In which the guardsman is seen and not heard
You stand in the Council Chamber of Anvard. Here King Lune discusses policy
with his advisors, entertains visiting ambassadors, and hosts small dinner
parties. The room is cozier than the Great Hall, and circular in shape. Fine
tapestries are hung on the walls, interspersed with the coats of arms of
various noble households. In the center of the room is a beautiful round
table, with ornately carved legs ended in lion’s claws, and a surface of
inlaid wood. Clearly, aside from more practical purposes, this is a room fit
to entertain people who need impressing.
You can go: Northeast Hallway <E>, Inner Ward <S>
Colin nods. “I am aware.”
Colin runs a hand through his hair then places his hand back on the table. He continues to stand facing the other knights.
Peridan frowns, “Why does he suddenly want to leave the cell?”
“And,” Tyren continues, “it’s rather a large risk for no guaranteed… return on investment, as my brother might put it. One which might cost us any chance of /anything/ further.”
Colin replies, “It is not sudden. He’s been trying to get me to get him out of there for a while.” At Tyren’s words, he nods. “Yes. That is why I spoke with Captain Garian, and we agreed to gather who we could to discuss the possibilities.”
Peridan taps his fingers on his leg, thinking.
Tyren folds his arms, brow furrowed. “He’s testing you, you know. How much can he wheedle out of you for nothing more than a /gamble/.”
Colin nods in agreement. “Yes, this could very well be a test, however what of the opportunity this presents? ‘What if we do it? What if we arrange for no guards around? I walk him out, we provide a horse, I take him to the tomb and see what he says. There are places to hide guards and knights, especially in the royal tombs. Position people in the forest, on the road to the pass, in the town for protection, to block him from leaving. He may injure me again but I don’t care. The truth is more important to me. Once he leaves, your men could follow and recapture him. We make sure vulnerable people are locked away. Lanisen, the kitchen maids, the ladies.” He pauses when he hears the door opening and waits, letting Tyren and Peridan mull this over.
Garian enters with Haft. He bows to the noblemen assembled.
Colin says nothing further, waiting for people to finish arriving and get settled.
Haft bows in turn.
Peridan simply remains quiet, watching his cousin.
Tyren falls quiet himself as he considers, steepling his fingers as he rests his elbows on the table
Colin continues to wait for people to arrive.
Garian moves to stand beside the table by Tyren. He joins his hands behind him in an ‘at ease’ stance.
Dar, seated beside his cousin, listens with a grave expression. He does not interject, content to listen solemnly to Colin.
Haft positions himself to the side of and a little behind Garian.
Darrin pushes open the outer doors and enters from the Ward, his mouth set in a straight line.
Megren trails after him, her hands clasped behind her back. Her eyes dart across the room with interest.
Colin waits for everyone to be seated. “Thank you all for coming. I know this is not an official council meeting, what with guards and squires here, but Captain Garian and I summoned who we could to hear this in case we need as many bodies as possible.” He waits for everyone to settle, then begins. “Sir Lyon and myself spoke with the prisoner Darius earlier this evening. A few of you are aware that conversation might have yielded an opportunity. We are here to discuss this possibility and the possible ramifications, and the wisdom of taking it.” He lets them absorb that before continuing. “Before going in to the cell, Sir Lyon and the guards and myself agreed upon a course of action in case I needed an out from outright agreeing to something. Sir Lyon was to listen to my conversation with Darius. If I mentioned anything about relinquishing my knighthood then he was to stop me and we would argue and leave the cell, the guards slamming the door to hide anything afterward. We did so. Darius has agreed that if provided with a way out and a horse, he would give me what I seek. All I have to do is walk him out of the castle to the place where he kept Lanisen, he’ll tell, then he said we’d never hear from Darius again. Now…we’ve made it seem as if I’m agreeing and no one else is the wiser. I feel we might have an opportunity to get some answers if we figure out how turn the tables.”
Tyren taps the tips of his fingers together in consideration, giving no visible reaction (as he’s already heard this).
Dar furrows his brow as he continues to listen. He pours himself some of the water which has been provided in a pitcher and, careful that not even a drop goes to waste, takes a long drink.
