Good Night, Sweet Prince – Part 2

Since this story is nearly done and I’m using it for DreamWidth Prompts, I figured I should post the other parts as well.

**

Ilya held the pitcher of wine in silence as he listened to those around him speak about the feuds between various great houses.  The Runecasters and the Northhunters seemed to have the most volatile relationship of the lot.  Looking from the patriarch of one family to the patriarch of the other, Ilya could see why.  The two men couldn’t be more different.  The Lord of Runecaster was a hard man who seemed to only really love his eldest son.  The daughter was useful tool, especially since he’d married her off to the king.  For the younger son, who Ilya had only heard about in whispers, he held nothing but contempt.

From what Ilya had heard, the man was a dwarf.  In Veligrad, such people were looked upon with something like reverence.  The priests of the Sun God were always chosen from their ranks, because of the belief that the dwarfs of old, spirits of the earth, were the messengers of the Sun God.  Here, they seemed to have entirely the opposite view.  They saw anyone who was “deformed” as being under the punishment of their gods.

Ilya stepped forward to pour some more wine for the Northhunter lord.  He wondered what these people would think of Dr. Schneider.  He was an albino and half-blind.  However, Ilya had never seen anyone else give Dr. Alexandrova a run for her money.  Clearly, he was brilliant to be able to talk circles around Veligrad’s top scientist.

As Ilya stepped back, he considered the Lord of Northhunter.  He was a gentle man with a clear love for all of his children.  More than that, he was clearly not a worshipper of the four gods that Runecaster revered.  Ilya’s mother had worshipped the Stormbringer, so he recognized the amulet that Northhunter wore the moment he saw it.

Ilya shook the thoughts away.  He was meant to be gathering intelligence, not wool.  He focused again on the task at hand, mentally noting the types of weapons the lords mentioned: swords, axes, catapults… Their weapons were the ones used in Veligrad a century ago, or more.  Ilya almost felt bad for them.  They wouldn’t stand a chance against the military might of Veligrad and they wouldn’t know enough to call upon the League of Nations for assistance.

**

Taurys sat in the corner of the tavern’s common room.  The ale sat in front of him, barely touched.  He could hardly believe that the people around him were drinking the stuff.  There was grain floating in it!  You ate it, rather than drank it.  He suppressed a shiver and glanced over at a man at a table nearby.

When no one was looking, Taurys switched his mug for the near empty one in front of his neighbor.  The man blinked in surprise at the full mug.  However, he laughed and then began drinking with obvious pleasure.

The person Taurys had been watching strode out of the tavern, then.  Sighing in relief, Taurys pushed the stolen mug away and moved to his feet.  “You’re not going to finish it?” someone asked.

“Be my guest,” Taurys said, shaking his head.  Then, he slipped out of the common room.  He spotted his quarry across the narrow street and moved to one side of the door.  He leaned casually against the wall of the tavern.  Anyone looking at him would, he hoped, think he’d just stepped out for some air.  Meanwhile, he listened closely to the hushed conversation happening several yards away.

“Ships, my lord,” one of the men said, his tone distressed.  “We’ve never seen such large ships!”

“What can it mean, my lord?” another man said.

The young noble that Taurys had been watching frowned thoughtfully.  “I think we can guess what it means,” he said.  “What we need to find out is where they will make land.”  He patted the nearest man on the arm and said, “Show me.”

“Yes, my lord,” the man said.  Then, the trio moved off.

Taurys pushed away from the wall to head in the opposite direction.  The diversion would work, of that he was certain.  Word would reach the capitol that the ships were threatening the south and forces would be diverted there.  It would take time, but it would leave the capitol unguarded and vulnerable.

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