Friday, June 29, 2012

Day Two-Forty: Caught


I finally caught up to Logan today, diary. Because he was waiting for me. So he says, anyway.

As you well know, I've been fruitlessly chasing the prince (I assume I was chasing, it was usually hard to tell) all around the castle. And, as you know even more, Logan has been telling people to get lost all week long. He even set Antonia, his former pet kangaroo, loose. Dangerous thing, that, considering she's a giant bundle of claws and fur.

Today, he addressed me. And he asked me to do the same thing. Today, though… it was very different today.

After three hours of searching, I found myself in the barracks. I was tired, bored, annoyed, and generally unsympathetic to whatever cause Logan had in mind. All I'd been ordered to do was get him to talk to his MOTHER, of all people, and he'd refused every time. Hell, he'd been MAYBE two hundred feet away from the Matriarch yesterday, and he STILL wouldn't visit Queen Daena.

(The queen was pretty distraught at that revelation, lemme tell you. She almost YELLED at me. Good thing she has impeccable manners.)

I hopelessly wandered the barracks, weaving through the empty bunkrooms and lounge areas without purpose, and eventually found myself in the training range. Everybody's out repairing the castle or dealing with the last of the merchants, so it was empty, save one person: Logan.

Though the training range is huge, I easily spotted Logan at the far end. He was crouched next to a bunch of ostrich cages, disabling lock after lock. Each time he opened a door an ostrich sprang free, dashing across the field and down one of the adjoining halls. Thanks to the general state of chaos in the castle at the moment, more than a few of them managed to escape through the castle's secret entrance.

I tried to stop Logan, but he was too quick. He'd opened thirty cages before I could get to him. This time, though, he didn't try to run away when I reached him.

Logan looks awful. It was the first close-up look of him that I'd gotten in a while, and I hadn't appreciated the sallow nature of his skin from a distance. He had shadows under his eyes, and his sunken cheekbones gave him the air of a beggar, not royalty. I wondered how long it had been since he'd eaten a decent meal.

He grinned at me, but his eyes kept creeping away to other parts of the range. He was struggling to hold his eyelids up. "Hi… hi, future dad. How's it goin'?"

I gently forced Logan to have a seat. Fancy pants or no, I know when a kid needs to sit down. "Gods above, Logan, what the hell is wrong with you? Are you sick? I mean, it's obvious you're sick -"

He shook his head. "N… zznnn… gotta get… all… all you… out… before…"

"Before what?" The hair on my head shot up. It seemed very important to coax Logan into speaking. "C'mon, kid. Don't fail on me now. Before what?"

Logan shuddered. His head rolled around and around on his neck, as though his spine was tired of its job. He laughed, though he couldn't have been more humourless, or the sound more hollow or eerie.

I tapped his cheek lightly. Tried to get him back. When he laughed harder, I outright slapped him. I don’t know that I'll ever get another chance to smack royalty, but that seemed an appropriate moment.

Logan's head straightened, and he twitched. He stared at me, unbelieving, soundless for a split second - and then he chuckled. He chuckled normally. Some of the colour came back into his face, and his next few words teemed with his original humour and renegade authority.

"Good… good hit, old man." He coughed. "He… he wants you here, Dragomir. He… he… wants… he wants to thank you. You can't… stop… him… so you should go…"

"Who?!" I practically yelled into Logan's face. "Who, you little bastard, who?!"

"He… he…" The energy disappeared. Logan's face deflated as he fought to force the words out of his mouth. The last one looked painful enough that Logan was on the verge of fainting. "He… killed… my… tutor…"

Logan drooped. A harsh breath of air blasted out of his lungs, and he slumped, unconscious, in my arms. I couldn't coax another syllable out of him.

Nor did I have much chance. Seconds later, a heavy hand dropped on my shoulder, accompanied by the rustle of soft cloth down my back. Brock, the royal guard. And, oh, four other Omega Corpsers. They'd managed to sneak up and surround me while I was talking to Logan.

"Give us the prince," Brock demanded, tightening his grip on my shoulder. He seemed ready, and able, to crush the bone. "We'll take him to his father."

A surge of fatherly power rushed into my brain, overriding common sense. "Not a chance in hell."

"Give us the prince," Brock repeated, tilting my head with his free hand so I could stare into his blank eyes, "or we'll kill you."

I gave them the prince. They took him without another word and left me to shiver. I was so scared that I didn't think to wet myself.

I reported my failure to Queen Daena later in the evening. I told her everything that I thought safe to tell her, which wasn't a hell of a lot: mainly that I'd found Logan passed out in the barracks, and that I'd handed him off to a bunch of royal guards. She sent a messenger into the castle to verify his wellbeing. He's under house arrest for disturbing the castle and loosing several animals, notably a werewolf. Order of the king.

We didn't know what to say about that. Daena couldn't believe that her husband would order Logan arrested… though she admitted that she didn't know what Jeffrey was on about, these days. They hadn't spoken since the funeral. Sounds like all is not well in the royal family, overall.

The queen thanked me for my diligence, rebuffed my attempts to apologize for failing her ("You didn't fail, you did as well as anyone could, and you DID find him, so thank you!"), and sent me off to spend the rest of the day with Libby. We played her board game again.

I spent the entire evening worried. I couldn't enjoy myself, games or not. Somebody… wants to THANK me? For what? And… and the guy killed Logan's tutor… so… does that mean it's DRISCOL? But… he's dead… or was it the person who TAUGHT Driscol how to do that fire thing…?

I'm really sick of having a bunch of questions at the end of a week. Lords above and below and in-between, my daughter's getting married soon. You'd think this would be cause for celebration, not… not all this shit.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Tracker

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Nine: Down with 'The Man'


OKAY, THIS IS GETTING OUT OF HAND. SERIOUSLY, LOGAN.

The castle's been in an uproar ever since the merchants were ordered away yesterday. A few are still around today, trying to pawn off the last of their wares before they travel, and none of 'em are happy. They're outright refusing to sell anything to us guards. I guess they figure we're gonna drive them out if they don't leave.

Which… we will.

But not if Logan has anything to say about it.

Sound contradictory? Read on.

The merchants have formed up a staging area in the main thoroughfare for selling the last of their stuff, and all us guards were called in to watch over the place. Y'know, make sure nobody got too rowdy. I was once again pulled off prince-hunting duty to report to the main thoroughfare -

- though when I got there, I FOUND the prince. And, surprise surprise, he was addressing the guards, telling us all to leave the castle!

"Go!" he kept yelling, standing out of reach on the roof of a now-abandoned pawnbroker's shop. "Get out! I order you to disperse and leave this castle! Right now, like!"

Cedric wasn't too happy about this, and he took up the role of official opposition to Logan. "Oh no, ya don't. You buncha bastards are stayin' right here. What's the meanin' of your actions, m'lord? Why are you doing this?"

"I don't need to explain to a putz like YOU!" Logan retorted. He spat on the captain's helmet. "This is an official decree! You're to get the hell outta here! Post-haste!"

Logan waved, violently, towards the front gate of the castle. He wobbled so much that he almost fell from his perch. Everyone gasped, less because we feared for his life and more because Prince Logan would NEVER wobble under normal circumstances. Something was very wrong.

Prince and captain continued to argue, both ineffectually, and we guards on the ground discussed a way to get Logan off of the rooftops and into custody. We were saved from this terrible duty when the Omega Corps showed up, Eve leading the way.

I don't know that I've ever seen the entirety of the corps in one place before. They're usually standing guard in one spot or another, and though you might see seven or eight at a time, you never see the lot. Here they were, though, marching down from the keep, four men to a row, quiet and crisp and efficient. Creepy bastards.

Even though Eve was the clear leader as Lord Knight, one of the corpsmen did the talking. "Prince Logan, you are ordered to come down and relinquish yourself unto our care. Do not resist."

Every guard there was shocked into silence. It sounded like they were arresting the prince of the kingdom.

Logan didn't pay the man any attention. He kept yelling at us normal guards. "Don't make me tell you again, you lazy tart-guzzlers! Get outta my castle immediately or you'll suffer my wrath!"

That did it for the royal guards. Without a word they dispersed, either charging towards the shop or looping behind it to cut the royal brat off. I heard later that they tried climbing the surrounding buildings to get up to the roof, which must've been quite a sight with those big floppy sleeves, but Logan was already gone by then.

Logan ignored the incoming guards. He focused, instead, on Eve. She hadn't moved from her spot, and she was staring up at him. If she was distressed or outraged, she didn't show it.

"My soon-to-be-wife!" Logan cried, laughing. He sounded rather mad. "You need to get out of here, too! If you're gonna be my bride, you better obey me, sweet cheeks! Make tracks!"

"A wiry, rye mandala," she replied, rolling her eyes. "Truly noon."

"You and me both, lady!" Logan held a hand up to his forehead, wobbled, and sneered at the lot of us. "Fine! I tried! I can't… I can't force you, so I'm outta here!"

He leaped. His jump wasn't perfect, but it carried Logan well away from the pawnbroker's shop and out of sight. Haven't seen him since.

The royal guards quickly gave up their efforts and went back to their original duties, Eve abandoning them to take up her usual, neglectful, gruesome habits. (Specific: She plundered a cage of chickens and ate 'em, bones and all.) Cedric ordered us back to watching over the merchants.

Well, 'cept me. He told me to keep searching for Logan. Did it without any sarcasm or anger. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was genuinely concerned for the prince. (There's gonna be a poem in there, somewhere. IIIIIIIIII juuuuuuuust beeeeeeet.)

