As he walked away from the Council Room, Reaghann thumbed through all of today’s parchments. He immediately shuffled them according to which he really felt were worth looking at, which he’d heard them discuss repeatedly today, which were just reworded versions of another Council’s proposal, and which he wasn’t even going to bother looking at.
He had begun this habit ever since Lady Green Eyes had arranged his paperwork for him. He thought of her often and wondered where she was now.
Part of it was sheer intrigue. She had fascinated him, he had to admit.
But the rest of it was – that she had been correct about all of it. And all under his own nose. He, the King, in his own Palace, had known nothing of crimes taking place right before him, and in his own home, his own Council….
Reaghann had promised the Lady of the Green Eyes that he would give her until the next day at noon to check the treason cells, but he had not slept at all that night. Instead, he had taken every file he had on each of the lords she’d provided him with and pondered over them in his personal solar. What a dark night that had been… and yet so illuminating….
By the noon bells, Reaghann could hardly contain himself. He took two guards with him, two non-descript, random guards from along the corridor and took them down to the Royal Dungeon. And the turnkey led him down to the Traitor Cell Block, where a disgusting guard nearly pissed himself at the sight of Reaghann.
Reaghann shoved him aside and stalked down the cell block with his lantern held high. And once he stood before the last cell, he saw that an inhabitant had indeed spent recent time there.
Once the dungeon guard had disclosed that the man had simply disappeared and also that he had not alerted his superiors that a traitor was missing, he was arrested and put into a cell of his own. Reaghann also switched out the other dungeon guards to different castles, as he suspected them culpable as well.
A man had lived in that Traitor Cell for – according to his Lady of the Green Eyes’ account – nearly six months. And no record of him arriving, being tried, convicted, nor even his crime, nor even his bloody name, Reaghann fumed. She claimed he was Prince Rilstrom, that he had been captured on his way here on a visit of State. Yet no such visit was arranged. But… King Rickstan had been wearing mourning for his brother for… six months, now that Reaghann thought of it. So perhaps Lady Green Eyes was right.
She had certainly been right about Lord Drury. As soon as he’d left the Royal Dungeon, Reaghann had immediately left for Lord Drury’s quarters. He told the Guards that, upon entering, they were to kill upon command should he give the order. Their eyes rounded but they acknowledged his order.
And Lord Drury was gone. The entire chambers – rich, lavish – could have belonged to anyone. No personal identifying characteristics or paperwork were left to distinguish the chambers as Lord Drury’s.
As a point, Reaghann sat down at Lord Drury’s desk. He pulled the top drawer forward and felt about underneath. And damn if the girl wasn’t right – just as she had described… a hidden compartment. That alone verified the girl’s story. Reaghann had to force it open a bit, but found nothing inside.
And so the bastard had slipped through Reaghann’s fingers.
Well, at least he was gone.
As for the Prince, he too, was gone, and Reaghann’s men had combed the woods along the main road to Shaw looking for him, but to no avail. There were no tracks, wagon or horse, on the road, and their search came up empty in the woodlands. So Reaghann was left to wonder what became of the man. Did he escape? Was he hiding in plain sight, perhaps? Maybe he decided not to return to Shaw at all? Or perhaps he was with Lady Green Eyes somewhere….
He had always thought of HarCourt Castle as a temple, his temple, and to find out it was riddled with spies and secrets and – tunnels, even… sickened him. Reaghann with no notice at all, dismissed half his Council Members – those he knew or believed to be complicit with Lord Drury. The other Council Members left were a-tremble at the thought that they at any moment might be dismissed as well.
And as for tunnels – Reaghann could not help but glance at the stone floors upon occasion whenever Lady Green Eyes sprang to mind. Twice, he actually saw chalk against a wall and he’d reveled in the knowledge of its true nature. But he couldn’t very well go skulking about wherever he saw chalk.
But he did remember to use candles and brought chalk of his own when he finally snuck into the corridor in his Study. And he covered up the Spy Hole.