Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Rivalry - Part Two
Stepping out of Mareian's quarters, Jeran heaved a sigh
of relief. That had gone much smoother than he'd feared. He hoped Mareian would
be able to find someone for Danner, though going partnerless would serve him right
after as much time he'd had to find one for himself. Swinging by his quarters,
Jeran picked up his training gear and headed to the training grounds to meet up
with Danner and Sir Mourvan. Once the other kingdoms leaders got here, there wouldn't
be much time for practice.
He found them in one of the wrestling rooms.
Entering the room, Jeran was greeted by the sight of Danner flying through the
air and landing on his back. "You overextended again," Mourvan chided the gasping
Danner glared up at the brown Zafara. "Maybe
we should switch to fencing instead."
Mouvan shook his head, sending his brown ears
flapping, "No, you need to work on your weakest skill, and that would be hand
to hand for you."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Danner muttered
"Hey Danner," Jeran suggested, "after I finish
warming up, you can take a breather while I take a turn with Mourvan. Sound
good to you?"
The three of them spent the next hour having
a lot of fun trying to send each other flying. They took a short break to stretch
when Mareian entered the room, wearing what she called her 'work clothes', a
cream colored tunic with short frayed sleeves and a rumpled brown skirt. "Extra
security's been taken care of, forty-three guards will report to Danner tomorrow
for assignment." She smiled smugly, "I also hooked up a ball partner for Danner."
"Who?" Danner asked curiously.
"That's for me to know, and for you to find out,
My Lord. I figured that since you didn't get one for yourself, you must not
care very much."
Jeran grinned as Danner gave Mareian a sour look,
Mareian never let a chance to rankle Danner go by. They were actually very good
friends, but you'd never know it simply by listening to them snipe at each other.
Jeran figured it was a kind of game for them, with very obscure rules only the
two of them knew.
How could someone as big as her brother always
be so hard to find? Lisha thought in exasperation. After spending most of the
morning making sure all her new books had made it safely to the library, Lisha
had set out to find her brother and invite him to lunch.
She finally found him in the training rooms,
sparring with Danner. Sir Mourvan and the pirate Lupess from the night before
were sitting against the wall, Mourvan was watching Jeran and Danner's form;
the Lupess appeared to be deeply engrossed in reading a document, her brows
furled in concentration.
"Water break," Jeran panted to Danner. They must
have been working for a while for them to be so tired.
"Jeran," the Lupess asked spelling out a word,
"Obstinate," Jeran grunted, swallowing a mouthful
of water, "it means, 'stubborn'."
The Lupess scowled, "Why doesn't he just say
Mourvan guffawed as he rose, "Because then it
would be easier to understand; and he thinks using big words like that make
him look smarter."
"Never," Danner intoned seriously as he sat next
to the tiny Lupess, "use a large word when substituting a diminutive one will
The Lupess snorted, "If you're going go use a
big, fancy word, you have to do it with style. Like defenestrate, for example.
Whenever you use that word, you know the conversation will be interesting."
The whole group laughed. Now Lisha was really confused; what kind of person
was this Lupess?
There was no way Jeran would be able to eat lunch
with her right now. With an inward groan, she realized that it wasn't lunch
time here yet; Lisha had fallen out of the normal castle routine while in Brightvale;
it would take her a bit of time to fall back into Meridell's schedule. None
of them had noticed her yet, so she wouldn't interrupt them during their workout.
She decided to eat a light snack, and then catch Jeran in his office in about
2 hours for lunch.
In the meantime, she was going to learn all she
could about this new Lupess. Every time she'd seen her brother since her return,
that Lupess had shown up.
The royal kitchens were hot, loud, and busy.
Grabbing a pair of meat rolls, Lisha escaped to one of the dining rooms attached
to the kitchens. The long tables were a refuge for many in the castle; pages
and squires struggled with homework strewn across the wooden tables while knights
sipping drinks either helped them with their homework, or told stories that
captivated the youngsters' attention.
