisors and then leaves the room.
After the king’s departure the other gathered nobles begin readying themselves
to depart as well, the first to leave are a few of the many fops that surround
Eogden. Sioned stands and gestures to his own people and loudly says, “Well it
is a good day to be outdoors, so I for one plan on taking advantage of it and
getting out of this stuffy room and away from some stuffy people.” Seeing that
his son is about to get up to join him, he directs a quick look to Wyland and
motions him stay seated with a slight downward nod.
“That is well, father, I will see you later surely. For now I was going to talk
with the Lord of the Eastwatch,” he says while gesturing to one of the nobles at
his father’s table. Noting his father’s approving nod he continues, “I had heard
some things about the marshes and wanted to talk to him about them.” The noble
in question seems a bit surprised by Wyland’s remark but starts heading over to
where Wyland is sitting.
“All right son, meet me tonight, I’m curious as to what you’ve heard as well,”
and with that statement Sioned leaves with his other noble talking about the
chance for a hunt soon.
During the whole of this conversation Wyland is looking about him and watching
the interaction of the various people still present. Just the other day in fact
his father had told him, “Watch everything about you, my boy. Politics is a
dangerous beast and sadly I am not much of a match against it. I will need your
sharp eyes and quick mind to be my weapons.” So, he was applying his father’s
words in an effort to prepare himself for his future wardenship of Liben.
At that moment Lord Rurien reached him and asked, “What questions did you have,
perhaps I can be of some help.”
Wyland takes a casual step to his left as he sets his brow into a line of
thought as if to remember the details of his question. Just as he had steps, the
royal advisors that were still left go over to where Eogden’s group is and they
all began speaking to one another, apparently making social pleasantries. His
step has placed Rurien in front of him and gives him a perfect view of where the
other nobles are.
“Well,” begins Wyland, “I had heard tales that there have been some sightings of
wild men further in the depths of the moors, and I was wondering if they were
real and if so, who you might think that they are?”
“Hmmm, I’ve heard some rumors also, though I didn’t know them so well spread. My
guess would be,” Rurien trails off as a large amount of laughter comes from the
other group of nobles. Rurien turns to give them a small grimace while Wyland
sees that Eogden stands in the middle of the nobles making some sort of jest and
appearing to take joy in his fellow’s response. Rurien clears his throat and
continues, “As I was saying, my guess would be that there are either a few
hermits that may prefer the solitude of the swamps, or at worst there might be a
few brigands. If it is the latter, then they will be quickly pushed out.”
“I hope that it is nothing more than a hermit, or some wandering priest of Urik,
the Creator knows that they pop up everywhere.” During their conversation Wyland
closely watches how those around Eogden interact with him. Eogden makes another
joke, laughing so hard that his greasy jowls flap with the effort. He slaps one
nearby noble on the back in his mirth, and seems to pat another on the arm. That
last movement seems slightly contrived to Wyland, and makes him even more
suspicious when a look passes between Eogden and the receiver of the arm slap,
Lord Montvik, the royal treasurer.
Quickly wrapping up his conversation with Lord Rurien, Wyland goes in search of
Surian to see what he knows of the situation, so he might give his father a
bigger picture of what might be going on.
He finds Surian where he expects to, in the main weapons yard practicing with
one of the head instructors. “Practicing I see,” calls out Wyland. Surian starts
at the interruption and momentarily lowers his sword arm. That moment is all
that master Purander needs to penetrate the prince’s defense and land a solid
blow against his ribs with the wooden practice sword. Surian backs away from the
master and bows in respect before turning on Wyland.
“Hope that was funny, cause I sure am going to feel that tomorrow,” he says as
he gently rubs his ribs. “Don’t make me give you a solid thumping to make up for
it,” jokes Surian.
Wyland answers in a rather distracted way. “Maybe, maybe. Listen, can we go
somewhere - I want to talk to you about something.”
“Sure, no problem,” responds Surian, picking up on Wyland’s serious tone. “I
know just the place.”
Both keep silent as Surian leads Wyland through different alleys and byways
around the palace, until they are in a small garden surrounded by walls, with
only the narrow alley they came into as an entrance. Surian grabs a seat on a
nearby rock as he watches Wyland pacing around, apparently gathering his
thoughts. Respecting his silence he doesn’t say anything, though his annoyance
at Wyland’s pacing is rather apparent upon his face.
