Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Instincts - Part Three
On a beautiful summer morning in Meridell, something happened
that had never happened before; Mareian the pirate Lupess was awake before Danner.
This alone should have been warning to the blue Wocky to just take the day off.
Perhaps, in his grogginess, he failed to notice the danger that came when one
wasn't at his best in the presence of a mischievous Lupess.
"Morning, Danner," Mareian chirped in greeting
as the Sheriff Wocky fumbled with his tray of sausage and porridge.
Jeran looked up from his breakfast to his bleary-eyed
friend. "Long night?"
"Don't ask," Danner groaned, fumbling for the
jam to add to his porridge.
"Well," Mareian said, "today's got to be better."
Jeran looked at the pirate Lupess suspiciously;
her hazel eyes had that mischievous, calculating look that always meant she
was up to something.
"Today will be nice and calm," the Lupess continued
in a soft, comforting tone. "Maybe you can take a walk down around the moat
and watch the fish swim and birds tending their nests." As she spoke, the blue
Wocky's eyes began to shut, and he slowly fell asleep, resting his head on the
table. Giving a careful peek at his face, Mareian delicately plucked a sausage
off the sleeping Sheriff's plate. "Mmm," she mumbled, taking a bite. "Le Sausage."
Jeran smothered a laugh. "That's evil."
"I didn't see you stopping me." Mareian offered
Danner's bowl of porridge to a random passing squire. "Hungry?" No squire was
crazy enough to pass up free food; Jeran had to bite his knuckle to keep from
laughing out loud and waking Danner at the delighted look on the squire's face.
"Sir Jeran?" The giant Lupe turned to see a small
starry Acara page nervously addressing him. The page swallowed hard, "I have
a message for you, sir."
"Thank you." Jeran smiled as he took the message
from a trembling paw. "Have you had breakfast?"
The starry page looked down, his ears blushing
furiously. "No, sir."
Jeran picked up a napkin and grabbed the last
piece of Danner's sausage. "Here." The page gave him a broad grin as he took
the sausage and trotted off. "Follow me to my office," Jeran told a madly giggling
"Wait," she finally managed between giggles.
"We probably shouldn't leave him here like this." Grasping her tray by the edges,
Mareian picked it up and firmly slammed it down onto the tabletop.
Danner's head shot up. "Wha?" Looking around
wildly, it didn't take him long to figure out that his plate was empty. "I slept
Jeran decided that it was time to make a hasty
exit, with his pirate Lupess quick on his heels. "So what kept Danner from sleeping
last night?" he asked Mareian while he unlocked the door to his office.
"A midnight raid down at the docks. Mirtah noticed
one of her employer's shipments seemed odd and told Danner." The pirate Lupess
gave him a crooked grin. "You know how he'll always make time for her."
"Get anything good?"
"About seven crates of very illegal contraband.
Khalyen's pretty peeved about it; another thieves guild using his ports without
permission is about as close to a declaration of war without actually starting
a war as you can get."
"Illegal on both sides of the law?" Jeran shook
his head, amused. "I am never going to figure out your brother's politics."
Mareian shrugged, "King of thieves, king of Meridell;
they both come with a lot of politics."
"Now that's the truth," Jeran agreed, breaking
the seal on the letter the page had given him. Noticing Mareian's curious look
as he scanned it, he said, "It's from Illusen. She says the cure is almost finished,
and just needs to brew for another day or so before it's ready."
Relief spread though him. It was nearly ready,
and he hadn't transformed yet. Hopefully this would all be over in a day or
"How are you holding up?" Mareian jumped to sit
on his desk, then looked him up and down, "I haven't seen you very much with
all the running around I've been doing."
"I'm fine." Seeing her skeptical look he amended.
"Stressed, but nothing much has been going on. Lots of paperwork - which always
makes me grumpy, but I'm doing better than I expected at least."
"Any trouble sleeping? Your eyes are kind of
Jeran looked down at her, puzzled. "No, not really."
She shrugged. "Roebea had trouble sleeping after
he was bitten."
"Roebea?" An inspiration struck the blue Lupe.
"Was he the one you learned all the Werelupe things from?"
She nodded. "He was a juggler in the gypsy caravan
we lived with right after Papa died. Roebea was bitten and chose to live in
an iron cage on wheels we pulled along with the caravan." His pirate Lupess
smiled wryly. "It's a good thing he did. After he transformed he bent the bars
trying to get out. After he was cured, he moved down to the Lost Desert with
So that was why she didn't seem so worried, Jeran
realized. She'd seen someone become a Werelupe and then be cured. The blue Lupe
suppressed an irrational surge of jealousy as he wondered just how well Mareian
had known this other Lupe. Either way, he reminded himself as his small
pirate Lupess left, it was years ago.
