When he woke his body was bathed in sweat. Fever had taken him the morning after the attack in South March and kept him in its near fatal grip for two full days. So many things had run through his mind. So many things that needed his attention. So many problems for him to deal with. Where should he start? First and foremost in his mind was the “good” Father. Why had this the priest attacked him as he stood at the circle in the woods? His handfasting to Karissa in progress with a few of Karissa’s close friends in attendance. He could not figure out why the priest had gone mad. Yet during his two day fight with fever things had begun to become more focused in his mind. He would just have to handle them one problem at a time.
A warrant for the arrest of the priest was first on his list. When the young girl came in to bring him his breakfast, she was startled to see he was awake. She turned to leave and he stopped her before she could run away. The girl protested saying, “The Countess told me to tell her immediately when you woke m’lord. I do not want to have her thinking I did not understand her instructions.”
He caught the hem of her skirt as she turned to run away again and told her, “Slow down little one.” He told her to wait a moment as he had some things for her to do before she ran off to tell the Countess he was awake.
He sent her to the guard tower to fetch a guard. Then he said she was not to tell the Countess he had woken up. “I want to surprise the Countess,” he said. “So when you leave, little one, you will tell the Countess that I am still sleeping, understood?” The girl shook her head yes smiling. He knew the young lass would love the idea that the Lord was going to surprise the Countess.
A young guardsman came to him he was sitting eating the breakfast the young girl had brought to him. He shifted nervously, foot to foot, and Bryantt thought that he was likely fresh in off the farm. Bryantt questioned him about recent events and news, wanting to catch up on what had happened while the fever held him in its grips. Unsatisfied with what the lad knew, he sent him to go to Captain Perrin and tell him that Lord Bryantt needed to speak with him. He warned the lad not to tell anyone except the Captain that he was awake. “No one understand?” he had reminded the lad.
The young guardsman bowed and with one last “Yes m’Lord” raced out the door.
The Captain entered the room as he always did, with a young lass on his arm. The Captain was always in the company of some young pretty girl. This time the girl was Baylee, one of Karissa’s girls from the brothel. “I see the priest didn’t kill you” the Captain said with a smile. “Shame. I had so looked forward to taking over your businesses.” Perrin laughed and patted Baylee on the ass and told her, “Close your mouth girl or you will catch some flies in there! He is alive you see so you still have a job.”
Baylee slapped his shoulder and whispered in her ever sexy voice “Yes Captain,” batting her eyes at him as she walked to the sidetable. “Shall I pour us a drink? Baylee asked as she walked to the table and grabbed a piece of bacon from the plate biting off a piece and laying the rest on the plate.
“Yes please Baylee,” Bryantt said turning his attention once more to the Captain. Bryantt began by asking the Captain what had happened while he was under the influence of the fever. Perrin told him the priest had not been found. The Lady Karissa had also not been seen since the incident. Bryantt then asked him about business and the Captain told him what he knew. One of Bryantt’s five ships had been lost to pirates. The pirates had looted and burned the ship. It had sunk to the bottom of the deep part of the river and was all but unrecoverable. Perrin told him that the payments to fix the debt the Countess had amassed had taken a big bite out of Bryantt’s fortune. The brothel had for some reason been less than profitable over the past few months. This troubled the Captain as he told Bryantt had seen more than the normal traffic in and out of the brothel during that same time. He cautioned Bryantt that he should look into this because the Captain did not understand how this could be. Bryantt made a mental note to ask Baylee what she knew about this.
Perrin continued telling Bryantt the Countess had gone to South March and had spent more money than necessary hiring an escort according to Baylee. Baylee chimed in saying, “Her Highness” had hired two men to escort them when one would have done. Bryantt smiled at the way Baylee had wrinkled her nose and bared her teeth when she said “Her Highness.” Baylee was ever the comedian and she was also the best girl Bryantt had at the brothel, so he laughed at her instead of scolding her. “You should watch how you say things about my future wife Baylee,” Bryantt scolded. “You never know when she may have her spies around girl.” Bryantt said.
Bryantt listened as the Captain told him no warrant had been issued for the arrest of the priest. He told Bryantt that Gregor had gone looking in South March for the priest and had not found either him nor the Lady Karissa. The small man, Drago, had also not been seen. He told Bryantt that the Warden of South March had granted asylum to the priest and the dwarf because no warrant had been issued. This angered Bryantt but he did not say anything. That would be handled as soon as he got to his office. Bryantt listened as the Captain told him the rest of what had happened while Bryantt had been under the spell of the fever he had gotten from his wounds received at the hands of the priest. When the Captain had finished he paused then asked Bryantt what he wanted him to do. Bryantt thought for a second then he called Baylee to them to lay out his plan. He told Baylee he could use her help and she nodded in agreement. The three of them spent the next two hours laying out a plan. Bryantt had never been this angry.
Heads would be his and men would pay for their treachery.
After the Captain and Baylee left Bryantt finished his breakfast then walked to the bath that he had Baylee prepare for him. The water was warm and the dried blood that had formed around his wounds made the water pink. He felt the stitches pull in the hot water, but it felt good and the feel of the water began to restore his strength. The food had helped him to feel stronger. He stood up and toweled himself dry.
“First things first,” he whispered to himself. He dressed in britches and a soft silk shirt. He didn’t put on shoes as he wanted his travels about the castle to be undetected. It was yet early morning as he turned the corner coming up to the sleeping quarters of the Countess. He put his finger to his lips and whispered to the guard at the Countess’s door that he could go as he would watch over the Countess. The guard began to protest, but Bryantt matter of factly reminded him who was paying him now that Bryantt was running the castle. The guard nodded and walked slowly down the hallway.
Bryantt opened the door to the Countess’s bedroom and slipped inside. He stood watching her sleep. He would wake her up and surprise her letting her know he was feeling better as he had told the young lass he would. He smiled and wondered just how to surprise her. A smile came to his face as he knew how he would surprise the Countess, a wicked smile.