The Thief of the Rose - Cover

The Thief of the Rose

Copyright© 2012 by R22CoolGuy

Chapter 10

Aaron was up at first light. The shoulder was still sore, but after a half an hour of exercise and another of sword practice it was no longer tight, and he did not feel limited with Red Rose. After cleaning up he was out of the inn door before most lodgers were even awake.

"Might as well get this over with first," he thought, as he made his way to the Village Master's residence and local government seat.

Upon arriving, he gave a clerk his letter of introduction by the Council and King and waited in an antechamber for the Village Master. A few moments later the door opened and two men stepped over toward Aaron.

"Lord Blackmoon, so very nice to meet you," the Village Master greeted Aaron holding out his hand. After realizing that Aaron was not going to take it he coughed and continued. "My name is Nigel Weaver and this is Sergeant Randall."

"The sergeant and I have already met," Aaron smiled. "Sergeant, how goes your investigation?"

"Well, milord, it has come to a halt," The Sergeant explained. "Recent information has caused me to rethink the direction I was initially going with it."

"Yes, I would imagine so," Aaron smiled again, turning to Master Weaver. "Perhaps we could continue our conversation inside?"

"Yes, milord, right this way," Master Weaver pointed toward the open door, and then turned back to the sergeant. "That is all, Sergeant Randall, keep me informed if anything further is found concerning the deaths last night."

The sergeant saluted them both and then left the residence still shaking his head. Master Weaver escorted Aaron into his office and bid him to sit and be comfortable, calling for refreshments.

"Now, what can Dria and this office do for the Guilds Council and the King?" Weaver asked.

"Certain tribute trains have been tampered with and I have uncovered a plot to overthrow the King," Aaron began, watching Weaver's expression. "Interesting enough, your name has come up in the midst of my investigation. Would you care to comment, Master Weaver?"

"Milord, surely there has been some kind of mistake," Weaver replied, licking his lips nervously. "I cannot imagine how I could be linked with, with treason."

"No, Master Weaver, I am fairly confident my information is correct," Aaron leaned forward, pulling Red Rose. "It was made as a dying declaration if you get my meaning? Now what I want to know is, who else is involved with you, specifically who in Aithen?"

Lord Beadle hurried down the hallway toward Chamberlain Walton's office. As he approached the door the guards on either side came to attention.

He turned to the guard on the left and asked, "Is Chamberlain Walton in?" The guard nodded in the affirmative and Beadle knocked on the door.

After hearing "Enter", he opened the door and went inside where Walton was sitting at his desk.

"Lord Colin, please come in and have a seat," Chamberlain Walton stood in greeting. "How may I be of service?"

His Grace, Duke Colin Beadle, was a short heavyset man with short brown hair, thinning at the temples and streaked with gray. Brown eyes set close together over a rather large, red bulbous nose, which overlooked a thin-lipped small mouth. An impeccably dressed and well fed man, whose family had made its fortune in mercantile procurement and shipment, rising to power within the Merchants' Guild. His Great-Grandfather purchased the title of Duke from the then King, and the family expanded its fortune, influence and aristocracy ever since. The current Duke had his eyes set on the ultimate prize of kingship, and nothing had better stand in his way.

"Good morning, Chamberlain Walton," Lord Beadle began, "I need to see the King on a very important matter."

Chamberlain Walton was a contrast to Lord Beadle. Tall and thin, with gray soft eyes set evenly apart. Long white hair pulled back in a queue banded in several places down the length, reached the middle of his back. His simple grey robe of a Sorcerer, trimmed in purple, denoted his station as advisor to the King.

"What is the nature of your meeting?" The Chamberlain asked. "So that I may inform His Majesty."

"It is a private matter," Beadle explained. "One that involves the King and Lord Aaron. It is important that I see the King right away."

"All right, Lord Colin," Walton stood. "If you will follow me please, the King is in his residence. I'll take you to his private audience chamber, and let him know you are waiting."

"Thank you," Lord Beadle stood and followed the Chamberlain. "How is the Queen feeling this morning?"

"As well as could be expected," the Chamberlain replied. "She has her good days and her bad. She isn't going to get any better, the King has finally come to terms with that. The fall damaged her brain and even the best healers cannot repair that. The King has resigned himself to her ultimate fate, and with no offspring he will have to name an heir soon."

"Yes, ugly business, the passing of the crown," Lord Beadle commented.

After making sure that Lord Beadle was comfortable in the private chambers, Chamberlain Walton went to the bed chambers of the Queen, where the King was sitting quietly at her bed side.

Thane Blackmoon was in his 20th year of reign as Aithen's king. His life until five years ago was idyllic to say the least. Married to his sweetheart, ruling during a time of prosperity and growth, war free, all that his father had strived for finally bearing fruit. All except a child; the people would have loved either a son or a daughter as heir, but Thane and his wife could produce neither. The secret whispers about putting her aside, reached his ears, but he couldn't, wouldn't betray her that way. Even after the riding accident which left her an invalid, he wouldn't hear of such talk. No, his heart was dying in front of his eyes, and with it the hope of a child. He knew he should name an heir soon, probably a while ago, but he couldn't, holding out hope that she would get better, would bear him an heir. Realizing now, that those dreams were dead, even as she lay dying.

"Your Majesty?" Walton whispered, "might I have a word with you, outside?"

"Is it important Walton?" the King sighed. Knowing full well that Walton would not have disturbed him if it was not. "Yes, let us step outside."

"Your Majesty, Lord Colin is waiting in your private audience chamber," Walton explained. "He said it was an important yet private matter, concerning you and Lord Aaron."

"Has Aaron returned?" the King asked.

"No, Majesty, he has not," Walton answered.

"All right, let us go and see what that pompous ass wants," the King replied. "I want you to stay even if Lord Colin pitches a fit, I do not trust that man or his intentions."

"I agree, Your Majesty," Walton nodded his head. "I do not trust him either."

When they entered the chamber, Lord Colin stood and bowed, "Your Majesty, thank you for seeing me on such short notice."

"Nonsense, Lord Colin. I always have time for you and House Beadle," the King replied smiling. "Please be seated. Now, Chamberlain Walton says that the reason for your visit is personal and involves Lord Aaron?"

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