23 Comments

Renegade Project 10: Scandals and Liars

“On second thought, Gallino,” you say, “perhaps I will attend you to the caravan and accept that offer of help.”

The Caravan master nods and leads the way down the hall, away from the woman. You feel her watching you. After you have left her line of sight and are well beyond hearing, you ask, “Gallino, your father has hired a lot of men for one caravan, so I was wondering. Do you deal with attacks fairly often?”

“There were problems a while back, when the battles for the throne started, but lately it’s been pretty quite.”

“Then why was he hiring just yesterday?”

The man sighs. “There was a minor incident about a fortnight ago. A traitor tried to make away with the wagon, but all the goods were recovered. I assured my father that such will not happen again, but he tends to worry regardless.”

“He might be right to worry,” you say somberly. “I would keep your men alert.”

Gallino stops short. “Have you news of danger? From who?” The question was sharp and angry. If the last incident was betrayal, he may be growing tired of it. Can’t say you blame him.

“Let us leave it at anonymous for now. I’m not the sort of making any accusations without proof.”

Studying you, he says nothing for a moment, then rubs his jaw. “Fair enough – for now. I will heed your warnings and take all needful steps to ensure the caravan’s safety. However, if we can defend against any problems, perhaps it might be better not to involve my father.

“What?” You stare at him.

He raises an open hand. “As I said, he does tend to overreact, and at his age, such excitement can be detrimental. He has entrusted the caravan to me. Knowing that the attack is likely, I can quickly take capture and question anyone suspicious. I may be able to secure the proof you wish far easier than you would here.”

“Must admit a similar plan crossed my mind, but I am not sure about witholding this sort of information from Galen.”

Gallino shrugs and laughs. “I admire your loyalty. Do as you must, but it was worth a thought, no? Now let us see about that wood and your helper.”

The caravan was already gathering in the main courtyard with several men shouting orders. Gallino directs you to a supply of wood near the wagon. “Choose what you wish for your work today, at least until you can speak with my father about more. I will go find Malor.”

Carefully, you select a sturdy beam for the main door and a few smaller pieces to mend some of the window latches with, at least until metal ones can be commissioned. By then, Gallino returns with a thin, older man. He is mostly bald and has a large nose over a scruffy beard.

“This is Malor – he has managed countless repairs while on the road, so I can vouch for his skill.”

“Well then, Malor,” you say, “if you would grab that end of the beam, we can get to work and get out of the way of the caravan’s departure.”

“Aye, sir.” The man hefts the beam onto his shoulder without too much strain and you both head for the main door. Malor is indeed a hard worker, with a steady hand for tools. Switching out the rotted beam takes far shorter than you expected. The man also loves to talk, mostly about traveling with the caravan and the girls he’s met. You let him talk only half listening until he starts talking about mutual acquaintances.

“Grislla is a sweet maid, the mistress Selyna’s own chambermaid she is, but that miserable woman works her to hard. Has her delivering notes and secret messages, in the middle of the night sometimes.”

“Messages?” you ask. “Any idea who to?”

“Some to her brother, Natin, which isn’t too bad, but some are to some rich lover she has in the city. Poor Grislla has to walk to some tavern a mile’s walk from here.”

“Does the man meet her? Could she give his name or describe him?”

Malor shakes his head. “Gives it to the tavern owner there. Selyna’s too crafty to let anyone know the name. Don’t want it to get back to her old man, see. Probably ‘cuz she knows the old man’ll be furious, especially after the scandal three winters back.”

“Scandal?”

“Aye.” The man scowls. “That runt, Natin tried to steal Gallino’s own betrothed, he did. When the girl refused him, the whole thing fell apart and the she disappeared. Some thought she’d run home until they found her body. The whole household was a shoutin’ for days until the old man paid off a bunch of folks and forbade anyone from talking about it. Though any fool can guess what happened, Selyna sided with the runt and has hated Gallino ever since. She’ll lie about anything to get her way and say just about anything to make her and that runt look good.”

You mull over the words as Malor rattles on to a new girl. So, sibling rivalry. You’ve seen betrayal for less, so it’s definitely an optional motive. People tend to see what they want to see so she may honestly believe Gallino the guilty one and Natin beyond such crimes. Then there is also the mysterious lover. You’ve seen plenty of even innocent girls sweet-talked into crime by a man they think loves them.

