Part II - A Snare Made for the King (Die Another Day spinoff)
by Li`l Pixie
Leaving the stressed Shawn behind, Regime made his way to one of the front doors of the palace that was a bit less used. He didn't want to draw the attention of anyone that might ask questions right now. Pulling his cloak over his head, he hid his features just enough to prevent those questions as well.
He paced down the allies, avoiding heavily trafficked areas, until he reached the same house he had visited just the night before and knocked loudly.
"Corric, open up!" Regime hissed.
The panel on the door slid open, but Corric didn't ask for a password. He knew what had gone wrong. Without a word, the door swung open.
"What happened?" he demanded, removing his hood as the door closed.
Corric removed his own hood. "It seems are little assassin killed the wrong man."
"I know that much," Regime replied with a frown. "But what now? The prince will become much more guarded now. It will be even harder to deal with him."
"This is true," Corric admitted with a sigh. "News will travel fast, and people will be on guard."
"I will have to take care of it myself, then," the other man said, crossing his arms.
"You know that is not wise. You would be labeled and exiled if you fail."
"Then I will not fail," Regime said, his face a mask of determination.
"Let us meet a week hence to determine if it is the right time," Corric suggested.
"Yes," Regime agreed. "Let us meet here then. I have already sent word to Jyzal."
"If Jyzal will be present, then why not send him instead?"
"You know as well as I that I am much closer to the prince. And I do not wish to endanger Jyzal," Regime said, thinking of his lover's lips.
Corric grinned. "You are very protective of him."
Regime looked away, blushing, even if it was hard to see in the dim light of the room. "That is not important," he responded, calming himself down. "What is important is that the prince is taken care of, and I will be sure of that." Regime slipped his hood back on and slunk back through the door into the cloudy midday weather. It looks like it might snow later, he observed.
Corric watched him go before silently closing the door once more, sighing softly to himself.
"Let us hope you are right, friend. There is much to take care of, and it will not be an easy task," he said to himself.
As Regime made his way back to the castle, he fought doubts of his success. He knew this had to be done, and it was his mess to clean up. He should have hired a professional instead of an unknown that supported the cause.
But, perhaps this could work out for him. He could begin ruling with a clean slate and not have to worry about anyone trying to tell him what to do.
He smiled. This might just work out after all.
"There has to be a spy," Shawn said. "That's the only explanation!" He slammed a fist on his desk, the other hand grasping a feather pen. He has scribbled some notes on parchment, apparently trying to make sense of everything
Nicaise wasn't sure how much he agreed, but he said nothing. Instead, he filled up the prince's tea cup once more with some calming herbal.
"Nicaise," Shawn said, looking up, "you are the only one I can trust. We must find the spy."
"Are you sure, your Highness?" Nicaise asked.
Shawn looked at his assistant with almost accusation. "That is the only explanation!" he exclaimed. He eyed Nicaise as if he suspected him as well.
"My apologies, sire," Nicaise said, bowing. It was best not to question Shawn when he was this upset. He might end up in the dungeons himself.
"I have made a list," Shawn said, presenting the parchment to Nicaise and standing up. "This collection of people must be investigated."
Nicaise glanced at the list. It wasn't very long, but if Shawn was in one of his moods, it might grow even longer.
"Please gather these people in the throne room," Shawn said, matter-of-factly.
Nicaise shuddered. Something about his calm tone made him uneasy, but he obeyed, taking the list from Shawn's outstretched hand. With that, Shawn paced out of the room.
The attendant stood, watching his boss leave. He had a sinking feeling in his gut. This was not going to turn out well.
"Well, I suppose I should begin," Nicaise said to himself. It was going to take a while to gather these people. They worked in totally different parts of the castle.
After a few hours of searching, Nicaise managed to gather all but a few of those on the list. Hoping things hadn't gotten out of hand, he raced back to the throne room.
