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Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Seven

by nimras23


Finishing her report with Athless' alibi, Mareian smiled happily at the small neat letters. Looking at her handwriting now, it was hard to tell she'd been writing for less than six months. It was easier this way, she decided. Now she didn't have to wait until Danner had time to hear her; she could just drop it all off on his desk and he could read it later. All she had to do before giving the thick stack of papers to Danner was talk to someone in charge of the Hospital that night to make sure Athless had really been there.

     Humming happily, Mareian headed across the castle to the hospital entrance. She always enjoyed talking to the people in the hospital; Anna, besides being Jeran's legally adopted mother, had become the unofficial mother of all the pages and squires, and the Bori head nurse Edric the universally adored uncle.

     As always, there was a handful of people milling around the entry, from pages who'd clumsily tripped down the stairs to squires who'd managed to discover they weren't really as good as they thought they were. Most of them knew Mareian on sight and waved cheerfully when they noticed her.

     A green Blumaroo hobbled by on crutches, his tail and left leg in a cast. The poor page nearly fell over trying to wave. Jeran, Mareian remembered, had said the poor Blumaroo was the most accident prone person he'd ever heard of; managing to slip on a patch of ice, fall though an open ground level window in the kitchen and pull a shelf full of cast iron pans onto himself. Mareian wished she could have seen that.

     This was two days after the same page had gotten off the cast on his arm from falling off the loft of the stable. Several of the castle teachers had a bet going that the page would manage to accidentally destroy the students' wing of the castle before he became a squire. While Mourvan said he didn't approve of his staff making bets on the students, Mareian knew for a fact he'd bet 20 coppers after the page had managed to break a whole rack of lances.

     A sleepy looking green Kacheek manned the front desk. "Can I help you Miss?" she asked.

     "I hope so." Mareian grinned. "Do you know if Anna or Edric was here on Day of Giving night?"

     "Oh." The Kacheek smiled, glad for a chance for gossip. "It was supposed to be Edric, but Anna subbed for him."

     Leaning forward, the secretary confided, "Anna said she was getting to old for all that socializing, but most of the staff here thinks it's because she doesn't want to be locked in a room having to listen to all those 'you've aged so well, My Lady' comments. I guess a lot of the Brightvalian nobles don't really believe she's willing to leave her duchy to Sir Jeran and Lady Lisha; they think they have a chance of earning her affection and getting Murron for themselves." Rolling her eyes, the Kacheek added, "Where they get such ideas nobody knows."

     "Greed," Mareian said in disgust. "Even if, Fyora forbid, something did happen to Lady Anna, both Jeran and Lisha are more than capable of taking care of Murron." Looking back into the hospital, Mareian asked, "Is Anna here today, or is she off?"

     "She's here, like always." Rolling her eyes, the Kacheek continued, "Sir Jeran keeps saying that Lady Anna works herself too hard and that she should take some time off. Then my Lady points out that he works more than she does; and she'll take some time off when he will. There's not much he can say to that, short of going on a vacation."

     "That'll be the day." Jeran was not the kind of person who could sit still and do nothing.

     "Exactly." The Kacheek giggled. "My sister says it's because he's afraid if he isn't actively doing something, he's going to get mobbed by fan girls."

     "Your sister might be right." Mareian laughed, ducking through the double doors into the clinic section of the hospital. If she remembered right, Lady Anna's office was at the very far end of the hall. Nurses in crisp white uniforms worked busily, crossing though the hall with charts and small bottles on some errand or other; Mareian wove her way though until she found a heavy oak door at the end of the hall labeled, 'Dr. A. Borodere'.

     After knocking on the door, Mareian was greeted by the motherly red Zafara almost instantly. "Mareian dear," Lady Anna greeted her, "this is a pleasant surprise."

     "I hope I'm not interrupting you, but I need to ask you some questions."

     "Well," the Lady smiled, "if you'll give me thirty seconds to run these files down to Dr. Gwenup, you can ask me all the questions you want over tea and crepes."

     Mareian grinned. "I think I can wait that long."

     "Excellent, you can just take a seat in my office, and I'll be right back," Anna promised.

     While the doctor was out, Mareian took the chance to look around the Lady's office a bit, though she was careful not to touch anything. A portrait on one of the offices many book lined shelves caught her attention; a red Zafara, obviously a younger Lady Anna, a white Kougra knight and a young blue Lupe. Looking closer, she realized the Lupe was a nine or ten year old Jeran. Comparing how tall the lanky Lupe was next to Anna, he had been taller than Mareian was now. Mareian found that slightly depressing.

     "My cousin sketched that while we were visiting him in Brightvale," Anna said behind her, pushing a small wheeled cart with a steaming tea pot, cups and a basket of crepes. Mareian started; she'd been so engrossed in the picture she hadn't heard the door open.

     "Normally he draws for anatomy textbooks, but he wanted to get more practice with portraits. Togran thought the whole idea was a little silly, but he got on well with Picard so he agreed to sit for one. Jeran," she reminisced, while motioning for Mareian to sit, "was a little harder to talk into it."

     "You managed to talk Jeran into something?" Mareian asked, impressed.

     "Not really," Lady Anna admitted. "Picard's cook bribed him with berry pies. At the time, Jeran was going through a growth spurt, so he'd agree to just about anything if you'd give him food." Mareian giggled, too bad berry pies probably wouldn't be quite so persuasive to Jeran now.

     "Now my dear," Lady Anna asked while handing her a cup of tea, "what brings you here?"

     "I need to ask you about the night of the ball," Mareian said, taking a crepe. "Who was helping you and how long they were here."

     "Let's see." Anna leaned back, sipping her tea. "It was a slow night; other than me, there was Folan, serving detention, and Branis. And Squire Athless, but he was only in for an hour or so, he said his master had an errand for him."

     "Athless was only here for a little while? About what time did he leave?" Mareian asked, munching on her crepe.

     "A little before seven, because he wasn't here for dinner."

     "And what time Folan and Branis leave?" Mareian asked, forming a mental time table.

     "Folan left at nine, and Branis stayed all night. The poor dear is very fond of his brother, and Sir Jamed can't seem to shake off his case of Neomonia." Anna shook her head. "They're the only family each other has, and the Day of Giving is a day for families to spend time together, or so Branis pointedly told me when I asked if he wanted to go."

     "Unless you work in the castle," Mareian pointed out, "because then you need to work."

     "Sometimes it's better that way," the Zafara agreed. "Better to be busy than alone on a day for families." Giving Mareian a sharp look, she continued, "But you don't have any family, do you?"

     "I have an older brother," Mareian said, "and I got to see him that morning; which is actually more than I usually see him most holidays, even before I worked here."

     "Oh? What does he do?"

     When in doubt, Mareian thought, use evasion. "A little bit of this and that."

     "Of course dear," the noblewoman said, humoring her. Mareian was certain Jeran had filled Anna in on her unusual background, but there was no need to be too specific on what her brother did. Lady Anna did talk to Danner sometimes after all, and an unintentional slip could get her brother arrested.

     Mareian chatted with Lady Anna for awhile longer on palace gossip, drinking more tea and nibbling on more crepes than Ricky would have approved of, before she reluctantly excused herself. She knew she needed to talk to Jeran about Athless as soon as possible, but Jeran wasn't going to take the red Draik's lack of an alibi well.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part One
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Two
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Three
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Four
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Five
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Six
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Eight

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