Kenrith in the Solar and Afterwards
Kenrith had very few moments alone in the solar.
"Excuse me, Ser," said one of the guards, standing tentatively in the doorway. "There is someone in the courtyard - most urgent to see you, he is. He says he is in your service."
Kenrith's eyebrow rose. "Did he give his name?" Kenrith asked as he came to his feet and moved towards the guard. Regardless of the man's answer, Kenrith knew he must look into the matter.
The guard shook his head. "Young," he said. "Looks like a sellsword - think he was hanging around the castle earlier."
Kenrith nodded and kept the first thought which came to his mind, ~a wonder he found the place again,~ to himself.
"I will see to him... although he may be mistaken with regards to my obligation to him. I suspect the rest of his band has run off without him," Kenrith commented to the guard as he headed in the proper direction.
Be that as it might, there was no sign of Stavro or the Ox in the courtyard. It was, as Kenrith suspected, Garryn who was waiting there, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot and garnering dark and suspicious looks from the men at arms who were still gathered around.
He greeted Kenrith with something very like relief.
"Ser Kenrith! Do you know what's happening?"
Kenrith nodded, then sighed. His face was drawn, and his grey eyes showed a touch of the pity he felt for the younger man. "Evan and Donnell have been arrested on the charge of murdering a Bolton guard who was protected under guest right. Do you know anything about this?" Kenrith asked as he took the him by the shoulder and stared intently at Garryn's face.
Even as he asked, he was aware of a figure on the periphery of his vision; Maester Rhys, seemingly now at large once more.
Kenrith motioned for Rhys to come closer so he could hear without looking away from the young man.
Rhys stepped forward. He eyed the man with Kenrith when he recognized him from the inn, then looked from one to the other. "Am I interrupting?" he asked.
Garyn was, as usual, oblivious. He was staring at the ground, shaking his head and picking nervously at his sleeves as Kenrith's words sank in. "Murder?" He mouthed the word a few more times for emphasis. "Can't be them - I've been with them all evening. They - I mean, we just got here, Ser. They wouldn't just go killing someone for no reason, not unless - well - they got paid to or something." He looked a little more uncertain now. "But that can't be - we just got here. We were in Riverrun for a week without even getting into a fight, and we were in Lannisport for a lot longer than that without killing anyone." He set his jaw firmly, apparently deciding for himself. "You must have the wrong people, Ser."
"Can you account for them the whole time you've been here at Holdfast?" Rhys asked.
Garyn looked uncertain again. "Well, um, no, I guess not - I was with Ser Kenrith for an hour, maybe two. But that's barely enough time to have a few drinks! Only an idiot would walk into a town they've never been in before and randomly murder someone." He looked more definite again. "And they ain't idiots, Ser."
"I can attest that they have been here for only a short time as well, and that they aren't fools. Nevertheless, they are being held on a charge of murder. Ox may decide it is best for the rest of you to leave town before the matter is decided, and you will need to decide whether to go with them or wait to see what Evan's fate is. I should also tell you that what you said to the gate guard... that you are in my service... is no longer precisely correct. You were contracted to bring me here safely, and that has been done... and while I owe you all a sum of gold for that task, you are not my men... and to say that you are in my service, in those words, implies something which isn't and wasn't ever precisely the case, but as you don't wear my colors I doubt the guard mistook you for my squire," Kenrith said.
Garyn opened his mouth, but nothing came out, though the somewhat stunned look on his face spoke volumes. "Er..." He looked back and forth between Rhys and Kenrith for a second, and shuffled backwards a step. "Well. Then. I - I guess I'll be going. Um. Well, thanks, I guess. Ser." He bobbed his head, unsure of the appropriate etiquette, and dazedly made his way out the gate back towards Holdfast.
A few moments after Gavryn had turned to leave, Kenrith sighed.
At least, he did as far as the gate, where one of the guards detained him, looking back towards Rhys and Kenrith, as though unsure whether the youth should be held or permitted to go.
Kenrith turned to Rhys before answering, and said "I can vouch that he was in my company when he said he was... do you have further questions for him, or should we let him go?"
Rhys looked after the young man--no more than a boy, really--with some concern. "No more questions. He...seems like a lost sheep to me. Either that or he's a master at disembling. Will he be all right? You're sending him back among the wolves."
Kenrith motioned for the guards to let him pass even as he started to answer Rhys. "He is no master at anything... it'll be a wonder if he can find the inn again without walking into a tree, and with luck, the rest of his band will have had the good sense to slip off into the night before he returns. If that is the case, and he finds himself without any purpose in this world, I'll try to see no great ill befalls him... he might chop wood and carry water up at the Wall, or do much the same around these parts, and find a much finer life of it than he would if he cleaved to that lot. Evan saw it too, and wanted to spare him a quick bloody death on some other man's sword if he could," Kenrith said with another sigh.