"If you reveal any other suspicious activity, your punishment will be lighter." It was Shawn. Was he doing what Nicaise thought he was?
"But, sire, I haven't done anything that merits a punishment!"
Nicaise pushed the throne room's door open and raced over to the prince.
"Sire, you cannot just punish people to get information," he said, trying to reason with Shawn.
The prince shot him a venomous look. "I am the king now and the kingdom is in danger. Something must be done."
Something in his voice sent chills down Nicaise's spine. But, this was not right.
"Sire, there is not evidence..."
"Be quiet!" Shawn shouted, glaring at his assistant. "I will not have you interrupting my search."
Nicaise was frightened to silence as Shawn continued to interrogate his employees. He went through all present, instructing Nicaise to write down names of those the other employees mentioned in order to avoid punishment. Shawn was growing more and more agitated and nervous, having had hundreds of names now on the list.
"I had no idea there were so many possible spies," Shawn said under his breath.
Nicaise didn't respond, and though he was against what was going on, he continued to do as his boss said. "We must find them all."
Over the next few days, things got worse and worse. Shawn went about accusing various members of the staff of being spies. Each one denied it, but in order to avoid punishment, they each blamed someone else. The stories became more and more ridiculous and soon everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else.
Tensions grew within the palace, and Shawn was the most affected. He hadn't even been able to sleep; he would pace the halls all night, trying to figure out who it was. Regime insisted he relax, but Shawn refused to listen.
"I will find this spy! I will not rest until he is sentenced!"
Regime knew when Shawn got like this, the best one to handle him was Nicaise. Growing impatient and worried his cover might be blown soon, he sought out his brother's faithful assistant.
Regime found Nicaise skulking about in the library.
"What are you doing here, Nicaise?" Regime asked.
The other man started, turning quickly. He had more dark spots under his eyes than Shawn did, much to Regime's surprise.
"I cannot handle this anymore," Nicaise admitted, sounding desperate. "I follow him around all night and he does not rest!"
Regime frowned. Perhaps there was another way around this.
"I have an idea," he said. Nicaise seemed interested, hoping Regime would relieve his stress. "I will convince Shawn to go hunting to give you a chance to rest."
Nicaise's eyes lit up. "That is a wonderful idea!" he exclaimed, clasping his hands together.
"Do not worry," Regime said, patting the tired man on the shoulder. "I will take care of everything."
Smiling widely, Nicaise bowed and thanked Regime, and before Regime could argue, he was gone.
That was easier than I expected, he thought, watching Nicaise leave. Now all I must do is convince Shawn.
It seemed luck was on Regime's side today. His brother was pacing around the throne room mumbling to himself. As Regime pushed the door open, the squeak snapped the prince out of his musings.
"Brother!" Regime said, his arms outstretched and a faux grin pasted all over his face. "You have been working very hard. The kingdom could not be in better hands."
"What do you seek, brother?" Shawn asked. His frustration and anxiety were clear in his snappy answer.
Regime continued, unfettered. "Why do you not take a resting day? Have a visit to the forest and bring your hunting dogs."
"How can you suggest a thing such as that?" Shawn demanded. "I have much work to do. I must speak to many more people. The list grows much!"
"But a stressed king does not make for a good king," Regime said simply.
If anyone else would have said that, they would have been punished. But Shawn considered his brother's advice and then nodded. "Perhaps you are right, brother."
"Even kings need rest," Regime added with a nod.
"Very well," Shawn said. "I will do as you say. Will you join me?"
"Not today, brother," Regime replied. "I have my own business to attend to."
"And yet you say I should rest," Shawn replied with a sneer.
"You are right, but I will join you next time."
"I will hold this promise to you," Shawn said, pointing at his brother.
"I will keep it," Regime promised, smiling.
Jyzal stretched out his hand to let the raven alight on his palm. The bird cawed loudly in greeting, but Jyzal hushed her.