Peridan looks around the room before standing to his feet. He stands straight and tall, ever inch the head Narnian Commander. “Before we begin, I would like to say a few words. I also spoke to the prisoner Darius earlier. One of the agreements between us is that he has agreed to be tried under Narnian law as well if need be. Though I am grateful to be included in this discussion and will not interfere in jurisdiction, know that I am now representing the Narnian Court.” He then sits back down.
Megren’s brows furrow, and then her face draws blank.
Bracken slants his eyes toward Peridan in confusion, but says nothing.
Darrin rubs his forehead and comes to sit beside his brother. He has dark shadows under his eyes.
Colin continues. “I am aware that this assumes that he has the answers we seek in the first place. Many of you are aware how fond he is of games and power plays.”
Haft’s lips press into a thin line.
Megren tucks her hair behind her ear.
Garian remains quiet in his at ease stance, listening.
Dar acknolwedges his brother with a formal nod. His eyebrow raises in the typical fashion, with perhaps a hint of elder brother thrown in for good measure, at Darrin’s snort.
Megren, standing behind Sir Darrin, very discreetly knees him in the back.
Peridan does not take his eyes off his cousin.
Tyren nods slightly to Colin, and with a glance to Peridan, reamrks, “An assumption I am more inclined to say is erroneous, myself.”
Colin does not acknowledge Darrin’s reaction. He nods at Tyren’s input, then says, “However, this does not eliminate the fact that there is someone else out who could be a very real danger to our people and to ourselves. Things he said has led me to believe his accomplice is planning something sinister, perhaps even another kidnapping. He alluded to another ‘Berke’ situation occuring if I did not do what he asked. This could very well be a test, however what of the opportunity this presents? I ask you all, what if we do it? What if we arrange for no guards around? I can walk him out, we provide a horse, I take him to the tomb where he held Lanisen and see what he says and if he gives us this person. There are places to hide guards and knights, especially in the royal tombs. Position people in the forest, on the road to the pass, in the town for protection, to block him from leaving. He may injure me again but I don’t care. The truth is more important to me. Once he leaves, your men could follow and recapture him.”
Peridan’s eyebrow lifts slightly. “He told you he knew the plans of this ‘accomplice’?”
Megren shifts uncomfortably. Her eyes flick across the table to see the others’ reactions.
Garian’s gaze moves between Colin and the others gathered. He watches the reactions carefully.
Sir Lyon speaks up. “His words were, “How about you help me suffer less by releasing me, or you will indeed have to endure the pain of another Berke. And not by my hands.”
Dar replies, “We know the perpetrators in that instance. They have been dealt with, more leniently than strict justice would demand. Darius’s accomplice, if indeed there /is/ such a shadowy figure, was not among their ranks. We must discourage anyone else from attenpting to follow in this manner.”
Tyren glances to Peridan, remarking, “That seems to be rather contradictory to what I gather he told you.”
Colin asks, “What did he tell you, Lord Peridan?”
Peridan stands to his feet again. A slight wince crosses his features as his left arm bounces in the sling a bit. “As I have mentioned, Darius and I spoke for a while today. He claimed that he would be completely honest with me if I spoke to him alone. I complied and asked him a series of questions. As some of you may not know, Darius ran across my path in Narnia after he discarded the name Aaron. When asked, he told me that he had not been in contact with them until after he left Narnia nor even knows who /them/ is. He was contacted by ink and paper only. He claims that he knows /nothing/ of their intent and has his own reasons for what he did.” He glances around the room, “Now, it sounds like he is lying to one of us. If we choose incorrectly, it would be more detrimental than instrumental in capturing this ‘other person or persons.”
Tyren amends, “/At least/ one of us. If he is to one, there’s no guarantee he’s not to the other.”
Colin nods, seriously mulling over Lord Peridan’s words.
Garian continues to listen quietly.
Megren hesitantly lifts her hand as if asking permission to speak.Haft glances at Megren.
Darrin doesn’t notice Megren’s hand, standing as she is behind him, but he does drive the knuckle of his first finger in between his brows.
Colin glances around the table. His eyebrow goes up slightly at the squire’s raised hand, and he lifts a hand to motion for her to speak.
Megren lowers her hand, clasping it with the other behind her back, and says after another moment’s hesitation, “What does Lanisen think?”
