Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 132,988,897 Issue: 246 | 30th day of Relaxing, Y8
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Eight


by nimras23

--------

A small cloud of gloom seemed to hover around Lisha, Jeran fretted, and he didn't like it. Not even Chubby, Lisha's ever curious Warf, made her smile. His best guess was she was sad to see her Brightvalian friends leave, especially the yellow Kougra, Rolan. Jeran tossed a small rubber ball for Chubby, and watched Lisha stare out the window. "Copper for your thoughts?"

     "Huh?" the yellow Aisha asked. "Oh, I'm just spacing." The smile she gave Jeran was feeble at best. Retrieving the ball, Chubby nudged Jeran's hand to get him to throw the ball again.

     "Lisha, you've been staring out the window ever since the Brightvalians left." Tossing the ball again, he added, "Look at the bright side, you're going there this summer, and you'll see them again."

     "I guess so, but that's a whole six months away," she complained.

     "I'm sure he won't forget you in that short of a time."

     Lisha's face blushed orange. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she managed, while the insides of all four of her ears turned a vivid crimson.

     A misty red haze swirled around her face, as the ring told Jeran she was lying; Lisha knew exactly what he was talking about. "Of course you don't," he teased. Scooping up Chubby he continued, "Are you planning on talking Chubby along next time? Rolan mentioned that petpets aren't allowed in the public libraries there."

     "They're allowed in most of the private libraries, and she stays in my room when she can't come along."

     "Planning on spending a lot of time in private libraries?"

     Lisha blushed an even darker shade of orange, and glared at him. Leaning back in his chair, Jeran grinned crookedly back and scratched the wiggling Chubby behind her ears. The corner of Lisha's mouth twitched, and her glare broke down into giggles. "Big brothers are such a pain in the neck," she said to Chubby, taking her from Jeran.

     "We're supposed to be," he retorted. "It says so right in the big brother contract."

     Lisha laughed, her mood lightening. "Very funny," she said, ruffling the blue fur between his ears fondly. "I need to get back to the library; my shift is coming up."

     Chubby gave an enthusiastic bark as Lisha opened the door, and bolted through, racing back and forth along the hall in excitement. Seeing Danner further down the hall, Chubby ran down and jumped excitedly at his legs. The Wocky and Warf got on well, with Danner often smuggling her treats.

     "Don't you give her any treats," Lisha warned the approaching sheriff. "Chubby's on a strict diet now."

     "You're the one who named her Chubby," the Wocky protested. "I'm only helping her suit her name; besides, she loves me."

     "More likely, she loves your treats." Lisha grinned. "I'll talk to you later, Danner; I'm running late." Waving goodbye, Lisha hurried down the hall, followed by the hyper Warf.

     "She's a lot more cheerful right now than I thought she'd be," Danner commented, watching her disappear around a corner.

     "Lisha's pretty easy to cheer up; all you need to do is point out that she has something else to do. Sitting around pouting isn't really something she does very well." Glancing around, Jeran asked in a quieter tone, "Is Mourvan with Mareian right now?"

     Danner grinned. "As close as he can get at least, Mareian's visiting your mother right now, probably making sure Athless was really where he said he was."

     Following Jeran back into the room, Danner continued, "I really have to hand it to her; Mareian's covered a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. She's really very good at this."

     Jeran gave Danner an amused look. "Are you going to tell her that?"

     "And ruin months of bickering?" he countered, settling into an overstuffed chair. Sobering, Danner continued, "Although I think Jasagh has Mareian more rattled than she'll admit to. She's too smart to not notice that we've been keeping an eye on her, and the fact that she hasn't called us on it kind of worries me."

     Nodding, Jeran agreed. "Normally if any of us suggested she couldn't handle something, she'd give us a lesson in linguistics." Wincing, he added, "You should have been there when I suggested that she shouldn't help us with Jasagh."

     "I'm glad I wasn't." Danner laughed. "She's a very complex little person, isn't she? Sometimes she won't bat an eye at something you'd think she'd explode at; other times the tiniest thing will set her off." Thoughtfully the Wocky added, "Though not with just anyone, I think how much you get to see of her reaction depends on how well she knows you. She's very reserved with most people."

