Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Rivalry - Part Five
Beds are soft and comfortable, Mareian thought; as are blankets
and pillows, so what had woken her up? A slight creak grabbed her attention. Someone
was in her room. Without opening her eyes, Mareian growled, "There are three people
who are allowed in my room without me letting them in. You'd better hope you're
one of them."
"I certainly hope that my rank of 'brother' makes
me one of those three," a tenor voice commented dryly.
"Only if you're very, very good," she teased,
stretching and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
"I come bearing presents," he offered.
That woke Mareian up; it was the Day of Giving!
Grinning, she kicked off her blankets and grabbed her robe. Nodding towards
a stack of presents on her desk she directed, "Yours is the one with the orange
Khalyen grinned as he deposited two small wrapped
boxes on her bed; one square, the other a long skinny rectangle. Arching an
eyebrow, Mareian commented, "Two presents? I wasn't that good this year; I even
got my tail landed in the dungeon."
Barking a short laugh, Khayen explained, "Only
one's from me, the square one. The other's from Jeran; he ran into me in the
halls on my way here and asked me to give it to you when you were up. Something
about being summoned to talk with the Kings," Khalyen shuddered, "as if having
to talk to one wouldn't be bad enough."
Opening the small square box, Mareian gasped
in delight. Inside, a pair of silver set black opal earrings twinkled at her,
her favorite stone. "Khalyen, they're beautiful," she admired, and then sent
her brother a suspicious look as she continued, "I hope you didn't steal them."
Holding his hands up in surrender, Khalyen protested,
"Not this year, Jeran would have had my skin."
"Well, there has to be a downside to every friendship,"
Mareian commented distractedly as she admired the way the opals shifted colors.
Chuckling, he urged, "Open the other one."
Reluctantly setting down the earrings, Mareian
picked up and unwrapped the present from Jeran. Inside was the matching opal
necklace for her new earrings; grinning in delight, she accused her brother,
"You two teamed up on me."
Khalyen ignored her comment as he unwrapped his
own present, a carefully balanced throwing knife.
"So what's the plan for today?" he asked, tossing
his new throwing knife from hand to hand to get a feel for its weight.
"Survive the ball," Mareian summed up mildly,
absorbed in admiring her presents.
"I was kind of hoping for something a little
more… detailed," Khalyen commented dryly.
"Jeran and Rolan are going to try to trick Jasagh
into giving himself away in front of Hagan. If that fails, Jeran plans on just
handing Hagan the records Danner has on his adventures four months ago. Mirtah,
Danner and I will hang around out of sight to make sure no one tries to help
"Once he's in jail, we'll start getting ready
for the ball, where Mirtah and I will work the floor. Because we're going as
Jeran's and Danner's partners, we'll have the chance to dance with all the people
who will be at the kings' table at the feast afterwards." She smirked. "If they
go to the ball with any weapons, they won't have them by the feast."
Khalyen laughed, "So did you ever tell Danner
that you'd arranged for Mirtah to be his partner for the ball?" He paused. "And
does he even know who she is, or what she does for a living?"
"Nope to all," she chuckled.
"Little sister, you can be evil."
"Me?" she asked, widening her eyes. "Sweet innocent
Kahlyen grinned. "That 'innocent' trick of yours
may work on everyone else, but not me."
"Doesn't work on Jeran either," she grumbled.
Life would be a lot easier if that trick worked on Jeran as well as it worked
on Danner. Than again, life would probably be a lot less fun too.
"That's a good thing," he commented dryly. "You
always need to have someone around that won't fall for your little tricks."
A hesitant rap on the door interrupted their
banter; Mareian opened the door to find her shadow Cybunny friend on the other
side. Inviting Mirtah in, Mareian walked back across the room, and picked up
another present from the top of her desk and handed it to Khalyen. "This is
for Mavude, can you give it to her for me? I'm afraid I'm stuck inside the castle
"That depends," he teased. "What will you give
me to deliver it?"
