Vincent makes his way down the steps of the church following the knights in front of him. They had come to the village Surona to attend service. It is customary for the knights to come to this village when at headquarters. The weak autumn sun shines overhead in a cloudless, pale blue sky. The trees near the church are in the middle of changing their leaves from green to a combination of brown, red, yellow, and gold. They also still showed signs of wetness from yesterday’s rain. All are signs that the transition of the seasons is near completion.
Vincent had arrived back at the headquarters of the knights, Crotella tower, just yesterday. Not long after delivering the news of Prince Winston’s forming council to Sir Rollrick and that he shall be a part of it Sir Rollrick set out for the capital himself to learn more.
Vincent looks around to his surroundings as he and the other knights mount their horses. He is not completely focused, for his mind swarms with thoughts about what Prince Winston was planning after hearing the new decree he is implementing and how he would go about carrying out his plan. He needed to start presenting ideas to improve the order of the knights, but how.
As the convoy of knights reach Crotella tower Vincent analyzes his position. He doesn't hold a high position within the order, but he still holds great influence because of his reputation of success and popularity with the people. Sir Rollrick is also the only one to hold an actual position of authority as well. Therefore in his absence the only chain of command present is who he left in charge. Vincent’s eyes widen in realization.
Dismounting his horse Vincent looks to whom Sir Rollrick left in charge; Sir John. He is forty-four years old with short light brown hair that connected to his short, thick beard and an athletic build. The leader of usually infiltration such as during the Gordowe operation; Sir John is second only to Sir Rollrick in experience.
Once inside the main hall Vincent makes his way to Sir John.
“Sir John.”, Vincent greets him with a respectful bow as Sir John turns to him. “I was hoping I could speak to you.”, Vincent goes on.
“Yes, what is it?”, Sir John questions him with a mutual look. Vincent takes a moment collecting his thoughts before looking back to the patiently waiting knight.
“I wanted to talk to you about….some ideas I had for the order.”, Vincent begins unsure. Sir James places a hand to his chin thoughtfully.
“Sir Rollrick thought you might come back with something of that nature.”, he finally responds.
“Did he...?”, Vincent inquires as he and Sir John walks over to a couple of seats.
“Oh yes. That’s why he left me in charge; to help with any good ideas you may have.”, the older knight explains. A look of interest comes across Vincent’s face. Sir John takes it as an opportunity to go on. “You are a unique individual, Vincent. You do things differently than originally done. You investigate the assignments you are given and can tell when there is more to them. Now...you’re not the first to this. At least I don’t think so, but you do it with a passion that makes you proficient.”
Vincent chuckles slightly. “That is only because I have a history with false allegations. That I wouldn’t like seeing repeated. Anyway it’s still surprising Sir Rollrick would set things up so easily, but I won’t question it.”, Vincent replies.
“Aren’t you the opportunist. So what is this idea of yours.”
Straightening up Vincent goes on more at ease. Sir John listens intently to Vincent’s words.
“It seems our efforts against the increase of bandit activity is working, but maybe spreading or transitioning to the west or other parts of the kingdom. Some are becoming more organized and I think we should as well. First we need more knights who are well trained on an equal standard.”
“How do we do that?”, Sir John responds.
“We need to offer pay first. Most of the kingdom’s population works on manners and not paid really well if at all. I have a feeling Prince Winston will change that soon, but we can start here in the order.”, Vincent begins. “Second we can train recruits in groups like an academy or school. That way there is also a standard and everyone is trained the same with the same and best basic skills.”
Sir John eyes light up.
“I honestly can say I like the idea. I really like the idea, but where will the money come from for such endeavors?”, Sir John counters.
“The crown of course.”, Vincent answers simply.
Vincent and Sir John sends off a letter the next day that they prepared that night. As they wait for a response they decide to start working with what they have. Most squads are out in the field, but after the drop in bandit activity and the last of the east was freed of bandit occupation most of them returned to Crotella or their families. Vincent and Sir John planned on establishing an air of discipline and order among the knights.
With Sir John as the lead all the knights were called to the great hall. Vincent seats among them near the front while Sir John stands facing everyone.
“Alright, it is no secret that crime, specifically bandit related crime, has changed and we don’t know what has caused it. Nonetheless we have beaten back this threat for now and that deserves congratulations.”, sounds of agreement erupt from the gathered knights.
“However, we can’t relax now!”, Sir John continues making his voice louder. “It is our duty to protect this kingdom from internal unrest and we have and will continue to do so even better. This will be done be organizing ourselves and operating with efficiency.”
“First there are those of us who have families and others who sleep here at the tower. No matter which you are you will be required to report here to the great hall at sunrise. It is then we will do morning exercises. It is important that we as protectors remain in shape and ready physically as well as mentally. Only if you are out on a mission will you be pardoned.”
Vincent listens along with everyone else though he already knows what all Sir John would say. The only time someone will be able to return to their family is at the end of the day and a chain of command will be established based off experience and contributions as a knight. Vincent listens as murmurs from those around him break out. Most of uncertainty and surprise, but there is some displeasure as well.