The mystery remains. Why is Logan telling everyone to leave? What's he got to gain from it? And why is he looking so unwell?

Also, sweet cheeks?

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Tracker

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Eight: Away with ye now


I'm noticing a pattern, here. It's very distinct, easy to follow, and… inexplicable. To me, anyway. Maybe somebody else gets it.

I spent the first part of today in a hunting party. Captain Cedric outright DEMANDED that every soldier and guard, royal or otherwise, search for the werewolf that escaped the castle last night. Cedric has several years of strong, loyal service under his belt, so king and queen alike capitulated to his demand. I guess he knows better than anybody how destructive a werewolf can be.

He should ALSO have known that we wouldn't find anything. One of the castle's hunters discovered heavy tracks bearing due west, but that was all. Antonia is verifiably gone. Sooo the hunting parties disbanded after about three hours, and I went back to business as usual: hunting down the prince.

There was no mention of Prince Logan having set his kangaroo free. There wasn't even mention of a scapegoat for the crime. It's like everyone knows he's done it, but nobody's willing to discuss the fact. He's the prince, so maybe he's not allowed to get in trouble? The same damned thing happened when Logan went gag-crazy on the castle, so… there might be merit to this idea.

I guess Prince Logan wasn't feeling too sheepish about his contribution to the castle's welfare, 'cause when I found him about a half hour later, he was fearlessly addressing a horde of merchants in the west bailey. Specifically, he was telling them to LEAVE.

"Get out!" he yelled, standing atop a boulder that still hadn't been removed since Driscol's siege of the castle. "All of you! Out! I hereby decree that all gathered merchants are banned from the castle!"

The merchants didn't react politely to this, prince or otherwise. Most of 'em swore at him for being a nuisance, and one even called him a 'nutter'. That's one of the harshest swear words there is, back home.

Logan remained undeterred. "I am prince! I am law! I've given you a command, and you'd better fucking obey it! Out! Now! Or my guards will see to it that you're gutted!"

Then he pointed at me. And jumped away.

Every merchant in the place turned to glare at me, as I'd been wading through them to get to Logan. I froze, grinned innocently, and did my best to melt away into the crowd. That didn't work so well, 'cause one of 'em tripped me. Bastard. None of 'em are martial dudes, though, and they let me go in peace when I made it clear that I wasn't sending 'em away.

Logan didn't go so easy on the lot. Turns out he visited his daddy, King Jeffrey, and demanded that every merchant be forced out of Castle ConstantlyRebuilding. I don't know what kind of conversation went on between 'em, and I doubt Jeffrey was happy, but in the end aaaaaaaall of the merchants were forced out of the castle.

Yes, even the ones who live here. Yikes. A lot of people have to be out of the castle by the end of the week.

Cripes. This place is goin' to shit, now that The Baron's gone. Was Logan just crazy and his tutor kept his madness at bay? Or is there something else going on, behind the scenes, that I can't see…?

Bugger. I'm gonna have to eat at the Beefiary full-time from now on. That place is gonna be hellishly busy. Couldn't Logan have at least let the papaya cart stick around? What am I gonna do if I get a midnight craving for a papaya?! Life sucks!

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Tracker

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Seven: The Great Escape


Shit. Another person has disappeared, and THIS time, it's definitely Prince Logan's doing. I have irrefutable proof that points the waggling finger of justice RIGHT at him.

Namely, I saw him do it.

Grylock is gone, diary, but his advice remained: check on the kangaroo. Aka the werewolf. Aka the orc. Aka the boxer. Aka Antonia. Like I said yesterday, I haven't visited her in ages, and there's a good reason for it: she's… well, she's a fuckin' werewolf, yeah? She's not gonna care THAT much if I don't come for a visit.

I've not touched on Antonia's enclosure in the dungeon because, frankly, it's a little depressing. Ever since we solved the werewolf invasion a couple months back, she's been isolated in a cramped cell, far from the other prisoners, and held in one place by strong chains. She gets food and water once a day, both of 'em fed to her via a chute in the ceiling. If she's not ready to catch 'em in her mouth, she goes without until the next day.

I've been on this duty before. I made sure to give her triple the usual amount of grub. And I've tossed the occasional yak tart down the chute, when nobody was looking. Figured I could be arrested for it, so I didn't say anything, but… doesn't much matter, now…

(This might sound horribly inhumane, diary… and it is… but if you could see Antonia, you might understand. She's BIG. Taking in so much wolfy-crap made her into some kinda super werewolf. Bloody buff, and more vicious 'n ever. If we tried to feed her close up, we'd become the meals.)

Grylock said Logan had been talking about his kangaroo yesterday, so I figured it would be a good idea to wait it out in the dungeon and watch her cell. I pulled a few strings with Queen Daena, and she had the normal guard on duty (Bernard, of all people) pulled for the day so I could set up shop and wait.

The dungeon is predictably dull. It's right across from the treasury, meant as a method of torture for greedy prisoners, but staring at endless piles of gold gets pretty boring after a while. Especially when you can't reach 'em. The prisoners aren't too talkative, so I wadded up a bed of straw, sat down near the padlocked door to Antonia's cell, and waited for Logan to come calling.

And waited.

Waaaaaaaaaited.

Waaaaaaaaaaait… snooze.

Of course I fell asleep. This is me. Dragomir. I like my naps. If I'm laying down I'm napping, unless, of course, I'm being kicked or punched or something. Neither of those things was happening, hence, I napped.

For… three hours.

Prince Logan should have gotten past without me noticing. He's deathly quiet when he wants to be, and even if he is lookin' pale and sickly, that part of his personality hasn't changed. He managed to pick the massive lock on the door and get inside without a bit of difficulty.

Once he got IN Antonia's cell, though, it all changed, 'cause his happy kangaroo, infused with the bestial urges of a couple hundred werewolves, stirred up quite a racket. She lunged at him.

Her snarls and snaps woke me up instantly, and I bolted towards the open door to see what had happened. Probably a bad idea, that, though you know FULL WELL that I'm dripping to the brim with bad ideas, diary -

- and besides, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have witnessed the marvel that is Prince Logan's lockpicking skills.

Logan must have known that Antonia, even as his former pet, never woulda let him come close. She's too far gone, thanks to the effects of her lycanthropy, to NOT attack him. And she sure as hell tried! Despite her tight bonds she managed to rip one of the chains out of the wall, and she swiped at him dozens of times.

To no use, though. Logan combined his lockpicking with his speed to create a masterful dervish of action, avoiding Antonia's free claws and snapping mouth while weaving in at the many locks binding the werewolf. In moments all of the locks were undone, and the chains removed from Antonia's limbs, and she was ready to leap at Logan in her full fury.

But she didn't. She stopped. She sniffed. And she bolted.

I barely got out of the way as a mass of brown fur rocketed through the door, landing in the middle of the dungeon. Prisoners on all sides cowered away from Antonia, most trying to hide under their straw beds, some calling for more guards to recapture the werewolf. One even begged ME to take her down, and I had to laugh at him despite the predicament.

I feared that Antonia might attack me. She didn't. She fled, charging down the corridors and out of sight. I tried to chase after her, but my pants… they proved… too heavy. Besides, I heard lots of commotion and clamouring from the passageways above, so I figured most people had gotten the message.

There were extra breeches for the prisoners close at hand. I grabbed a pair, donned 'em (everybody was too petrified to whistle at my bare bottom), and checked the werewolf's former prison. No sign of Logan. He must've slipped out during the confusion.

Captain Cedric charged into the dungeon a few minutes later to find out "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON YOU TWATWEASEL?!", in his own words. I couldn't dream up a lie that wouldn't get me in trouble, so I told him the truth. Prince Logan let the werewolf out.

… a modified truth. Prince Logan ordered me to stand aside while he let the werewolf out. (Me being awake would have changed nothing, and we both know it, diary… but why make one's self look bad when one can NOT make one's self look bad? One.)

I received a beating despite my attempts to mollify the good captain, because, frankly, a werewolf was set loose on the castle. Again! I don't know of Cedric appreciates that HE was the one running wild last time, but, again! At least there will be a lot less hair to clean up this time.

Antonia didn't try to attack anyone. Every report I heard said that she went straight for the wall, leaped over the moat, and stampeded into the hills. She is gone, diary, and I doubt we'll see her again any time soon.

I don't get it. Why in the many hells would Prince Logan set her loose? I can understand symapthy for her, but if that's the case, why now? Why risk the lives of everyone in this castle for one person?! Damned irresponsible for a prince! Damned irresponsible for ANYONE! AND HE'S VANISHED AGAIN!

Ugh. I've given up for today. Playing with one of Libby's new gadgets (she calls it a 'board game') takes precedence. I'll keep looking for that little bastard tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Tracker

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Six: Here's lookin' at you, ugly


Those damned royal guards are watching my every move. Oooooh, I fuckin' HATE those guys. Don't trust them one bit. They seem content not to mess with me if I stay away from the east wing of the keep, so I'll abide by their wishes / demands.

For now. Can't keep me outta that hole FOREVER, ya silky buggers.

Guards aside, I set about looking for Prince Logan today, like I was doin' on Friday. And I actually found him! Took me about six hours, but I spotted him hanging out with his old partner in crime, Grylock. They were playing cards near the ruins of the Neck, which, I've happily discovered, isn't going to be rebuilt. FUCK that bloody death trap.

I stupidly called out to Logan the moment I caught sight of him, and when Grylock turned to look at me the prince leaped onto the outer wall and ran away. I called for him again, but, no luck. Rats. That was the last I saw of Prince Logan.