Seeing the frustration rising on his cousin’s face Wyland stops pacing and
hunkers down in front of him. “Allright, what do you know of Lord Montvik?”
“Well, he comes from a long line of distinguished nobles; the family name is the
only real power that they have right now. I mean that is why he has the position
he does now, he is not a man of any special intelligence. His family has some
holdings in the Eastern reaches of the province of Vermoth, near Goiar’s Gap.
Over time, their lands have diminished, currently besides some farmland they
really only have the land that the ancestral home sits on. His father wasted
much of their money in that botched attempt to put together a trading fleet.
That’s the gist of it, why do you ask?”
Wyland takes a minute or two to digest what he had just heard and only responds
when Surian raises a questioning eyebrow. “I saw, or thought I saw, Eogden pass
something to him after the council meetings today. I did not know if there was
already some sort of connection between the two.”
Surian responds quickly, “No, none that I am aware of. Do you think that there’s
some sort of conspiracy?” Surian’s eyes light up at the mention of a conspiracy.
“I think that we should follow Lord Montvik and see what’s going on.”
“No, absolutely not,” responds Wyland. “When my father said to watch what was
going on I doubt he meant to spy on a distinguished nobleman.” Seeing Surian’s
mounting excitement, he says again, “No Surian, I mean it.”
“I don’t know how you talk me into things like this,” says Wyland glumly while
he peers at Surian from across his mug. He takes a furtive look around the dingy
room that they are in, noting the unsavory figures occupying the other rickety
tables near their own. The candle stubs lighting the place are few and far
between making the room dim and the small hearth on the nearby wall makes the
air about them thick and smoky. Keeping his voice low, though it doesn’t seem
necessary with all of boisterous conversations around them, he continues, “Both
of our father’s would kill me if anything happened to you here.”
“Don’t worry”, replies Surian flashing his cousin his most rakish grin. “I‘ve
been here before.”
“Why am I not surprised? How is it that you even knew when he was leaving in the
first place, and where did you get these ridiculous clothes for us,” asks Wyland
while examining his threadbare cloak.
“Let’s just say that the maids know everything, as for the clothes I have to
have something to wear when I go out into the city you know. Besides when…”
“Shh... someone just entered, look natural.” Surian turns to take a look at the
door and Wyland gives him a sharp kick under the table and whispers fiercely, “I
said look natural, not stare at the person. Surian gives him a quick frown but
stays silent and starts drinking from his mug of ale. Wyland watches the thin
man who just entered. He takes a quick look around at the various crowded
tables, and sits down next to Lord Montvik. Montvik gives the man a wide eyed
look and attempts to nonchalantly look around him, though with his excessive
neck movements, it is anything but unnoticeable.
“Without attracting attention to yourself get a look behind you and tell me if
the man with Montvik looks familiar.”
“Not a problem,” Surian responds confidently. He quickly drains his mug, causing
some errant liquid to splash down his neck, and raises it in the air while
turning behind him. “More ale,” he cries in a voice to cut through some of the
crowded taverns noise. A serving woman gives him a nod and easy smile then heads
on over to their table. While she is heading towards them she passes the table
of Lord Montvik and Surian gets a good look at Montvik's guest while appearing
to watch the coming woman. “See not a problem,” laughs Surian.
The young woman comes over to the table with a pitcher of ale; she refills their
mugs and gives Surian a wink as she all but presses her bosom into his face
while leaning over to fill the mugs. “Anything else you might be wantin’,” she
asks him in a smoky voice.
“Not now luv, maybe later.” He gives her his best roguish grin.
“That is quite enough thank you, mayhaps we will be wanting something else
later,” Wyland tells her. She gives him a somewhat puzzled look at his proper
speech, but hurries away as another patron shouts for more ale. Wyland shakes
his head, “I do not believe that I have ever heard you talk that way before. “
“Well one must be how one must be at times; anyway you would have done the same
thing if you weren’t so worried right now. Now then, I think that I have seen
that man before. I would swear that he works for Eogden in some capacity or
another. I am not to sure though.”