"We do not wish to draw attention to ourselves unnecessarily," he explained. The bird seemed to understand; she did not make further noise. The man detached the rolled parchment from her leg and read it.
Plans have changed. Return immediately. We must take care things before they get worse.
"Hmm," Jyzal said, lowering his hand so the raven could sit on the parapet of the clock tower. "It seems I am needed at home." The raven seemed to nod and Jyzal smiled. "I do hope my absence is not missed." Not that I have made myself known yet.
In reality, Jyzal had never even left Halsting. Shawn had so much faith in him that he really had no idea what the man actually did. At first, Shawn had been skeptical of this new member of the staff Regime had summoned, but this was easily fixed by Jyzal, and within a few days, they were sharing a bed.
This trust came in very beneficial in situations such as now when Jyzal was just a few miles from the castle staying in the local inn. It wasn't the highest class rooming, but it served his purposes when he hadn't actually planned to leave the kingdom and needed to be nearby.
But now was not the time to be thinking about this. He had to return to the castle. Something had gone wrong, and it appeared that Jyzal was the only one that might be able to clean up the mess.
Packing his travel bag, which didn't consist of much besides a few changes of clothes and a canteen, he swung it over his shoulders and made his way down the stairs. The sound of chatter flowed up the stairs, and he was glad that it was early in the day when then tavern-goers were not singing their annoying drunk songs. He tried to not grimace, thinking of them. He much preferred the palace over these walls.
"Leaving already?" the innkeeper asked as Jyzal handed him the room key.
"I have business to attend to," Jyzal replied simply. "But thank you for saving my room for me."
"Anything for my best customer," the innkeeper replied, giving Jyzal a cheesy smile. Jyzal returned the grin, paying him thrice the regular amount – three gold coins. The innkeeper slipped them into his pocket. "I'll save that room for you for next time, and I'll be sure to keep it clean," he added softly.
The scent of the other man's breathing made Jyzal feel like gagging, but he hid it well. This was the only innkeeper nearby that would let him stay under the name John Smith and wouldn't ask questions. When he first started coming, his room was atrocious, but turning on his charm, Jyzal had managed to get it cleaned up quite a bit, even seducing one of the maids to bring food right to his room so he wouldn't even have to leave until he was ready to go.
Winking at the innkeeper to show his faux pleasure at the inn, as well as to keep him happy, Jyzal left, headed toward the castle and his real love.
Shawn breathed in the cool spring air as his horse trotted through the forest. His two favorite hunting dogs sniffed around the trees, trying to pick up a scent of something. He was glad he took his brother's advice. He could feel his head clearing already.
The breeze brushed his face and he rubbed his gloved hands together, wishing the weather would warm up. One of his dogs barked and he glanced up to see it chasing after a squirrel.
"We're after much bigger game, Karsh," he said, mostly to himself. "Gelbre, go find us a fox or something."
The two dogs raced off as if they understood instead of simply hearing their own names amidst a collection of gibberish. Shawn sighed, watching them, wishing he could be so at ease.
A rustle in the leaves behind him made his pause. He turned, hoping to see a rabbit or even better, a deer but there was nothing. He frowned and urged his horse forward again.
A few moments later, he heard a rustle again, this time a bit closer. He turned, once again, and saw that there was nothing, once again. His brow furrowed. Was he being followed? He shook his head, disregarding the thought. He was too stressed Regime was right.
He took out a wineskin that Regime had packed for him and took a swig. Instantly, he felt more relaxed. This was good wine.
His dogs barked in the distance, presumably at some small animal, but he didn't feel like running after them.
Again the rustling. Someone - or something - was definitely following him. He drew his blade and his horse nickered as if sensing its rider's anxiety. His head felt fuzzy. Everything was getting blurry. Maybe he'd drunk the wine too fast?
A figure cloaked in black leaped out of the brush.
