It was still late but no one could sleep after what had just happened. They were all gathered in the council room, Arthur was pacing the width of the room whilst his knights and Merlin were standing around watching him. At that moment Leon walked in, Arthur stopped pacing.
"Sire, we searched the vaults at least three times, there are items missing" he confirmed, Arthur nodded and Leon went to stand with the rest of the knights.
"There we have it Lord Saevus has been getting his servant to rob you for him" Elyan concluded.
"But how can we be sure it was Lord Saevus who ordered the robbery?" Merlin rolled his eyes.
"By the fact that it's his servant and Ira overheard him giving the orders."
"She could be setting it up" Arthur suggested.
"Well she does have a past with him, she'll openly admit it" Leon suggested. "Maybe she's trying to get back at him," Gwaine shook his head.
"That isn't her style, she's not one to sneak around for revenge. If she wants it she'll walk straight up to you and get it."
"But she knows she can't do that, he's a lord, she's not" Gwaine shrugged.
"I still don't think it was her."
"But what was she doing down there, she knows that area is restricted, and where was her guard?"
“I went up to check, he was asleep” Elyan answered.
“She didn’t knock him out?”
“But she probably would’ve done if he hadn’t been sleeping.”
“If she knew we were on the lookout then why did she sneak out?”
"Maybe she was worried Merlin hadn't passed on the message."
"Or she..." Leon continued but Arthur cut across him.
"We can deal with her later" he said. The room lapsed into silence. "There's got to be another way to find out" Arthur thought out loud.
"How about interrogating the servant?" Percival suggested, Gwaine laughed.
"No chance, he's out stone cold, I made sure of that."
"Actually Arthur, there is one thing Ira did mention. She said that he had done it before, last night, and that the items were hidden in his cases."
"Brilliant Merlin, all we need to do is search his items, if we find them he's guilty if not the servant is working on his own." Arthur nodded.
"Okay, we'll wait until the morning. Then I want..."
"Why the morning?" Merlin asked "Lord Saevus could be waiting for his servant to return right now, and when he doesn’t turn up he’ll know what’s happened and dispose of the evidence."
"He's got a point, I say we go now" Percival spoke up.
"And if it isn't Lord Saevus?"
"Why don't you want to go against him?" Elyan asked.
"Because his land is in a very strategic position, it's on the border which means he could as easily side with Cenred. If we can get him to place his allegiance with us then we have a clear knowledge of what Cenred is up to."
"Look Arthur we can all see why we need him to side with us but all the proof is against him, it's got to be him" Arthur, seeing sense, gave in.
“Fine, Gwaine, Elyan, Leon and Percival. I want you to go and inspect his rooms. Don’t act like you’ve just singled his out, make sure you say you are searching all of them and you don’t think it was him. That should make him a little more cooperative.”
It was a short walk from the council rooms to the guest ones. Once they were standing outside Leon knocked loudly on the door, it opened quicker than they were expecting.
"How many times have I told you not to knock so loudly you'll..." Lord Saevus trailed off as he saw who it was.
"Trouble sleeping?" Gwaine asked.
"And the fact that you were complaining about the loudness of our knocking was for the benefit of everyone else who is asleep."
"Yes. You see I sent my servant off to get me a sleeping draught from the court physician, he should be back soon. Can I be of any assistance?" The knights looked at each other trying to conceal their disbelief, they knew for a fact Gaius was standing in the council rooms right now talking to Arthur. Pushing forward they strode into the room, split up and started looking around.
"Surprisingly enough you can" Elyan said looking up from examining the table, Percival took over.
"You see there's been a robbery from the castle vaults."
"There has, oh dear, have you caught the culprit?" Lord Saevus asked trying to keep his face emotionless.
"Unfortunately not" Gwaine said wandering over to the far side of the room and looking behind the curtains.
"The king has ordered us to search every room in the castle to see if we can find the thief and recover what has been taken" Leon explained. Looking round he could see the other knights were thoroughly enjoying making Lord Saevus feel as uncomfortable as possible.
"I..I don't see what this has to with me though?" He laughed shakily, "why would I steal, from the king no less?"
"Oh we're not accusing you, this is merely a routine inspection, after all the king did say every room, didn't he Percival?" Elyan called across, Percival grinned in reply.