So. Yeah. If you thought I was successful, you were sorely mistaken, diary. So sorely.

I was of the manhunt by that point, and I seated myself in his spot at the card table (a big chunk of rock, no less) and asked Grylock how he'd found Logan. Turns out Logan had come to chat with Grylock in his quarters, and they'd both wanted fresh air. Hence the outdoor card game.

That wasn't the meaty part of the conversation. What I discovered next was a shock, and that shock was wrapped in a surprise, because I wouldn't have figured that I would care: Grylock is leaving.

"Leaving?" I gasped, surprised at the mixture of caring and shock, as well as a dollop of dismay. "What? Why? Where're you goin?"

"Away," the goblin grunted, pointing beyond the rubble of the castle and to the west. "Back home. Got recalled on Friday. King Gok wants me in Goblinoster by the end of the week."

I played with one of the cards on the table, trying to mask my concern. "That doesn't explain why, though. C'mon, out with it."

"Heh. Didn't think you would give two shits, Drago, not after I pissed on your boots."

"Well, I don't. I just like to keep informed." Bit of a lie.

"Meh." The goblin pocketed his cards. "Guess I win that game by forfeit… I'm leaving, Dragomir, 'cause the castle has been deemed unsafe. After Jeffrey's bloody announcement about expansion, Gok suspects that you lot might be attacking us in the near future. He fears for my life, so he's pullin' me out before I 'creatively disappear'. His words."

"'Creatively disappear'? The hell does that mean?"

"Damned if I know. I wouldn't find out 'til one of those tin-plated goons came 'n snagged me in the night, and I don't feel like handin' their asses to 'em durin' the escape attempt. Ambassador shouldn't embarrass his hosts, y'know. Heh."

"Oh." I frowned. "That's… that's too bad. You're gonna… miss… my little girl's wedding, I guess."

"What, were ya gonna make me the best man or somethin'? Don't think that's up t'you, daddy." He cackled. "S'no big deal anyway. Logan was just 'advising' me that I should be on my way out. Clearly he wasn't too keen on me stickin' around."

"Advising?" I propped my elbows on the table and leaned in close, maybe too interested for my own good. "What's that s'pposed to mean?"

Grylock shrugged. "Said he wanted me to head home. That I wasn't, y'know, safe 'round these parts. We've… collaborated, before, so I figured it might be wise to accept the spirit of his words, even if they were a bit harsh. 'n I'm outta here anyway. No biggie. Right? Right."

"He didn't say why you should leave, though?"

"Nope. Didn't talk about much of anything, 'cept cards. 'n a bit about his kangaroo pal in the dungeons. You wanna find the lad, you might visit the 'roo."

A good idea, that, and I have checked in the dungeons a couple times. There's been no sign of Logan. I'll try again tomorrow, maybe stake out the dungeons. I haven't really visited Antonia since the werewolf… thing… whatever… and I'm sure she could use the company.

"Thanks." I stood, stretched (the tiny seats are made for kids and goblins, not full-grown adults), and offered Grylock my hand. "S'not gonna be the same around here without you, ambassador. Will I see you again?"

Grylock slapped away my hand, though he did grin cheerfully. "'course you will. Next time we invade. 'n trust me, when we do, we'll win. You take care 'o that lady of yours in the meantime, yeah? I'll make sure your shitty shack doesn't get burned down by our archers."

Gee. Thanks, Grylock.

That's that. I won't be present for the departure, early tomorrow, but the castle's resident goblin is headed home. Despite what he says, I don't think he's coming back. Grylock gone, The Baron dead, rats fled… it feels like the castle is slowly emptying itself.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Tracker

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Five: Humble beginnings of a medieval Gestapo


In retrospect, I was asking for trouble.

BEGGING for trouble.

ON MY KNEES, at trouble's door, knocking as hard as I could and DEMANDING that trouble come calling.

So when a pair of royal guards showed up at my door, early this morning, I shouldn't have been surprised. Hell, I should've been asking 'What took you so long?'

But I didn't say that. I didn't say much of anything, in fact, before they grabbed my shoulders and hauled me into the street. Libby was still asleep in bed, so she didn't put up much of a fuss about my departure. She doesn't even know that it happened. For her safety, I'll keep it that way.

I was still in my pyjamas when the guards grabbed me, and that proved less-than-adequate for protection when one of them punched me in the stomach. My bewildered complaints immediately ceased, and they'd dragged me down the street and into an alley before I got my breath back. Nobody saw it happen, so nobody protested.

They tossed me against the wall of a building, gagged me so I couldn't scream, and loomed over me with their weapons ready. They both kicked me to keep me down, and I got the message. Huddling in the garbage and wetting one's self never seemed like such a good option as in this moment.

"You ask too many questions," the one on the left said.

"Yeah, too many questions. Better shut your mouth," the one on the right added.

"The Glory Hole is off bounds to you," the one on the left replied.

"And so's asking about the Glory Hole," the one on the right concluded. "Might be we should just cut your tongue out and save ourselves the trouble. What do you say to that, Roderick?"

"Hrm." Leftie tapped his visor thoughtfully. "The big man might be mad, what with… you know… the kid, and all."

"He'd get over it, though."

"You think?"

I tried to mumble that he wouldn't, whomever the 'big man' was, but I earned myself a kick to the crotch. No more arguments.

"Ehh, this one isn't useful anymore anyway. Just sentiment keeping us bound. I never was much of one for sentiment."

"Hmmmm…" Leftie hefted his spear, poking at my leg. Given the pain in my nethers, the slight point of a spear was a tiny threat. "Well, you might be right… what's say we just -"

"Let him go?"

The two royal guards whirled, coming to attention in an instant, their gauntlets snapping up against their visors. White fabric flew everywhere as their sleeves flapped into their faces, but they dared not compose themselves, as Princess Celine was standing behind them. Silly-looking or not, the royal guards go stone silent when a royal's present.

"That's a nice look," she commented, tugging at one of the sleeves draped over their helmets. "Perhaps I should petition for all-around fabric armour for the royal guards. Hello, there, Mud."

I waved weakly, still clutching my soaked privates. Hardly a fit state for greeting the princess of the realm, but the royal family isn't a stranger to my off moments.

Celine motioned for the guards to move, then ordered someone to lift me up. A pair of hands from within the garbage pushed me to my feet. (Damned ninjas.)

"Come along, Mud. My mother wants to see you." Celine waved me past the guards and skipped merrily down the street. I didn't hesitate to follow - though I did turn to stick my tongue out at my twin attackers.

Probably wasn't the best idea. They both pointed and laughed at the dark spot on my pyjamas.

Celine led me to the Matriarch, parked in its usual spot in the main thoroughfare. Queen Daena was busy speaking to a line of petitioners on her grassy mound, and she asked them all to come back later when Celine came skipping up the grass with me on her trail. Celine fetched me an old shirt from one of Queen Daena's dressers to cover my pee spot in a dignified manner.

(Oh, did I mention before? Doubt it. Queen Daena now has a full-blow room under her tree, more so than what she had in her old spot. Everything's strapped down, into the soil, so her stuff won't tip over whenever the Matriarch moves. Pretty bizarre thing she's got going, I gotta say.)

"I found him getting beat up by royal guards, mother." Celine pirouetted around Daena's flailing legs and out of sight. I didn't see her again.

"Royal guards?" The queen raised her eyebrow. "What have you done this time, Dragomir? Good morning, by the way."

I bowed. "G'morning, your majesty. I, um, I woke up, 'n they were at the door, 'n they… kinda… grabbed me… then I was in an alley, and they sounded like… like… "

"Like what?"

"Like they were gonna kill me." I shuddered, clutching the shirt more tightly to my crotch. "Sorry, ma'am, you might not want this back."

"Don't worry about it." Daena frowned deeply. "I'm very sorry for what the guards have done. They will be punished… assuming you've done nothing to earn their ire?"

I suppose I had. I've been poking around the hole for days, now, and I came to the conclusion (you know this, of course, diary, you're the bearer of my thoughts) that they DIRECTLY have something to do with the weirdness of the hole. But, y'know… I couldn't tell Queen Daena about it, 'cause… dreams…

So I lied. Been a while. Still got the knack, though. "I… I don't… think so, m'lady. I mean, like… I may have cut one of 'em off in the hall the other day… don't think that means I should be killed for it, though, right? 'n there was that whole thing with Driscol, 'n me and… The… well, you know."

"Of course." Daena smiled and sighed. "We all miss him. Please, continue."

"Yeah." My mouth went dry. I'd saddened myself again, and it probably helped my performance. "Well, like, the two of us managed to find 'im, when none 'o those stupid royal guards could… so maybe they were… y'know… jealous."

"Hm. I've never known them to be jealous." Daena shrugged. "I haven't known them to be much of anything. The Omega Corps is quite a buttoned-down organization, despite their reputation for martial efficiency. I would think they'd be boisterous about their successes, like any other soldier."

"Yeah. It's weird. But, um, that's… that's the best I got." I was surprised I'd managed to adlib THAT much on the spot.

"I understand. I will have those two guards interrogated on your behalf, Dragomir, and discover why they assaulted you. You don't happen to know who they were, do you?"

I shook my head. The best I could do was the name 'Roderick'. Only one I know by sight is Brock, and that's 'cause he has a huge chin. The rest are cookie-cutouts of each other.

"That's too bad. I'll order some kind of investigation. You needn't worry, however; you won't be leading it. I have a job for you."

"A job, your majesty?" Good to hear. Change of subject, no need to discuss the hole, and best of all, guidance! I don't like giving myself objectives, they seldom lead to good ends.