Colin replies, “I wanted to consult first before telling Lanisen anything, if he’d even hear me. No need to rile him if we are only going to keep Darius in the cells. What we need is objectivity, and he’s too damaged and close and emotionally invested to be so.”
Megren blinks about five times.”
Garian’s eyebrows furrow for a moment.
Tyren grimaces slightly, but he nods after a beat.
Haft keeps his expression neutral.
Peridan does as well.
Dar points out, “This is rather flimsy evidence to allow a known criminal, a man, I might add, who attacked the king’s own nephew not long ago, his freedom. If–” he pauses. “If that is what he is being offered.”
Colin clarifies, “That is what he would think he is being offered. Hence my suggestion at having as many able-bodied people positioned throughout the town and on the roads to block him from leaving and recapture him.”
Darrin shakes his head. “This kind of underhanded deception is beneath us, the moreso for our doubts that Darius actually has any kind of information to give.”
Dar meets Colin’s gaze. “I have the utmost respect for you, Sir Colin. You have information–and experience–which exceeds my own in this matter. It is a concern that our word–our very name as knights of Archenland and servants of His Majesty–will be tarnished if we give him certain guarantees which we have no intention of honoring.”
Tyren says, “I’ve no love for tactics of that sort myself, even as a last resort. It’s… an awful stretch of the truth, if not an outright breaking of it, and– well. Most of you know how tightly I am wont to cling to the truth. Lord Dar’s thoughts echo my own.” A few beats pass before he says – slowly, almost reluctantly, even – “And yet…”
Garian remains quiet for the moment.
Dar turns to Tyren, everything in his expression and manner suggesting how heavy a weight he places on what his cousin will respond. “And yet–and yet you will endorse Sir Colin’s plan. This is the dagger, is it?”
Peridan dips his head, “If I may interject?”
Colin comments, “I don’t like it either, but the methods we have been using have yielded few results too. Shall we not consider playing the same game? He motions for Sir Tyren to continue if he wishes, curious to hear more of what he has to say. However, he stops when Lord Peridan speaks up and he nods his consent.
Tyren glances to Dar, frowning slightly. “Not– exactly.” He defers to Peridan at his question, rather than elaborating further.
Dar raises a sharp eyebrow at Tyren before he, too, turns his attention to Peridan.
Darrin’s lips settle into a thin line again. He glances sidelong at his brother before looking to Peridan.
Peridan dips his head, I” am inclined to agree with Lord Dar. ” He shakes his head, “The moment we forget honor and law, we become no more than those like Darius. Who seek out their twisted form of /justice/. We may as well as disband all forms of government and resort to our own desires. I have worked and labored aside good /people/ who lived under the rule of a tyrant for one hundred years, where her every fancy and whim was doled out to her own version of law. If we resort to trickery, are we not the same? Darius believes that all Lords are hypocrites and tyrants? Would we be furthering proving his belief?”
Garian gives a faint not to this.
Megren nods as well, seeming rallied by this argument.
Bracken leans heavily upon his axe.
Sir Lyon speaks quietly, “So….how is he to be stopped?”
Tyren gives a small, slow nod of his own. “Agreed, Lord Peridan. We’re made of better stuff than that. And that’s what /I’m/ attempting to get at.” He turns his glance to Colin. “I’m not comfortable with something of this nature, not in the least. At the same time – we’ve all seen how smug Darius is. That he has the greater knowledge, thus the greater power, and thus the greater advantage. And frankly, he’s not entirely /wrong/. We need to /break/ him of that if we’re going to get anything useful out of him. If there’s an /honorable/ way of accomplishing the same effect… there’s got to be /something/ of merit, if not in the implementation suggested” It’s to Dar that his glance now shifts. “What it boils down to is a battle of words. And if the right ones are used – maybe there’s a way to both catch him off guard while holding to the standards we set for ourselves. How – I don’t yet know.”
Garian speaks up finally, “Have I missed any reports of further trouble–kidnappings? The like?”
Dar gives a brief, courtly nod at Peridan’s words. When Sir Lyon speaks, his glance shifts in that direction. “Ask rather how are others to be stopped from doing likewise if we are seen to bow to Darius’s demands. If we begin to cut down the law to suit the time, it is as a forest. We will have no trees left in the end to protect ourselves under. Can every malefactor buy this court with ‘Another Berke’ as his coin?”