"That's right 'every room, cupboard and chest' wasn't it? He was pretty angry."
"Ahh I knew we had forgotten something" Gwaine said, walking over he addressed Lord Saevus. "My Lord we will need to check your personal items." Lord Saevus shifted uncomfortably.
"My personal items?" He asked looking around nervously.
"Yes is there a problem with that?" Leon asked innocently.
"No, no not at all search all you want" he gestured to a rather large pile of cases he had brought with him. One by one they opened them and found nothing, they looked at each other uneasily.
"Will that be all gentlemen?" No one answered but they all, apart from Gwaine, turned to leave. Gwaine however wanted a closer look at the chests, they seemed somehow out of proportion, they were a lot bigger on the outside than they were on the inside. Leon turned back having realised Gwaine wasn't with them. He saw Gwaine reach into the chest, Lord Saevus tried to stop him but before he could get there Gwaine pulled the bottom out. He stood up.
"Lord Saevus, the king would like to speak with you."
It was early morning, none of them had slept. The main reason was Lord Saevus, it had taken the rest of the night to finally reach an agreement with him. As much as Arthur wanted to execute him, he knew he needed him to pass on information about Cenreds kingdom, and with this agreement he was pretty sure he couldn't be betrayed. The only thing left to do was talk to Ira, Arthur had tried to put it off as long as possible but by now he had run out if excuses. The doors opened and she walked in, looking slightly uneasy. Arthur who was standing up so he could try and stay awake smiled at her.
"Ira I'm glad you're here. I sent for you because I wanted to apologise and thank you" Iras eyebrows rose slightly in amusement. "You were the one that warned us of Lord Saevus and told us what he was planning. Without you he would've made off with some very important treasures from our vaults that have been kept here for generations, and now, thanks to you, they will continue to be here for generations to come." Ira smiled slightly, "I also want to apologise, you were trying to help and were treated unfairly and for that I am very sorry" she nodded before realising she was supposed to say something.
"Well...thank you, not many noblemen are willing to say those words."
"So you forgive me?" she grinned slightly.
"I can see why you did it" there was silence again, and she wondered whether she was supposed to leave, "so am I free to go?" She asked.
"Yes, you can leave. Although I would like to offer you another option" Ira looked around suspiciously "a place here." Ira didn't know what to say, she turned to Gwaine who was smiling at her, to the other knights who, weren't smiling as much as Gwaine, but looked happy with the decision. She could do it she thought for one of the first times in her life, she could settle down and live here, she could belong here and fit in. But would she be able to? Would they truly accept her? She looked back to Arthur who was waiting for her answer.
"I'm sorry but I can't" Arthur stopped smiling.
"Are you sure?" He asked. Ira nodded sadly "very well then." He sounded slightly disappointed but he knew there was nothing he could do to change her mind.
Hardly anyone had come to see her off. Gwaine was there obviously, and the other knights were standing awkwardly to one side, more likely waiting for Gwaine than to see her off. She had bumped into Gwen on her way down, who had tried to get her to stay but had failed. The doors to the castle opened and Arthur walked out followed by Merlin. Now that she was surprised at, after their meeting that morning she hadn't expected to see the king again. He looked around.
"Gwaine I told you to give her a horse" he said walking over.
"I offered but she didn't want one" he replied. He was still upset that Ira had said no to staying. Having thought she was dead for so long and finally finding her again it seemed unfair that she was leaving so soon. Arthur nodded and turned to Ira.
"I came down to say goodbye and to thank you again" he paused slightly. "And to tell you that you are more than welcome to return at any time" she nodded and then awkwardly went on to say.
"You know out of the many nobles I've crossed paths with you're...you're not too bad. You're fair and just and..it..it would be an honour to return someday" smiling he put out his hand and she took it, then he walked over to where the other knights were standing to give her and Gwaine a bit of privacy.
"Are you sure you want to go?" Gwaine asked quietly, she nodded.
"I can't stay here, not yet anyway, too much to do, too much to see" he nodded to show he understood.
"Come back soon then, even if it's just for a day or two" she nodded and awkwardly put her hand out, Gwaine laughed and shook his head, before Ira could do anything he pulled her into a hug.
"Hey and try not to fall down anymore cliffs" Ira laughed.
"I can't make any promises." Once they parted Ira turned and walked out of the gate really hoping that one day she would return.