"Yes. Have you seen my son of late?"

I hadn't, not since Friday, when Prince Logan was carted away after the death of The Baron. He took it worse than anyone. I'm sure part of that is from losing a plaything, though no doubt he actually misses our departed bureaucrat. They spent more time together than the average married couple.

"Neither have I," the queen admitted, "and it has me worried. Logan usually comes to visit once a day, yet I haven't seen him since The Baron's funeral. He's been uncharacteristically pale in the last month, and now… now I'm worried for him. I want you to track him down."

Track down one of the wiliest people in the castle? Tough call. "Beg your pardon, majesty, but… er… wouldn't your daughter's, ah, ninja-people be better suited…?"

"They can't find hiiiiiiim," whispered a voice from the boughs of the tree.

Queen Daena nodded. "Unfortunately true. I'm not sure what's wrong with Logan, but he's eluding any effort to bring him in. Yet I've heard reports that he's spending time with people around the castle! I don't understand it, and I would like an explanation. I'm worried for my son."

"Oh. Uh… okay. What makes you think I'd be any better, though…?"

Daena shook her head. "He likes you, Dragomir. That's why. I'm hoping he'll show himself. Perhaps you could use your diary as bait…? He's always going on about how much he loves your writing. And no, he hasn't told me anything he's read, so don't worry."

Thank the gods for that. There's execution-worthy material in you, diary. "Oh. Um. Okay. I… I can give it a shot, m'lady. But…"

"My ninja will tag you wherever you go, Mud," said the voice from the tree. "The royal guards won't touch you."

I'm actually glad I have a murderous warrior for a daughter. I'd hate to have a mind-reading spy. "Ah. Um. Thank you, princess… where are you…?"

That, as they say, is that. I have to track down Logan. I've been excused from all other duties next week. I thought that might be overkill, at first, though I didn't so much as catch wind of him today, after eight hours of searching… so… might be tougher than predicted.

I get the distinct feeling that turning my back on the hole, and everything it represents, is a very bad idea. I would REALLY LOVE to tell Queen Daena all about it, 'cause she's the closest thing to a confidant that I have right now. (Confidant with power. Confidant with power. Don't tell Libby otherwise, she'll slug me.) But…. the dream, the stupid dream…

If I tell Queen Daena, will she actually die? Or… or is the same thing that's controlling the hole, and possibly the royal guards, just messing with my brain? YEARGH, complications AGAIN

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Tracker

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Four: He'll be a main character some day


I'm still on the fence, diary. Stiiiiiiiill on the fence. I dunno what I should do about the hole, or whom I should talk to… so I did more digging today.

Not literal digging, of course. Not that I know of… though… what if I'm secretly brainwashed like everyone else?! That would explain the extra half-millimetre of muscle that I put on my right arm in the last month. (Yes, I keep track. When your wife's biceps are bigger than yours, you'll keep track too.) Anyway, no, in this case, I was digging for info. The Baron indoctrinated me into this shady world, and I might as well honour his memory by keeping it up.

King Jeffrey told everyone that the metal they've been excavatin' is gonna be used in war machines and arms and armour and stuff. I wanted to know if the ore they've been bringin' up to be processed by the blacksmiths is in any way abnormal. What if the metal's gonna 'cause some catastrophe, just 'cause it's bein' excavated? What if it's evil space metal?

Unlikely. But I still had to ask.

I waited for lunchtime, then hunted down the castle blacksmith I know best: Horace. He was munching on a sandwich in his smithy, as I figured he would. Horace doesn't like crowds staring at him when he eats, which, I find, is a weird-ass phobia. Eating in the Beefiary? Not likely.

"Hiya, Horace!" I called, leaning over the front counter of his stall. "How's it goin'? Your furnace treatin' ya well?"

"Well as it ever does," he said, nodding and smiling. "'ello, Dragomir. Been a while. Sorry, er, 'bout that civil disobedience business. Just strikin' for what's right, y'know?"

I nodded. Secretly, though, I wanted to clock him in the head with one of his hammers. He 'n his gang nearly got me trampled. "No hard feelings. Just passin' by, figured I'd see what was up. Like you said, been a while."

"Aye, been a while. How's that kid o' yours? Still bristlin' with muscle?"

I bit my lip. "Ohhh, you know Eve. Always… always murdering something new. Hard to keep track."

"Aye, I know the way." He scratched his head. "Not really I dun, but it's nice to say y'do. For comparison, and bondin', and all that. Y'know?"

"Sure." I forced a smile. "What's up with you, Horace? Any new business?"

He had new business. Too much new business. Horace is the kind of guy who will yammer on for hours about inane topics, and he didn't disappoint. But he was my best lead, and I listened intently as he rattled off every order his customers had placed for the next five months.

After he described a cast-iron bonnet he was supposed to make, I cut to the point. "How 'bout all that metal the king was talkin' about the other day? You got anything to do with that?"

Horace's eyes lit up, and he drew in close. His dirty brown teeth would have shone brightly in the afternoon sun had they not lost all of their glitter to a coating of grime. "Oh, yeah. Got lotsa that goin' on. Secret projects, kingly stuff. Very hush-hush."

"Hush hush," I agreed. "Wanna tell me about 'em?"

"Sure!"

And he did. Unfortunately, the following conversation didn't prove fruitful at all. Horace produced a list of weapons and armour he'd been commissioned to create for the castle and rattled on and on about the quality of each piece. I only learned a bit about the kinds of metal being used, and though they were admittedly powerful and rare metals, they didn't expose anything sinister about the hole.

I was on the verge of giving up and going to get some grub when Horace caught my ear with a tidbit of info I bet he didn't want to let slip:

"Yeah, tons o' metal down there. Tons! We're gonna make a killin' off it all, I bet! Why, hell, if'n I didna know better, I'd say there was too much, from what I saw!"

I whipped around and latched my eyes onto his bleached white forehead. (Seriously, I hear he bleaches it.) "Whaddya mean by that, Horace?"

The blacksmith paused. He took a moment to wipe down one of his hammers. "Oh. Um. Nuthin', nuthin'. No biggie. Hey, don't you have work t'do, Dragomir? Best not -"

Too late. I swooped in for the kill, lowering my voice. "Have you seen the metal, Horace? Like, in person?"

Horace is an excitable man. He's not a person with whom you share secrets, as he's prone to pass them on in casual conversation. That might explain why he's not big on crowds: part of him knows that the entire room would know a secret in minutes if he started to gab. It only took a couple friendly suggestions, and an invitation to buy him some drinks later, before he spilled the whole story.

Turns out that Horace, along with three other smiths, were taken into the hole the previous evening. (Yes, the same day I went in to have a look.) They were led down the massive ramps (conveniently vacant of people) to the veeeeeery bottom of the hole by a squad of royal guards for an inspection of the raw metal deposits, to determine approximately how much could be mined and how long it would take. They were kept blindfolded most of the way, and told not to ask any questions of the guards.

What they found, according to Horace, was miraculous: a massive slab of metal ore, not far from the bottom, chewed all the way through by the workers. Horace said the metal vein must have been almost eighty feet thick from top to bottom, and it yielded enough ore to supply an army with weapons. He could see plenty more in the surrounding walls, as well, an indication that the slab was titanic.

I wasn't sure why that was so incredible, 'cause I know diddly-squat about mines, so Horace explained. (Apparently all blacksmiths are also miners. Go figure.) He told me that metal veins are typically rather small: they're inconsistently formed in the rock, and stretch a few hundred feet in any direction before drying up. You might find an extensive selection of similar veins in a given area, but they would never form a consistent wall of metal.

Y'know, like the kind they'd found in the hole.

That wasn't all. Horace told me two more important things:

a) They were ignoring the rest of the metal in the hole, and had kept digging; and

b) They'd found a similar slab of metal underneath the first, one composed of even denser ore. And on his way back up, Horace noticed evidence of other metal deposits, identical to the last, that had been hidden under dirt and tarps! Even peeking out from under his blindfold he could see 'em, plain as day!

I don't know what all this means, diary. Haven't a clue. It suggests to me, though, that these slabs… they ain't natural. Horace hinted at thinkin' the same way, though once he caught sight of a royal guard on patrol he immediately clammed up. So I could be right, or I could be wrong, or I could be… clueless.

Probably clueless.

Horace wouldn't talk about the metals again when we had a drink later that night. (I invited him over to the house. He wouldn't go to the Beefiary. Crowds, y'know.) I only managed to work one more important detail out of him, regarding something that had stumped me throughout his story: had he felt compelled to dig while he was in the hole?

He gave me a curious, wince-eyed glance when I asked. "What? Weird question, Dragomir. Nope, didna feel like grabbin' pick or shovel once. Hope they never ask me, either. How's about I tell ya 'bout my grandma instead?"

And he did. For a looooooong time. (She's dead. Depressing end to a boring story.)

Royal guards watch over the hole. Royal guards keep out interlopers. Royal guards lead inspections of the hole. And royal guards… can… apparently… turn off the digging compulsion.

Royal guards.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Flummoxed

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Three: Down the habit hole


Kinda snuck in the hole today, diary.

Kinda.

Totally did.

I was up all night yesterday, tossing and turning in a rain barrel, not sure what I should be doing about the hole situation. (I probably shoulda been doing my job, the thing for which I am paid, but nuts to that.) It was a long, tough, cramped night, and I took no joy from watching over steadily-growing legions of guinea pigs.

