Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Six
Never, Mareian decided, had so many people seen so little.
That wasn't entirely true, she corrected herself; they just hadn't seen anything
that she cared about. "If I hear one more giggle about who wore what or who went
with who to the ball I'm going to scream," the pirate Lupess threatened Danner.
"After talking to that horde of maids yesterday," the pirate Lupess shuddered,
"I think I'm mentally scarred for life."
The blue Wocky chuckled. "That's why I just leave
pesky ball details like dates up to you."
"That was a one time event; you're on your own
"That's okay," Danner chirped. "I'm sure I'll
find a way to bribe someone to go with me next ball."
The pirate Lupess laughed. "Try dark chocolate,"
she teased. "It tends to encourage forgiveness later."
Danner pantomimed pulling out a notebook and
used his finger to pretend to take notes, "Dark chocolate," he mused in mock
studiousness, causing Mareian to laugh harder. "Now does this work on all occasions,
or just dances?"
A brown Zafara head poked through the doorway.
"I hear the sounds of people having fun," Mourvan accused. "You know that's
"What are you going to do," Danner countered,
"If I do, does it get me out of being interrogated
"Nope," she grinned, "never in a million years."
"I guess I won't, then. I'll just let you off
with a warning."
"I'm so glad," Danner drawled.
"Nah," Mareian teased, "he's only letting us
off so I won't wipe the mat with him next time he asks me to help teach the
pages grappling." The tiny Lupess shot a cheeky grin to the much taller brown
knight. "Right, Mourvan?"
The Zafara training master made a morose face.
"She's on to me, Danner," he warned the Wocky Sheriff. "She knows about my plot
for more sparring partners."
"Confession time," the blue Wocky admitted. Putting
on a sober face, he continued, "When I was a cub, my little sister Leis used
to beat me up. How am I supposed to be able to keep up with you, Mareian, Jeran,
Lisha, Chubby the Warf, Lawrence's Catamara..."
Mourvan snickered. "I think I'd rather be interrogated
by Mareian than listen to stories of your messed up childhood."
"I'm not going to interrogate you," Mareian said.
"I even left my chains, thumb-screws and cuffs home today."
"Do you really own those?" Danner asked, looking
"If you don't know," she teased him, "I'm certainly
not going to take the fun out of it by telling you."
The disturbed look on Danner's face proved to
be too much for Mourvan, who burst into gales of laughter. "You two should go
into stand up comedy," he managed to gasp while wiping tears for mirth from
his face. "You'd make a fortune."
"After all the work I've put into this?" Mareian
said in mock horror, "After all the castle staff yesterday, I only have 30 or
so people left to tor... I mean, intero... that is, question."
"You know," Mourvan said dryly to Danner, "there
are some people who enjoy their jobs far too much."
"But we like you anyways, Mourvan," Mareian teased,
throwing a paper wad at the Zafara.
"I wasn't talking about me," he protested,
catching her paper ball and throwing it back at the tiny Lupess.
"Sure you weren't," Danner laughed, grabbing
paper of his own and crumpling them. Soon the air was thick with paper missiles
flying in an all out paper wad war.
Jeran brought up his practice shield to defend,
as Athless' wooden sword clipped by his ear. Retaliating, Jeran followed his
block with a quick low attack, throwing the red Draik off balance. The squire's
fate was sealed as Jeran ducked under the Draik's underpowered swing and brought
his own wooden sword's edge under Athless' chin. "Much better," the blue Lupe
"But not as good as you," the squire returned
wryly. "I don't think I'll ever get the hand of following that block with a
good attack. My shield gets in the way of my sword half the time."
"That just takes practice," Jeran assured him.
"It's a fairly complicated move, and your footwork's improved a lot in the last
couple months. Besides," he added, "I think you'll notice your improvement when
you fence with other squires."
"You mean, against people I have half a shot
of beating?" the Draik joked.
Jeran shot his squire friend a wolfish grin.
"Well, you did say you wanted a challenge."
"I must have been insane," Athless groaned as
he stretched out his sore and bruised muscles. "And I must still be insane,
because I'm still here."
"No one said sanity was a requirement for knighthood,"
Jeran teased. "In fact, being slightly nutty probably helps."
"If I wasn't when I started, I am now," the Draik
quipped, causing Jeran to chuckle.
Of all the squires in the castle, Athless was
probably Jeran's favorite - not that he'd ever admit to having a favorite squire.