"It would be a kindness to the lad. Who is Evan?"
"Evan Tamm is the de facto leader of the band of sellswords, and as far as I know, presently in a cell beneath our feet," Kenrith replied. It seemed as if he was about to sigh again, but didn't.
Rhys raised his eyebrows. "Ah," he said simply, waiting for a more opportune time to pursue it.
"Have you eaten yet? I see you're no longer to be held in the tower night and day, and that is for the best..." Kenrith said.
Rhys chuckled, albeit a bit ruefully. "I agree to the last bit, of course. There's a story there that I'll share, but over food is preferable. I've missed supper."
Kenrith nodded and led the way to the kitchen. "Godwyn will be happy to see you're out of the woods as well... I believe he's dining late as well."
Rhys paused. "I would really like the opportunity to talk to you privately. Can you send for food to be brought here, or to your room?"
Kenrith paused and turned to study Rhys's face for a moment, then nodded. Once they were within the keep, he sent a servant to bring Rhys something to eat and instructions to bring it to Kenrith's room.
Once they reached his room, Kenrith indicated Rhys should have a seat with a swing of his arm while he leaned against his favorate patch of wall.
Rhys took the proffered seat and looked up at his friend. "It's been too long," he said regretfully, "but we've still no time right now to share a drink and tell our stories. Murder and mayhem are the orders for the evening, and it's those issues that need dealt with. May I be frank?"
"You may always be frank with me in private, Rhys," Kenrith said and then he took a deep breath to prepare himself for what he suspected would follow.
"Thank you. As you know already, two of the men that came with you from Riverrun are being held on suspicion of murder. It's not a far leap to guess that people are going to question whether or not you're involved. There's already talk that a possible motive for you is revenge on Ser Herys for the summer fever outbreak."
Rhys studied Kenrith's face while he paused to let Kenrith think on that for a moment.
At first, as Rhys spoke of when Kenrith already knew, his face showed little reaction other than the distaste the whole affair filled his mouth with. When he spoke of Kenrith being involved, of a motive, and of revenge, his expression changed. At first, his nostrils flared and his grey eyes sparked with anger, but at the word 'revenge' Kenrith snorted and his lips curled into a sarcastic smirk.
The reactions seemed genuine enough to Rhys, but on the other hand, Rhys hadn't seen Kenrith in years. He didn't really have a good foundation on which to base the sincerity.
The boy Rhys remembered had, like his brother Godwyn, a honorable streak in him a mile wide. It could be lost under dire circumstances, of course, but otherwise that sort of characteristic tended to stay with a man.
An honorable streak could also be predicted and taken advantage of. Rhys would have to think more on the ramifications of that later.
"Can you be vouched for from the time you arrived in the courtyard and for several hours afterwards? Do you have some way of proving the men did not murder the Bolton man on your orders? Please understand that I don't ask these questions because I believe you are involved. I ask them because others already are."
"First, I'll say that killing one of Herys' men is cheap revenge, and to suggest as much implies I would sell my honor far too cheaply... if Herys had been found suffocated to death in the jakes, or starved in a small cold cell, or Eryk fed to him raw, then come looking for me... this is a joke I will not laugh at, however... and I do not fault you for bringing it to my attention." Kenrith said in the same calm tone of voice he might use to discuss the weather, or what he would wear to dinner the following evening.
Rhys nodded agreement. A similar line of thought had gone through his own mind.
After stroking his chin to consider the situation, however, Kenrith answered the question put to him with somewhat more gravity in his voice. "I cannot prove that I did not know the Boltons were here before I arrived, nor that I did not simply say 'kill that one for me and I shall give you a heavy bag of gold' in a spare moment... my word is my only defense against such accusations, and by extention that of the men who witnessed my growth as a man and stood by me in the Sept when I took my vows as a knight... that and the other cheerful things I would have to say on the matter. I can account for much of those hours, and Evan's band and I parted company minutes after we saw that the Boltons were here..."
Rhys nodded again. He had seen the band leave when he came into the courtyard to greet Kenrith.
"But," Kenrith continued, "that young boy we spoke with a few minutes ago was alone with myself and one of the men from Riverrun. Depending on the timing of his return, I could be accused of sending him back with a message. The patroness of the tavern, Ovette?, may know the timing well enough to clear me of that... they may have done it before he returned," Kenrith said.