(Gotta say, though, diary, they're a LOT less creepy than rats. Hard to be creepy when you spend most of your time crapping and running into walls. Ain't nuthin' intelligent going on behind those beady black eyes, lemme tell you.)

Early this morning I reached an inevitable conclusion: I had to at least SEE the hole, had to see how deep it was. I haven't been inside the east wing of the castle since the debacle with the werewolves, and the hole was already pretty deep then. If I wanted an accurate gauge of my feelings on the subject, I needed to get inside that warehouse again.

So I did! Now that King Jeffrey's announced the hole, he's relaxed some of the security on the east wing of the keep. Made getting in a fair bit easier than before. I only had to sneak past two royal guards this time, and they both looked pretty dang bored, so coaxing Barrel to distract them did the trick. They abandoned their posts at once to catch the spritely little dragon.

(Poor Barrel. I've barely mentioned him lately. In case you were wondering, diary, he's fine. No lingering damage from getting smacked about by Eve beneath the castle. He looks a bit down at times, but a few minutes of play always sets him straight.)

I haven't visited the hole during a work period before. Hell, I've only been here twice, that I can recall. So when I say that the difference between empty and full is rather negligible to the experience, aside from it being creepier, you should pause to consider the situation for a moment.

There were dozens of workers in the hole when I came calling, either working deep inside the hole or pushing dirt up to the top via carts and ramps. To say they were THERE would be an exaggeration: it was pretty clear that not a single worker in attendance gave conscious thought to their state of being, what with their vacant eyes, drooping limbs and expressionless expressions. It was as if their souls had buggered off, leaving their bodies behind to operate without emotion or interest.

And I came close to joining 'em. I had to pinch myself every couple seconds to avoid the compulsion to dig. I'm sure it woulda been much worse if I'd actually gone INSIDE the hole, but I stuck to the edges. Just so I could get a peek inside and determine how deep it was.

It's deep, diary. Really fucking deep.

The first time I found the hole, I could see the bottom. That ain't true anymore. There are torches all the way down, this is true, but the light they give off isn't strong enough to stretch back to the top. After four or five spirals of walkway you completely lose sight of what's down there. I'm sure it's just rock at the bottom, but… I fear what might be lingering in the depths.

I didn't stick around long. The weird message in my brain urging me to dig was getting too strong. I vamoosed out of the warehouses and back to the entrance, and, fortunately, the royal guards were still off chasing Barrel. Bless that tiny dragon, he saved the day again.

Which is NOT to say that I got out without being noticed. That ain't the case. ONE PERSON spotted me on the way out, one dude who was walking in the opposite direction, towards the work area: a tanner. Name's Will. Nice guy, kinda boring.

"Hail, Dragomir!" he chirped, approaching the entrance to the east wing. "How goes your day?"

"Oh! Oh, um, um, hi!" I fumbled, trying to edge away from the entrance. "Hi. Will, right? Will. Just, just, y'know, patrollin'. And such."

"Oh, yes? Exciting job, that, exciting." He scratched his head. "Much more fun than tanning. Much."

"Ah. Yeah. Sure." I doubted it, but whatever kept me out of trouble. "Where, um, where you headed, Will?"

"What?" he replied cheerfully. "Didn't quite catch that, Dragomir."

"I said, 'Where you headed, Will?'"

"Oh, she's dandy." He smiled and rolled his eyes. "Still on about this, that, and the other. Well, I have to go, Dragomir, what? Yes! Off we go."

He pushed past me and shambled into the east wing. I tried to ask him what he was doing one last time, but I got another bizarre response: "My cat does love parsnips! I'll tell 'im that next Tuesday. Got to go, sex awaits."

And he was gone. Disappeared into the east wing. I didn't see him until much later, when I visited his stall, and he didn't remember seeing me at all. Or any trip to the east wing of the castle.

I experimented, after that. I lingered in the main hall of the keep, and whenever somebody came close to the east wing, I happily asked 'em where they were going. If they were headed somewhere else in the castle, they gave me a straight answer: if they were headed into the east wing itself, all I got was happy gibberish about some other topic.

Huh.

I guess that explains how they're getting people to dig the hole, diary. None of 'em actually remember going down there. Hell, they're wandering into the hole of their own accord, during the day, when nobody's likely to notice 'em. I also noticed that they go when they're not expected to be workin' somewhere's else, so it's even less likely that anyone would catch on.

Weird situation, diary. I don't know how King Jeffrey's coercing everybody into digging his hole for him, and doing it WITHOUT their knowledge, but it's dangerous. Possibly magical. And very worrying.

But… who do I talk to about this? GRAH, why are all the authority figures in my life either questionable, under threat by a stupid dream, or GONE?

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Lost

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-Two: When two became one


Still in a funk, diary. I won't be too energetic for the next week. In mourning, y'know. For The Baron. Remember him? Yeah, me too.

In order to… commemorate… him… I drew a picture of a dodo. Just like the one he did for me. I tried to approximate the bird from what I remembered, and… this is the result.


It's about as handsome as it's going to get, coming from me. Sigh. I lack the essential artistic groove. Not like… y'know. That wonderful dead dude. He was pretty good at drawin' stuff. I don't care if I'm lacking, though - the picture's hanging proudly in the living room, and it's gonna stay there. The Baron would be happy to know I'm thinking 'bout him.

(I also drew a cockroach. I tossed the picture in one of the public toilets. Let people poo all over the memory of Driscol. HOW DARE HE TAKE AWAY THE BARON, HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHO EVER TIPPED ME

GWAR
Yeah, that sounds selfish as hell. I'm sorry, diary. The loss of The Baron has created some conflicting emotions. Some purely sad, some mourning the loss of income. I should shut up about him now.)

Those cockroaches, though… gotta wonder. How in the hell did Driscol do… that? Whatever it was he was doing? Did it have somethin' to do with his orange eyes? Controlling cockroaches can't be an easy trick. Did he train them like that? Or was he usin' some weird magic? I'm bettin' the latter, considering the giant tree-shaped fireball that… you know… killed him.

And The

NEVERMIND, I'm getting weepy. Part of mourning is acceptance. Gotta get there. Workin' hard, diary… workin' hard.

(Man, mourning should be more lively. I wish the human reaction to death wasn't to be miserable. It sucks. I would prefer unrestrained glee. Though I guess that'd mean we were all HAPPY he died, and in whatever afterlife he occupies The Baron might not appreciate that, so… bah. Confusing.)

Everybody we left behind in Bottomless came back today, diary. Including Grylock. Apparently Evangelina and all the merc bosses she'd been meetin' held him captive for a few days. Once news of the attack on the castle made its way to Bottomless, the guards we'd abandoned broke him out. So he's back, and judging by his reaction to The Baron's death he's as chipper as ever. Didn't know they were on bad terms, but there you go.

And Evangelina? Gone. Escaped. Roaming free, somewhere in the wide world. Now that we know she's a traitor I doubt she'll be makin' another appearance at the castle. What a daaaaaaamn shaaaaaaaaaame that is.

… well. It kind of is, I guess. If she came back we could hang her for ambushing my daughter. That would teach the bitch. Yes, you heard me, I called her a big loathsome bitch, minus those two extra words. Though I'll add them on now, because she is big and loathsome.

Not that big.

Fairly lithe, now that I picture her.

Lithe loathsome bitch.

Meh, it lacks the same ring.

Repairs to the castle continue, but slower than anticipated. A lot of people were noticeably missing during the day. I bet I know why, too: they're bein' shunted off to work on the king's stupid Glory Hole, and without Driscol to rein him in Jeffrey's sending in as many people as he bloody well wants. Smooth move, stupid.

I don't know HOW he forces people into the hole, and that bugs me. I know there's a compulsion to dig once you get there, but how does Jeffrey get you to the workspace in the first place? You think some people would remember being forced into the deserted wing at knifepoint, or spearpoint, or whatever. Troubling.

That's why… I've kinda… taken it on myself. To find out. I figure The Baron would want me to root out the bad stuff in the castle. Forget that he was staunchly loyal to King Jeffrey. I'll just pretend The Baron wants me to do this. Yeah. It's my responsibility, now that the guy I would confide in… is gone.

And I've already started. Nothing drastic, mind - my eyes do most of the work. I'm on late shifts this week, and I spent all last night watching the streets. (Screw looking beyond the walls, the plains are stupid.) Nothing caught my attention that might indicate work bein' done: no guards forcing people towards the keep, no exodus by sleepwalkers, not even an abnormal number of midnight travellers bearing shovels. I've seen most of the secret passages 'round these parts, but even those have been unused since the siege.

Yet I bet that the hole is being dug. At this very moment. There are too many tired-looking people for it not to be steadily underway. And I… I have to… stop it?

Do I? What do I have to do? I'm completely lacking in direction. Should I try 'n impede the progress of this hole? The rats didn't like it, so chances are good they wouldn't mind my intervention. But they always sounded like it being finished was a foregone conclusion… so should I even try?

And is it WORTH trying to stop the hole? Maybe it will be a good thing for the kingdom. Driscol's gone, now, which means all of the metal will be used for our wellbeing. Hell, maybe the king's plans for expanding the kingdom through war are a peachy idea. Could bring us all sortsa prosperity and such. We need prosperity.

Or maybe somebody competent could come in and oust Jeffrey. WOW, that's such treason right there. Dragomir, where's your head at? Seriously, mate, get a grip.

I don't know what to do, diary. I'm confused. Maybe I should just let life go back to the way it was, forget about all this nonsense, and be a normal guard. If good stuff happens, great! If bad stuff happens with the hole, I'll run away! Yes, that's the ticket.

Yeah.

