17 - Pertinent Document Section I

* * *

Recorded from an excerpt of Poet and Apprentice Armed Rachella Dovetail's Travel Log

* * *

Seeing the Peacock King's country as we have is such a rare opportunity. I never thought I'd have the chance before I started training for Arms. These days it seems like I'm traveling just about everywhere with Mister Camden. It's very exciting! As always Mister Camden makes me a little nervous, but that's probably true for everyone he interacts with. Except maybe girlfriends. Well, I don't know. If I was Camden's girlfriend, I would be very nervous. But I don't really want to think about that.

Tambor'in and I are learning together, it seems. It's like she changes every day, grows every day, even though we both stay so small. Often falconers let loose their birds and adopt another every few years, but I'm beginning to wonder if she and I will work together for longer than that. Camden says it should be decided by what the bird wants, and I agree with that.

The Peacock King was very imposing in Court! I'm glad I was posing as the baghauler while we were in audience. I didn't want to be noticed, and Camden's right. It really does work. Nobody expects anything of me or from me, which means he's a lot freer to train me. It's safer when I'm not so sharply observed. Which is funny, considering how much of a pro Jenny is at not being seen at all. I suppose that was also part of Camden's plan. He makes so many intricate plans. I can't keep track of them, and I really do try. He said different agents are better at different skills, and not to be surprised if I can't keep up with him in that regard. But that only makes me want to try harder!

I miss the Hall a lot, and I...well, I guess I did expect to. Who I really miss is our King. It's hard after you leave, and you're so used to being a student, and he's around the Hall all of the time. It's so easy to get used to our King being so near. That and all of the other Poets who are training, or who stay in the Hall...when everyone else is around, I feel a lot different. Everyone's always telling stories and jokes, singing songs. There's so much talking and so many distractions. I don't know, in a way I like being out here and away from all of that, though. I have space to think here, space to create. I'm very focused on my training right now, but if I have some spare time I might try to start drawing, or make my own set of pipes. Camden's played his violin a few times so far and I would love to accompany him.

The new boy is interesting. I haven't been able to talk with him yet, but he's cute, and he's writing right now too. His stage name is cute too: Lotus. Maybe we can talk during dinner tonight, if the King eats with us as well. I'd really like that.

It's strange to think that we're traveling and eating with the very King we're spying on. I took Camden's suggestion and didn't dwell too much on our mission today. He says the most important part is for me to act natural - the information will come to me that way. More invasive, prying methods are best tried after more training's been done. That's a relief to me, really. I have so much to pay attention to and so much to learn - knowing that I just need to behave normally takes a weight off of my shoulders.


* * *

Recorded from an excerpt of Peacekeeper Camden Briarseal's Travel Log

* * *


The Peacock King remains, as ever, inscrutable. At least, that is what he'd prefer to think. There is no evidence of any misdemeanors or wrongdoings. Simply enough evades and obfuscations to make it worth our while to keep more eyes on him, if that will ever be possible. He's following the same patterns, making no surprise moves. Collecting new servants and exotics as usual, though I'm sure he'd not appreciate how many of them I know of from just this visit. His border controls are as stiff as ever, giving off yet again the impression that he has much to hide.

He is cordial to myself and my two riders. I am hoping that we'll be able to see more of the inside of his Kingdom than most in our ranks tend to, what with our new position as his temporary, albeit unneeded, guards. It's amusing to watch him squirm about that. I'd say that his discomfort from so many Armed surrounding him is another small testament to his likely guilt, but the truth of the matter is that any of the public would squirm just as much from our presence. That can't be helped. They should be squirming, all told. That's just a part of life.

While riding, I'm going over our deployments. I knew before I left for this Kingdom that Gerald was here, spying now as a Poet instead of an Armed. However it wants to be labeled, it comes out to the same thing in the end. I've seen no trace of him, which is a relief. Considering that it was Gerald, I worried a small amount over whether he'd be too unsubtle for the assignment. So far he has my commendation - he didn't expect our arrival, but he has yet to give himself away to us or be revealed by us. I mark that as a sign of improvement for the boy.

Otherwise, Elric's been deployed for quite some time. He's taking more time than we expected to finish this last mission, but it is quite far out into foreign territory. He's a careful worker, too. But he is also known for getting things done expediently. Perhaps after this assignment I should request the King order him to take a break. Lords know that's the only way it'll happen - if it were left up to Elric, he'd never stop working. In any case, there's no reason for concern thus far, other than what's already been expressed. He's been sending in regular correspondences. Rather brief in detail than usual, I might note. He must be quite busy.

