An Alarming Discovery
He stood frozen for a moment, and then turned on Evan Tamm, and his face was filled with panic - and an anger that came from fear.
"Where is it?" he roared. "How did you get it? "
He advanced on the chained Tamm, his fists clenched at his side, then drew back his foot to kick him.
"Well you won't have it for long!"
The first kick came before Evan had quite realised what was happening, and caught him square in his already tortured belly. With a strangled gurgle, Evan's eyes popped and he doubled over, and the frothy sputum that suddenly coated his lips was tinged with red. The guard brought his fist down hard between the prisoner's shoulder blades, and Evan flopped to the ground, his head pounding so hard he could barely hear the man's incoherent shouts. His mind was still clear, however, and he could guess them well enough.
"I don't care where you've hidden it, you poxy dog, but by the gods, spit it up or I'll - " Words failed him, but the guard's panic over what might happen to him once the prisoner managed to escape with the now-missing key was apparent. He punctuated his wordless threat with another savage kick.
He was still restrained by the stocks, but Evan saw red, and the opportunity to vent some of his frustration at the last few days was too good to miss. Even as the second kick landed, he folded over the blow and twisted angrily, pulling the guard down atop him. The pitch of the guard's shouts changed suddenly, and then abruptly cut off, as Evan deftly looped his chains tightly around the man's neck and squeezed.
Not normally a violent man, Rhys was however afraid for the guard's life and riding on the wave of pent-up anger from his recent encounter with Corryn. He punched Tamm in the side of the head with his fist.
Evan's head snapped aside, and the guard clawed enough of the chain away to take a much-needed breath. Just as suddenly, though, breath was snatched away again, and the guard's eyes bugged from their sockets as Evan pulled tighter, bending the hapless man backwards over his knee. He turned and looked up at Rhys with slow deliberation, and his dark eyes burned icily from beneath a tangled mat of hair.
"My little sister has hit me harder than that, maester," he growled through clenched teeth. "Touch me again, and you'll take this man's place."
"I suggest you ease up on the chains," Rhys said in a low voice, his eyes not leaving Tamm's. "If you kill the guard, you take away your bargaining chip. What do you want, Tamm? What do you hope this will gain you?"
Evan blinked and stared at the maester as if not quite believing what he was hearing. "Well," he drawled slowly, his jaw still clenched, "for starters, I think it'll gain me some respite from the two of you beating on me while I'm chained helpless in the middle of a field. So far, I'd say it's working."
The guard's mouth worked soundlessly, the veins standing out in the whites of his eyes. The tendons stood out like cords in Evan's forearms, iron bars at which the guard slapped pathetically and uselessly.
The guard was not going to stay alive much longer and trying to reason with Tamm was going to be fruitless. Rhys tackled him, hoping to distract Tamm long enough that the guard could slip free.
With a heaving, choking gasp, the guard rolled away, heaving air into his lungs gratefully. Hobbled and chained as Evan was, his swing at Rhys was nothing more than a glancing blow, and the maester was able to roll out of range before Evan could manage anything more serious.
For a brief, quiet moment, the three of them lay a safe distance apart on the grass, the only sound the laboured breaths of the guard as he struggled back from the brink. Evan slowly sat up, watching both of them closely with a glare reminiscent of a wounded and cornered predator. Angrily, the guard backed up and reached for his spear.
Rhys stood and wiped the blood from his split lip with the back of his hand. He glanced at the guard, saw that he was upright and breathing, and sighed in relief.
"Why were you beating the prisoner when I gave you instructions to behave decently toward him?" Rhys asked the guard with forced patience.
"The key!" the guard said thickly, rubbing his neck, where the marks of the chain that had half throttled him stood out clearly. "He stole my key ... the key to his chains ... "
Rhys looked at Tamm and then back at the guard. "How did a sick prisoner manage to take your key from you?" he asked, a bit incredulous.
"He - um... he - " The guard frowned, trying to think exactly how this might have occurred.
"Come on now," Evan snorted, looking away in disgust. "This is Holdfast - you don't need much of an excuse for the two of you to start beating on me. Make up something so the maester here can feel justified."
"Shut up," Rhys told Tamm matter-of-factly.