Totally the ticket.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Divided

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day Two-Thirty-One: Tasteless


Fuck.

He's dead, diary. The Baron is actually dead.

I'm… I'm sorry Libby had to do the writing last Friday. After that ceremony, I wasn't in a fit state. I'd spent the entire day, hyped about bein' a hero… and then… then…

Then it happened. And now a good man is gone.

I hope Driscol burns in hell. Every hell the gods have ever invented. And maybe a few that they haven't. They can invent new hells for him. Yeah. I don't care if he thought he was doing the right thing, he was an evil, twisted fucker.

There… there was a funeral for The Baron today. King Jeffrey decided to make it a full castle affair: The Baron's coffin was paraded from the ruined castle gates and into the throne room, back to the spot where he died. Then the room was opened to anyone who wanted to come in and have a look at the old man, one last time, and thank him for stopping Driscol. He had a cloth on his face and gloves on his hands to mask the horrible burns.

I couldn't go. I couldn't look at him. I heard it was a wonderful ceremony, for the most part… until Jeffrey opened his big mouth. My brother Robert went to watch, and he told me everything that happened.

After everyone had gotten a good look at The Baron, King Jeffrey told everyone to take a seat. He went down to the coffin, personally, and hugged the thing. And cried. In front of dozens of people. I'm told it was a very touching moment, especially when Prince Logan and Princess Celina went to comfort their father. Jeffrey even paused to look at his old friend, pulling the cloth off The Baron's face and staring lovingly at the old man's familiar spectacles.

Sorry. Crying a bit. Excuse the teardrops.

Then King Jeffrey began to talk. He told everyone how he'd met The Baron in Wickeeford years before, how he had encouraged Jeffrey to be more than just the son of a nobleman. He'd shown Jeffrey what it was to be a king, a leader of good people. Given how Jeffrey turned out, I'm not sure The Baron was the best teacher, but… anyway…

Once he was done with his story, Jeffrey used the occasion for something else. He went back to his throne, stood tall, and announced that a very important project - one that The Baron believed in, and firmly - was underway. One that would make Castle GoodbyeOldFriend a major contender in the area. And while it was true that two of the project's leading organizers were now dead, work would not stop. Not for anything.

The hole. Jeffrey officially announced the hole. He has dubbed it the Glory Hole, as it will lead us all to prosperity and power. The name fits the description, but… something's just not right about it…

He also told everybody, says Robert, that the hole is already paying off in spades. A lot of new weapons used by our troops last week were forged from metal taken from the hole. The harpoons and their launchers were also made from that metal. Jeffrey says he's going to be hiring more blacksmiths in the coming months to exploit the mineral riches beneath the castle.

In short, by the end of the funeral ceremony, Jeffrey was too preoccupied by his upcoming wars - and I'm sure he plans on starting some wars - to remember that his top aide was laying dead in a coffin, a few feet away. Gods damn his soul, along with Driscol.

Even though the count deserved everything he got, he had a good point. Jeffrey's the epitome of everything that's wrong in this castle. Somebody needs to oust him…

Or…

Maybe it's just time that I thought about moving.

Don't really wanna talk anymore, diary. I have a lot on my mind, but it… it won't come out on the page properly. Everything's jammed up in my brain.



I'm gonna miss that man. I don't care if he was a little sketchy at times. He was doing the right thing. With him and the rats gone… do I have any friends left here? Should I be more scared than I already am?

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Guard

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day Two-Thirty: Aftermath

Hi. This is Libby.

Dragomir's not writing in his diary today. He's too upset. Something very bad happened. But he wants somebody to write every day, and I could use the practice.

I'm not that good at being emotional in writing, like Dragomir. I'm still getting used to writing. Robert the Librarian is a great teacher, but… I need work. So, um, don't expect me to get too crazy. I'll just tell it as it happened.

Don't worry, husband, I won't read the rest of your diary. Your hissy fits are annoying.

I'm sure Dragomir wrote yesterday that Driscol was caught. Once he got caught, all the bad guys left. I heard they were mercenaries. I guess they don't care anymore if they aren't getting paid. I can relate to that.

King Jeffrey came out of his tower today. He talked as though he led his troops the whole time. I can't say I saw him even once during the siege, but I'm used to King Jeffrey taking credit for everything. Besides, everybody knew it was Dragomir and The Baron who found Driscol and got him locked up. Especially when they were called into the throne room to celebrate.

Yesterday, the throne room was a mess, covered in tables and books and dead people and stuff. Today, it was back to normal. Better than normal, because there were giant banners hanging from the walls that read 'Victory', and the king had ordered a big buffet to be set up for his troops. He was proud of his subjects, for once, rather than getting mad at everybody.


Dragomir and The Baron were the stars of the show. Everyone wanted to talk to them, and everyone was slapping them on the backs and telling them what a great job they'd done. Every noble that went up to The Baron told him that they'd figured Driscol was bad all along. They were glad he was gone. I think they were lying weasels, but that's just my opinion.

The nobles even touched Dragomir. I think that disturbed my husband. He kept flushing in the face, the same expression he gets whenever he wants to have sex. Except, you know, I could tell he didn't actually want to do it with them. Old men aren't really his style… I hope.

(If he'd stop calling it 'cuddling' I might actually do it with him.

Well.

No, probably not.)

I stood around watching for a long time, and I got a lot of attention from peasants congratulations me and thanking me for helping them out. We managed to repair a lot of walls and cannons and stuff over the last couple days. I think our work kept the mercenaries from breaking through, in the end. That makes me proud enough without being thanked.

Plus, I don't like people touching me that much. I'm pretty sure I punched a few guys. I'm not sorry I did, they should know better.

The chatting didn’t last too long. King Jeffrey likes being the centre of attention, and he managed it this time by calling Dragomir and The Baron up to his throne. He shook hands with both of them, gave them (small) bags of gold, and officially changed the name of the castle to 'WeWillWeWillRockYou'. I think it's a dumb name, but just about everything Jeffrey does is dumb.

That's right. I called him dumb. Want to fight about it? Trust me, you don't.

(Why am I talking to a diary like this? No wonder Dragomir's crazy.)

Jeffrey wasn't done with just congratulating them. Once he had everyone's attention he signalled somebody at the doors of the throne room, and they burst open -

- and everybody stepped back to make way as Prince Logan led in Driscol the Prisoner.


Driscol was a sad sight. He was completely stripped of his clothing, as naked as the day he'd been born, and covered in chains. Handcuffs bound his wrists, and two heavy balls forced him to drag his feet along the ground. His skin was caked in dry and drying blood. The jester, that penguin with the mustache, hopped around behind Driscol and poked him in the butt with a trident whenever Driscol fell too far behind the prince.

Everybody was laughing at him. I almost felt sorry for the guy. Then I remembered how, once, he'd threatened to have me whipped because one of my assistants was a day late delivering a chair. So I laughed too. Jackass.

Logan led Driscol to the steps up to the throne. The penguin forced Driscol onto his knees, laughing and swearing as he danced around Driscol. Each time he got close, the penguin would peck Driscol, or stab him lightly, or slap him, or do something mean. The count was already covered in wounds from his time in prison, so he must have been hurting bad.

Never cried out, though. Never begged for mercy. Have to give him that much, he was a tough son of a bitch. For a noble.

Jeffrey waved the penguin away, looking like he was going to personally continue the torture. He seemed to decide against it, though, and instead he asked Driscol a question from his throne: "Why?"

The room went quiet. Driscol stared at the floor, weighed down by his heavy chains, probably not sure what to say. Then, after a minute of thinking, he straightened - buck naked, I repeat, buck naked - and addressed everyone. He wouldn't let his chains drag him back to the floor.

"I did it because you are an awful king," he said. "I did it because you don't deserve anything that you have. I did it because you are going to see this realm torched. I did it because I don't want that to happen. Most of all, though, I did it because of him."

Driscol pointed at The Baron. The Baron didn't flinch, though my husband, at his side, did. I worried for his bladder.

"He's protected your ineptitude, Jeffrey. He's kept you in power, even though common sense dictates that you're a madman. He's watched over you, like a father watches over a son, wilfully blind to the atrocities you've committed. Because of that, he's as bad as you."

The Baron stepped forward, ushering Logan back towards his father. "I am loyal to my king. You wouldn't understand that, traitor."

"No," Driscol agreed. He pulled the iron balls on his legs a little closer to the steps. "I wouldn't. I don't. I hope I never will. You think I'm a criminal? I tried to liberate this realm. Had I a fortress, steps from the gates, I could have forced bloodless capitulation. Had I a worker's strike, I could have killed Jeffrey's reign without firing a shot. Had I intelligent, bold friends in the aristocracy, I could have set this realm to rights, rather than letting it totter about as a murderous joke."

The Baron walked down the steps towards Driscol. Soon they were eye to eye, glaring, daring one another to make a move. Even King Jeffrey probably would have admitted that this was their moment, and no one else's.

"Pretty words," said The Baron. "But you've still lost. All your troops are gone. Your lover is hiding like a, heh, cockroach. You have no power. And do you know why?"

Driscol sneered.

"Because you don't understand loyalty to your home. Faulty or not, I love my kingdom," The Baron concluded with a little smile. He turned back to the king. "He is all yours, my lord. The Neck is broken, but I'm sure -"

"Ficus Eider I."

The Baron turned back to stare at Driscol. "Eh?"

The count was mumbling. He'd closed his eyes, and despite the handcuffs he was making strange motions with his fingers, lifting and lowering his hands. "Uric Ides Fie."

The Baron started to laugh. "Why, I do believe I've broken him."