Colin listens to all of the input, considering each man and woman’s words equally. At Captain Garian’s question, he shakes his head. “Not to my knowledge.” Falling silent again as Lord Dar speaks, he considers the man’s words, chewing on his bottom lip. He looks around the table, giving everyone else an opportunity to speak.
Garian gently clears his throat and asks, “Sirs–and Lords–how long has Darius been in custody again?”
Megren says, “With respect, how can we expect our outlaws to mend their ways when they see us meet them with the same false dealings they themselves use? Will they not think us corrupt and unfair, themselves right in working against us? This is how Aaron sees himself even now.”
Darrin cuts his gaze to Tyren. “Since when has it been our task to break anyone, cousin? Even with prisoners of war, did we not treat them with honor? Why should we treat any of our own citizens any differently, no matter their crimes?” He shakes his head. “He pretends to a greater advantage because he pretends to a greater knowledge, and all he does is stir us against one another with his empty promises. He has nothing to offer, nothing at all. We are above his petty machinations.”
Bracken steps closer to Peridan, speaking quietly.
Bracken mumbles “They might try a different … that … … …”, to Peridan.
Tyren says to Megren, “Nobody’s disputing that.” To Darrin, he replies, “Then perhaps my choice of the word ‘break’ was in error. And that’s what I’m getting at. He’s wielding words as a weapon against us – and we need to /parry/, not just slash haphazardly. Respond with /precision/, instead of trying everything to see what sticks.”
Peridan leans to listen to Bracken. He mutters something back before addressing Darrin, “Yes, I do have a recommendation for that. He is gathering information on us and he does seem to know what can make us tick. I recommend that only a couple of Lords continue to engage him.”
Peridan mumbles “… you have … … … mind, …”, to Bracken.
Garian falls quiet, listening.
Bracken mumbles “… … … it … … prettier. … fella … sentenced yet?”, to Peridan.
Dar inclines his head. To Tyren, he replies, “A game of chess. We may, I believe, find a way to–bend–without sacrificing honor and without breaking entirely.” To Darrin, he adds, “Peace, brother. You know our Cousin’s mettle, and he would not suggest that the time has come for indirect force without good reason. And, I might remind you, our duty is to protect this land and her people. How best to do that in this case I am not so quick to say–these are dark, deep waters.”
Garian frowns a little.
Tyren nods to Peridan. “Agreed. The more of us he’s around, the more likely he’ll be able to gather what we hold in /our/ hand, so to speak – and thus better know what he needs to keep close himself.” He nods again to Dar. “We managed with Myrd, we’ll find a way to do so again.”
Peridan considers Bracken’s words. He responds quietly.
Peridan mumbles “Would … … … … … this meeting?”, to Bracken.
Darrin bites his bottom lip and grips his hands together in his lap so tightly his knuckles turn white.
Dar’s expression grows even more grim when Tyren mentions that name. “Indeed”, is all his response. He gives his brother a look which reflects very slight concern–proof enough of how great his concern is.
Garian clears his throat once more.
Bracken shrugs at Peridan in the affirmative.
Colin stands listening for quite some time before he finally speaks. “Thank you, all, for taking time away from your duties and your families to answer my summons. Your input, discussion, suggestions, and opinions are greatly welcomed and appreciated. I do agree, in consideration of the man’s history and methods, that this is too great a risk to attempt for a promise that is not guaranteed. It also appears to be a less than agreeable method to gain information but I still offer my thanks for hearing me out. My concern is still great for vulnerable subjects, particularly Lanisen, however I trust that we shall all remain vigilant for whatever might come next. We have survived holding Darius for nearly a month thus far and nothing has yet happened.” He pauses for a moment, then asks, “Does anyone else have anything further before people part? I want all of you to have an opportunity to speak your piece. Those of you who need to return to duties may do so as you will.”
Garian says, “Sir Colin, if I may?”
Colin motions to the Captian.
Garian says, “How long has he been making these threats–or saying what terrible things should pass if he is not released?”
Colin replies, “To me? This is the first time.”
Megren’s expression implies she is in disagreement with Tyren’s response to her, but she does not follow the argument up.