Though it will be left to Sir James to fully implement the new procedures. Vincent himself plans on going into the field to get a personal look on the situation in the kingdom. He also wants to visit Gordowe and see Selena and the others again.
Lillian exits the carriage in front of the capital’s prison. This is where criminals whose actions were ranked out of local jurisdictions and were to be judge by the crown were kept as well as those who committed a crime in the capital were kept. Making it the largest and only one of its kind in the kingdom. Lillian is here to see a certain inmate though.
The former leader of the group of bandits that attempted to occupy the northeast portion of the kingdom. Here he awaits sentencing, but Lillian has a few questions for him first. Three royal knights walk on either side of her and behind. They first meet the warden at the entrance. He has his second in command on his right and two guards on either side of them.
“Welcome your ladyship.”, he greets her with a bow.
“Greetings. I am here to speak to the former bandit leader. Kaba, I believe his name is.”, Lillian speaks to him. The warden’s face turns to one of bewilderment.
“If you don’t mind my asking my lady, why would you want to see him?”, he asks.
“It is for the prince. He wishes for me to acquire certain information that may not have been collected.”, Lillian replies. A look of uncertainty comes across the warden’s face.
“And he sent you...?”
“Excuse me?”, Lillian’s tone of voice causes the warden’s face to turn red.
“Uh...it’s just...I wouldn’t expect the prince to send his betrothed to do such a thing.”
Lillian thinks for a moment. The warden is right Prince Winston wouldn’t send her for such a thing. He didn’t even know she was here or at least here at the prison. She faces the warden.
“You’re right...”, Lillian admits in defeat. “I just really needed to ask Kaba something. He may hold a clue that will lead me to what happened to my family.”, she forces tears to come in her eyes and let’s them fall. Her eyes soften and the warden notices. With a sigh the warden concedes and allows Lillian to enter the prison.
As she follows the warden inside Lillian regains her composure and wipes away her fake tears. The prison is made of stone and little to no light reaches inside giving the prison a gloomy atmosphere. The little that did enter comes from the narrow rectangular shaped windows. The cells are located behind another door and line both sides of the hall. Lillian is lead to a cell near the back. Inside she sees a man chained to the wall with his head hanging. He doesn’t look up as the warden speaks to him.
“You have a visitor. She has some questions to ask you.”, the warden announces. Kaba lifts his head and spots Lillian.
“What do I owe the honor?”, he speaks in a surprising smooth voice laced with an accent. Before answering Lillian looks to the warden.
“You can leave us. My guards will remain.”, Lillian informs him calmingly. The warden first looks unsure, but due to not feeling up to arguing he concedes and turns to leave.
When the warden exits the hall Lillian redirects her attention to the former bandit leader. Her eyes are still and doesn’t give away any sign of emotion. There is only pure determination. Kaba examines her and raises an eyebrow. It is clear to him that Lillian is serious.
“I have some questions for you and I want you to answer them. Can you do that?”, Lillian asks him sternly.
“That depends on the question.”, he answers simply. Lillian takes a step to the bars separating them.
“Well how about this? Who were you working for?”, Lillian counters. Kaba scrunches up his eyebrows.
“What are you talking about?”
“There is no way a group of random bandits, no matter how numerous, would come up with a plan to occupy towns or a region of a kingdom. Someone was directing you. I want to know who.”, Lillian tells him.
“Humph, you saying I’m dumb?”, the former bandit leader retorts leaning against the wall.
“No, but something like what you did would never come to your mind on your own.”, Lillian replies placing her hand casually on the bars.
“I assure you. No one else told us to do what we did.”, he insists. Lillian stares at him for a moment.
“Since you won’t tell me the easy way I’ll get it out of you the hard way.”, she finally speaks as she gives the signal for the bars to be opened. From her right sleeve she withdraws a double edged dagger with her other hand. Kaba looks at her with an interested look.
“What you plan on doing with that?”, he asks with humor in his voice.
Lillian is silent as she enters the cell. She notices that despite his hands being chained his feet and legs are free. Stopping just outside the reach of a kick.
“I’ll ask you one more time. Who were you working for?”, Kaba leans forward.
“No o- aaargh!”, he is cut off as Lillian drives the dagger into his ankle. The sudden, intense pain leaves him panting. Lillian produces another hidden dagger from the same sleeve. The guards left at the entrance turn in surprise with shocked expressions.
“One more time. Who hired you?”, Lillian asks again more intensely. Kaba eyes her still catching his breath; anger in his eyes.
“No- aaah...!”, Lillian drives the second dagger into his other ankle. Both ankles now bound to the ground. The daggers completely through them. “Please…” he begges Lillian with his head down.
“All you have to do is tell me who you were working for.”, Lillian replies coldly. Kaba raises his head to her covered in sweat. His hesitation causes Lillian to produce another dagger. “I’m not going to kill you, but I will torture you until you give me what I want.”
“What….if...I’m telling...the truth?”, he asks through puffs of breath.
“I can see you’re not.”, Lillian answers simply. She then proceeds to dig the dagger into his hand. Resulting in a blood curdling scream to come from the former bandit leader.