‘Come now Greyden, surely you don’t think this is credible?’
Greyden Deseme, former captain of the guard and newly appointed military advisor of the council of Carrumdale, paced up and down the length of the room, his agitation clear in the quickness of his step. He listened to the echoing sound his sturdy steel boots made upon the stone floor, trying to find solace in the monotonous sound. No such relief was found.
The man who had addressed him was Councillor Fredrick Louder, political advisor to the mayor of Carrumdale. He spoke in his usual jeering manner, one which left a bitter taste on Greyden’s tongue. Greyden did his best to ignore the man’s jibe, and continued to pace the room.
Not usually a nervous man, he found his unease a frustration. It had been a trying year, and now this new development had arisen which pushed Greyden’s usually calm demeanour to breaking point.
He shared the room with three other men including Louder, who all sat huddled together at a table in the centre. They were chatting breathlessly, their attention focused on the weathered and browning map which sat atop the gnarly wooden table. They were equally as edgy as Greyden himself, showing their particular tells though the occasional curse word, or the violent shake of a hand. Even Louder seemed edgy, though his usual demeanour worked hard to hide it. They all did their best to hide it, but to no avail. If the note was correct, each man knew what prospect lingered upon the horizon.
It was a horrible concept, which had the entire nation on their toes.
Although the threat of war was a troublesome thought, Greyden’s mind nested other worries which remained at the forefront of his concerns. His thoughts wandered, and his attention waned. In his mind’s eye he was searching for her. Where was she? Why had she not returned?
No. Greyden fought to regain his train of thought. I must not dwell on her now, not while I have a job to do.
Despite his firm conviction he allowed the three men to talk, making no attempt to join in on their conversation. Instead he let his eyes wander the room, and taking in the surroundings in the hope to calm his mind.
He himself had only seen the interior of this particular room once before, when he was newly joining the town guard, as just a young lad. It had been more than twenty years since that day, and the lack of upkeep had definitely taken its toll. The room had been set aside to decay. The subtle scent of rotting wood filled the air, while the recently disturbed dust sat heavily upon each occupant’s lungs. It seemed there was not much use for a war-room in a time of peace.
Peace. Greyden almost snorted. Was there ever such a thing?
War or no, there was no getting past chaos.
The other men in the room consisted of the two other advisors to the mayor -of which Greyden himself was a third- and the mayor himself. Each was considered an expert in his own advisory fields. Louder governed over political matters, Denim governed over wealth, and Greyden governed over military. All three of them reported to Mayor Erik Talc, the Mayor of Carrumdale.
They had spent what seemed like hours together now, debating, arguing, and accusing. The poor messenger, Pelton, had been verbally interrogated in ways that his meek personality was ill-equipped to handle. It seemed that fear made monsters of them all. Now, their discussion seemed to have reached a much quieter lull, surely a relief for everyone attempting to sleep within the modest sized castle. Pelton had been sent away, after being reduced to near tears by Louder’s aggressive scrutiny.
Eventually, after their quiet yet quickly spoken discussion ended, the three men raised their heads to peer at Greyden, each harbouring distinctly different expressions.
Greyden himself, simply sighed and took the last remaining seat at the table, his eyes stone cold, despite the anxiety he felt.
Both Denim and the Mayor seemed to hold some measure of concern, with the mayor sporting an expression of apprehension, while Denim displayed one of confusion.
‘If this information is genuine,’ Denim began, ‘war is imminent.’
He looked at Greyden with round eyes, his expression one of uncertainty.
Greyden simply nodded, his mouth dry.
‘And this information,’ Louder began, leaning over the table as if to hear Greyden better, ‘it is credible?’ He had reiterated his earlier question, a malicious glint in his eye.
‘It is,’ Greyden said, his voice stern, ‘it came from Cartiala.’
Greyden’s voice constricted slightly when he said her name, a fact which Louder was quick to pick up on.
It was a statement, not a question, spoken in a tone which made Greyden stare daggers at the Mayor’s political advisor. He clenched his hands into fists beneath the table, though said nothing.
When Greyden offered nothing but a glare, Louder continued, his eyes dancing with an impish mirth.
‘She still not back then Deseme?’
Louder knew the answer. He was just baiting him; a pathetic attempt made by a narcissistic man. Greyden took a breath and addressed the mayor.
‘We need to take this news to Capita,’ he said, referring to the notorious capital of Tol.
Even as the words left Greyden’s lips he knew what was coming. He would be the one to take the information to Capita. This was no job for a simple messenger, and he was the only one within this room fit to make such a journey. It was, after all, more his area of ‘expertise’. His thoughts strayed once more to Cartiala, and his expression darkened.
Denim offered Greyden a reassuring pat on the shoulder, ‘You will have your pick of the guard.’
It was an attempt to sweeten the deal. Though it was an attempt made in vein. The man had misinterpreted Greyden’s defeated expression as fear for the impending journey. Although the fastest route from Carrumdale to Capita was indeed treacherous, the prospect did not frighten Greyden in the least. It was the extra distance then put between himself and his wife that irked him.
Despite this he was resolute in his duty. The information had to be passed to Capita. But once the task was over- then he hoped that his time was his own. He was a capable fighter, and would of course do his bit if it came to war, but was by no means a military man, and saw himself rather as the bridge between the military and politics. To him, the wellbeing of his wife was his priority. He had to find her.
He closed his eyes and let out a low breath through gritted teeth.
‘No,’ he said after some time, ‘two or three people at the most. We need to travel quickly. Taking a whole troop would take too much time.’
The three men all gave motions of agreement, though Louder’s sounded more like a ‘hmph’, while Greyden continued.
‘Rokus Ymaine,’ he said, thinking fast, ‘it is doubtless that we’ll run into trouble, and if that’s the case I’ll need a trusted sword arm at my side. I’ll need to hire someone from Janwall to make the cross from Janwall to Capita.’
He moved closer to the map now, tracing the distance between Janwall, the nearby merchant town, and Capita as he spoke.
The Mayor nodded, intently following Greyden’s trail of words.
‘I’ll send word to the guild ahead of time,’ he said.
‘Right. Thanks.’ Greyden said absent-mindedly while he planned his steps out in his head.
‘Once you’re in Capita send word. Let us know what’s happening.’
The mayor held Greyden’s gaze intently, then leant in and quietly added, ‘In your own words.’
He added extra emphasis to that last part, clearly showing his mistrust of Capita politics.
‘Of course,’ Greyden agreed, ‘I’ll collect Ymaine and leave by daybreak. I’ll send word once I have a route planned with the guild at Janwall.’
The men all stood then, seemingly in unison. An agreement had been reached.
With the plan in place the four men exited the room, each stealing glances at one another as they left.
Greyden was last to leave, pausing to give the room once last sweeping glance, before following the other men down the long castle hallway, and out into the night.