Tyren says, “That’s the most direct I’ve heard of, myself.”
Darrin says, “He threatened as much last week to me, though I’ve yet to see any of our citizens disappearing as he claimed.”
Garian observes mildly, “And it’s been about a month–what do you think is taking his accomplices so long?”
Garian adds, “Surely if they were so concerned… some disturbance would have arisen?”
Tyren says, “Yet another reason to call his credence into question.”
Megren nods at the captain’s words.
Colin pinches the bridge of his nose. “Perhaps for us to lower our guard, if it is a legitimate threat.”
Megren asks, “That seems contradictory. What good is a threat no one believes in?”
Dar frowns. “He must have some proof in mind. He cannot take us for utter fools. And yet, if there have been signs, they have yet to be reported.”
Darrin says, “He has offered no proof whatsoever.”
Peridan says, “As Sir Tyren has spoken, Darius likes to feel in control. And I firmly believe he has learned enough of us to pry on that feeling. Maybe that is why he threatened it to Sir Colin and Sir Darrin but not to me. That is the first rule of battle, know your enemy and how to divide them.”
Colin says, “When it comes down to it, we have the letters found by Sir Darrin and myself, and the fact Lanisen might have seen someone in the tomb. He was poisoned by a hallucinotory substance so even that is called into question. The fact of the matter is, everything is suspicion and speculation until something else occurs. He /knows/ that we have to address the possibility of such a threat.”
Tyren nods to Peridan. “Distraction. Give us reason to thin out our resources further.”
Garian says, “Haven’t we though?”
Garian says, “Done what we can to ensure our citizens are safe, that is.”
Megren says, “I still don’t understand why we would not consult the one who knows Aaron best and who has seen this accomplice himself.”
Colin finally acknowledges the squire’s words. “Because every time I asked him he went into a panic and I refuse to trigger that again.”
Megren opens her mouth, then shuts it firmly again. After a moment, and in a quieter voice, she says, “I believe, if done in the right manner, it would serve us doubly. It may give us information, and it may be empowering for him to be of assistance. Treat a man like a child and he will feel like one.”
Haft nods slightly at this pronouncement.
Colin lifts a hand, palm upwards toward Megren. “You have spent the most time with him in the past weeks, Squire. Tell me, how has that worked for you? What answers can you offer us tonight?”
Dar’s gaze settles on Megren. “Then we will trust that Sir Colin will pursue acquiring Lanisen’s input–at the proper time, and in the right manner. You have been heard, I assure you.”
Tyren remarks, “Lanisen /is/ Sir Colin’s squire, after all. And thereby, it is his place to decide how much to involve him.”
Darrin arches a brow steeply and says nothing.
Garian says quietly, “Yes, but Squire Lanisen was also the one against whom the crime was committed.”
Garian says, “And who has spent the most time with him. He should–at some time soon–have the topic broached and his input gathered.”
Dar inclines his head. “Indeed. And have you done so? What has Lanisen said to either you, or to you, Squire, on the matter? When he was forgiven his crimes, he placed himself under His Majesty’s justice. When he entered Sir Colin’s service, he placed his affairs in his knight’s hands. There is justice precisely because victims cannot be permitted to take revenge.”
Megren glances at the other lords. “Forgive me, I do not mean to speak out of place, Sirs. What I have seen is that he panics not because he is given information, but because he is given /partial/ information and what is important is withheld, and because what little power he has is taken from him, so that he is rendered useless in his own recovery — a recovery from a situation in which he was, again, powerless.”
Garian says, “I was… surprised–pleasantly so–by Lanisen approaching me to see the prisoner. To question Darius himself. And he did a fairly good job of it.”
Colin’s spine stiffens very slightly. “This comes from the squire who rebuked me in the infirmary for trying to include Lanisen and give him information. Which, I may remind, sent him into a terrible panic which you blamed me for, and rightly so. Why has your tune changed now?”
Megren asks, “Would you like to discuss a personal conversation in this forum, Sir?”
Colin replies, “I would not.”
Tyren says, “/Enough/. Lord Dar has the right of it. It is Sir Colin’s decision to make, and he has made it. End of discussion.”
Megren says, “Then I will not answer.”
