Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Great Weapons: Beyond These Walls 04

Roberr made a complete circuit of the outer wall, greeting the guards and checking on their placements. He didn't need to -- the Shift Captain, a veteran by the name of Tannis, had them well in hand -- but he wanted to give the rest of the privy council time to settle down. Then he turned his steps to the well-house, a small stone structure that guarded the keep's primary water supply. It was another pointless errand, since he knew that both the heavy wooden door and the iron gate in front of it were shut, but it was something he could plausibly inspect... and yet another way to use some time while twilight slowly faded into full night.

Finally, he turned back to the central keep, mounted the steps, and passed through the smaller gatehouse that defended its doors. The guards were quiet inside, the evening watch settling into the slow rhythms of their shift. He continued on, and saw that the doors to the great hall were open. They shouldn't have been; everything of interest in the hall had been removed and stored away.

He stepped through, and found Miledha a scant three paces ahead of him. Her head was tilted back, and her eyes were on the starry night sky that rose where the ceiling should be, overhead.

"It's beautiful," she said.

"It's considerably less interesting when it's cloudy outside." Roberr had been forced to sit through any number of social occasions in this hall, and bore the place no great love.

"It's still beautiful," said Miledha. She lowered her head and turned to face him.

He looked up, considered, and then nodded. "It is, at that. Are you ready?"

"Me?" Miledha looked surprised. "You're the one who keeps being interrupted."

"Viscount? Viscount Roberr?" The voice was soft, and still out in the gateway, but it had a certain... inescapability... to it. Roberr turned his head slowly, not quite believing what he was hearing. How hard can it possibly be to walk out a gate? He had the feeling he was still finding out.

The messenger spotted the open doors and looked inside. He was young, younger than Roberr, though old enough to fight. "M'lord? Viscount Langoish?"

Roberr nodded, resigned. "What is it?"

"There's a rider approaching."

Roberr frowned. "From the westerners?"

"No, m'lord. From the east. His horse... it gallops a trail of fire across the night air."

Roberr turned his head to look at Miledha, keeping his expression blank by an act of will.

Miledha was smiling. "Well," she said. "I always wanted to see a flying horse."

He closed his eyes for a moment, managed not to sigh, and then turned back to the messenger. "Show me."

Miledha followed him out of the great hall, and into the open air of the courtyard.

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