Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day One-Eighty-Three: Brrbllbrrrblll




Okay. Settle down, Dragomir. You're gonna hyperventilate. 'least Libby ain't here to catch me going nuts with your quill. Still out, still worth worrying over… but I think what I heard today is more important than an errant wife. I think. I hope.

Today started out just like Monday and Tuesday. Orcish murderer hasn't been caught, investigation is underway, nobles need guards. Right? Right. And for about two hours, everything with Driscol went as usual: he insults me, I say nothing back, we run around the castle and he chats with dang near everyone. He's a pissy social butterfly, that one.

Then, out of nowhere, a shit storm hit the castle, courtesy of The Baron: thanks to new evidence brought to light by his investigation, every noble was to leave their quarters open for inspection. Something about suspicions that one of the nobles might be Casimiro in disguise. And when people objected, the king himself decreed that The Baron's orders be followed to the letter.

In other words, no privacy. In OTHER words, I would have the chance to listen in on Driscol's conversations with his noble buddies. IN OTHER WORDS, I might actually be able to get some work done. I have no doubt in my mind that The Baron did all this so I'd GET the chance to do some proper spying, and while I question his methods, I gotta tell ya, diary, I am impressed.

Driscol was livid. LIVID. He bitched for almost an hour after hearing the news, and he ran back to his apartment while it was being checked by soldiers to make sure they didn't steal anything. They had the authority to kick 'im out, though, and they did. With relish. Made me wish I was a soldier, just for a few seconds.

Then I looked at the spear taped to my arm, and, uh, that opinion changed. I'd make a right silly soldier.

After that argument Driscol went about his business, talking to nobles crawling out of every corner of the castle in hush tones. The hallways were so crowded that this was damn hard, however, and eventually he led me to the Beefiary so he could chat while sitting at a table. Guess secrecy in plain sight is as good as secrecy behind closed doors.

The first couple conversations weren't that interesting. Lady Evangelina showed up for a few minutes, and they bitched about the state of affairs in the castle. A couple clerks with cost projections for the investigations and the disruption of business came after her. Lotsa numbers flying about that I didn't understand, and I spent most of the time eying the yak tarts Robert was laying out at his counter. (Even managed to sneak off and grab one. Wouldn't try it twice, though - Driscol wouldn't appreciate lax security. He would probably have lax security flayed.)

It wasn't until well into the day that somebody of interest showed up to talk to Driscol the Count. He was a dirty little man, with grimy hands and a squinty left eye, and even though I'm not always the most observant dude on the planet I could tell he did not belong in Driscol's company. Not a single part of his wardrobe was poofy.

But Driscol welcomed him. Gruffly, of course, but he offered the man a seat, and they chatted. And this, diary, is where things got REALLY weird, because they were deeeeeefinitely not speaking English. Or ANY language I could understand.

It was bizarre. When they greeted each other, fine, no problem. Once they got down to business, however, everything they said became a mess of letters and sounds, with only the occasional word making any sense at all. Their jabber sounded so strange that it hurt my head to listen to 'em.

My conclusion? Code. A secret language, meant to keep others from listening in. Worked damn well, too - by the end I wanted to rip off that stupid helmet I was wearing and clonk Driscol on the head. But I restrained myself, and by concentrating hard I managed to overhear a few words and phrases that registered as damn peculiar:

- Hole
- Pit
- Dig
- Make 'em all stop
- Invade
- Cheese corn dogs
- Demolish
- Fortress should've
- Mercenaries
- Coin, lots of it
- Bottomless

After a solid twenty-minute discussion the man got up and left, taking a small packet from Driscol with him. Then Driscol, back to his normal voice, ordered me to get him some food. I did. (Avoided spilling it on 'im this time, too. But the temptation… oh, the temptation.)

Once Driscol retired to his quarters and dismissed me, I ran right back to The Baron, dropped off my uniform - SO NICE to take that helmet off - and told him what I've just told you, diary. Wrote all the words down for him and everything. He thanked me profusely, gave me a couple gold for my troubles, and told me to report back in the morning. Said I made a much better spy than a guard, which he found very funny, 'cause I'm pretending to be a guard while I spy. Then he shooed me away.

First, though… I had to ask. I had to officially ask.

"He kept mentioning a hole, m'lord. And digging. Like, a lot. What… what did he mean by that?"

The Baron didn't miss a beat. "Probably the king's pet project."

"Pet project?"

"Yes." The Baron knocked on the royal guard helmet a few times, setting it on his desk. "One of the reasons the king decided to build his castle here was to take advantage of the rich metal veins buried beneath the bedrock throughout this region. If you go north or south of here you'll find a lot of mining operations tied to various kingdoms, all along the edge of the Great Chasm, and they're well-renowned for the quality of the extracted ore. Unearthing and processing the ore would make this kingdom very rich and very powerful."

"So the king… built on top of all this ore?"

"He did. And to keep his mines a secret from potential rivals, he began digging in secret, in one of our warehouses. He'd originally planned to let everyone know about it, but after the goblin invasion and the foulfungus infestation…" The Baron shrugged. "Surely you've wondered why the eastern wing of the castle has been closed for so long?"

"I suppose I have, m'lord." I figured I would try and pry one more secret out of The Baron. "Um… so who works in these mines? If nobody knows about 'em? Do the workers, like, live in 'em, or something?"

The Baron scratched his head. "That's an excellent question, Dragomir, one for which I have no answer. The king... doesn't tell me much about the mine, to be honest. Its operation is coordinated by other nobles. Jeffrey wants to keep its existence hush-hush until we strike it rich and build up enough of a weapons' stockpile to attract new soldiers."

"And… then what?" Couldn't resist.

"What else?" The Baron smiled, though sadly. "We go to war."

So that's it, then. The secret of the hole is solved. It's a mine. And, judging by the weird compulsion people get whenever they come near the thing, I bet the workers are US. Peasants. We just don't know it. And we've probably been doing it for so long that it doesn't even tire us out anymore.

Driscol supports the hole. The Baron doesn't, or he probably wouldn't if he knew more. And the rats, who seem to be on The Baron's side, REALLY don't like the hole. But… they haven't told him much about it yet, assuming they know more than they're letting on, which is PROBABLY TRUE…?

And the hole could cause a war? Or the stuff from the hole? But why/ What will the king do with all that metal?

Man. My biggest problem used to be avoiding elephants.


Dragomir the Spy

1 comment:

  1. Wow...the plot thickens...just like that...WOW...I'm actually surprised that such a single Diary entry can totally twist the story in a new direction.