I found that a really strange thing to say, because I'd said almost the exact same thing to Dragomir about our daughter the week before. I think Dragomir remembered it, too, because he was the only one other than me in the room who didn't join in the mocking, watching Driscol chant nonsense.

"Deice Fir I Us, Deuce If Iris, Uric Edifies, Dicier Fuse I, Cruised Fie I -"

The Baron slapped Driscol, laughing harder than ever. "Make sense, man! Go out with some dignity!"

Driscol opened his eyes. Every person who was watching his face stopped laughing immediately, and I found out later, from Dragomir, that there was something terrible in his expression. Something… orange. He said two words:

"Suicide Fire."

And his body was immediately covered in blue flames.


The fire stretched upward and outward from Driscol, a great, burning, blue symbol that flickered into the shape of a tree. It darkened the room, scorching the roof but touching no one… except a single, overweight, balding man.

As Driscol writhed and twitched, caught in the fire, The Baron flew backward. Blue flames licked at his robes, covering his entire body in seconds but harming none of the fabric. It must have been hurting him, though, because The Baron screamed and writhed, rocking back and forth on the floor. Nobody would help him, nobody would touch him, and that horrible moment of indecision lasted… it lasted for a lifetime.

I thought about the time my family house burnt down, when I was a little girl. It was the same horrible feeling.

When that lifetime ended and another began, the flames vanished. Driscol collapsed. He looked perfectly normal, totally unburnt - but stone dead. As one final insult, he landed on the balls shackled to his body, breaking his neck. I heard the crack from twenty feet away. Ugh.

Dozens of people, guards, nobles, soldiers, friends, all rushed in and stampeded over Driscol's body to get to The Baron. He was still wriggling, but much slower, his scream now a harsh whimper that I could barely hear over the shouts of everyone around him. The crowd swallowed him, injuries and attendants and all.

I lost track of the moment after that. There were too many people in the way. I asked Dragomir later on, though, and after a lot of crying, he filled me in. He was one of the first people to reach The Baron, after all…

But not the first. The first was Prince Logan. The Baron had been his tutor for a long time, and I think the old man was the closest thing Logan had to a real father. Logan was real pale, and looked ready to pass out.

The Baron, sobbing and shuddering, managed to put his hand on Logan's cheek. He smiled at his student and said one last thing: "T… there is… no civility… in politics… heh…"


Then he died.

Dragomir broke down after he told me that last part, so I'm not sure what happened next. (He had his face buried in my boobs for almost an hour. My overalls are soaked. Ugh.) From what I've heard since Dragomir went to bed, though, the royal guards came and bore The Baron and Driscol away on their shoulders. One will get a regal funeral, the other… well, I bet Driscol's corpse will be dumped in the moat or something. It's all he deserves.

I didn't know The Baron like Dragomir. I didn't know him at all. Judging by my husband's reaction, he was a good man. Dragomir might be an idiot, but he knows good people.

RIP.

Libby

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day Two-Twenty-Nine: The Day of Many Pictures

Entry One


Siege, day three. Not much has changed. Troops are entrenched on both sides, the bailey's clogged, trebuchets and catapults are launching dirt clods 'cause they've run outta rocks, and Driscol's nowhere to be found.

But he hasn't been spotted with his army. Got that from Princess Celine, who actually snuck out of the castle and spied on the enemy camps. I'm surprised her mother would LET her do that, but since Celine is, like, invisible unless she wants to be seen, I guess there's not much risk.

Yeesh. I bet Queen Daena would kill Prince Logan if he did that. Logan would probably go nuts with pranks and get himself killed, of course, but still.

Hrm. Logan. He knows this castle really well. Wonder if he knows anything about Driscol…? You out there, Logan?

Might be more entries today, diary. Hell, I can flat out guarantee it.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Guard

Entry Two


For the FIRST TIME EVER, I caught Logan reading you, diary. I'd put you down so I could use the can. Granted, I think the prince WANTED to be caught, but it's still a badge of honour for me.

As I suspected, Logan did have a good idea for finding Driscol: the secret tunnels. Remember way back in January when we secretly shaved King Jeffrey's head? We used a tunnel to get to 'im, and Logan says there are lots more. You just have to know where to look for 'em. He knows, and he's agreed to help me and a bunch of soldiers go searching.

Hope this works. We need to find that bastard, and quickly. Gonna run out of fresh food and water if we're besieged for too long.

Entry Three

 

Fuck. All the soldiers are gone. They got called off to deal with a sudden rush at the wall. Seems as though Driscol's army is impatient to get things over with, now that Eve's gotten rid a lot of their siege weapons.

I'm still searching. Alone. Prince Logan drew up a map of all the secret tunnels he could remember. Then he went off to be with his dad. He looks reeeeeeally pale… even more so than last time… something's very wrong with that kid.

Here we go, diary. Just you 'n me. Dunno what we'll do when we find Driscol… but… we're gonna manage.

Entry Four


I've checked a dozen secret hiding spots, all along the north and east walls. Can't get to the west wall 'cause the bailey's still blocked. I bet Driscol's still there, but The Baron disagrees. He says Driscol's probably far from his troops, where he won't be found. Dunno if I agree, but it makes sense - and it's not like I have a choice.

Grrr. Getting tired and impatient. Where the hell is he?

Entry Five

 
FUCK

The BARBICAN is GONE

A big bloody rock wiped it out. HUGE rock. I'm watching from the walls. A trebuchet waaaaay in the distance winded up, and let go, and... and... what's Daryl yelling at me...? OH HELL R 

Entry Six


Sorry. Rock… nearly… took out the wall… I was on… gods, I saw my life… flash…

The Neck is gone. Wiped out. Driscol's men are bringing in wooden bridges to cross the gap over the moat. I'm hoping our harpoons will put a nice dent in the bridges, but… really… it's starting to seem like we're gonna lose. There's just too many of 'em.

I didn't even reach a year of diary entries. What a fucking gyp.

Entry Seven


I found him.

I found Driscol.

I mean, I think I found him, and I probably shouldn't be pausing to write this entry, but I'm so giddy that I just HAD to toss it in:

He's in the cockroach cupboard.

Entry 8

WE GOT HIM, DIARY. THE BARON AND I GOT HIM. THE SIEGE IS OVER.

HOLY GODS I'M A HERO AND SHIT. AND SO ARE YOU, DIARY.

Here's what happened. After that second-to-last entry, I sulked. I had NO idea what to do. Couldn't find Driscol anywhere. I'd checked almost all of the secret spots on Logan's map, and even though I didn't get 'em ALL, I wasn't convinced that I was right. I figured, hell, he must be somewhere else. I must've been wrong. Looking was a big waste.

I needed cheering up. Everybody else was so busy, though, that I couldn't rely on outside help. So I went to the cockroach cupboard.

You remember the cupboard, diary. I discovered it a couple months ago, when Cedric posted me there on guard duty. Put a cup inside, it fills with dead cockroaches. A little buggy cemetery. Sound familiar? 'course it does, I've rambled about it way too much.

The cupboard amuses me. Creeps me out, sure, but it amuses me. Dead cockroaches every time you open the door? How random is THAT? So, I figured, what the hell. I'll have a look. And so I did… but when I got there, there was no cup to be found. Hence, no cockroaches. Just a plain 'ol empty cupboard.

I was a mixture of bored and horrified, and in my exasperation I did the first thing that came to mind: I fiddled with the cupboard. I ran my finger along the inside for no reason, wondering if I could get away with sticking my helmet in. I really wanted to see some dead cockroaches. One thing in my life HAD to remain constant if everything else was about to change.

Then I touched the bottom of the cupboard. Lo and behold, I was SHOWERED in dead cockroaches. A handful of 'em plunged out of the top of the cupboard and bounced off my horns, and I, ever brave, got my ass out of their and screamed.

And wet. Oh, so wet.

The cupboard was open. Cockroaches tumbled onto the floor. After a few seconds, the stream of corpses died… and something clicked shut.

After recovering from the shock, I moved in to investigate. I remembered what I'd been doing, exploring the cupboard, and I did so again. When I pressed down on the bottom of the cupboard long enough, BAM! Cockroaches. Roughly a cupful. They came out of a little hole in the top of the cupboard, one I'd never noticed, because, really, why would you EVER look at the top of a cupboard?

I couldn't see anything inside, because it was too dark. That didn't make my investigation at all fruitless, though, 'cause I heard something. A voice. A deep, rumbling, pleased-yet-displeased, aristocratic voice. One I knew sooooo damn well.

Driscol. You BASTARD.

I let out more cockroaches, using my helmet to keep the hole open. Cockroaches streamed through, forming a rather large pile, and I listened closely to the voice on the other end:

"Their troops are focused on the front gate and our bailey blockade. The Matriarch will soon be forced to pull out and engage our primary assault. Use that opportunity to swarm the secret entrance. Bring in three platoons, no less. Converge on all sides and crush them. Repeat."

A high, thin voice repeated everything Driscol had just said. Creeped the hell outta me.

"Good. Go."

Driscol stopped talking. I let the hole close. Stepping away from the rather huge mound of cockroaches, I checked Prince Logan's map, hoping that I might see a secret room drawn on the floor above. There weren't any rooms -

- but there WAS a suspicious gap in the floor plans. (Yes, Logan was incredibly detailed in his drawing.) That was good enough for me. I ran off to find some help, a guard, a soldier, hell, a peasant. ANYBODY.

Once I got back to the throne room, I found only one person who could help me: The Baron.

