Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day One-Seventy-Seven: Fork Me

No running today, diary. Today was all about subtlety. Panache. Protocol. So, naturally, I was left out of the loop until the veeeeery end - though at least I didn't have to worry 'bout doing much.

When I showed up at The Baron's doorstep this morning, I found a repaired roof, a half-filled hole in his floor (which I fell into - sigh) and a note on his desk:

'Hello Dragomir,

We're conducting lessons in the king's dining hall today. It's on the far side of the nobles' wing, just past the entertainment lounge. Ask the royal guards posted throughout the wing to lead you there, they've been alerted to your presence. And don't worry about having to chase Logan, I corralled him early!

The Baron

P.S. If you're reading this, then the rumours that you've overcome the illiteracy barrier are indeed true. If not, then I suppose we won't be seeing you this morning. Have a doodle of a dodo.'

Which was much better than I'd expected. I suppose The Baron is an artist! Go figure.

I followed his instructions and asked the first royal guard I found (who was about to kick me out of the nobles' wing before I spoke up), and before I knew it I was standing in the king's dining hall. I didn't even know he HAD a dining hall!

And what a dining hall it is, diary, I must say. It's about as long as the Neck, though without the booby traps, and it's at least two stories tall, with a ceiling covered in crystal chandeliers and ornate torches. There's a biiiiiig rectangular table in the middle of the room, surrounded by cushy wooden-and-leather chairs, and a servant stands at each corner of the table, ready to accept orders that they deliver on silver platters. I dunno where the food comes from, but I don't think it's Robert.

(Apparently the king doesn't like the room that much. Explains why he eats in the Beefiary, I guess. I dunno why, I'd LOVE having people serve me in a place like this. I'd love having people serve me at ALL.)

There was no dinner to be had today. Instead, The Baron was brushing up on Prince Logan's dining skills, and when I scurried over to their spot at the table they'd already started. Logan was staring blankly at a set of knives as The Baron told him what each one was for.

And sitting across from them?

"Lord Driscol!" I cried, saluting at once. "I, I, I, I did not know you would be here!"

Driscol the Count didn't look at all pleased to see me. After the soup fiasco, I guess I wouldn't be too happy to see me, either. "You bark entirely too often, dog. Shut your mouth, or I'll order somebody to wire your teeth together."

The Baron was more cordial. "Hello, Dragomir. Go on, have a seat over there and keep watch, like you always do. I'm just explaining to the prince that the third knife from the left is only used after having one's salad, but only if…?"

"Only if the castle is under attack," Logan replied, his voice a dull monotone. "Otherwise, use the fourth knife."

"Very good, very good. Now, the fourth knife brings with it a secondary requirement, in that…"

I tuned The Baron out. I'll never get the chance to eat with more than one knife. Why would I care? One knife is as good as the next in my world. (Except when I try to use it as a weapon, of course. Whenever I do THAT, the knife drops right out of my hand, and I can't pick it up again. I don't GET it!)

The Baron continued his tedious lecture for a while, and as he rambled I let my attention wander. I began to notice the little details in the room that I'd missed on the way in: flat, intricate, colourless frescoes painted on the walls, little carvings decorating the wooden ceiling supports above, side tables for buffet-style gatherings, a fresh water well in one corner, a piece of paper in Driscol's hand -

That last one caught my attention more than anything else.

See, I'd been doing my level best to avoid Driscol's attention by not looking at him. He's mad enough at me already, and after that threat last week I didn't wanna piss him off. He was so fidgety that eventually I HAD to look his way, though, and every time I did I noticed him pulling a scrap of parchment from his pocket. He'd study it, scowl, and then hide it again.

What was ON that scrap of parchment, diary? Not a clue. But it was clearly important to the guy, enough that after fifteen minutes of sitting quietly he spoke up, interrupting The Baron's lesson, which had turned to the improper uses of spoons.

"Is this really necessary?" Driscol barked, standing away from his chair. "You had me ordered here, disrupting my day completely, and now that I'm here you haven't asked me a single question! I was under the impression that I was meant to be used as an example, not part of the bloody scenery!"

He kept his hand in his pocket with the piece of parchment while ranting. Hm.

"Oh!" The Baron stood and bowed at the waist. "I apologize, Lord Driscol. I suppose I got caught up in my lesson. I should remember to implement teaching aids whenever possible. Would you like to continue in my place?"

"Only if you remove this stain from his room," he growled, pointing at me. "He's dirtying that chair with his filthy clothes."

It was nice while it lasted. Rather than start a fight I shambled off to the side and watched from a distance.

The lesson continued with the two nobles vying for the prince's attention, The Baron's gentility eventually cracking as Driscol argued with his every point. They nearly got into a fist fight over the fifth fork from the left and whether it was meant to be handed to the lady three seats down or to the lord at the head of the table in celebration of his Tuesday birthday. Driscol stormed out while they were discussing napkins, his hand still in his pocket.

After that, the lecture was damn dull. The Baron resumed his chipper explanation of all things etiquette, and Logan, deprived of a vital source of entertainment (he'd been causing most of the fights by asking all the wrong questions), got up and left. The Baron dismissed me for the rest of the day. Last I heard Logan had gotten The Baron arrested on suspicion of sexual relations with goats, though I know he's out now, because he had a note sent to my apartment:

'Dear Dragomir,

Thank you for watching that debacle of a protocol lesson. When you arrive at my office tomorrow, we can discuss what you saw. I'm very interested to know why Lord Driscol was in such a huff.

The Baron

P.S. Since you took the note from earlier, I'll assume you liked my picture of a dodo. Here's another doodle to match the last. It's nice to have a fan! Let me know what you think.'

… I'll show you the next doodle tomorrow. Maybe. Kinda… embarrassing… to stack up against the real thing… ahem.

So, in summary, I was a spy today. And I didn't even know it. Go figure!


Dragomir the So Secret Agent He Doesn't Even Know He's A Secret Agent

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