Jeran had to keep a tight rein on his temper
all day. He felt... prickly. Every noise, interruption, or new piece
of paperwork seemed to grate on him. He had to constantly stop himself from
hackling up and snarling whenever anyone came to his door. In short, he was
having a bad day. And it wasn't even lunch time yet. He'd been in such a good
mood at breakfast, but shortly after Mareian had left, it had crumbled. It's
only a day or two more, he repeated as a mantra in his head. Surely I
can hold out a day or two more.
"Peek a boo." Clamping down on his urge to snarl,
Jeran looked up at the speaker -- and immediately brightened when he saw his
pirate Lupess slip in and close the door behind her. "Ready for lunch?"
"Hey, Jeran." The door swung open, hitting Mareian
slightly on the arm, causing her to yelp slightly in surprise. "Feel like some
food? I'm starving." Danner's blue Wocky head peeked though the halfway opened
It took all of Jeran's self control to not launch
himself at Danner, and fling him though the window.
He hurt her.
It was an accident, he told himself firmly.
But he hurt her.
Startled her, she's not hurt.
She is ours, and he hurt her.
Jeran looked at Danner. The blue Wocky had no
clue to his internal conflict, nor how close he had just been to becoming creamed
Wocky pie. It was time, he decided, to swallow his pride. "Danner," the blue
Lupe said, doing his best to keep his voice from shaking, "I think it's time
for that cell you arranged."
It was rather depressing, Jeran realized, how
much had been set up for this weeks in advance. The cell was larger than the
ones in the main dungeon, with stone walls on three sides to match the stone
floor and roof, and steel bars running from floor to ceiling on the one wall
that faced the guards' room. Of course, there were no guards on duty in there
now; these cells hadn't been used since the last war with the Citadel. The only
light came from a small window high up on one stone wall that faced the outside.
High to the cell at least, it was level with the ground outside, and a small
brush of grass grew at the bottom of the window. Its bright green was the only
color against the stone and steel.
"Here." Jeran pulled his royal signet ring from
his finger and took off his heavy knights' pendant from around his neck and
handed them to Mareian. "I want you to hold on to these for me." Closing her
trembling hand around them he said softly, "I want those back, so don't even
think about pawning them."
She gave him a wry grin, though her worried eyes
told him that the carefree mask she'd held though this was starting to slip
away. "Run to Illusen," he urged his Lupess. "She'll want to know about this."
Danner handed him a pair of plain peasants' clothes
to change into. Once he was changed, there wouldn't be anything to identify
him as himself, if the worst did happen and someone saw him. When the blue Lupe
came out of the changing room, Mareian was gone.
As Danner locked him in the cell, Jeran caught
his hand. "If I change," the Lupe begged his friend, "don't let her see me."
He wasn't sure how aware he would be as a Werelupe, but just the thought of
her near any Werelupe, even if it was him, was too much for him to bear.
The blue Wocky nodded roughly as he pocketed
the key. "Don't go anywhere on me, alright? I have to get back to work before
anyone starts looking for me."
The door to where the solitary met with the rest
of the dungeon clicked as Danner locked it, and Jeran was all alone. Jeran sighed
and rested his forehead against the steel bars. Now that he was here, he wished
he'd brought a book to read. Maybe he'd ask Danner to bring one next time he
came. There really was nothing to do. Crossing to the bed, he flopped onto it
and stretched out on his back, folding his hands under his head.
Pricking his ears, he could hear faint sounds
of the market outside floating down from the window. The soft sounds of children
playing what sounded to be kick the can, giggling and shouting. He'd used to
play that game with Lisha, before he'd been transported to Meridell. She was
so proud of herself every time she had managed to actually kick the can, the
majority of the time she would miss and only kick air. Of course, she'd only
been a toddler at the time. Some games were eternal apparently. Smiling at the
memory of his Aisha sister, the blue Lupe fell asleep.
"Hey, Jeran," Danner shut the door and repositioned
the tray he was carrying. "I just got off shift, and remembered you never managed
to get any lunch, so I brought you some."
The sleeping Lupe woke with a start. Jerking
his head up from the bed, he snarled at the Wocky, his glowing red eyes watching
Danner hesitated. "Jeran?" The snarling Lupe
showed no signs of recognizing his childhood friend. Danner swore, borrowing
a couple of words he'd learned from Mareian, as he looked at the Werelupe Jeran.
To be continued...