Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Five
Mareian had a serious problem; she debated furiously what
she should do as she walked slowly through the halls of the castle. She knew she
had to tell Jeran about Jasagh getting into the castle; the problem was exactly
how much she should tell him about it. I wish Khalyen was here, she thought
wistfully, she didn't like having to make decisions like this by herself.
She wouldn't lie to Jeran, she decided. Jeran
was fairly good at spotting lies on his own and if he'd visited Illusen and
had her ring now, she couldn't fib on anything. What will I say if he asks
if I believe Jasagh really is who he claims to be? she wondered with a nauseous
Arriving at Jeran's door much sooner then she
would have liked, Mareian knocked softly. "Come in," Jeran called from the other
side. Swallowing hard, Mareian opened the door and quietly slipped in.
"Mare," Jeran asked in concern, "is everything
She didn't look that bad, did she? I'm fine,
Jeran, she wanted to snap. There's nothing wrong with learning that that
someone who shouldn't exist at all can destroy your whole life easily.
Pulling herself under control, Mareian said shakily,
"I just saw Jasagh."
"What?" Jeran sputtered. "Where?"
"Here in the castle, he cornered me by the training
yards. He had a job offer for me."
Jeran sat against his desk. "Why don't you tell
it to me in order?" he suggested.
Mareian jumped to sit on the top of Jeran's desk;
her knees felt a little weak for some reason. "This morning Ricky and I checked
out a royal Gelert in Bendolyn Glade. It turned out to be a dead end. When we
got back, Ricky headed to the arena to give someone a riding lesson. On my way
back to the Castle, a blue Krawk and a spotted Nimmo jumped me and pinned me
about three feet up high on the castle wall." Mareian showed Jeran the scrapes
from the sharp stones on the heels of her hands, causing Jeran to hiss in sympathy
and head to his medicine cabinet.
"While the Krawk held me, Jasagh came and asked
me why a Brightvalian ruled Meridell. He then claimed the two youngest princesses
had survived the plague and that he was the son of the youngest, Shanna. He
then told me to name my price to come work for him." Mareian winced as Jeran
carefully dabbed her scrapes with a stinging liquid.
"What did you say?" Jeran asked curiously.
"I told him I'd settle for his head, and asked
if he could arrange it for me."
Jeran chuckled at her answer as he pulled out
a small roll of gauze. "I don't think those little scrapes need a bandage, Jeran,"
she protested. Jeran gave her a flat stare, and Mareian gave up. "Okay, do whatever
"I'm only bandaging one, the other isn't too
much to worry about." Jeran tied the ends of the gauze firmly around her wrist.
"Did he say anything else?"
"Oh, and he offered me Murron; why he thought
I'd be interested is beyond me." With Jeran's hands so close, Mareian risked
a quick glance. Jeran had seen Illusen. The blue enamel was nearly invisible
against his right index finger's blue fur, only a little gleam of gold and a
square of red gave it away.
"My Duchy?" Jeran asked in an injured tone, "Why
"Maybe he was just judging my reaction?" Mareian
suggested, pulling her attention back into the conversation. "Or he offered
Murron simply to see if I was ambitious? Murron is the largest Duchy in Meridell."
Jeran made a sour face, "Now we're just working
with guesses. Let's get back to what we know. You said Jasagh claimed to be
descended from Meridell's royal family?"
"That's what he said." Mareian really wanted
to stay away from that particular topic.
"Do you think he could be telling the truth?"
Drat. "I think it's possible," she said
slowly, "but I'm not going to just take his word for it." Changing the subject,
she asked, "Has Danner found anything yet?" Jeran gave her a sharp look. He
knows I'm changing the subject on purpose, she thought nervously.
Jeran's face softened. "I'm sorry Mare, I'm sure
you'd rather not talk about Jasagh right now."
You have no idea, she thought. The idea
of what Jeran would say if he ever found out terrified her. Jeran was her friend,
the closest one she'd ever had; but he was still the King's Champion, the Crown
Prince, and extremely loyal to King Skarl.
"Danner's looking at a pair of hired guards Mirtah
says have been behaving oddly." Jeran gave her a crooked grin. "He'll probably
come and pester you to no end - they were a Krawk and a Nimmo."
"He'd better bring chocolate, I've had a bad
day," Mareian said with a weak smile. Maybe the whole royal claim thing would
blow over; it seemed like such an outlandish idea.
