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


Dragomir the Tracker


  1. somebody (prolly a huge douche), knows about Dragomir's snooping around...

    1. Of course Libby knows he's snooping, she's his wife.


    2. Touche' But alas the Author also knows all about Dragomir's snooping!


      (Just kidding, I couldn't think of a witty comment to reply with XD)