June 24, 2013

In Which Severin Is Given the Vague Report

January 1, 1182

"My lords." Ietrin went for the king's chair despite not technically being the king yet, little or no hesitation or sentiment in his motions as if his father had been dead for years instead of half a day. At least he wasn't wearing the crown. "I appreciate your haste in meeting with me today."

"Our condolences, Ietrin," Lorn bade him. Of the three of them, Severin figured Lorn was the most appropriate person for giving sympathies, at least where Ietrin was concerned. Octavius didn't give half a rat's ass about how Ietrin was and had never been shy about showing it, and the occasion of Roderick's passing was apparently no exception. As for Severin, he was too preoccupied with the long-term implications, plus he was sure he'd have to spend any comforting he had on Laralita on the way out.

"Thank you for your sympathy, but my father would have wanted us to get down to business." Ietrin inched his chair inward and nudged a stylus on the desk. He would have to write King Oswald later, as well as his sisters outside of the kingdom. Though she probably needed more time to grieve, Severin thought that was a job better left to Leara. "In keeping with our usual customs, the funeral will take place two days after the death--"

"Tomorrow." Octavius glowered, daring Ietrin to call him out for interrupting with the obvious. The challenge was ignored. "I would have thought that an exception was in order. Your uncle in Dovia will want to attend, and so will your sisters. The timing of a king's funeral ought to allow for travel."

"That, and the fact that whatever grand send-off your father wanted will take more than two days to arrange," Severin added. Personally, he wouldn't mind if his children put him in the ground the very day and with no more ceremony than the average peasant farmer was paid, but Roderick never would have stood for anything less than the grandest funeral imagined. Ietrin should have known that.

"If my father asks me for some spectacle of an affair, then he shall have it. Of course, we all know he won't." Apparently Ietrin's vocabulary didn't include the word 'can't'. "As for the timing, I don't care for the scent of corpse, nor do I think I could stomach the sight of my father half-rotten by the time the guests arrive. If they wish to hold some sort of service in their own countries, they are welcome to do so on their own time."

Rather flimsy excuses. Severin shared a look with Octavius. He knew what he wanted to say, but he had no doubt that Octavius wanted to say it more. "Are you sure you're not just being hasty because it's a more accepted practice to hold the coronation after the funeral?"

"That would be a valid haste. We can't have a kingdom without a king." Ietrin shut his eyes and straightened his back against Roderick's chair. Severin guessed he was imagining that stupid crown atop his head. "My coronation will take place four days from now. You will all swear fealty to me then."

His puffed-up manner supposed he thought admiration a part of that oath. Severin frowned. "But for now, we are still loyal to your father."

"I'm not an idiot. Lornian aside, none of you were ever loyal to my father."

"Then what makes you think we'll be loyal to you?"

Ietrin nearly snapped the compass he'd been fiddling with, but Severin didn't budge and though he didn't look, he was sure Octavius hadn't either. The prince too stunned to reply, it fell to Lorn to fill the silence. "Perhaps we should backtrack a bit? Aldhein only told me that the king was dead. How did he die?"

"My stepmother found him here when he failed to retire after sampling tonight's wine. The coroner believes that his heart gave out."

Of course it did. He's dead, isn't he? "A rather vague report. Did it occur to you that it might have been the wine?"

"Poison, you mean?" Of course that's what he'd meant. Ietrin knew better than to ask. "Perish the thought. I picked out that bottle myself for my father to sample."

"Did you deliver it?" asked Octavius.

"No, that was Master Finessa."

"The Master Finessa who departed last night."

Ietrin sighed. "Yes, yes, convenient timing. But my stepmother claims that Finessa offered her a glass as well. Why offer poisoned wine to someone other than the target?"

"Perhaps she was expendable," Severin ventured, though that seemed a little too easy. "Or perhaps it was by design. Laralita doesn't drink after supper and Finessa might have known that. If he offered the wine to someone else--even if she didn't take it--the situation would appear less suspicious."

The prince sniffed. "I doubt a mere servant would put much thought into what was or wasn't suspicious."

"Some servants might. Besides, he may not have been the mastermind; I know if I were to hire an assassin, I'd want some say in how the murder was performed."

