Post by Morec0
(( Gilnean Moon (Part 2)
Ivan had awoken the next morning with a splitting headache and only the fuzziest of recollections of what had happened after he blacked out. He only remembered a carriage and an argument before finally waking up in his bed the next morning, from where he had began to dress himself in his more regal clothes for the meeting of nobles and trial at Greymane Manor today. Fortunately the household servants had been able to fill him in on the other details of the fight between Krista and Elizabeth.
Despite this knowledge he and she had eaten breakfast in silence, he having a meal of bacon, toast, and an omelet while Krista, never having liked to eat meat, merely had a bowl of fruit. When they were both finished and about to leave he confronted her at the door about it. “You only embarrass yourself when you talk to Elizabeth or me like that, you know,” he said to her.
Krista frowned at him. “You…,” she started but stopped to merely sigh and shake her head. “Ivan, you have to understand that she is beneath us. Because of her class it is simply just not fitting for you two to be so close. Lord Godfrey’s daughter, on the other hand-.”
“’Is a beautiful young woman of the same class as us,’” Ivan repeated what his sister had said nearly-countless times before with a nod. “I know, but I simply do not, and never will, feel the same for her as I do Elizabeth.” Now he sighed. “Krista, I don’t ask that you like or even tolerate the fact that I am marrying her within a week’s time, but I do ask that you accept it and let it rest.”
He walked out of the house towards the waiting carriage, climbing inside and looking back out the door to see Krista still standing at the front door of their home. “Coming?” he asked her.
“No,” Krista replied, shaking her head. “I… don’t have much need to speak with the nobles, I’m in no hurry. I’ll just catch the next carriage and meet you in time for the trial.” Ivan nodded and told the carriage driver to go on. A crack of his whip later the vehicle took off, leaving Krista behind to wait for the next and beside herself with a mix of anger and disappointment. He was probably right, but as far as she was concerned he was still making a mistake.
As he rode towards Greymane Manor Ivan, unaware of his sister’s thoughts, took time to read The Daily Report – Gilneas’ first and foremost prestigious newspaper, with its history dating back past the time of King Archibald Greymane – in particular the front-page story about the capture of Darius Crowley. Accompanying the article was an amusing political cartoon that depicted Crowley as a vicious wolf ripping Gilneas apart with his claws and fangs until, depicted in the next panel, he was caged by Gilnean soldiers.
“So, have you heard the rumors about those strange beasts in the northern forests?” Lord Alexander Bowie asked Ivan, drinking a sip of his champagne.
“I’m afraid they’re no mere rumors,” Ivan replied before drinking from his own glass of wine. “I found one of those… things and killed it during the raid on the Darlin Estate. The body was sent to Krennan for further study. You weren’t told?”
“I don’t think any of us were,” Bowie replied with a frown, looking around at the other nobles in the room. Currently the event was little more than a light-hearted social gathering of Gilneas’ elite, but it was clear to all that once the trial began the good feelings that permeated the room would quickly fade. “Strange, it is not like King Greymane to keep such information from his fellow nobles.”
“These have been, and still are, very difficult times for the King,” Ivan pointed out. “Once Crowley’s trial is done with I’m sure the King will begin to turn his attention towards the other matter of those creatures.”
“That is no guarantee that we will be told about what is going on.”
Before Ivan had a chance to respond to Alexander’s point his and everyone’s attention was pulled to the podium at the foot of the stairs by the sound of an eating utensil tapping against glass. “Fellow Gilnean Lords and Ladys,” Vincent Godfrey announced, “his royal majesty; King Genn Greymane.”
Applause filled the room as Genn Greymane and Queen Mia Greymane descended the stairs, their son and daughter, Liam and Tess, following behind them. Genn kissed his beloved wife on the hand before taking his place at the podium, Mia and their children standing off to the side. “Nobles of Gilneas,” he said, powerful voice carrying through the room, “it is no secret why we are here; we have gathered together to try the traitor Darius Crowley for his insurrection against the Kingdom of Gilneas.”
On cue, the doors on the left side of the room opened and Darius Crowley, hands and legs bound by chains and garbed in prison clothes, was paraded into the room at gunpoint by two royal guards. Crowley’s face remained turned to the ground as he was forced to a stop in front of the podium at which King Greymane stood. Three Gilnean High Justices, their names lost to Ivan at the moment, stepped up to stand on Genn’s other side from the royal family.
“Darius Crowley, you stand before the King of Gilneas and the highest justices in the land on charges of high treason and insurrection,” Genn stated, Ivan noticing a twinge of remorse in the King’s voice. It was not something he or any of the other nobles in the room were shocked to see, he and everyone else here knew full well what good friends the two men had once been. “How do you plead?”
