"I guess it's good that we didn't expose the Baron, then.
Remember to keep your tongue when you tell the story around town. It's
all the guildmaster's fault." Derin knew that Sturmer was struggling with inner demons. He had lied to his liege.
Derin, nodded before changing the subject, " So who do you think will
be given Nebulan?"
Sturmer: "I can't imagine Koris is in any hurry to give it up."
After Remiu's defeat, his followers had locked up Nebulan, and remained defiant until Marshal Koris had arrived with a small army and knocked down the door. Koris was also allegedly keeping the relic sword Steadfast as insurance that the order behaved. Not that it mattered, most of the order has taken up arms and marched to Melderyn to support the Solora crusade. The Earl was none to happy about losing soldiers sympathetic to his cause either.
"Damn straight. That was going to make Firiths life hell for *months*." Derin sniggered with Sturmer as they entered the smoky common room of the inn.
Derin admitted to himself that he felt sorry for Sturmer. First he had to listen to everyone gripe
about why the guy that couldnt even joust was suddenly going to be leading
the Earls Tuleme expedition. When Arrys discovered that his brother was demoted
because of an idea brought about by Erni's the yeomans, new employer, he would want to make
Erni's life that much harder. (And forget them getting any help from
Arrys regarding the local murders.)
Erni had joined Sturmers small band several weeks ago, looking for instant fame and wealth.
All he had found so far was death and disaster. Derin wondered if when Sturmer returned to Asolade if Erni would go back to farming.
Then there will be all the knights jostling to become the next bailiff at Skaist. Some would think Sturmer
can help them, others will want to make sure Sturmer doesn't stand in their way. And worst of all, Sturmer will have to listen to Erni whine that *Sturmer* should get Skaist so Erni can have his forty acres. That peasant kid is so unrealistic. Sturmer's lucky the Earl didn't cuff him on the spot for his impertinent suggestion.
The amusing thing about the way it went down is that, as far as anyone
but the Baron knows, Sturmer didn't really do anything. He just came up
with the idea, and the fact that the Baron was surprisingly agreeable
will be chalked up by others to mere good fortune. Sturmer can't take
credit for the little bit of blackmail without, of course, violating his
unspoken agreement with the Baron. The story that will get out is just
that Sturmer made a good suggestion, and the Earl and the Baron worked
out the rest.
It will be interesting to see how the Baron responds to Sturmer down the
road. Will he be grateful for Sturmer keeping his secret, or angry for
Sturmer using it to the Earl's advantage. The rest of the day was spent
preparing for the Hosaths costume ball, and Derin had to find a costume
for himself and Sturmer.
The party was amazing! Derin had found himself a feathery serpent
outfit, and he had dressed Sturmer up as an angry bear. Sturmer had made
a comment, but Derin didn't get the reference.
After several trips to the Sindarin crystal punchbowl and Karejian
delicacies, Derin saw Jannath storm out of the townhouse. He wondered
why until he noticed Sturmer with Merela. She was nearly spilling out of
her bodice, and Sturmer was trying not to help put her back in. For a
moment he thought they were going to do the deed right there by the ice
sculpture! Inone of his weaker moments, Derin decided he should involve
himself. Whether to save Sturmer or Merela, even he wasn't sure.
After helping Sturmer back to the Inn, Derin rushed back to the party,
and the three maidens who wanted to play with his "serpent".
Nolus 25: (After the Party)
Derin awoke sometime before noon still at the Hosath residence. He
carefully extricated himself from the three sleeping ladies, careful not
to wake them, and headed lightfooted to the kitchen to scare up some
breakfast. Being just his mother's son, he had to stay "downstairs"
with the serving and guard staff. He really didn't mind so much. When
he was a little boy, Lady Cheselyne herself used to let him have the run
of the place, and would even play peek-a-boo. But the older Derin got,
the fewer liberties he was allowed. Now he rarely even saw the lady of
the house, and he felt his commoner status weighing on him more and
Wrangling Sturmer than invitation wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
It was the first time Derin was able to attend a Hosath party
without sneaking in (and getting in trouble!) And what a party!