Just as Surian finishes those words the thin man gets up and drops some coin on
the table. Lord Montvik also gets up and together the two of them make their way
through the scattered tables and exit the building.
“Come on, let’s go.” Wyland gets up and motions to Surian. Surian starts to
follow after, but stops and grabs his mug dashing it down, then continues
following Wyland. They both get out the door and Wyland stops abruptly looking
both ways down the roughly paved street. “Great thanks to you, we lost them!”
Wyland states with his face screwed up in frustration.
“First off, my worried cousin, one must never leave a full mug of ale and
secondly I see them, you were just looking in the wrong direction. They are down
by the docks, I can see the moon shining off that thin mans bald head. Now come
on, follow my lead.”
That being said Surian ducks down as he rushes some distance over to some
stacked crates overlooking the down sloping hill to the dockyard. Wyland joins
him and together they peer through the gaps in the stacked crates. While trying
to get a better viewpoint, his foot knocks free a piece of rock which skitters
down the path causing the two men below them to stop their conversation and look
up. The thin man’s face is calculating, but Lord Montvik has an expression of
fear plastered across his. Surian gives his cousin a sharp look of reproof.
After several minutes of quiet the two men go back to their conversation and
Wyland heaves a relieved sigh.
Not long after the sudden stop in their conversation, the two men begin talking
again, Surian scans the nearby area for a closer hiding place so that he might
listen in a bit better. He taps Wyland on the shoulder and gives him a wink
before he rises and once again dashes to a close stack of barrels, from there he
moves ever closer, this time creeping his way close to the ground, until he is
behind another stack of crates with some nets strewn over the top of it. He can
now pick up their voices quite well.
“I thought that it was understood sir that you would be well rewarded. There is
no option of backing out now. None at all.” As his words progressed so too did
the threatening tone he used with them.
“My family still has some honor left, and I don’t think that this is what we
originally discussed when...”
A sarcastic laugh interrupts the speaker, “Honor, surely you’re joking. Honor is
easily bought, especially when the owner of said honor is as deeply in debt as
you are. So, don’t be giving me any of that spineless talk. Things change and
you will change along with them. Now then, are you prepared to…”
A sound interrupts the man as Surian’s hand slips on the wet stones and he lands
on his elbow. Though he stops himself from hitting the crates he knows he has
made some noise anyway. He stays as quiet as possible, not even daring to
breathe. Nothing happens and it seems that the men will go back to talking like
they did previously.
Suddenly the crates around him are shattering and several splinters get caught
in his cheek. Where the crates shattered there is a gleaming blade of steel.
That sight is enough to make him get up and start running back towards Wyland.
He takes a brief look behind him to see the unknown man struggling to get his
sword unwrapped from the netting as Lord Montvik stands there frozen in place.
As he reaches where Wyland is hiding he hears footsteps behind him. The two
young men race ahead towards the tavern with the thin man closing behind them.
“This way!” shouts Surian as they close in on the tavern.
“We’ll be trapped.”
“Trust me,” responds Surian as he throws open the door and rushes in. He
immediately runs into a heavy body and thrusts it aside. “The guard is comin’,”
he yells as loudly as he can knowing how these people would react to that. He is
not disappointed and soon the call is taken up and people are scrambling all
over the place. He grabs Wyland’s arm and they force their way into the back, to
the kitchen, and out the back door, leaving a shocked cook behind them.
Wyland's hand grabs a hold of Surian's shoulder and he bids him to slow so they
are not as noticeable. They start walking casually as soon as they are out of
sight of the building and make their way out of the dock district towards the
palace grounds. “Well, that was fun, we really need to go out more, cousin,”
smirks Surian, as he wipes some blood from his cheek.
“Oh anytime, did I ever mention that I hate cities?” laughs Wyland.
Surian simply rolls his eyes as they continue towards their destination. “By the
way, don’t bother trying to see your father tonight. Everyone turned in early
tonight for the boar hunt tomorrow and it will be a late night of feasting that
“Great, now my little cousin is telling me it is my bedtime,” scoffs Wyland.
“Well, someone has to look out for you.”
They spend the rest of their return trip amiably talking and laughing about
their little adventure until they make their separate ways to their chambers to
think about the night's events.