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Chapter 3 : A Hero's Lament
Chapter 3 : A Hero's Lament
As Captain Archidiem sat on his cot with his back against the wall, he
stared at the bowl outside his cell. As he heard footsteps approach,
he wondered how long he'd been studying the empty vessel.
Minutes, hours, days? He found it annoying that he was losing track
of time. Was that the first step to losing your mind? And if so,
what other powers of perception were to follow? No matter, someone
"276B?" The guard called into the dark, "You awake?"
"I'm here watchdog," Archidiem responded, "What can I do for you?"
"Well," The guard paused as he noticed the empty bowl still on the
floor, he bent down to pick it up. "You have a visitor."
"More than one by the sound of it watchdog. Aside from your own
footsteps, I heard two more distinctly, and now that you're all here,
I can also hear a fourth breathing. My guess is someone important has
come to say hello, and she brought her retinue."
The guard smiled with amazement, but he quickly caught himself.
Archidiem saw him shift his eyes briefly at the others to check if
they caught him slip.
"Well, um, yes. I have her highness Princess Coria here, and she
brought her own guards."
"That will do guard," The princess interrupted, "I'll call for you
when I wish to leave. Now the prisoner and I need privacy."
"As you command your highness." The guard bowed and left.
The Princess stepped into view.
"So, this is the famous, or should I say infamous Captain Gabriel
Archidiem, the Butcher of Proust." She had a cold tone. "So fierce
and terrible, he orders the massacre of several hundred men without
the slightest hint of remorse, yet he hides in the shadows, afraid to
let himself be seen by a woman."
"Not afraid highness, I just thought I'd spare you the indignity of
having to look such a maniac in the eye."
Gabriel smiled to himself. He must be losing his mind. He was being
disagreeable and insolent, with the Princess of his own Kingdom. Not
that he figured it mattered too much, he was already in prison. This
realization made him feel oddly free.
"Besides," he added, "I'm chained up back here. I couldn't step into
the light if I wanted too." Now he was lying to her, this was getting
"I see", she responded, suddenly realizing that she really didn't.
She also didn't see Archidiem smile to himself when she said it. Or
that he was studying her from the dark. She was dressed in a plain
white dress covered by a gray cloak. Her thick black hair was woven
with white ribbons into a long braid which she had draped down in
front of her from over her right shoulder. Her bangs hung in tendrils
that framed her face. From her expression, Gabriel could tell she was
trying to hide how upset she really was.
"Well", she started, "You should know I've come here to tell you something."
"I gathered that," he interrupted, "but what could possibly be so
important that the kings' own daughter had to come all the way down to
this deep dark dungeon herself and dirty her pretty white shoes?
Especially since there are so many formal channels to go through."
"Because the normal channels can't be trusted sir." She responded. "I
have reason to believe what happened in Proust was no mistake."
Suddenly she saw a red glimmer in the darkness.
"And why is that highness?" Gabriel asked coldly.
"I have a loyal informant close to General Cybillian. They seem to
believe that the general may be up to something. And you my dear
captain are to play some part in his scheme."
Archidiem didn't move, but on the inside a storm began to rage. His
kings daughter, had just told him she believed that he, the most
decorated officer in this kingdoms military, was being used as a pawn.
This didn't sit well at all.
"Highness," he started flatly, "The rumors of your network of spies
and informants are often the topic of conversation at the tables of
those in positions of command. I however had little regard for them.
Now I do believe I resent them. Whatever page boy you have in the
generals' staff must be mistaken, or I think a bit too eager to please
you. I know Cybillian well. His loyalty to your father is
The Princess' expression didn't change.
"Would you stake your life on that Captain?"
"I would." He answered.
The princess nodded and turned to leave.
"Good", she said, "Because you have." She began to walk away but
"If you decide to hedge you bet captain, your guard knows how to reach
me." She moved out of sight but called back. "Goodbye captain
Gabriel didn't respond, he just listened to her leave.
Mistake or not, conspiracy or not, the fact remained....Prisoner
number 276B was set to go on trial for murder.