     "But if she wants you to know how she feels, she'll tell you; whether you'd care to know or not," Mourvan added from the doorway. "Better change the subject," the brown Zafara advised. "Mareian's heading this way, and if she thinks you're talking about her behind her back, she'll give us an earful."

     At that moment, however, Mareian had a bigger problem than the guys joking about her. She was more worried about how Jeran was going to take her news about Athless lying. Just paint me shadow and call me a Crokabeck, she thought, with all the bad news I've been bringing.

     Jeran seemed to have found out she was bringing bad news too, because she couldn't find him. Both his office and his quarters were empty, as was Danner's office. After wandering the halls, she finally found Jeran and Danner along with Mourvan in one of the sun rooms by the courtyard; chatting about some knight she'd never met named Morris. Of course they had to be having a happy conversation for her to crash, just her luck.

     Jeran was the first to notice her standing in the doorway, "Hey Mareian," he greeted, scooting over to make room for her on the couch. "All done?"

     "Not quite," Mareian said, settling next to the blue Lupe. "Athless lied; he was only at the hospital until about seven that night. He was out of there hours before Jasagh escaped."

     "Are you sure?" Jeran asked, while Danner whistled in surprise softly and Mourvan drew a sharp intake.

     "Anna was, she said he left before seven because he wasn't there for dinner. There were two others there too, Robyn's nephew Folan and Sir Jamed's brother Branis, who stayed later and could confirm the time."

     Heading off the obvious next question, the pirate Lupess added, "I ran into Branis in the hall on the way here, and he agreed with Anna on the time Athless left."

     It was amazing how quickly they could get over their shock and into action. "Mourvan," Jeran snapped, jumping to his feet, "where should Athless be now?"

     "Armory," Mourvan grunted, following the Lupe out the door. "This week he's supposed to be helping repair crossbows."

     "Let's hope he didn't skip out of that early too," Danner growled.

     "First things first," Jeran said. "We need to get some weapons in case he gets any bad ideas. Mourvan and Danner, carry short swords; I'll just stick with my dagger, there's no need to get dramatic about this."

     "What about me?" Mareian asked.

     Jeran gave her a slight smile, "You head down to the dungeon and have a high security cell prepared. Not Two, we know the key on that one's been compromised. Four maybe, make sure we can see it from the window in Danner's office; I'm going to make sure this one doesn't escape." Mareian nodded, and headed the other way down the hall at a quick trot.

     "I've some short swords in my office weapons locker we can use," Mourvan offered. "I don't want to go into the armory with Athless to get a weapon."

     "Good idea," Jeran agreed. Hopefully all these preparations were going to be for nothing; maybe Athless had another alibi that he'd just forgotten to mention. Though it wasn't very likely, he admitted to himself. It wasn't like Athless to forget something like that. Then again, Jeran hadn't thought it like Athless to help a prisoner escape either.

     Swinging by Mourvan's office, Jeran adjusted his dagger to a more accessible spot while the Wocky and Zafara armed themselves. "Everybody ready?" After the Wocky and Zafara nodded, Jeran continued, "Mourvan, head around the back to the side door, Danner and I will go through the front. We don't want any last minute chases here."

     After giving Mourvan a couple minutes' head start, Jeran and Danner headed to the main entry to the armory.

     "Hello Cadmere," Jeran greeted the knight on duty in front armory's front room. "Is Athless still here?"

     "I haven't seen him leave," the gruff yellow Scorchio motioned to a half closed door. "He should be in the corner room with the crossbows."

     "Thank you." Motioning for Danner to stay in the main area, Jeran crossed the room and opened the door to the crossbows. Keeping his voice as casual as he could, he greeted him. "Hello, Athless."

     The red Draik looked up from his workbench covered in crossbow strings and wooden pins. "Hello, Sir Jeran, this is a pleasant surprise." There was no flicker of red from the signet ring, or trace of guile in his face, as far as Jeran could tell Athless was truly glad to see him; which only made Jeran feel worse about this whole thing.

     "I've a question for you," Jeran continued, keeping a close eye on the Draik squire, "Mareian's finished up with her paperwork and found a curious thing about one of the alibis. No one seems to know where you were after around seven. I don't suppose you could fill us in?"

     Athless looked at him with eyes as innocent as the sky, "I was in the hospital, My Lord. Helping roll bandages." The ring's red haze around his face made the already red Draik seem to glow.

