The Chosen, Chapter 3C


Archilochus raised a palm towards Crim, and lifted the index finger of his other hand to his lips. He then brought the finger back towards his ear, then out in the direction of the door to the room where they had been sequestered.

Sitting uncomfortably on a wooden chair, Crim read her brother’s signals, then concentrated a moment, and shook her head. “Nobody’s listening to us.”

Archilochus’ face flashed with objection only a moment, before falling into a resigned frown. “I still don’t understand how you do that.”

“I’ve given up trying to understand.” Crim glanced down at the floor, then back up at her brother. “Gil and Ukhala were supposed to give us a chance to negotiate for her release. How could they take it upon themselves to act so soon?”

“Because they are members of neither the Imperial Guard, nor the Temple of Shad Halom.” Archilochus began pacing across the room. “We have no control over them, sister, and it’s been a problem from the start of this — ” he stopped, throwing his hands into the air — “partnership, or whatever you choose to call it.”

“I don’t choose to call it anything, brother. All I know, is that we’ve been chosen to work together, trust each other. And what they’ve done tonight, has violated that trust.”

“If you were concerned about trust, you — ”

“Hold.” Crim rose from her seat, her action bringing Archilochus to a halt. She looked towards the door, and a moment later, the knob turned. A moment later, a familiar face from earlier that evening appeared in the doorway.

Lord Jerdain, of New Frisaria, walked in to the room as if he expected the occupants to genuflect. “It appears your friend, the Islander, had some assistance with this evening’s festivities. Certainly not the boy, I talked to him myself and doubt very much he could take down a stable boy, much less two members of the Safety Committee. Have you any idea on the identify of this mysterious accomplice?”

“We’ve already told Judge Oliver all we know, which is exactly what we told your Constable after yesterday’s attack.” Archilochus stepped in front of Jerdain as he continued. “The Islander’s name is Quendrun — we met him in the Pentapolis, where he was seeking to join a party on pilgrimage to Eighth Hill. We have no idea why he wanted to help that woman escape from jail, or who assisted him.”

“Quendrun?” Both Archilochus and Crim nodded in response. “He must have assumed that name recently — my informants have come across his using that name.” Jerdain seemed amused at the surprise that blossomed in the two other faces in the room. “Oh yes! New Frisaria may not be the most powerful of the colonial lands, but our spies have penetrated the highest levels of every government — including their intelligence. This Islander, it seems, was once a member of Jungen’s noxious band. He went by the name of Cobra, at that time. He’s also referred to himself as Ismund, and Betrellix, a few others. Legend has it that his given name, from the Islands, is Ukhala — although that name means suffering in the Island tongue, I suspect that to be some manner of ironic honorific.”

“If all you say proves true, I shall applaud your research, Lord Jerdain.” He nodded in agreement to Crim. “Although I must admit that I’m curious, as to why you would so freely divulge such precious information.”

Jerdain pointed to Archilochus. “An Imperial Guardsman — and a priestess of Shad Halom,” his point now turned toward Crim. “Companions of a former member of Yugen’s gang, who has just helped a prisoner escape from a Philos jail cell? The Empire talks of having no interest in the colonies outside of the Pentapolis, and the Temple clings to its neutrality as some type of immunity from the disease of politics — yet your actions in this affair have demonstrated your duplicity!”

“All right.” At Crim’s outburst, Archilochus twitched his head towards her. “The Islander is known to us as Ukhala, as well.”

“Sister –”

“You wouldn’t be revealing this information to us, Lord Jerdain, unless you were hoping to reach an agreement without the knowledge of Judge Oliver, or the town of Philos.”

Jerdain smiled. “Continue.”

“We’ll take you to Ukhala, and find this prisoner. If you can release us from Judge Oliver’s manor.”


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