Ietrin sulked, more out of annoyance than any more human emotion. He would only get more insufferable when he did have that crown on his head. "Clearly you haven't met Finessa if you think there's the slightest chance that he's an assassin. And who would have wanted my father dead, anyway?"

"Admittedly? Off the top of my head, I can't think of a name." And Severin would be shocked if anyone else could either. Roderick had never been an obstacle for anyone in his life, and even those who loathed him would have rather seen him humiliated than dead. Yet, Severin did not know every person Roderick knew... "But that doesn't mean that no one did."

"You're next in line, aren't you?" Octavius leaned forward and stared forth, the prince flinching somewhat if the corner of Severin's eye could judge. "Perhaps you did."

Severin glanced over at Lorn and then they both turned to Ietrin. An interesting point. Ietrin did have reasons for wanting to inherit sooner rather than later.

For all he didn't yet know that those plans were no longer possible. Roderick, for once in your life, you did the smart thing.

Not all men stood up long against eyes. Ietrin was not slow to fold. "Don't be absurd. Now, if I see any of you tomorrow, you'd best be dressed for mourning."

NEXT CHAPTER:

8 comments:

Van said...

A reasonable hour? What insanity is this?

Winter said...

*sigh* The only good thing about King Ietrin is Queen Jeda. I love that he's getting crap from Octavius and Severin, and I hope it continues. Shame on him.

Any idiot would know Roderick would have wanted the most pompous, well-attended funeral in the history of civilization. I'm half-convinced he will rise up out of the coffin just to commission a gigantic statue of himself to cement his legacy of greatness. (Nothing too garish, just a fifty-foot likeness of him killing a dragon while levying taxes.) The only way Ietrin could screw this up more is moving Geneva in beside him in the crypt.

I actually feel bad for Laralita, awful as she can be. Finding Roderick had to be unpleasant, and Ietrin probably won't be able to kick her out quickly enough.

But it sounds like Roderick might have the last laugh here...? Intriguing!

Van said...

I'm half-convinced he will rise up out of the coffin just to commission a gigantic statue of himself to cement his legacy of greatness. (Nothing too garish, just a fifty-foot likeness of him killing a dragon while levying taxes.)

...that has got to be the funniest thing I've heard all month. XD XD XD

Luckily for Roderick (and Geneva as well, I'm sure), I think that between Octavius and Camaline, Ietrin's going to face mighty opposition if he decides he wants his mother moved. But yeah, in terms of Ietrin screwing up in regards to Roderick's eternal rest, that would just be the icing on the cake.

Jeda will make a good queen. She'll only be putting up with one higher-ranking royal from now on, so she'll have more freedom and more power, and I'm sure she'd be happy to get involved with a few projects, for the people's sakes as well as her own. As for Octavius and Severin... well, we all know that Ietrin is Octavius's least favorite person on the planet, so anything Octavius can do to make Ietrin miserable without putting himself or his family at risk, it will be done. Severin doesn't have the same sort of personal grievances against the guy, but clearly he doesn't like him and is not making an effort to hide that.

I feel bad for Laralita too. Being the one to find almost anyone's corpse would be quite the ordeal, but when it's your husband? Probably the only named person in Naroni with a comparable experience is Isidro in regards to his mother's death. And yeah, I doubt Ietrin is enough of a Laralita fan to put up with her without the buffer of Roderick. :S

As my plans stand right now, we'll find out what Roderick was up to in the post after next.

Ann said...

Oh wow, he's even dumber than I thought and I'm amazed that's even possible. How does one not suspect poison in this case? And the most conveniently just gone servant as the perpetrator?
Unless he is in on the plan, which I didn't think he was. *ponders*

Oh dear, so Laralita did find him. That must have been horrible. ~~ Poor her. And now facing the possibility to be thrown out of the castle by her stepson? That's gotta suck.

So, Roderick left a will then? Or did he pass some laws while Ietrin wasn't looking?
XD Heh, would be funny if Ietrin wasn't even the heir anymore. What if Roderick passed him over in favor of his halfsiblings? With Laralita as Gueen Regent?
I know, I know, how likely is that? But one can dream, right? I'd put up with Laralita quite cheerfully if it meant no King Ietrin.


