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Courtly Matters Part 34Simply Poison
"It would be easy enough for them to attack while we're here, waiting like sitting ducks for our orders."
"We've been here a week, I would have thought that if they were going to launch an attack, they would have done so already."
"Unless they're waiting for us to settle in, to grow complacent..."
The conversations around the fire that night were not entirely tense, but certainly aware of the enemy armies that likely surrounded them this late into the night.
"You do realize that they could just as easily poison our water supplies, with half the fuss..."
Silence met that particular remark.
Courtly Matters 33The sound of distant frog's song permeated the night, layered beneath the sound of rhythmic drumming and the bardic chorals that so often accompanied them. Laughter floated up from various regions of the camps as the late hours of night slowly approached the small hours of the next day's morning. The camp was quiet and peaceful. A warm spring breeze toyed with the canvas walls of the many tents and pavilions before it swept on towards the north edge, where the horses were tied for the night.
There, sheltered behind a wagon of extra tack and feed for the horses, the two squires guarding the horses held a hushed discussion over their rapidly dwindling campfire. "I swear, it's real Arabian bee nectar. The gypsy's never led me wrong before."
"I still don't believe you," the second squire replied.
Since when have you had time to meet gypsies?"
"You remember when-" The first squire was about to respond, but the low grunt of his knight as he rolled over stopped their con
Courtly Matters Part 32The Apple and the Charge
The young man was nervous. It seemed to ooze from his very being, causing the horse he stood next to to shift uneasily. Today would be the day that determined whether Sir Greffor would take him on as a squire or not. The knight's previous squire had died in the line of duty- or so it was said. Rumours had it that he had run off. If the Knight did not feel that he was ready, the young man knew that he'd be sent back to run the bellows at his uncle's blacksmith for the rest of his life. A sentence to a career of nothing but sweat, soot and bone-aching heat.
He glanced around the listfield, noticing just how many of the noblemen had come to watch the events. In truth, he knew, they were there for the initial tournaments that would happen directly after his 'trial,' but the sheer number of people that had arrived was beginning to unnerve him.
"You will do fine, brother."
He spun around to find his ten year old sister approaching, a basket in
Courtly Matters 31Broken Dove
For a fortnight now, Sir Edward had woken in the wee hours of the morning in a cold sweat, fighting off the terror of the same nightmare each time.
For a fortnight now, Sir Jorhiem could have sworn that every dove he saw- whether in dreams or out of the corner of his eye in the strangest of places- looked sickly, if not on it's deathbed by some unnatural disease.
For a fortnight now, the Baron Filado de Ostraol found himself becoming immensely uncomfortable in the presence of any white bird, as few as there were near the castle; even the fluttering of something white seen out of the corner of his eyes sent shivers down his back.
They dreamed of a broken dove.
The Queen's heraldic device bore a white dove.
Slipping PackagesSlipping Packages
Caravi's face darkened after he finished reading through the reports that one machine had spit out minutes ago.
"What's wrong, Caravi?" Gravor asked, pausing in his calculations when Caravi crumpled the papers.
"Somebody's been slipping shipments of highly advanced technology to a supposedly ignorant company on a level two planet." Caravi said. "Technology that by all means, should never be on a level two planet, no matter whose hands it's in."
Gravor nodded, erasing a figure on his page of equations. "I don't suppose it had anything to do with why these figures aren't lining up, does it?" he asked mock-hopefully.
Caravi surprised him, "Actually, it does," he replied, reading over Gravor's shoulder. "Well, in a vague, half-twisted, barely logical manner, at least."
One long finger traced it's way along a particularly complex chain of numbers, letters and symbols. "Change the alpha to beta, square this, multiply by the negative inverse and reciprocal of the number you
Courtly Matters Part 30An Unexpected Meeting
Sir Jorheim of Yothgard and member of the Order of Nightingales
During a rare break between hours-long Court sessions, Sir Jorheim took to the woods for a break, for the silence that they offered as he imbued large amounts of water in order to ease his protesting throat.
For the first time in months, Sir Fraiden was on his way back to the Castle. He, like many of his peers in the Order of the Nightingales, were slowly on their way back to pay honor to their new Head of the Order.
"Sir...Jorheim?" Fraiden spluttered in surprise, lifting his visor to reveal a face in need of a good shave and cleaning as he peered at the man walking a short distance away.
Jorheim spun around, and then caught sight of the Knight errant.
"Aye," he replied. "And your name, good sir?"
"It's me, Sir Fraiden, Knight of the Order of Nightingales, don't tell me that you don't recognize me..."
"Fraiden!" the Herald exclaimed, then turned his back and continued walking away. "Best you be hurry
Courtly Matters Part 29Unexpected Visitors
The tournament had been going on for nearly two hours, when the unexpected visitors first arrived. Upon realizing just who their honored guests were, the Earl Marshal immediately called out a hearty "Hold!" which forced the two combatants to an instant halt.
The Herald nodded in recognition before making introducing the visitors to all within the room. "Acknowledge your King and Queen, their Royal Majesties."
The sound metal crashing against the hard floor broke the silence that had fallen at the Crown's entry as all within the arena fell to one knee.
Courtly Matters 28Secret of the Ribbon
Only the observant would notice that the Queen now wore a blue ribbon around her upper arm. Only the observant would notice that the Earl Marshal wore the same, but tied around his belt. Only the observant would notice that the Duke of Coilas and the Baroness Lydalia discretely wore the same blue ribbon somewhere on their person each day. It would take an intensely observant person to notice that one day, three weeks later they all stopped wearing the ribbons within minutes after the Queen's ribbon 'fell' off. It would take a fool to not notice the surprise attack on the castle that day- but a keenly observant person to put the two together. The knights were prepared when all others had not been. The Baroness had the Wards cleaned, and ready for any wounded. The King had directed it all, and the Duke had delivered the first message. No one would know though. The blue ribbons, after all, were a subtle sign, easily overlooked in Court.
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