After you help Malor do the first window latch, you are confident he can continue on his own. It’s still only mid morning so you decide you had better get a few hours of sleep while you can.

In the quiet of your little bedchamber, you stretch out on the straw-stuffed mattress and fall fast asleep.

However, you couldn’t have slept much more than an hour when a knock comes at the door.

“Who’s there?”

“I must speak with you.” Even muffled by the door Selyna’s voice is easy to recognize.

Your weary muscles resist rising and you groan, but go to the door. You find Selyna in the hallway, head bowed and hands gripping her skirt. “I – I came to apologize,” she stammers. “About last night.”

Well, she’s not exactly the picture of penitence, though she’s certainly trying, but she’s far too tense.

“Um, can we talk in your room?” She glances around the hallway.

You sigh but let her in.

She peers around nervously, her gaze snagging on your sword and belongings.

Realizing that you left out the one book you had saved from the monastery, you quickly move to block her view. “What is it you need to say to me?”

“You were with Gallino. What did he tell you? I need to know.”

Choose how to proceed:

“We talked about keeping the caravan safe.” Perhaps a cold splash of reality will scare her into confessing.

-OR-

“Nothing important.” Lie and play the nice guy. She’s tense and worried about something, maybe if she thinks you’re a friend she’ll slip up.

-OR-

“I don’t contribute to rumors or gossip. If you have something to say to me, do so. If not, I need a bit more rest so that I can do my job.”

-OR-

???

 

Voting is Closed.

For those who missed the rules for this game check them out here!

And to see how this adventure began, see Renegade Project #1

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

23 comments on “Renegade Project 10: Scandals and Liars

  1. I’ll wait to see what others may come up with before voting. So we have rumors of murder and betrayal; distrust, and a mysterious outsider.

  2. I like the third option. But I like the second option too, since it’s much the same, only less “in her face.” I think if you followed it up with, “Your father hired me to see to the safety of his family. Are there any safety concerns you have that I might address?” –it may be an opening to get her to open up a little–any response she has to that should be interesting!

    Also: I still haven’t met your younger brother–what’s his name, again? Oh yeah–Natin. Will he be around this evening? Do you think you could introduce us?

  3. I’d go with the third. You (I?) were blunt about not participating in gossip earlier, why not again? Plus, I’d be grumpy haven been awakened from much needed sleep. Also, if she came all this way to say something, she might just blurt it out if prompted.

    • Yeah, I was certainly thinking that being exhausted after a long night of work and only one hour of sleep doesn’t put me in much of a mood to play games. lol

  4. I don’t like option 1 because it presumes she has a right to the information she seeks. I don’t think she does.

    I don’t like option 2 because I don’t see myself as a liar for any reason.

    I don’t mind option 3 because it’s a bit more hard-nosed, but it also seems more likely to shut her down than elicit any information. She’s obviously here to get info, not give it, and if I’m not giving, I doubt she’ll stick around.

    So…I choose “OR.”

    “You made it quite clear last night your brother’s business is none of yours. Why the change, mistress? Would it have anything to do with your visitor last night?”

    Yes, I’m going to grab the bull by the horns, put my neck on the block and see if I can shock her into doing something stupid. Hopefully, not so stupid as to stab me WHILE I’M ALONE WITH HER IN MY ROOM!
    (I personally would never have let her in, btw. Too dangerous to have a woman alone with me. I’m, of course, assuming I’m a man at this point. You know, this is one of those moments when gender could drastically affect the outcome of a decision. A woman in a woman’s room is one thing. A woman in a man’s room is something entirely different. Interesting.).

    This way, she knows I know something, but not what (I could have stuck around outside the door for all she knows) and she may suspect I told Gallino something, but not what. “Off-balance” is what they call it. Good place for an opponent to be. Assuming, again, she is my enemy and not a hostage.

    My vote is more directly confrontational.

    • I agree with Robynn. You should have had the choice be whether or not to let her in the room, or really to talk with her at the door and then give us those choices. Frankly, images of Potiphar’s wife came to my mind and I felt that this chapter has set us up for a straw man fall.