Hey look everyone, I'm anonymous! said...

Is it wrong that amidst all the death-of-king stuff, all I can think when reading this post is 'Ietrin looks strangely hot in that kingly garb'?

Joseph

Van said...

Ann: I think Ietrin may be actively telling himself that it was just a routine death. He doesn't want to think anyone had it out for his father, and he doesn't want to think he's next. Not exactly practical thinking, though.

Things are not happy in Laralitaland right now. This may be the first time in the history of Naroni that two consecutive commenters have expressed sympathy for her.

What Roderick Did will be revealed soon enough, to both the audience and to Ietrin (though for time reasons, the second will happen off-screen; his long-term reaction will be more important than his immediate one). But I can safely say that after how long I spent updating the profile site yesterday--like, changing every knight's employer from Roderick to Ietrin and stuff like that--Ietrin is still the heir and will inherit.

Sad day for Naroni. :(

Joseph: In any case, you could do much better. ;)

morgaine2005 said...

Well, Roderick was 52 years old ... that's not exactly young for back then. And sometimes apparently healthy people do drop dead of sudden heart attacks. However, if somebody does drop dead for no apparent reason nowadays, generally I believe an autopsy of some kind is ordered. Since Roderick is the king, they ought to be making damn sure all bases are covered.

However, knowing nothing of twelfth-century forensics, I have no idea how they would manage to make a definitive judgement of poison ... or anything else for that matter. At the very least they ought to be examining the wine -- and the wine in Roderick's glass, in case Fred was extra-careful (and took Hat's advice) and poisoned not the wine, but the glass.

That might have also kept Laralita safe, if she had decided, "Oh, it's New Year's! Sure, I'll have a cup!"

However, in other news, I cannot wait to find out what Roderick did that will put a crimp in Ietrin's style. And I can't wait to see Elarys's reaction, either. Bwahahaha!

I also feel sorry for poor Lorn here -- so obviously the peacekeeper. He's had to deal with an awful lot of responsibility very young, and I think it's helped him grow into a fine man ... but it's kind of sad that in some ways he's acting like the most mature person in the room. (Octavius gets a pass, since I think not running Ietrin through at any given moment is the most we can ask of him, but Severin, give Lorn a hand!)

My sympathies go out to Laralita too ... yes, she's a vain, annoying, prissy fluff-head, but she loved Roderick as much as she was capable of loving anyone, and she didn't deserve to be the one to find him. I'm just glad that it was poison, and not something more ... obvious. I wouldn't wish finding Roderick stabbed or beaten even on Laralita. (Heck, I never wished her finding him poisoned and looking like he died naturally on her.)

And lastly, speaking of Ietrin's tunic ... am I the only one amused that his mourning tunic is the same one Joshua Wesleyan in my blog wears to funerals? *evil laugh*

Van said...

Yeah, at Roderick's age and given the times, I'm thinking the general population will have no trouble accepting that he just dropped dead. And not just the general population either. A few people are bound to be suspicious, but you're right; if anyone is thinking it was poison, they'd have a hell of a time proving it with just an examination of the body.

Examining the wine or the glass would be a good start, but since Ietrin either never suspected or is denying the possibility, it's difficult to say what has happened to the evidence. If the wine was poisoned, who knows what Fred did with the rest of the bottle, and if the glass was poisoned, someone may have washed it by now. If they're in the study, it seems that no one ordered that the crime scene be left undisturbed. :S

Oh, I'm sure Elarys will have just as much to say about Roderick's plotting as Ietrin will. ;)

Your analysis of Lorn is pretty spot-on. He grew up fast and he grew up well, and a few choice moments aside, he is very mature for his age and knows to pick his battles. Severin, on the other hand, is sparing with his grudges, but once someone's in his bad books, they're not about to pull themselves up any time soon; whether it's out of principle for what he's doing to Jeda, or just plain dislike of Ietrin's attitude, there is no fondness there, and no pretending either. Severin can be brutally honest that way.

No, Laralita did not deserve that. :( She did love Roderick one whole hell of a lot, and while she could have found him in a worse position, it just plain sucks that she was the one to find him anyway.

Poor Josh! XD