Sticking her tongue out, Mareian continued, "Mirtah
and I need to start getting ready, no boys allowed." Khalyen laughed as he was
shooed out the door by Mirtah, while Mareian once again admired her new opal
earrings and necklace. The Day of Giving should be more than once a year,
she thought with a mental grin.
It was disturbing, Jeran admitted to himself
as he pulled what Mareian called her 'toy box' out of a drawer in his desk,
how many concealed weapons Mareian had managed to lift off the visiting Brightvale
nobles. He didn't like the idea of Mareian helping catch Jasagh today - the
last time she'd tangled with the Gelert she was unconscious for days - but she'd
insisted. Wincing, Jeran remembered her reaction when he'd suggested that she
stay out of this. He didn't know what half those words meant; when it came to
colorful vocabulary, Mareian had a whole rainbow at her disposal.
According to Khalyen's people, Jasagh would arrive
this afternoon for the ball at Hagan's request. Lisha had pleaded, cajoled,
and charmed the Skeith king until he'd decided to introduce her to his favorite
philosopher advisor. Hopefully they could trick Jasagh into slipping up in front
of Hagan; but if not, Jeran was sure they could have Jasagh in custody before
the ball started. The idea of Jasagh locked in Meridell's deepest dungeon sounded
like the perfect Day of Giving present to Jeran.
A soft knock rapped against his office door,
causing Jeran to toss a heavy folder over the box. "Come in," he called; it
took Jeran a second to recognize Mareian as she walked smoothly in. He was used
to seeing Mareian in her scruffy, drab colored work clothes; she looked completely
different in the deep blue and lilac dress she was wearing now. Belatedly he
realized that there was someone else with her, a shadow Cybunny in a dark red
and plum dress. I'm observant today, he thought to himself sarcastically.
"Jeran," Mareian introduced, "I'd like you to
meet Mirtah Tesban, the poor woman who has to put up with Danner for this evening."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Jeran said with
a bow, "though I admit I'm a little nervous to ask what you do for a living."
Curtsying with a low chuckle, Mirtah explained,
"I am not a thief; I am a freelance guard. People hire me to watch gold, jewels,
and other valuable things while they are trading or shipping them." With a shy
smile she added, "Mareian and I have had several business clashes because of
Jeran decided he really didn't want to know how
a freelance guard and a pick pocket became friends. Than again, it wasn't much
odder than the friendship he had with Meridell's chief rogue, Khalyen.
While he and Mirtah were introducing each other,
Mareian busied herself by arranging a pair of daggers in arm sheathes and securing
them high enough on her forearms so they couldn't be seen under her sleeves.
"Mirtah, you all set?"
Mirtah grinned, and twisted her arms out in front
of her; two dagger hilts slid out into view inside her sleeves. Mareian wasn't
the only one with surprises literally up her sleeves; being in a room with these
two women talking shop was a rather intimidating experience.
"So how do I look?" Mareian asked, spinning around.
"Nothing looking off?"
Rolan's voice from the doorway startled Jeran,
"Taking up dance, Mareian?"
Mareian shot him a saucy grin, "I'm making sure
I don't do anyone permanent injury when I turn quickly. Want to come for a more
through inspection?" Flicking her wrist, a small dagger appeared in her hand.
"I'll pass. Thanks for the offer though." Eying
the dagger warily, Rolan entered the room the rest of the way, shutting the
door tightly behind him.
"Coward," Mareian teased, slipping her dagger
back into its sheath.
Jeran hid a grin; knowing Rolan, he was just
as happy about having to go into Jasagh's presence unarmed as Jeran was; meaning
not happy about it at all. Though knowing Danner, Mareian, and Mirtah would
be there, armed to the teeth, made Jeran feel much better.
"Danner's in place, and Father is almost ready
to meet his beloved philosopher when he arrives," Rolan said. "We should go
join him." With a tight smile he added, "We certainly don't want to be late
To be continued...