The Peacock King has seen fit to link a large wheeled cage to his train of wagons. To be honest it makes us nervous from time to time despite his insistence that it is merely for any game he finds along the way that he'd like to make into a pet. I wonder at the original intent of the thing, but for now wondering is all that I may be doing for some time over it. The day that King is forthcoming about anything, I just may eat my hat, provided Jhe Katherine cooks it with her special sauce.

* * *

It seems we have an ally now, and he's brought with him a new game board for us to play against the Peacock King. This marks the rare opportunity to actually engage in a contest with that monarch - not many have opened up since he and the Jhe O'Radia agreed to cease hostilities against each other's empires. In a way I look forward to the engagement, of course - and by the same token I fear that more will come of it than a simple game of pawns. Pawns often arise to become more than they seem, or show up in the least expected of places to make a mess of my endgames. Don't even get me started on rooks.

The game is already complex at the outset. Our ally is the Jhe 'hArms's errant son that we have all been asked to watch for. Apparently his idea of teenage rebellion is working himself into the Peacock King's inner Court. That aside, it seems most of Lyric's will to serve in this empire is only due to his brother Gerald's incarceration. It would transpire that Gerald's discretion is in fact due to his being chained up somewhere that's tightly warded. I should have guessed that from the outset - after all, it's not really the first time.

What makes this a blessing in disguise - and likely only Jenny will understand this particular detail - is that Gerald is being held by the one who sometimes calls himself Cade, but we all prefer to give stronger, less polite names for. Some of us have ventured some guesses as to the Peacock King's secret alliances - this is the first glimmer of real evidence of such operations that we've managed to comb up in a long time. And to think, it's been dropped into our lap by Jhe 'hArms's wayward boy. It's our happy luck that Gerald's kept with him now until we all come back for him.

I do tend to like it when all of my objectives are in one convenient place, all together.

Using the boy as a pawn is not something that I'm entirely comfortable with. He's not our agent, and is in fact someone that we've all been assigned to protect and send home. On the other hand, taking him home immediately will mean leaving Gerald for dead or worse, which neither I nor his Father would bid me do. I've even mapped out the results of such an action on a larger scale - it would be very bad for Lyric if I took him home now. In a way he is safest with the Peacock King, who will protect him from the things most dangerous to him. Except, of course, from the King himself...

This is where I arrive at the steepest impasse. Lyric has to protet himself from that man, and I know that he's not equipped to. He's already revealed some of that in his writing - there's no way for me to know how much else he's slipped around that King. I worry for him, and the worst part is that there's nothing more I can do except worry. There are always parts of an engagement that I can't control - my pieces move themselves and decide for themselves.

That he's gotten this far safely, though, helps settle my nerves on that score. He's at least aware enough to wonder over whether the Pecock King considers him to be a spy.

That, of course, is something I can only speculate. I'm not of the same opinion as Lyric, though. If the Peacock King was truly convinced that 'Lotus' was a spy, he'd never be as open around him, never leave him in positions where he was so close to him. If the Peacock King thought he was a spy, we'd never have found Lyric. No one would see nor hear from him again.

Hence another reason why I find it safe to keep Lyric with the Peacock King - as long as they remain close, that King will not pause to suspect Lyric as often. As someone he's willingly let into his confidence, Lyric is in less of a position to be accused.

Looking over this, I suppose I've merely been trying to reason out why I decided that the two pieces on this board that are in the most danger should remain in that danger - for them, and us all, to stay safe. Funny old world it is. I keep filing for vacations but the Justice keeps telling me I'd just find more trouble to resolve if I went off to relax. I can't refute it, either. I'm already waiting for the next shoe to drop, and I suspect that's really because I'm looking forward to it.

I ought to file that next vacation request. If nothing else, it'll give Jhe Katherine more paperwork to glare at.

...There's an issue that I've been pushing out of the way, I know. I don't want to write of it. Writing it means facing it, means admitting it, and in the Poet occupation, that carries a connotation of making it real. But as it happens, it has already been written - my brother Elric is now among those that have been taken by Cade. His correspondences were being forged by Cade's hand himself. I've already set aside time in this night to curse myself and my subordinates for not recognizing the forgeries for what they were. It's my surprise that Cade was able to write with Elric's quill at all - from what Lyric's writings observed, it's been tampered with. The implications of this, and of Elric's being taken, and of the Peacock King harboring Cade to further his actions against us...

I'll plot them out mentally, but I'm not putting them to paper yet. There's too fine a line between speculation and accidentally setting something down as Poetry before it's yet ready for that treatment. For now, I know to be wary of the content of any future correspondences I recieve from agents that have been too long in the field. Yet another blessing in the guise of curse.

Elric is a strong person, especially when it comes to his mind. He's never failed us in the field. I have strong confidence that this will not change in captivity.

No comments:

Post a Comment