      I like what Robynn said as I was to make a similar suggestion about mentioning the visitor from last night. I was thinking of having the character say: “Oh, we were just talking about this mysterious visitor that everyone saw leaving the house last night. Did you happen to see him too?” So maybe a combination of that with how Robynn starts it off would work:

      “You made it quite clear last night your brother’s business is none of yours. Why the change, mistress? Would it have anything to do with this mysterious visitor that everyone saw leaving the house last night. Did you happen to see him too?”

      Yeah, I think that would shake her up a bit. 😉

  5. So… don’t want her in the room, huh? That’s fair and reasonable. I’m game. We shall rewind! Choose the “stay out of my room” etc choice, and I can rewrite that bit to have her stuck at the door.

    The way I see it, the details right here are pretty flexible. I wasn’t quite sure where to break it for the choice point. I just want to see the stance you guys want to go with at this point – that’s all.

  6. I agree with turtle… this is a good time for an off hand “I know what you are up to punk, so fess up!” Yep my vote is with Turtle.

  7. Eh, she’s in the room. Let her stay. I can make mistakes I don’t choose, right? hehe!

    Besides, if you’re a woman in your brain, then letting her in the room doesn’t matter so much, except for a possible “she said, she said” accusation without witnesses. When you write an androgynous character, you have to exclude some scenarios.

    I just can’t see me the character as a woman in this story. Maybe it’s the “monk” thing. Too set in my gender-identity roles, probably. Let the feminists attack!

  8. I’ve been assuming the character is male. That said, I agree that I shouldn’t have let her into the room in the first place. Begging for trouble there. But, I like the possibilities of what sorts of drama she can cause now that she’s already in there, especially since we know she’ll lie about anything and everything to get her way and make herself look good. Mwahahahaha! 🙂
    As for what happens next, I’m thinking less-confrontational, more vague. The first two options fit that pretty well, I think. Just because you say “nothing much” doesn’t make it a lie, and it really isn’t her business, so you could phrase it as, “oh, just discussing some of the things that are expected of me,” since that’s true, because you’re in charge of security, including the caravan security. And telling her that you’re talking about protecting the caravan is pretty vague. It doesn’t really tell her anything about what you know or suspect.
    So my vote is something vague and not telling all, but not a direct confrontation. As a spy it pays to be a little more subtle, so I’d say something along the lines of “We were just discussing the safety of the caravan and some of the things I need to do around here.” And then maybe throw in like Krysti suggested something about seeing to the safety of the family, and giving her an opportunity to confide in me.

  9. “I don’t contribute to rumors or gossip. If you have something to say to me, do so. If not, I need a bit more rest so that I can do my job.”

  10. So, looks like we got a 3 on 3 here.
    that’s what I read – 3 for shaking her up a bit and 3 for kindness or at least keeping your hand hidden.

    Yes, I would definitely say male narrator. I mean come on, educated female merc? Don’t you think that would raise a few more eyebrows? If the group wants a go at that one we’d have to run it in it’s own round. Sounds interesting. Especially if thrown in with the same group…

    k – We got one day left on this vote.

    • Correction, we have 3 on 4, favoring choice 3… hey, turtle, you got any friends to come help win the vote? You’re so close!

      And Kaleb hasn’t voted yet, so there’s still room here.

  11. Option 3, the 2nd option would probably work better, but the character is a monk. Lying generally violates monastical vows.

  12. […] Since you can’t inform Galen, take up Gallino’s offer of walking with him, borrowing help and pe… […]

  13. Hey, Ren, when’s the next installment? 😉

  14. Well, I didn’t want her to feel forgotten or that I was getting bored with the story, or anything.

    I thought I had added that last comment on Installment 11; but hey, something happened! 😉 Oh well. Life Happens!

    • Thanks, Krysti. I’m glad that someone is getting anxious and wondering what gives. The next installment will be up tomorrow morning bright and early!

      The reasons for the delay are long and revolve around family illnesses. My own, and every person in my family having their turn with the stomach flu over the course of the last week and a half or so. It’s been pretty crazy, but I think we’re about out now. Just gotta gain control of the housekeeping, catch up on laundry etc.

      Thanks David for covering for me too – the blog team has been great.

      So, in the morning you can find out another rendition of “truth”, …this time from Natin…

  15. Terrific! In case I haven’t said it, Ren, you’re doing a great job!

    😀

    Keep up the good work!

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