Megren shuts her mouth, face red and eyes lowered deferentially.
Haft s gaze flickers between the two.
Darrin isn’t able to keep himself from scowling blackly.
Garian’s gaze moves across the other’s expressions and his own becomes somewhat sad.
Dar considers this. “There is a debt where Lanisen is concerned. Both for his service and because you, Sir Colin, are honor bound to protect him as Squire. Words spoken in the heat of anger are a poor judge of a man–or woman’s–true character. He may not speak to us; however, if he has spoken, then we ought at least to hear the matter out” He gestures to Megren. “If you wish to retire, you have leave. If not, I ask you remember that you are a guest to this Council.” He turns back to Garian. “You were saying? What was the result of this questioning?”
Darrin turns in his chair to address his squire in an undertone.
Colin meets Darrin’s expression quietly.
Darrin mumbles “If … intend … … … will … … … Megren.”, to Megren.
Peridan watches the proceedings quietly, tapping his fingers on the table.
Megren only gives a small, silent shake of her head, eyes still on the floor.
Garian says, slowly, “Well, milord, Lanisen’s… timid and reclusive nature is fairly well known. He came to me and said he wished to see the prisoner. This was not even two weeks ago. He may not have been confident, but he /did/ it. He questioned Darius with myself and Lord Tyren present. And he held his own. I think that a great improvement, Sir.”
Colin doesn’t react.
Tyren doesn’t either, despite the acknowledgement.
Garian says, “He was able to face his oppressor, without faltering. Make demands. And resist the taunts slung back at him.”
Dar nods. “That does show bravery, particularly given that with his prior deeds, he might be thought a conspirator. I do not believe he had any but honest motives when he went to speak with Darius, and you may tell Lanisen, on my honor, that if he wishes to provide information to us, I will not turn a deaf ear to him.”
Darrin gives her a searching look and jerks his head upwards in acquiescence. When he turns back around, he clenches his jaw and sits ramrod straight, a pale sort of anger high in his cheeks that wasn’t there before.
Dar raises an eyebrow at Darrin, then turns back to Colin. “Sir Colin. I thank you for bringing this business to our attention. If we have heard all which you would say to us, I ask your pardon. I would speak with my brother regarding a private matter. The hour, my lords, grows late–”
Garian falls quiet once more.
Colin nods his consent. “Of course, Lord Dar. Thank you for your input tonight.” He bows to the departing lord, his posture and face showing respect.
Tyren says, “Always good to have your counsel, Cousin.”
Peridan bows, “Lord Dar.”
Dar inclines his head. “Likewise, Cousin Tyren. You know where to find me when it is needed.” He rises to his full height and bows to the assembled lords. “Brother? A word, if you please–”
Darrin gives Dar an inscrutable look and then gets to his feet. He squeezes Megren’s shoulder and then bows to the group as a whole, wordless, motioning for Dar to lead.
Colin’s brows furrow slightly when he sees Darrin squeeze his squire’s shoulder, and he wordlessly observes the Coghill brothers leave.
Garian bows to the Coghill lords.
Dar walks out to the Inner Ward.
Tyren shakes his head slightly, then glances back to Colin. “Well. I think we’ve determined our response to Darius’ offer, and had a chance to lay everything out on the table to boot. Which has been… long overdue, to say the least.”
Colin turns back to the lords remaining. “Does anyone else have anything more to add?”
Peridan shakes his head, “Not at the moment.” He assesses Colin, thinking.
Garian bows to the lords, “By your leave my lords, I have a matter to attend too before retiring this eve.”
Colin says, “Thank you very much for your ear, and your time, Captain.”
Tyren echoes Peridan. “Not at this time,” he says, though the glance he gives Colin might suggest they have a thing or two to talk about in private. He nods to Garian. “Of course, Captain. A good eve to you, and thank you.”
Haft steps toward Megren, tipping his head toward the door in an inquiring manner.
Garian bows and then departs.
Megren nods gratefully at Haft, moving to follow him and the Captain out. She bows first to the lords remaining.
Peridan dips his head to the departing people.
Haft bows as well.
Haft walks out to the Inner Ward.
Tyren nods toward Haft, and again toward Megren, albeit the latter is a touch more short.
Megren walks out to the Inner Ward.