At the appointed hour, Bryantt stood in the town square, awaiting the arrival of Sir Maverick, Warden of South March. At his side was Vivienne, the Countess of Roxeter. Karissa was sweeping the entrance to the tavern and Baylee was haggling at the vegetable stall over the best produce.
Hoof beats sounded on the old stone road. They watched as Maverick and his squire, Falcon, approached. Falcon was carrying Maverick’s banner bearing his crest, a tower. Maverick and Falcon dismounted, Maverick care a coin to the stable girl to take care of their horses.
Bryantt led the way to his suite in the castle, to the meeting table in his office. Bryantt, Vivienne and Maverick sat at the table. Falcon took up a position at the door, hand close to the hilt of her sword, guarding Maverick’s back.
Bryantt laid two scrolls on the table. “I have two warrants to give to you Sir. One is for the priest, Barnard. The other is for the dwarf, Drago. I think you will find them in order.”
When he was done, Maverick rolled up the bills and handed them to Falcon. “These will do. Due to the egregious nature of the charges you are making, I will have the town guard imprison wither of those individuals if they are found.”
Byrantt nodded, “Thank you Sir.”
Vivienne said, “When you have them in custody, perhaps you might question them. Someone blew up the tower by the abbey. I want to know if they had anything to do with that.”
Maverick did not reply to the Countess. He turned to his squire. “Falcon, Give the Warden the Bill of Complaint.”
Vivienne tensed, remembering veiled threats and hints Maverick had made on a recent trip to Tanninhold, referring to some unnamed evidence he held against her. She gripped the arms of her chair, her knuckles turning white.
Bryantt took, the bill, unrolled it, read it and blinked. He looked at the Countess.
Bryantt swallowed and said, “You, my love. For eating at an establishment without paying.”
Vivienne turned pale.
“I do not expect you to incarcerate her, but I do expect you to bring her to Truce Day for judgement,” Maverick said coldly.
Vivienne jumped to her feet from the chair. “It is lies, all lies, made by southern scum!”
Falcon’s eyes widened.
Bryantt stood and moved to her side, firmly taking her elbow. “We beg your pardon, Sir,” he said to Maverick, determined to keep things civil. “The good Countess speaks out of turn.”
Vivienne sputtered, “They have no evidence…”
Vivienne looked haughtily at Maverick. “I will attend your court and answer this libel,” she said.
Bryantt squeezed her arm, “I am sure the Lady is sorry for her words.”
Vivienne pressed her lips firmly together and gave Bryantt a dirty look, but said nothing.
Maverick extended his hand to Bryantt. “Our business here is concluded. Come Truce Day we will meet again on the border.”
Bryantt took the man’s hand and shook it firmly. “We will be there Sir.”
Bryantt, still holding Vivienne’s arm, watched as Maverick and Falcon descended the steps to the square. From his vantage he could see the mount their horses and ride off to return to Tanninhold. He released his grip on Vivienne.
“That went well, Countess,” he said, with the sharp edge of sarcasm in his voice. “Right up to the moment you called the warden… what was it… oh yes… southern scum.” He handed the bill of complaint to Vivienne to let her read it.
“Cod fish my love?”
Vivienne wrinkled her nose at the memory. “I remember that fish now. It was rank, bad, inedible. Fresh my… I did not eat it.”
Bryantt smiled, “Fresh my what, Vivienne?”
“I nailed it to the counter with my dagger and left a couple of pence, what I felt it was worth. I did not eat it. Probably the serving wench ate it and decided to blame it on me. The damned dagger was worth more than that piece of tripe they called fresh.”
Bryantt was turning legalities and wording over in his mind, “If the girl said she sold it to you, that means you paid for it…”
“I am sure it will all come to nothing. Even if they find against me, surely the fine would be a minor one, one you can easily afford.”
Bryantt looked at her and said, “I am not so sure Countess. I have seen people stripped and put in stocks for less than that. You did insult the South March Warden. He may not be inclined to be lenient.”
Vivienne flushed in anger, “My cousin the Queen would never accept that treatment of her cousin. It would mean war.” She clasped her hands behind her back so that people would not see that her hands were shaking.
With that, she mumbled good nights and went back to her suite. She crawled into her bed, but sleep came slowly, with dreams of stocks and chains.