Lisha scanned the tables for a spotted Gelert
named Benyamen. Ben was a good friend of hers; he was knighted the same year
as Jeran, but preferred to read and study history than fight in the field of
battle. As the professor of history for the pages in the castle, he was often
found helping his students with homework. Lisha finally found him tutoring a
young cloud Ixi lad.
"Ah! Lisha!" Ben exclaimed, "This is the woman
you should be asking about the Meridell and Citadel treaties, Shiyada," he told
the young Ixi. "Lady Lisha probably knows more about that subject than anyone
else in the world." He winked at Lisha, "That's why we keep her around."
Fortunately, Shiyada's homework question wasn't
really that difficult, and it didn't take much time to explain the answer. Watching
the now happy cloud Ixi trot away to finish his chores, she asked, "When did
the pages start getting so young?"
Ben chuckled, "Poor tyke, he's only been at the
castle 3 days, and the politics professor dumped the Meridell Citadel wars on
the class. In all fairness though, he was the last of the new bunch of pages
"But he's so little."
"I bet you were too, when you were eleven, Lisha."
Giving her a playful punch, he continued, "You still are. All joking aside,
I doubt you came here for homework help."
"I need to know more about that new Lupess working
Ben blinked in surprise, "Mareian?"
"Is that her name? I never caught it."
Holding out his hand five feet from the ground,
Ben asked, "Pirate Lupess? About this tall, black tipped ears, and an attitude?"
"That's the one."
Grinning, Ben confirmed, "Yep, that's Mareian.
Mareian Mahkra is her full name. Jeran hired her about two months after you
left for Brightvale. She does undercover work, and gets information for him.
She's also helping Mourvan teach some of the pages hand to hand; word has it
that she can beat Mourvan half of the time in weaponless combat, and that's
"So she's a spy?"
"Not exactly," he shrugged, "Danner calls her
the Court Rogue, though whether that's her actual title or not is anyone's guess.
Most of the pages idolize her, as do many of the squires. I think they like
the idea of someone their size being able to keep up with the big boys. The
fact that she's rather sarcastic and tends to speak her mind helps a lot too."
Laughing easily, he continued, "One of the squires
put a sign on Danner's office door. It read "The four most important rules to
remember while in Meridell are: Mareian is always right; I will listen to Mareian;
I will not ignore Mareian's recommendations; and Mareian is second only to the
King." Pausing he added, "I think it took most of the pages over a week to realize
it was a joke."
"Do you trust her?" Lisha asked cautiously.
Ben looked at her seriously, "Yes. She may be
a bit unorthodox, and have a rather spotted history, but I believe she'd do
anything to protect Meridell." He grinned, "After all, that is our job."
Whoever invented such odd spellings for words
should be very slowly racked, Mareian decided. After four months of daily
lessons with Jeran, Mareian could read nearly any word she saw; spelling them
on the other hand was a different story. The letters C and K were completely
baffling, they sounded the same most of the time so how could you tell which
one to use? At least with all the spelling practice her handwriting had improved,
at first it had looked like a page full of Crokabek scratches.
There was a soft knock at the door, which was
unusual, most of the people she knew banged on the door loudly. It was a hazard
of living in a building full of knights. It's probably one of the pages with
a message, she thought tiredly. For some reason, a half hour of studying
wore her out far more than an hour of physical exercise ever did. Opening the
door, Mareian stared in surprise at the small yellow Aisha holding a plump warf
on the other side.
"I hope I'm not interrupting you," the small
Aisha said shyly. "I'm Lisha; we really didn't have a proper chance to get introduced
"I'm Mareian. Please, come in." Now that Mareian
got a better look at Lisha, she recognized her from Jeran's office. "What an
adorable warf! What's her name?"
Lisha beamed. "This is Chubby." Apparently that
had been the right subject to open with; once talking about her warf, Lisha
visibly relaxed. She happily chattered with Mareian about various funny things
Chubby had done as a puppy, Mareian found Chubby's escapade in trying to drink
ink to be the funniest. The two women chatted for an hour, before Lisha excused
herself for bed.
So that's Jeran's sister, an exhausted
Mareian thought to herself as she crawled into bed later that night. I think
we'll get on just fine.
To be continued...