Aranée: The Cleansing
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Lord Jobil poured himself a measure of flameberry brandy and leaned back in his chair with a sigh. One could say he had had a productive day, and he supposed he should be happy about it. But successfully finding traitors in his castle and lands was not exactly a happy chore. He took a sip and removed his boots, his mouth a grim line.
Much had happened since they had broken the rogue blacksmith. The promise of burning iron had been enough to convince him. But some of the interrogations with the other conspirators had been... messy.
Most of the traitors were landed nobles he implicitly trusted. Some had been with him in his court since the beginning of his time here. A few had even worked for his brothers long ago - and were likely complicit in their deaths. He was certain he had discovered most of the subversives, but definitely not all of them. Grim determination hung on his face: Perhaps the sight of their fellows still swinging at the gibbet near the town gate would inspire the rest to quietly disappear of their own accord.
He sighed and closed his eyes, sipping the fiery liquid.
Then there was the terrible loss of his beloved Galen, and Aranée's near brush with death resulting in the loss of his unborn grandchild. Eyes misting, he pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment. Collecting himself, he turned to his writing table.
Yet another sleep-deprived night lay ahead for he still had normal affairs of state to complete in the remains of the day. Despite the circumstances, his loyal subjects deserved a completely engaged leader and he would provide it. Mutiny or not, he would keep the ship of state on course.
But first... first he had letters to write. One congratulating Aranée on her royal inheritance, pledging his support and a visit when time allowed. Another to Mubela authorizing her and the soldiers to stay on indefinite loan to Aranée. And most importantly - a letter to Bellikor.
He flattened the royal stationery on the table and wet the quill. Bellikor would also stay at the fortress indefinitely, helping Aranée and Mubela in any way he could. But his highest priority would be determining who was responsible for the downfall of Aeriteuin, who had killed his brothers, and who had riddled his court and lands with traitors. Bellikor was to get to the bottom of it all. Even if he had to translate every snippet of Quenyan text found in both lands, even if he had to wear out twenty horses shuttling between leads.
Another taste of the liquid fire and he bent to his task, covering the page with his distinctive scrawl.
Jobil wanted those names and answers. And he wanted them now.
TO BE CONTINUED!
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FIRST CHAPTER -:- NEXT: Maeral'a -:- PREVIOUSLY: Hardscrabble Hope
Image and story © 2012 by Larry Hodge
- August 19, 2012
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