"I'll be sure to pass that on," Jeran promised.
"Speaking of food, have you had lunch yet?"
Mareian gave the blue Lupe a suspicious look.
"Do you and Ricky get together to plot on ways to make me eat?"
"Every day," Jeran teased, "before you get up.
Now come on, even if you're not hungry, I'm starving."
Mareian did look better after she'd eaten, Jeran
decided as he watched the Lupess head down to the dungeon. Her hands weren't
shaking any more, and the skin inside her ears had returned to their normal
pink, instead of the dead white they had been. Jasagh's sudden interest in her
had shaken the pirate Lupess far more than she'd admit to; when she'd first
come into his office, she'd looked like she was about to completely fall apart.
He really should head to Danner's office and
talk to him about that Krawk and Nimmo and leave some dire threats on what would
happen if Danner shook up Mareian any more than she already was. The Wocky and
Lupess usually liked to trade sarcastic jabs at each other, but Jeran got the
feeling that Mareian wasn't feeling up to the usual vocal sparring.
The blue Lupe scowled darkly; he really didn't
like Jasagh's sudden interest in Mareian. The royal Gelert had brought her nothing
but trouble. Unfortunately, from what he'd seen, Jasagh seemed to be one of
those people who didn't like not getting his way. It would be a good idea, Jeran
decided, to make sure there was someone he trusted with Mareian at all times.
Just in case the Gelert tried anything else to get to her.
Jeran headed down the stone halls to Danner's
office; absorbed in his thoughts, he took a more roundabout way down to the
dungeon, through a winding corridor along the edge of the castle, only to run
into the Chia Robyn Llewelyn as he rounded one of the halls many corners.
"Jeran!" the startled Chia exclaimed, stepping
back. "I'm sorry, I should have been watching where I was going."
"No, it's okay, I wasn't paying attention either."
Jeran grinned. "Maybe they should install mirrors around these corners." Normally
such a statement would have provoked a returning grin from the yellow Chia,
but instead Robyn frowned. Concerned, he asked, "Robyn, is anything wrong?"
"No, it's just... " The Chia paused. "I just feel
so bad!" he suddenly wailed.
With supreme willpower, Jeran kept himself from
rolling his eyes. Robyn, while very brave and a good fighter, had the emotional
swings of a two year old cub. "What happened?" he asked in a resigned tone.
"I'm sure she'll never forgive me!" the Chia
continued, as if Jeran wasn't there. "And it's all my fault!"
"She?" Jeran asked in surprise, there weren't
many women Jeran could think of that Robyn would see often. All the ones that
came to mind were castle staff, and knew to brush off Robyn's occasional outbursts.
Remembering what Illusen had said earlier, Jeran thought he could guess why
the Yellow Knight was so distressed.
"You were the one who accused Mareian," he said
softly. The shamefaced Chia nodded, his yellow coloring blushing to a pale orange.
"You know better now?" Jeran asked in his most level voice.
Looking miserable, Robyn said, "I'd do anything
to make it up to her."
"Here's how you're going to do just that," Jeran
told him. "Whenever you hear anyone say she let Jasagh escape, correct him.
And if you hear anything about who may have really done it, you tell me."
The Chia's face instantly changed from the most
miserable look imaginable to one of bubbly happiness. "Yes, Sir!" he chirped
with a salute, and then he scurried down the hall. Probably on some great
mission to find who really let Jasagh out, Jeran thought.
He could easily picture Robyn trying to interrogate
the entire castle staff all at once. Jeran hoped Robyn didn't get in Mareian's
way. Questioning castle staff about Jasagh's escape was Mareian's job, and she
would not take it well if Robyn tried to butt in.
On the bright side, he now had one thing less
to worry about, Jeran doubted many had taken Robyn's accusation of Mareian seriously;
the Chia took a fondness for conspiracy theories a bit too far, and most people
in the castle tended to tune Robyn out as he rambled.
Robyn had probably taken poor Mareian by surprise;
he'd been unusually quiet and well behaved for the last five or so months. Mareian
hadn't been here when he'd tried to take on the entire Darigan Citadel by himself;
or when a newly knighted Robyn and his brother challenged a sorceress, who cursed
them to be Chias forever. Jeran had been very surprised when his yellow Kougra
friend and Robyn's green Aisha brother had both returned as Chias from that
ill fated battle.
To be continued...