His advisor stared at him with a chilling gaze. “They have proved no more productive than…when they were recently questioned.”
Rhutgard sighed and looked away from the man for a moment. Finally, he looked directly into the man’s empty gray eyes. “You’re torturing them, aren’t you.” It was not a question.
The man’s gray pallor registered no emotion, but he acted as if he were taken aback. Rhutgard frowned. Such were the men whom he employed to force information from his enemies. He could delude himself no further.
“Your Majesty,” the man feigned shock with ease.
“Enough with that. How long have we had them?”
“They were captured three days ago, Your Majesty.”
“And how long have they been in the dungeons?”
Rhutgard frowned. Found scouting into Romeny territory, the Ormon soldiers were captured and sent immediately to Fairview for questioning. After two days, very little information had been gleaned.
“Shall we continue, Sire?” His crooked palms curled together almost eagerly.
“No. What has your man done, rack them? Pulling their bodies apart further will accomplish nothing if they have given us nothing by now. Throw them in a cell.”
The barely disguised disappointment on the man’s countenance nauseated Rhutgard. Men like this sadly had their place in the land but he could bear to look upon this man no more. “Cells. Now. Go.” Rhutgard waved a curt dismissal.
He turned and strode down the deserted corridor, feeling filthy. He stopped in front of a glass window and gazed out. His father and even his grandfather had prepared him for being a king. He had always known as Crown Prince that he would have to make difficult choices. But he had always believed those choices to be such as choosing between this tariff and that, settling Council disputes, finding ways to fill the royal coffers.
He gazed at the hazy reflection of himself in the glass window. He did not like who he was becoming. His father, King Galvin, had been a hero to him, had trained him in diplomacy, the art of war, heraldry, history, and strategy. He had seen that his education as a Prince was tailored specifically with an eye to ruling one day.
Now, as Rhutgard gazed at his reflection, he wondered if his father, and indeed, his grandfather, were faced with the choices he had carried out. If they had tortured men. Those men were mere scouts, young men, not even officers. Brothers, sons, husbands, fathers even, perhaps. And now they sat in Rhutgard’s dungeon, broken men, merely for fighting for what they believed in, as every soldier fights for what they believe in. Rhutgard stared into his own eyes, searching for answers.
He wondered if his own sons would ever have to face such choices as he had. He hoped not. Rhutgard would not leave his sons wondering if he had committed such atrocities. He would teach them the truth about such things, so that they were truly prepared for their futures. For he had wished numerous times to talk to his father more about being King, for he had become King himself younger than he would have wished.
He would teach his sons to be righteous, especially in times of war. The people must be ruled by honor, above all.
Rhutgard stared out over the courtyard, lost in thought.