Servants of the Empire

Remnant: Book of Tulefore Chapter 6

Silvus’ breath was heavy from mounting the tall stairway up from the docks and about the road leading to the castle. The early hours of the cold morning left the streets still empty. Instead of going after the Slanian, he decided to turn to the castle in order to seek out more guards.

When he arrived through the main entrance of the courtyard, those present were absent from their stations and chatting among themselves. “What’s persuaded you to move from your posts?” Silvus barked at them.

The men stood immediately to a stiff attention. “We… assumed you had already left, Sir Silvus.” One replied.

“Don’t be so foolish,” The commander complained. “I’m in need of your aid, to help search a man- there was an attack upon the Viceroy.”

“A Slanian?” Another guard asked.

Silvus perked up and approached the men. “Yes. How-?”

“One just passed through, sir,” The first guard said. “We thought it was strange, he wasn’t entering by the servant’s entrance.”

“He’s inside?” Silvus asked, beginning to stomp off through the hall’s tall doors without awaiting an answer. “Come, we’ll need to flush him out.”

The Emperor had yet to come to the hall that morning, leaving only the servants and maids clearing the used settings from that morning’s breakfast. They glanced at Silvus before quietly focusing back on their work. The commander examined them; the inhabitants of the south wing of the castle were of various origin, some of Callian birth, whereas others were of the sort brought to the homeland from Tulefore’s colonies. A lightly-tanned Slanian woman, whom he clearly recognized, continued sending glances to him, hardly making a peep.

Silvus held his fist up, silently stopping the other guards behind him. “Block off the exits,” he whispered back, “here up front, the servant’s entrance, and the side entrance on the north. Get someone guarding the upper chambers, as well. Not a soul in our out.”

“Yes, sir.”

Silvus stood his ground while awaiting the others to disperse. His fingers trembled at the pommel of his sword sitting in the sheath at his hip. He glanced at the Slanian woman, still at work, before rounding the table and following the south wall to the rear corridor. A single other servant was ahead of him in the section of the castle, transporting a stack of plates.

Kiaren arrived shortly after to the entranceway of the great hall which had been firmly closed up and blocked to entry by the guards. Terren was not far behind, his breathing ragged. “Sister, the man can’t be that fast.”

Kiaren ignored him, stepping before the guards in anticipation that they would immediately act. “Why are the doors sealed?” She asked defiantly as the men stood their ground despite her approach.

“You should not enter at this time, Lady Kiaren.” The first said, holding his hand up to her. “Silvus already offered us an order to not allow anyone inside. He already came this way after a Slanian.”

Kiaren stomped her foot. “I know who he’s after, my father gave the order to go after him.”

“It seems both Silvus and the Slanian were faster than us, then,” Terren hummed, looking up and down the tall structure of the door.

Kiaren shook her head and turned back. “What if there are more of them in there that would follow that man?”

Terren pursed his lips and shrugged. “The servants who reside here have been here long enough, they may be trusted.”

“Stay here then,” The lady folded her arms. “The other doors may need reinforcing.”

As Kiaren began to stomp off about the courtyard, Terren was helpless to stop her. Down one of the side roads adjacent to the area was another entrance, leading to a lower level of the castle’s structure under the south wing where the servants lived and worked. Kiaren was distraught to find, already, a pair of guards already at the separate exit.

“Aside,” She directed, gesturing her hand back and forth. “I need to get inside.”

“Sir Silvus’ orders, Lady Kiaren.” The guard returned, standing before the latch. “My apologies.”

“I have rank on Silvus,” Kiaren growled, her hand at her hip. “Move.”

The first man shook his head. “Lord Danus… has asked us to…”

“Shh-” The second interrupted. “By any means, it is safer if you remain out here.”

Kiaren stomped and shuffled her stance back and forth between the blocked doorway. “If you’re out here, then Silvus is acting on his own inside. That’s not something I can allow.”

The pair remained silent, eyes shifting to each other and skating the ground uneasily. Kiaren lashed out, her teeth grit, and grabbed onto the leather chest plate of the closest, pulling him away from the door. “Lady Kiaren, I cannot-”

“Silence.” She said, yanking the latch of the door open.

Silvus had entered the castle’s kitchen. The air inside was relatively warm with the heat of the ovens soaking up the flames of wood fires burning deeper inside. The smell from the breakfast service lingered as well. The servants could not help but notice his arrival, surprised to see one of importance in their midst. The number, Silvus noticed, of Slanian servants, was sparse, less than he expected.

“Keep working, pay me no heed,” Silvus directed, catching the eyes of several of the men and women. Farther in the rear of the kitchen, the soiled dishes were being soaked in a large wooden basin and combed over by worn and wrinkled hands. With tentative steps and a scanning gaze, Silvus continued on to the rear of the level to the back stairwell.

A clutter of furniture from behind him called his attention back. The commander caught the sheen of a metal instrument in the hand of the strange Slanian. The man clacked the edge of the wide kitchen knife against one of the work surfaces, while the uninvolved workers scrambled past Silvus and back to the front of the castle. “Don’t move- what are you planning?” The commander asked calmly, his hands held out just before him.

“We no want Tuleforian Viceroy… our land.” The man spoke menacingly, his hand going white at the wooden grip of the instrument. “No forces, no swords.”

“I’m not the one you should be trying to convince.” Silvus stood his ground, looking to the shaky Slanian. “Although, you’ve lost any chance of finding favor with Medan.”

The man clacked the flat of the blade once again, before jabbing it out toward Silvus. “Stop! Go! Do not care!” He took a step forward, forcing Silvus to cautiously retreat. “Go to our home, but you not win against us, many!”

Silvus felt the small of his back touch the wood of the basin as his space to retreat dwindled. Behind some of the far racks, the remaining servants, those of Slanian birth, were looking on. The attacker bit at his lip and continued to push forward.

At his rear, Silvus managed to make contact with the edge of an earthen bowl, mostly submerged in the water. With a swing of his shoulders, he jerked around and flung the bowl outward toward the Slanian, wash water and all. The dish bounced off the man’s shoulder, and the water entered his mouth and eyes. Silvus took the chance to rush toward the man and shove his hand against the side of the table, forcing the knife to fall to the ground. With a practiced movement, the commander forced the Slanian’s hand behind his back, restraining him.

Kiaren had managed to snake her way through the packed storage room below, and up the stairs to the kitchen. She arrived as the bowl found its way to the ground, shattering. Silvus had forced the man against the table, held at bay. “Silvus-” She called out, her eyes training to the situation.

“Everything under control,” Silvus said back, holding tightly to the restrained man. He turned his attention to the other servants, who were already beginning to retreat once again. “How did you get in here? I told the guard to not allow anyone past the entrances.

Kiaren bit her lip. “That’s none of your concern.”

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