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To the Guardhouse

Merivel for his part resisted with obvious restraint the urge to turn to see the confrontation, keeping his attention on the men before him.

"I must see to the hall, Maester, but good day to you. My thanks for your help in caring with my father. Two additional Hardy men have been added. My appologies for any delay this may cause," Kenrith said before sketching a bow.

"You have my thanks in this matter." Merivel replied with a smile, and turned toward Ser Anders.

Kenrith headed off in the direction of the great hall to make sure it was ready for the trial... and what might follow.

"And now it is time to go at last." Merivel said with a heavy sigh to Ser Anders, dangling the cage with the raven gently from his hand.

"Indeed," said Ser Anders. "And now I think we are ready to proceed. Maester Merivel, will you accompany me to the guardhouse? I must see out prisoner safely bestowed before I detail your escort to Clearwater."

He smiled pleasantly. "How many accompanied you from Clearwater? I cannot quite recall ... "

He gestured to the escort; one of the guards moved closer to Evan and gave a nod. "Move on, lad. That door near the gate - that's where we're headed."

The gatehouse interior was dark, with only a couple of small slit windows to let in the morning sun, and Evan found himself temporarily unable to see after the bright sunshine of the courtyard. The cell had been darker, though, so by the time the guards nudged him brusquely towards a rough-hewn table, he could see well enough to avoid stumbling.

They left him unchained, but Evan did not seem inclined to go anywhere, apparently content to sit at the table with an escort around him, and between him and the door. He stretched long legs out under the table, and the cracking of his joints seemed unnaturally loud in the confines of the gatehouse. Evan paid it no heed, and reclined in the chair, quite comfortable.

The movement of castle life seemed to be moving forward in its accustomed groove. Throug a window that overlooked the outside of Holdfast, Aron could hear shouts and discussuin. It appeared that a tourney yard was being constructed for a tournament to be held in honour of the Bolton visit and the forthcoming betrothal between Syndra Hardy and Eryk Bolton. Evan could hear cheerful workmen whistling as they hammered nails; in the dark little room, two of the guards were discussing the merits of the women at the Goose and Gander, while another man was telling a long and somewhat tedious story about his dog.

Life, simple life continued.

And then the door opened again and Donnell came in, escorted by two guards. He shot Evan a quick, furtive look, then took a seat at a little distance while his guards moved to join the conversation.

Donnell looked at Evan and then down at his feet.

"They'll have our heads before nightfall," he said.

"Probably," Evan concurred, nodding, though he seemed neither fatalistic or overly concerned at the prospect. Donnell flashed a filthy look in his direction, but Evan failed to even notice, much less rise to the bait.

Instead, after a protracted silence, he asked, "So, were they so confident they didn't bother to question you, or was their offer just not to your liking?" His tone was so bland the guard discussing his dog seemed to have more passion in his voice. (Though it was a very good dog, by all accounts. Or rather, by one account.)

Donnell looked even more sour, and spat on the floor. "Didn't offer me nothin'. They seemed to think I'd just shop you out from the goodness of me heart. I thought mebbe they'd bargain, offer me a flogging or some light sentence rather than just letting me go, but they wouldn't offer nuthin' at all." He scratched his head. "Just kept sayin', 'we already know everythin', so no nevermind whether you talk or not, just figured you might like to talk cos I'm askin' nice'." His snort of derision left no doubt as to his opinion of that idea.

Evan nodded sagely, his expression showing no surprise. "Strange people, these Hardys," he remarked conversationally, and Donnell nodded in agreement. Again, they lapsed into silence, only the monotonous conversation of the guards intruding upon them as they waited.

"Knew it was a bad idea to follow you north," Donnell grumbled sourly under his breath.

Evan gave a little sigh. "Probably," he agreed, again.

A little while passed - and then the meagre light from the doorway and darknened by a figure standing there - Eryk Bolton. He saw Donnell with Evan, and hesitated.

Donnell looked up at the newcomer warily, but Evan continued to stare into space, stretched out almost languidly in his chair and lost in his own thoughts. If he even noticed Eryk come in, he gave no sign.

The guards noticed though, and one rose from the table with a growl. From the expression on his face, he was starting to get very tired of this prisoner and this whole affair, and he let it be known in no uncertain terms. "Look, you," he said, jabbing a thick finger towards Eryk, "you've said yer bit. This here ain't some bloody visiting noble, this here's a prisoner of Holdfast. We let ya talk to him once, now clear off. If you've got anything else ta say to him, ya can say it afore we 'ang him."

The fellow telling the story about his dog, however, was more perceptive, and came up beside his compatriot. "Bors, you idiot, this is Ser Herys' son. I'm sorry, milord," he added in Eryk's direction, sketching a clumsy bow, "but the prisoners here are under guard in preparation for their trial. You should go and take your seat in the Great Hall - there'll be a place for you with the other nobles, waiting on the prisoners. We'll be in shortly, soon as Ser Anders gives us the nod."

Eryk looked like he was about to reply, but Evan suddenly spoke up, cutting him off. "Nobles and officials wait on the prisoners," he said quietly, to no one in particular. "Messenger boys, on the other hand, wait till they're acknowledged." With that, he turned a bland gaze in Eryk's direction, meeting his eyes with equanimity.

Eryk's eyes narrowed. "On second thoughts," he said, "I won't wait at all. I'll see you in court."

And he turned and walked out abruptly.

Bors rounded on the prisoners, his irritability looking for another outlet now that Eryk had retreated. "That," he roared, pointing a finger at the door, "was the son of Ser Herys, as any idiot could see. And you, scum, are a prisoner, and will mind your tongue when speaking to yer betters, or I'll - "

"Or you'll what?" Evan had returned to staring into space, ignoring the guard's outburst, but Donnell was apparently emboldened by the situation and continued from across the table. "You'll arrest us and hang us?" His lip curled in an ugly sneer.

Bors raised his fist, intent on wiping that sneer away, but then Evan spoke, very quietly, and still with a distant look that made him appear to not be noticing the room at all. "That would be a bad idea," he murmured.

"Oh yeah?" It was Bors' turn to sneer. "Says who?"

"Says me," interrupred Ser Anders from the door. He was surveying the scene with a dispassion that matched Evan Tamm's, but his words had a hint of steel, and he seemed to still the entire guardhouse by his very presence. "I also say that prisoners will remain silent until they are spoken to. Make ready," he ordered. "The Great Hall is ready, and you are required at trial."

They crossed the courtyard with an escort again. There were an impressive number of people there - those who had not been able to secures places within the Great Hall. Whjen Evan and Donnell appeared, it occasioned much nudging, whispering covert looks and hard stares.

Seemingly from out of nowhere, a handful of dung splattered in the middle of Donnell's back.

"The next man or woman to do that," said Ser Anders in a level, carrying voice, "will find themselves takkng one of the spare cells in the dungeon."

They continued on.

Page last modified on May 16, 2006, at 07:37 PM