Darius never even looked up. “Guilty,” he said, loud enough for everyone in the large foyer to hear.
Genn had apparently been expecting this, because there was not even the slightest hint of surprise. “Very well, let the record show that the accused has entered a plea of guilty.” The king looked at the High Justices. “You have had time to review the charges and evidence for and against his plea, what say you?”
The first stepped forward. “I, Justice Matthew Kalligan, find Lord Darius Crowley guilty and request he be sentenced to execution by hanging, King Greymane.”
The second moved to stand next to the first. “I, Justice Sean McCready, find Lord Darius Crowley guilty and also request he be sentenced to execution by hanging, milord.”
The final justice walked up to stand by the other two. “I, Justice Nickoli Berard, find Lord Darius Crowley guilty and request he be sentenced to execution by hanging.”
As Ivan had expected and Crowley appeared to have known that such a sentence would be the outcome of this trial. Genn, however, now showed signs of distress, and while tradition would have had him place his support with the decision of the justices he remained silent. After several moments of drawn out silence, a slight murmur spreading through the Gilnean Lords and Ladies during this period, King Greymane finally spoke. “As King of Gilneas,” he said solemnly, “I hereby overthrow the sentencing of the Justices and set my own; Darius Crowley you are hereby condemned to life imprisonment.”
The gathered nobles now burst into shouts of confusion and outrage, some going as far as to call King Greymane a “rebel-sympathizer.” Even the king’s own family was taken aback by his decision, Queen Mia clearly distressed about it and Liam storming off to another part of the house. Crowley was the only person who did not seem to care one way or another about the decision, having not even lifted his head to look at Genn through the whole affair.
The commotion went on until the king called for silence. “My decision is final!” he yelled out, standing to his full height to help back his authority in the matter. “This trial is now dismissed.” That said Genn stormed up the stairs, Mia hurrying to catch up with her husband.
Ivan, along with the rest of the nobles, turned and headed for the front door. He saw Krista standing there, her hands over her mouth and eyes wide from shock. “The king,” she said, “has he gone mad? Crowley’s to dangerous to be left alive, even in prison!”
“I don’t think so,” Ivan replied, shaking his head, “but there’s nothing more we can do. Let’s go.” Krista nodded. There was no point in her remaining here and Ivan needed to get to his barracks for the soldiers daily drills. Whatever Genn would do about any repercussions to his decision remained to be seen.
“Why are we out here?” Private Ryan said with a sigh, leaning against one of the trees in the Northgate Woods.
“The king wants these woods patrolled regularly,” the other Gilnean soldier, Private Solomon, replied. “There may still be Northgate rebels hiding in these woods.”
“So? If they aren’t dead they can’t pose a threat. Crowley’s been captured along with most of the rebels. There’s no chance they could even hope to continue the insurrection with whatever little numbers they have left.”
“You’re too optimistic,” Solomon said, turning to face Ryan. “Besides, those beasts might be around here as well.”
Ryan laughed. “Don’t tell me that you actually believe those rumors!”
“They’re a children’s story that got out of control, probably used by the rebels as some type of psychological warfare. There’s nothing up here but trees, bushes, and foxes.”
“What of the mysterious deaths?”
“The work of the rebels themselves, obviously.”
“Even the mutilations?”
Before Ryan could reply to Solomon’s second point his and the other soldier’s attention was drawn off to their left by the sound of movement. Without saying a word they lifted their rifles and moved towards it. When they reached the spot the noise had come from they found no one, but Ryan spotted strange tracks in the dirt. “A wolf,” he said upon closer inspection. “Not much to worry about.”
Solomon, however, was not so sure. His father had been a hunter and had taught his son all he knew. While Ryan looked at the tracks and saw the clear features of a wolf, Solomon looked and saw something that was wolf-like but was far too long and far too large to have been the track of have been that.
“I think we’re not alone any longer,” he said, raising his rifle.
“What are you talking about?” Ryan asked.
A howl snapped both of the soldiers’ attention to behind them and a split second later something leapt at Ryan and knocked him to the ground. Solomon got a good look at it then; vaguely human and even wore what looked like Gilnean clothing, but was covered in thick, dark brown hair and a head shaped something like a wolf’s.
And it was eating his friend.
His raised his rifle to shoot the creature in the back of the head, but before he could pull the trigger his weapon was wrenched from his hands by a creature that looked similar to the one devouring Ryan, only this one had a coat of light grey fur and was clearly female. It then slashed out Solomon’s throat with its claws before beginning to eat him.
From the shadows a large, male, black-furred creature with blue eyes and clothed in brown leathers watched the gruesome sight. He seemed to chuckle slightly with dark pleasure before he turned his muzzle to the full moon above and let out a drawn-out howl.
Throughout the woods the howl was answered by others.