If Jeran hadn't been the King's Champion when the earnest Draik had graduated
from being a page, Jeran would have snatched him to be his squire. As it was
however, the Champion wasn't supposed to have a personal squire, and Athless
had become the squire of Sir Alton Beringart, a solid Eyrie knight from the
southernmost area of the Kingdom.
It had worked out well though, Jeran decided,
few were better at jousting than Alton, and he had a natural ability as a teacher.
Under him, Athless had become an extremely versatile squire, able to hold his
own against most knights in jousting, archery, and grappling. He was a competent
swordsman too, though Athless would never believe it of himself. Hence his asking
Jeran to work with him on his swordsmanship, a favor Jeran was more than happy
to help with.
"You know, Athless," Jeran mused, "you might
have an easier time if you switched to a shorter broadsword; that way you wouldn't
have to counterbalance with your wings quite so much."
"I'll give that a try."
The red Draik looked like he was about to add
more, but instead his face blushed bright scarlet and his mouth snapped shut
as he stared towards the door. Turning Jeran looked to see what had flustered
the page, only to see Mareian's head poking around the door frame. "Are you
two almost done?"
Giving the dumbstruck page an amused glance,
Jeran answered for the both of them. "Yes, I'd say so."
"Good." The steel colored Lupess grinned and
skipped into the room, closely followed by Mourvan's silent form. Judging from
her apparent good mood, it seemed Danner and Mourvan had done a good job of
cheering her up; seeing her grinning made Jeran feel much better.
"So what do you need?"
"I'm actually here to see Athless."
Hearing her, the already ruby Draik darkened
to an even deeper scarlet than before. "Me?" he stammered in surprise. Jeran
hid a grin as he turned to put his practice sword and shield away in the storage
"It's nothing major," she assured him. "I just
need your alibi for the night of the ball, after we locked up Jasagh."
"Oh," the squire said in an odd tone. "I was
in the hospital, helping roll bandages." Jeran couldn't tell if the Draik was
relieved or disappointed by Mareian's question. Securing the cabinet door, Jeran
turned to see Athless make a wry face and add, "Some jobs can't get holidays
off; I didn't have anything better to do, and they always need help in there."
"Amen to that," Jeran agreed, having spent the
majority of his childhood in that same hospital.
"Do you need anything else?" Athless asked Mareian.
"If you don't, I should get going; my Lord's going to need me to help him tonight."
"No, that should be all of it," Mareian said.
"I know where to find you if I do need anything."
Nodding awkwardly, the squire hastily put his
practice equipment away and scurried out the door.
"Very odd little man," Mareian commented.
"Athless?" Mourvan asked.
"I think that's the most he's ever said to me,
usually its short little fragments of sentences or him quietly following me
around like a little Ganuthor."
"That's odd, he'll talk my ears off." Mourvan
shrugged. "Then again, I was his teacher for years."
"Maybe because he knows you better?" Mareian
suggested. "Oh well, it's not like I see him all that much anyways. Now all
I have to do is talk to the hospital staff, then I'll be free. Free!" The tiny
Lupess spun around, grinning. "Because then it's all up to Danner."
Jeran laughed. "That sounds like an idea; think
I should have Danner do all my much hated paperwork too?"
Mourvan guffawed, "Make sure you warn me first;
I don't want to be anywhere in the capital when you do that."
The tiny steel Lupess grinned mischievously.
"Congratulations, Danner, you get a promotion to be the entire bureaucracy of
the kingdom, all on your own."
"Somehow, I think he'd move to Brightvale seeking
political asylum." Mourvan snickered.
"Well," Jeran added, "Leis would be happy."
"I've never really understood why she didn't
just stay in Brightvale after she graduated; she obviously likes it better than
Meridell." Mareian winced slightly. "I certainly wouldn't mind her going back."
The pirate Lupess and the faerie Wocky had never
gotten along very well. The first time they had clashed was before Jeran met
his tiny thief; Mareian had been in jail for stealing Leis' purse when Jeran
had hired her, and Danner's sister was the kind of person to hold grudges.
"You'd have to know Danner and Leis' father,"
Jeran explained. "He doesn't have a problem with his cubs going to an elite
Brightvalian school, but all his land and wealth are tied to Meridell. There's
no profit for him to have a socialite daughter living in luxury in Brightvale,
much to Leis' disappointment."
To be continued...