"Hear me, assassin!" Shawn cried, wobbling back and forth. If he'd not trusted Regime so much, he might have known his brother drugged the wine. But Shawn's main concern was the figure standing in front of him. "I am the twenty-fifth prince of Halsting and I will not fall for your treachery no matter who you are!"
He swore he heard the figure chuckle darkly before withdrawing a dagger. Shawn's training went into effect instantly. He easily knocked aside the dagger and it landed with a thunk in one of the trees. The figure didn't appear surprised, Shawn observed. It was almost as if it expected him to do that.
Withdrawing another blade, the assassin charged. Shawn wobbled, but managed to stay standing somehow. Later, he would recall this incident and still be unable to figure out how he withstood the attack. He knocked aside his foe, leaving a gash in the other man's side. The clothing underneath was revealed in the ripped section and a rush of recognition ran through the prince.
"You are from my palace!" he gasped. "I knew it!"
The attacker growled in frustration and ran without looking back. Shawn blinked, surprised he'd given up so easily. There was something strange going on here, and he was going to find out what it was.
"He knows!" Jyzal breathed, slamming the door behind him.
Corric looked up from his work, brushing the dirt off of his hands. Caring for medicinal mushrooms was not a pretty job, but it allowed Corric to earn a living working for the local herbalist and keep to the dark corners of society. After what Prince Shawn did to him, he preferred it that way.
"Who knows?" the cloaked man asked.
"Where is Regime?" Jyzal panted.
"He stopped by earlier to pick up a present for the prince," Corric stated, knowing full well the present was for Shawn's wine. "But I have not seen him since. I expect that he is back at the castle."
Jyzal turned to leave when the devil he spoke of burst through the door.
"He knows!" Regime breathed. Spotting Jyzal, he raced over to him, putting his hands on the other man's shoulders. "Are you okay?"
"I received a shallow gash in my side," Jyzal explained. "But I am fine."
"He knows it was someone from the palace," Regime breathed.
Corric looked over, finally understanding what was going on. "How is that possible? We were so careful."
"It was my fault," Jyzal admitted. "I should not have worn my proper clothing under the cloak."
"I would say that is right! How could you be so foolish?" Corric spat. "Our plan is in shambles now!"
"Now, Corric, this is still salvageable," Regime said. He stepped back from Jyzal and rubbed his chin. "I will see how Brother fairs and then we will decide what to do. Jyzal, you must remain here until I return. If you do not, my efforts will be in vain.”
The other man nodded understandingly, and Corric frowned.
"This plan had better work," Corric said. "I do not wish to be dragged into a scandal.
"I will be sure it does," Regime said.
Back at the palace, Shawn was irate. He paced back and forth in his throne room, yelling about spies. Nicaise, hoping to have the day off, had been dragged from his free time back into hysteria by his boss.
"I knew it was a spy!" Shawn shouted. "The palace garb seals it!"
"Your Highness," Nicaise panted, his face red from chasing the new king around, "please relax. You will wear yourself out."
Regime passed by some guards on his way in and caught snatches of their conversation, which pleased him. They spoke about how the prince liked to drink when he went hunting, so it may have aggravated his paranoia, but nothing he said was to be taken seriously in his condition. The king’s brother smiled, glad his plan had worked.
"I was slipped a drug of some kind in my wine!" Shawn insisted.
"That would be impossible," Nicaise replied, finally sitting down on the steps leading up to the throne. He could take no more stress.
"And why would you say that?" Shawn roared, throwing his hands in the air. "Did you do it?"
Nicaise was stunned. He couldn't even speak. But, much to his relief, Regime came to his rescue.
"Brother, please! You are not making this easier on anyone."
Shawn growled. "Brother, I do not need your advice right now," he said.
"I think you do. Come, let us talk."
"Very well," Shawn conceded, following Regime out and into the parlor.
A Journey Out of Sanity
Just logs of things I'll like to read about and occasionally remember. Also contains stories, oneshots and drabbles revolving around RPs I'm in.