The old man looked defeated. He was slumped over his desk, mumbling to himself, his normally-crazed hair spikier than ever. I took this as a bad sign, 'cause he's usually quite composed. He didn't look ready to kick ass at all…

… until I told him, breathlessly, what I'd found. What I'd heard. He perked up with each word, and by the time I was done explaining he was on his feet, searching frantically for guards to send with me.

Nobody. Not a soul. Everyone with a sword arm had run off to defend the walls.

He looked at me, distraught, then bit his lip and nodded. I'm sure his eyes were full of resolve behind his glasses. "Let's go. We'll do this alone."

I led him to the cockroach cupboard. We listened quietly for a few seconds to confirm that Driscol was still up there - he was giving more orders, and receiving more eerie replies - then charged up the stairs to the next floor. As promised by the map, we found only a stone wall.

The Baron was undaunted. Filled with new fire he scoured the wall, searching frantically for a brick out of place, a loose stone, a switch, anything that would open a door and reveal a traitor with a tree on his cloak and a chip on his shoulder. After a few moments of probing, The Baron found one: a sliding handle between two rocks.

He tugged on the handle. The wall pulled back and slid open. We stepped inside…

… and discovered a grotesque sight: Driscol. Sitting in a chair. In a small, stone room. Covered in cockroaches.


I'm not kidding, either. Every inch of that man, from his regal robes to his slicked hair, was COATED in writhing cockroaches. When we stepped in he was speaking to a dozen of them, all lined up on his knees, and they were repeating his words when he noticed the extra light in his chamber. The cockroaches universally vanished, scurrying into the rock walls.

Eyes narrowing - ORANGE eyes, I am positive that for a brief second they were a tinge of orange - Driscol stood and brushed a handful of cockroach corpses off his leg. They fell into a stone basin at his side and tumbled out of sight - though they didn't fall far, as the thing was filled with dead roaches.

Right above the cockroach cupboard. What a weird way to get rid of evidence.

"I always knew you were no better than an insect, Driscol," The Baron hissed. He rolled up his sleeves. "It's over. You've failed. Call off the siege."

Driscol laughed. "Are you and your dog going to take me down, Baron? A fat old man and a useless guard who can't even hold a butter knife? I'd love to see you try."

"I can so hold a butter knife! I just couldn't stab you with it, you… you… jerk!"

The count shook his head, still laughing. He shrugged off his robe, revealing a tight tunic that highlighted every muscle on his chest and arms… and he has a lot. Like, a LOT. He also revealed a broadsword attached to his hip, which, given the circumstances, kinda made the muscles moot anyway.

Driscol's hand fell to his waist. The sword slid free of his scabbard. I'm quite certain that he would have cut us to pieces with it had I not acted out of instinct, so quickly and so naturally that I don't even remember making the motion.

I, uh, threw you at him, diary.

I had never really considered you as a weapon before. And, hell, even then I must not have been weapon-minded, 'cause I can still obviously pick you up. But you flew anyway, tossed by a hand I don't remember moving, and in slow motion you zipped in at Driscol's face -

- and stuck. You CLUNG TO HIS FACE, diary. I don't know if it was the moisture in the room, or cockroach goo on Driscol's skin, or WHAT, but you hugged that asshole's nose like it was a bucking bison. Driscol jerked back, released his sword, hit the wall -

- and fell into the cockroach basin as The Baron, rearing up and charging, brought his full weight to bear on Driscol's back. The count grunted as he went down, sliding headfirst into the basin. It was a glorious, FANTASTIC moment, diary, I kid you not.

Gleeful over his victory, The Baron remained behind to keep Driscol pinned in the basin while I ran off to fetch some royal guards from the king's tower. They followed me in a hurry, lugging Driscol out of the pit. He spat dead cockroaches out of his mouth and cursed foully. You dropped off his nose the moment he got free, diary.

GOOD FOR YOU. I LOVE YOU, DIARY. WE'RE THE BEST TEAM EVER.

The royal guards, The Baron and I at their side, marched Driscol out of the castle and into the main thoroughfare. We presented him to his troops, and, one by one, they gave up. With their client captured, there was no reason for mercs to keep fighting.

An hour later, the siege ended. When one of the mercenary commanders discovered the capture of his benefactor, his words were exactly this, from what I've heard:

"Seriously? He's done? Bollocks this shit, then. C'mon, fellas, let's go get plastered with all our coin! 'n burn those stupid flags, I don't wanna bunch of idjits wavin' trees on my heels."

The enemy troops, still outnumbering us, gave up and left. They abandoned a slew of damaged siege weapons, all of which have been appropriated by our forces. I'm pretty sure Eve is stalking the mercs as they 'retreat', 'cause she still hasn't come back to the castle, despite the end of hostilities.

Driscol's in custody. He's languishing in the dungeons, watched over by a dozen guards. Probably being tortured as I write this. He deserves every lick of pain he receives.

It's over, diary. After months of suspicion, political intrigue and war, it's over. The bad guy is in chains. And it's not even Friday!

This might just be the best day of my life.

Sincerely,

Dragomir the Hero

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day Two-Twenty-Eight: Outclassed at last


My daughter is apparently NOT the all-dominating warrior I thought she was. That, while we're under siege, is a VERY scary prospect - though it does explain why Driscol the Count hired mercenaries.

Eve is still alive. I know that. I never had any doubt that she would live through this assault. Thing is, she's not managed to brazenly murder the enemy army like she did with the goblins. As far as we can tell, she's been hitting the enemy ranks with hit-and-run attacks from the hills. She rushes in, takes out a few siege weapons or soldiers, and vanishes again.

Her reasoning is pretty sound, from what I hear. The Baron said it best yesterday: mercenaries are much better fighters than plain ol' soldiers. They've got a lot more experience than dudes who lounge around doing nothing in a castle all day, and they know a some mean tricks for destroying their opponents. A handful of 'em are actually strong enough to take on Eve and survive the encounter.

And… drive her off. Frightening.

The siege continues, needless to say. The enemy trebuchets have pulled waaaaay back, and every time one gets loaded up it hurls its payload towards the keep. A couple have hit, though none have caused any lasting damage. The smaller catapults are actually worse, 'cause they're tearing down the outer walls. None of the mercs have tried to go through the holes, but our luck on that front won't last forever.

The guys INSIDE the castle aren't faring as well as the ones outside. They're pinned down in their stupid west bailey, and from what I've heard they haven't moved a hell of a lot in the last six hours. Part of that is due to our soldiers keeping them down -

- but MOST of it is due to the reason I mentioned, but did not expand upon, yesterday: our OWN siege weapons. The walls of Castle UpYoursDriscol are now protected by harpoon-firing cannons. King Jeffrey wanted his castle to be able to one-up the Matriarch in firepower, and for once that proved to be a good idea, 'cause we've been using the harpoons to skewer any bastard who moves in the bailies. Been taking shifts watching over 'em.

(Yes, even me. The douches down behind the blockades have learned better than to move anymore. So, y'know, I can just stand there and look intimidating. I don't actually have to FIRE the harpoon. Thank the gods for that, 'cause I tried one time, and my body's reaction was pathetic. Finger slipped right off the trigger. BAH)

You're probably wondering, diary, why the bad guys aren't just trying to go through the secret entrance to get at us. Y'know, flank us on both sides, as all those military dudes would say. We've got a not-so-secret weapon guarding that entrance: the Matriarch. The queen's plugged the hole up tight, and she's refusing to move the Matriarch until the siege is over. I doubt ANYBODY will dare to come through while she's standing watch, bless her royal badassery.

The many defensive positions aside, everyone who's not a soldier or a prisoner of war has been drafted in some way. The cooks are rushing around, delivering meals; the blacksmiths and tanners are making armour and weapons (and I gotta say, they're of EXCEPTIONAL quality - makes me think the hole is paying off); the peasants (including Libby, who's more or less their leader) are repairing the walls and their homes at record speed; the nobles are… doing… nobley stuff; hell, even Barrel's helping out by keeping watch with me.

Poor Barrel. I can tell he's still hurting from that run-in with Eve. He seems rather sluggish. Wonder how much damage he could do if he transformed into a full dragon? Best I not point that out - King Jeffrey's kinda forgotten about his 'pet' Apocalyptor, and he might order a full-on attack if he sees Barrel flitting about.

Speaking of King Jeffrey… guess where he is? Yep, that's right: his tower. The fucking coward is hiding away in his tower, as if none of this is happening. Nobody beyond The Baron and his royal guards has seen Jeffrey since the siege began. What an asshole! What kind of leader leads from the rear? Boooooooooo!

BOOOOOOOOO!

Ugh. I hate nobles. Aside from The Baron, they're all such bastards, I swear.

Especially Driscol.

Gods, I hate Driscol so much.

Nobody knows where he is. The ringleader of this debacle vanished the night before the siege began, and he hasn't been seen since. Most people figure he slipped out and joined his army, well beyond the walls, but The Baron isn't convinced. He thinks Driscol might still be in here somewhere, secretly supplying his troops with intel. How he'd get it out I have no idea whatsoever, but there you go.

Driscol.

Man, if I could just hold a dagger for ONE SECOND, he'd be so dead.

Assuming he didn't beat the shit outta me first.

He IS pretty big.

Bah. I might volunteer to join the search parties looking for him anyway. I'd like to see his face ONE LAST TIME before he's flayed alive and tossed on The Neck. Then I could punch him.

REAL HARD.

The siege continues. Back to my post. I'll keep in touch, diary.

At least I'm not hiding this time - maybe because the guinea pig farms are blocked up so I can't hide,

Dragomir the Guard