     Jeran sighed; he didn't like how this was turning out. "Athless, we've already got two witnesses saying you left before seven. Right now you're the only person whose alibi isn't matching up. I don't care if you were out of the castle after curfew if it gives you an alibi; but right now you're looking at treason if you can't get someone to vouch for you."

     The Draik's usually friendly face contorted into an ugly snarl. "I already told you, I was in the hospital."

     "So you've said," Jeran agreed, "but you're lying."

     For a second, Athless looked like he would strike Jeran, but at the last moment he remembered he was unarmed and Jeran was nearly twice his size. Instead, he turned to bolt, but the door was blocked by Danner. Reflexively, Athless stepped back and raised his wings to look bigger and hissed at Danner as he looked wildly about for an escape.

     With Athless distracted, Jeran lunged and grabbed the Draik's arm, twisting it behind the squire's back. Mourvan slipped through the door Danner was guarding and grabbed the Draik's other arm and wings, immobilizing the traitorous squire.

     "Danner," Jeran said, "come chain him up and take him to the dungeon in the most discreet way possible. I don't want this to turn into a big circus with us leading him out."

     Once Danner had the squire securely in his custody, Jeran let him and Mourvan go ahead while he followed farther behind. He needed a little time to compose himself before facing Athless again. Deep down he had still believed that Athless had simply forgotten he'd gone somewhere and had lost track of time.

     Mareian had done well, he saw walking through the dungeon; she'd shuffled some of the prisoners to new cells so Athless' was visible from not only Danner's office, but from three of the guard positions. Jeran could almost hear her muttering about how this one wasn't going to escape to herself as she rearranged.

     Before Athless got to make himself comfortable in his new home, though, Jeran needed to ask him some questions. Anticipating his train of thought, Danner had taken Athless straight to a closed in room and had Athless cuffed to the chair.

     Athless' reaction to his situation was a little less than civil. Jeran let him run his mouth until the Draik started to repeat himself. "You know," Jeran pointed out, "you can go as long as you want and it won't make any difference. The walls are lined with nearly a foot of cork so no one outside can hear you."

     "I don't know about you," Mareian added, settling into a chair, "but I have all the time in the world." The tiny Lupess cocked her head to the side in the most adorable way imaginable and grinned impishly.

     "Hardly," Athless spat. "You'll have troubles of your own soon enough."

     "Probably," she agreed, "but not nearly as soon as you." Mareian, Jeran decided was going to get a lot further goading the Draik than he was. Athless had always seemed out of sorts around her, and now this worked in their advantage.

     "Just you wait," Athless threatened. "When the true king returns it won't be me in this dungeon."

     "You mean, when Jasagh tries to take the throne from Skarl?" Mareian asked, her face amused.

     "You knew?" the incredulous Draik sputtered

     "You can't tell me you actually believed him; Jasagh isn't going to be taking the crown for Skarl anytime soon, that's for sure."

     Athless snarled at the Lupess' scornful tone. "How can you be so blindly loyal to that blue oaf?"

     "How can you trust Jasagh?" Mareian countered. "Other than being the same color and species as Shanna, does he have any proof?"

     "I believe him."

     "Of course you do, that's why you're here in jail now. And if you think he's going to bother getting you out, you're sadly mistaken. All Jasagh was doing was using you, despite whatever he promised you."

     "Where is Jasagh?" Danner interrupted.

     "I don't know," the Draik lied.

     "Try again," Jeran said, starting to get irritated.

     Athless sneered. "Like I'd tell you."

     Mareian opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the door swinging open behind her. Expecting a knight with a message, Jeran turned to tell them to wait, and then snapped his mouth shut. A skeletal Draik's head peered through the open door, its empty eye sockets apparently examining the room. "We have come for the traitor," he rasped.

To be continued...

 
Search the Neopian Times




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 Seven
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Nine
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Ten
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Eleven
» Chronicles of the Court Rogue: Treachery - Part Twelve



Week 246 Related Links


Other Stories


---------

Summer is here!
I like winter.

by sunny_pet

---------

A Room With an Aisha: The Altador Cup
Ever notice how the ball never actually affects the player?

by robbydude5

---------

My Vacation: Part Four
"Let's go pick up some breakfast and then we can go see the Ruins," Jeanie said. I turned around and was in my wetsuit before her...

by jeanaet



Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.