"Odette. I'll have to go back and ask her," Rhys said.
After another brief pause, he added, "And Evan is smart enough to know these things... but whether he intends to bear false witness and swear up and down that I ordered the murder weighs heavily on my mind."
"He didn't mention you at all when we arrested him at the inn. In fact, he wanted to take full responsibility..." Rhys sounded perplexed. "Do you remember what you all ate for breakfast this morning?"
"Well, right off of the top of my head... I think we finished the last of the flour, biscuits, some bacon, and whatever was left of the stew from the last night," Kenrith said. "Are you questioning my memory, or is there some reason for this question?"
"The one man, didn't catch his name but he was small and pockmarked, was found wearing a shirt that belonged to the dead man. It still had the dead man's blood on it. He said he'd gotten blood on the shirt from skinning a rabbit for breakfast," Rhys replied.
"Well, if it wasn't a tan shirt with a collection of dirt and such from the road, it wasn't the one he was wearing that morning in any event," Kenrith said after a moment's contemplation.
"What else have you learned about how, or maybe why, this was done? The why is my biggest concern... as I didn't have anything to do with it, and some might think that the likeliest explanation," Kenrith added.
"We don't have a motive, either." Rhys gazed back at him thoughtfully for a moment, then continued, "Are you sure you want to know? In my best opinion, I think you should remain as far from this incident as possible. Getting involved in the investigation will look self-serving, and knowing details might look suspicious."
"On the other hand, if I do nothing, I may find myself atop the Wall with Godwyn before I hear the end of things... and while I would not run from such a fate, I would prefer to have the option of choosing it before having it thrust upon me," Kenrith said as he took to staring out the window once more.
"Your point is well taken though... I don't need to hear what you've uncovered as of now apart from that there is no motive. I did travel with Evan for some time, though... so once he has spoken his piece to Godwyn, I may be able to shed light on more questions," Kenrith said as his tone went from speculative to certain.
"Eryk may well hear what Evan has to say, and shed some light on why he'd want to murder one of the Boltons. The worst-case is that he bears some ill will against both Hardy and Bolton, and would see us kill each other. He is capable of such a plan, if he feels we've both wronged him in some way... and I'm assuming he could hide such hatred from me on the road as well, which might -not- be in his character. Hard to say, as I know so little of him," Kenrith said as he returned to fatalism, if not hopelessness, in his tone.
"I made my opinion known to Ser Anders, Godfrey, and Herys that I didn't believe you were involved in this, for what it's worth. I'm sorry, Kenrith. It's not a very good homecoming, is it?"
Before Kenrith could answer, a breathless page came running down the corridor, before skidding to a halt just a fraction away from crashing into Rhys, who was closer.
Kenrith had already shifted his weight and moved closer to Rhys as he betrayed some of what he had learned in Riverrun. Had the page been a hair more clumsy, Kenrith looked as though he would have interceded. As it was, he concluded rightly that the page would... barely... stop in time.
"If you please, Ser Kenrith," he said with breathless respect, "Maester Sewell sent me. He says your father has asked for you."
Kenrith first took a step away from both Maester and page, and then bowed to Rhys. "Your pardon, we will have to speak more another time," Kenrith said.
Moments later, he was departing at an increasing, if controlled, pace.
As he moved closer to his father's rooms, he saw Edlyn Martin, his stepmother's daughter. She stiffened slightly at the sight of him and dropped a polite, formal curtsey as a greeting, without speaking.
Kenrith returned her curtsey with a bow of his own. "I beg your pardon for not stopping to try to make amends for... the negative impression I seem to have left you with... but m- father has sent for me and it is best that I attend him presently," Kenrith said then paused for her reply.
"Of course," said Edlyn politely. "I am looking for my Lady Mother - if she is with him, will you tell her I shall attend on her in her own room?"
There was little of the vivacity with which she had greeted him when she had warned him on their first meeting; it was as though she had decided to appear as a meek and demure young lady - as she had, in fact, appeared at dinner in her mother's presence.
With one more nod of his head, Kenrith turned towards the door to his father's chambers. Ever since he had been a boy, it had been a forbidding portal to enter... and all the more so now, that his father might be in almost any condition but good beyond that portal. "I will tell her, step-sister," Kenrith said without malice or irony.
"Thank you, Ser," she responded with the same meek politeness, and then the rustle of her skirts told him that she had moved away, leaving him free to knock.
Kenrith gave the door three crisp knocks with his knuckle, and then moved aside so that the door could be opened. As he waited for the door, he worried about Edlyn's sudden change in demeanor. It probably meant she assumed he was incapable of being anything other than disagreeable if she opened up.