29

Sep

by Barnaby

Somewhere inside Castle Britannia there is a meeting room, carefully hidden for the protection of the nobles who meet there one evening out of every month. Recently, these nobles have established a new Royal Council in order to govern the realm and secure the well-being of it’s people. Prior to the formation of this Council, little was known about these individuals – a situation only slightly changed since. Their meetings are shrouded in secrecy, though many among them would see this change.

Though they rule from the Castle, they do not live there. If they had, they would know that it is impossible to hide anything from a certain longtime resident who has the ability to move between the walls…

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Oh no, I am late! They have begun the meeting without me! Sherry thought, as she quickly, but carefully, took her position upon a ledge carved into the uppermost stones of the council chamber. Above her was one of the open ducts that delivered fresh air from the outside – it was through these ducts that she was able to come and go without notice. She felt a slight, pleasant breeze tickle the soft fur on her head as she settled on the ledge and peered below, listening to the conversation already at hand.

“I agree with Brother Vinre – we should be doing more to meet the concerns of the people!” This from Sir Agathe, a knight of Britain. His ordinarily soft and careful voice taking on a deeper, sterner timbre on this evening.

“I agree in sentiment, Andrew,” responded the Lady Bellows in a tone that was perhaps better suited to a room full of unruly children than it was to a meeting of powerful nobles, “but who among us has the time, Sir Knight? I for one am too busy with the affairs of Minoc to sit idly in order to listen to the doubters in Britain.”

“I agree! Why should we have to explain ourselves in any case? Have these peasants forgotten their place?” Lady DeMaje of Vesper queried, cutting off the reply of Agathe and earning herself a disproving glare from the usually patient knight.

“Their place?” Agathe rumbled, “They are citizens of the very realm we have sought to protect through the rule of this council. Right now many of them see us as little more than self-appointed dictators.”

“You say that as if it were a bad thing,” mused the Vizier of Nujel’m. A tall man of slight build and angular features, the Vizier was always clothed in fine black clothing, furthering the image of a cunning, ambitious man of power who was mostly concerned with personal gain.

The table grew silent as the other nobles, save Lady DeMaje, frowned as they considered his implication. Before one of them could rebuke the Vizier, however, a voice rose from the furthest corner of the table.

“You don’t think it is, then? Is that how your Sultan feels, Halabi…or how YOU feel?”  Lord Montgomery, didn’t bother to conceal the contempt that entered his voice – a voice that was already colored with the bitterness of some personal tragedy.

Angered, the Vizier responded quickly to Montgomery’s slight. “I speak on behalf of the Sultan! Perhaps if you were more interested in Council business than you are in that goblet of wine in front of of you you would remember this!” He spat.

“Please, please let us be reasonable,” Brother Vinre spoke, calming the grumbling that had broke across the room, “It is only natural for some to be suspicious of us, and I recognize that everyone here is very busy. To that end let us simply agree to consider it, and try to make ourselves available to the public as time is permitted.”

Looking about the room and seeing quiet agreement in nodding heads, he continued, “Excellent. Before we bring our evening to a close, we must discuss a rather unsettling situation involving Commander Kanlocke and the Royal Guard.”

Sherry’s ears perked up at the mention of her close friend, Olivia.

“As you know, Kanlocke and the Guard was successful in finding Eamon MacTarnaghan. Thankfully, he is alive and recovering in Skara Brae with Aila,” he paused before continuing, “During the recovery of Lord MacTarnaghan, a mysterious man dressed as a wandering healer was seen. His name is Mark, and he is apparently attached to the Healer’s Guild here in Britain. He was found watching the building that MacTarnaghan was held in, and upon being sighted he seemed to recognize the Commander, saying her name before disappearing. As soon as he left, the Guards were attacked by mercenaries suspected to be working for someone calling himself ‘Janus’,”Vinre paused once more to glance about the table before finishing, “What is most worrisome is that not only did this ‘Mark’ know the Commander – but she seemed to know him as well, and refuses to acknowledge this.”

“Her conduct is highly suspicious,” Lady Bellows stated, “what do you propose we do about it?”

“Oh! I don’t think the Commander could do anything inappropriate!” Karel DeMaje, who had previously been silent the entire evening, blurted. Typically a meek and awkward speaker, Karel’s face turned red when he realized how loudly he had spoken. He looked down at the table as the group stared at him.

“I believe you are right, Karel,” Brother Vinre softly reassured the man, “however we cannot deny that this is a problem. There has already been doubt cast upon her since the discovery of a letter in the hands of mercenaries that seemed to indicate a traitor in the Guard and mentioned the Commander’s name specifically.”

“Not to mention the seriously inept way she handled the defense of Britain during our first meeting…” Vizier Halabi added.

“She handled it the best she could given the confusion of the situation,” this from Sir Agathe, “I know Kerwin agrees with me,” he finished, referring to Sir Kerwin Irons who was absent from the meeting as he tended to reports of a threat to Trinsic.

“I agree, but I think given the circumstances she should be temporarily relieved of duty until we get to the bottom of whatever is going on,” Brother Vinre paused as he considered what he was about to say next, “Lieutenant Jeffrey is a capable man, though I feel outside help may be needed – from a source not associated with the Guard or Commander Kanlocke.”

Oh no! Thought Sherry, as she watched the rest of the Council nod their assent. It was clear that at least some of them thought the Commander might be a traitor. As the meeting below her adjourned, Sherry scrambled her way up the open shaft above her. Leaving the Council meeting behind her, she hurried to warn her friend of what she had heard.

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