That was far better than the little dances Cheselyne hosted in the
townhouse. Even Sturmer seemed to enjoy it, judging from the way he
couldn't keep his eyes off Merela's breasts. (When did Merela get
that hot? Last year she was just a beanpole
Derin was surprised, then, when a servant told him that the "young
lady", that is, the younger Cheselyne, wished to see him in her
Cheselyne is about two years younger than Derin. They used to
play with together a lot when they were little kids. Then she started
"growing up", and nothing had been the same since. For a while she
was really mean to Derin, making sure he knew his commoner status.
That phase passed. As she got older and a little more mature, she
just started ignoring him. But so far on this stay she had been
actually fairly warm. Polite, at least, and interested in
hearing his stories.
In fact, at the party Derin was sure he heard her rebuke one of her
friends on his behalf. Derins back was turned, but he knew the
little witch wanted him to hear it -
Nameless young girl: "I can't believe you invited
those two, Cheselyne. One's just barely a knight. The other isn't
quite anything at all!"
Derin was surprised to hear Cheselyne say,
"I'm quite happy to see them here." She barely addressed him at all
during the party, but yoheu had other ways to keep busy and she
certainly had her hands full.
Well, Derin knew her pretty well, and she is only nice when she wants
something, so he dressed down, in his common breeches and tunic. It
should make her less comfortable.
Even Derin knew she wouldnt lay him, so he had nothing to lose.
Making his way to the chambers of the pampered "Lady the
Younger", He found her alone, standing at a desk by the window
Apparently writing a letter (or so he supposed the parchment to be).
entered she turned and gestured for him to have a seat on her bed.
There were no chairs.
Cheselyne: "Derin, I am . . . concerned. Perhaps it is because you have
away so much lately. Perhaps you have spent so much time with the
Herald of Jedes that you are forgetting where you were born. Was it
not your mother that raised you to manhood? And did not my mother
give you a home, and play with you and love you like you were her own
child? What commoner's child had a more loving home than you, Derin?"
Of course, the question is rhetorical.
She continued: "You have no idea how loved you are here. Did you know
that when you
wanted lessons at the Guild of Arcane Lore, my mother secretly paid
the masters to tutor you? She never told anyone - I just learned
myself. She was so terribly sad when you chose the College of Heralds
over the Guild - she knew you'd be happier there. You know she was
right, don't you?"
Again, the question is not meant to be answered.
The woman just doesn't know when to be quiet: "See how much she loves
you. And how do you repay her? You meet a
simple knight who calls you his herald and you forget all about the
clan that has suckled you. What were you thinking?"
She looked a little cross.
"Merela had Sturmer all but seduced. And you let him get away. You
took him back to his shabby tavern, where his blood could cool and he
could regain his pathetic country-bumpkin morality. Now it will be
next to impossible for Merela to ever get him back."
"Lady the Elder wants Sturmer in our camp. It's up to you to make
sure that happens."
"I'm so glad we had this little talk. I thought we should have had it
before you left for Jedes, but Lady the Elder thought that you needed to
see the Herald one more time before you would be ready. You do realize
now that he will never acknowledge you, don't you?"
Considering that "dad" won't even talk about it, this just might be
true. But he hasn't seen the Sword yet......
" He's a very good and noble man, and you are right to be proud of him.
But you will never be a Mazerony. But you will always be your mother's
son, and you will always be loved by this house."
Derin begins to realize how much this girl has grown up. How did that
happen so fast?! She seems so much like her mother - poised and
At the party she seemed just the same flighty, flirty girl he remembers.
This serious side is something new to him. Derin isn't sure if he finds
this intimidating, sexy, or both. But it's obvious to him that if the
rumors are true that she's destined to marry Scina Dariune, she could be
a very powerful queen.
Suddenly He wanted to be anywhere but in Tashal.