"Or you'll what?" Evan snapped in annoyance, glancing briefly in the maester's direction. "Send someone over to beat me while I sit here doing nothing? Shut up or you'll poison me and leave me in a field overnight to die? What in all the hells is the matter with you people?" Evan rolled his eyes and picked at his chains in frustration.
[Rhys] turned back to the guard. "When was the last time you saw the key?"
"An hour ago," said the guard. "Mayhap two."
He glowered at Evan Tamm.
"Was it loose or on a chain, by itself or with other keys, in your pocket or around your neck or attacked to your belt, what?" Rhys continued.
The guard was fading from purple, but now he settled on beetroot red instead.
"My ... my pocket," he muttered. "The strap ... frayed."
"How, do you suppose, a prisoner chained some distance from you managed to pick your pocket without you noticing? He'd have to be right...next...to you..."
Rhys trailed off and anger flushed his face.
"The prisoner doesn't have your keys. Consider them lost for the moment and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to allow Ser Corryn anywhere near Tamm. If he has a problem with that, tell him to talk to Ser Anders.
"I'll send someone out with a replacement key and to run errands for you so you can quit beating the prisoner and FOLLOW THE REST OF MY PREVIOUS ORDERS."
Glowering, Rhys stormed off across the field toward the Great Hall where breakfast was being served, hoping to find Ser Anders there.
Unfortunately, the only person in the Great Hall was Ser Herys, who looked at Rhys with supercilious disdain.
Rhys scowled back, not caring. He left the Great Hall and checked the armory next.
Godwyn left the armoury, and glanced around for Rhys, who had left mere moments before him. But the young maester appeared to have been in a hurry, and Godwyn saw no sign of him.
With a shrug, he gave up on asking for more information about what the lad who had travelled with Evan Tamm had been doing taking him food, a job Godwyn would have thought to be the task of the kitchen drudges and guards.
He set off through the keep, searching for the young man. "Have you seen Tamm's lad, Garyt?" he asked the guards he came across, following reports of where the lad had been seen, and gradually closing in on him.
Some sent him in one direction, some in another.
Finally he saw the youth for himself, carefully carrying a pile of equipment towards where Tamm was staked out still on the tournament ground.
Godwyn sighed. He had no desire to subject himself to more of the madman's ravings, but he had his orders. He headed towards the two of them.
The guards had moved Evan to a rather cleaner pattch of ground, and had given him more water - to clean himself with as well as to drink. But most refreshing - and most settling - was the special water that had been brought to him from the Laughing Knives encampment.
There was bread too, a course but surprisingly fresh bread for him to eat once he showed no further inclination to void his guts all over the field. There was even a new set of hose an jerkin - not best quality or fit and rather worn - but mercifully clean.
And then he saw Garryn approaching, carefully carrying what was presumably to be the first of his knightly equipment.
Godwyn came around a corner, and looked about, clearly searching for someone. His gaze swept over Evan without pausing, but when he saw Garryn he sighed, then began walking after the young man, coming up behind him as he approaced Evan,
"... so, well, anyway, the armourer said he was sure these would fit with a bit of bending, and this pauldron was only penetrated once, and in a non-vital spot, and - um - are you sure everything's okay?"
Despite Garyn's obvious concern, Evan did not answer, and his face was dark and clouded as he examined the armour half-heartedly. He noticed Godwyn's approach, but failed to acknowledge it.
"Garyn," Godwyn said. "I need you to come with me for a bit. It shouldn't take long, and then you can get back to aiding him."
Garyn paused uncertainly, as was his wont, but Evan simply turned away. The youth opened his mouth as if to say something, but nothing came out, and he mutely nodded and allowed Godwyn to lead him away.
Godwyn paid no attention to the prisoner, simply gesturing for Garyn to come with him. He remained silent as they walked, replying to Garyn's attempts at conversation with monosyllabic grunts.
By the time they reached the armoury, Garyn, never the most self assured of youths, was sweating, clearly wondering what in the world this was all about.
Godwyn knocked on the armoury door once, to alert those within that they were there, then opened the door and said, "Go on it."
He followed Garyn in and closed the door behind them.