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"Come to my chambers, love,” Esme whispered in Whent's ear, her honey brown curls tickling his neck as she spoke.

“Won’t you be missed in the kitchens? The king’s banquet is tonight; I’m sure Arissa will need every pair of hands she can find,“ Whent replied puzzled by her ardor.

“I told Arissa that my stomach was in knots, that my moon's blood was upon me. She let me leave after just a few chores so I could rest. Aren’t I clever?“ she smiled, running her hand to the front of Whent’s breeches. He loved it when she was forward. The fact that she'd risked the cane only aroused him even more.

“We have time for a roll, we’ll be alone for at least a few hours." She cooed, gripping him through the rough cloth. He would love nothing more than to take her right here in the empty hallway, but unfortunately he had other duties to attend to.

"I would love to, sweetling, but I have to relieve Alix at the west gate. With all of the guests arriving all of the house guards are forced to pull extra duty. I'll make it up to you, I promise,"he added, anticipating her pout. "Go back to your quarters and rest, I may peek in on you later tonight after everyone else is asleep."

She seemed satisfied with that, and rose up on her toes to kiss him soundly on the lips before turning to go. "Remember your promise, I'll be waiting," she reminded as she walked away. Cursing his ill fortune, Whent made his way back to his quarters.

His room was simple, with almost nothing to distinguish it from any other servants room. A narrow bed was pushed against the far wall, the heat from the nearby kitchens providing welcome warmth in the winter and heavy sweats in the summer. He'd need to move the bed soon. A simple trunk with locks far more cunning than one would expect to find secured his belongings. The room's only other furnishings were a chipped washbasin and pitcher, a small table and wobbly wooden chair. Everything was plain and ordinary in keeping with Whent's modest appearance.

Taking a scan of the room, more from habit than any real threat of intrusion Whent was confident that no one had been here since he had headed to the kitchens earlier in the day. After checking the bolt on the door one last time, he pressed a cleverly concealed plate near the washbasin. There was barely an audible scrape of locks disengaging, as a section of the wall slid inward revealing a passageway behind the wall. With all of the nobles and other important dignitaries away at the banquet, Whent could gather more information in a few hours than what usually took him weeks to obtain.

Slipping into the narrow corridor between the palace walls, Whent pulled on the iron ring set into the back of the concealed door that would close the door behind him. It would take a few minutes to travel the passages to his destination. If he was quick, he might even make it back to Esme before the girls who shared her room returned from their duties. That was reason enough to quicken his pace.

The rooms reserved for guesting nobles would be all but empty for most of the night, aiding Whent in using the cunningly concealed holes cut into the walls so he could wait and watch without fear of being discovered. He'd seen Lord Kael and a handful of lesser known nobles leaving for the banquet. They'd been laughing at some ribald story told by the obese noble. Sycophants one in all, Whent decided. Lords Kael's star was on the rise and these men wished to attach themselves to him to further their own station. Many of them likely found Kael as odious and repugnant as Whent did, but that distaste meant little to men with the promise of power and influence shining in their eyes.

These were the men whose rooms Whent would investigate. Lord Kael's rooms were tempting, but Whent knew better than to attempt them. There would be servants in his quarters even during such an important function. The obese lord was crafty. Whent had tried to infiltrate his rooms before, only to find the room constantly occupied by one servant or another. Kael had something to hide, Whent was sure of that.

Reminding himself to be patient and focus on the task at hand, Whent recited his targets, one by one. Lady Jiles, Lords Smythe and Faern, and last Wilse Greff, recently in from the battle lines of Galanta. Each one with a taste for power and ties to the Minister of the Treasury. If he was fortunate, he might even find some evidence to confirm his suspicions about Kael's loyalty to the crown.

A thorough search of Lady Giles' rooms revealed nothing more interesting than the lady's penchant for much younger men. Whent pilfered a choice missive from the younger son of a powerful house detailing their affairs, just in case it might prove useful later. Lords Smythe and Faern were equally uneventful, except for the curious amount of Lyrish coin hidden under the false bottom of a drawer in Smythe's writing desk. His curiosity piqued, Whent had searched the entire quarters from top to bottom, taking far more time than was prudent, but found nothing to explain the foreign coin. Whent considered taking the heavy sack of coin in hopes that outrage and greed might cause the noble to reveal the source of his good fortune. Loud voices in the hallway startled him from thoughts, relieving him of the burden of the decision.

Focusing on the voices, he moved toward the hidden doorway on the opposite side of the room and instantly recognized the booming voice of the vociferous Lord Smythe. The other man's voice was drowned out by Smythe's no doubt drink-influenced volume. They were coming his way! Not wanting to be caught without a legitimate reason for his presence, Whent dropped into a crouch in the shadows of the dimly lit room and tried to make his escape before Smythe and his companion entered.

As the door opened, Whent instantly recognized the second voice. There was no mistaking the clipped diction of Sir Garin Kell, the head of the House Guard, Whent’s direct superior. If he was found out here, he would be summarily relieved of his duties and put out of the castle to fend for himself on the streets. Kell's reputation for swift and dire punishment for any under his command who stained the honor of the Guard was legendary. Whent could not allow himself to be discovered. Where would his friend be without his loyal counsel? Whent could not bear the thought of the king alone in that nest of vipers, but how could he manage to escape detection?



------
Smile if you're stupid,
laugh if you understand.


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Comments

The following comments are for "A Parliament of Thorns: 7"
by Bartleby

Part 7
Hey, good to see another chapter here! I was checking every day for it. Doubly glad that it's a Whent-centered one. This is my favorite line: "Many of them likely found Kael as odious and repugnant as Whent did, but that distaste meant little to men with the promise of power and influence shining in their eyes." Too true.

In the first sentence, there should be a comma between 'chambers' and 'love'. Second paragraph, between 'tonight' and 'I'm' should be a semicolon. Same paragraph, a comma after 'smiled' (and there's a specific name for that rule that I can't find-- hope someone else can so I can learn it). Third paragraph, comma after 'cooed'. Sixth paragraph, I don't think a comma's needed after 'Remember'. Seventh paragraph, no apostrophe's needed in 'kitchens'. Same paragraph, you missed capitalizing 'The'. Tenth paragraph, I would put a comma between 'night' and 'aiding' to help the flow. Thirteenth paragraph, first sentence doesn't need a comma. The same paragraph, I would put a comma between 'bottom' and 'taking'. Fourteenth paragraph, I think you need a hyphen in 'drink-influenced'.

Sheesh. I feel like the Comma Police or something. Sorry if I overdo it; just trying to help. :)

Looking forward to the next one.

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: April 8, 2004 )

comma police
Elphaba~

I have no problem with the extra help you have been so graciously providing. If this experiment works out and I end up with a full length fantasy novel to shop around, I'll be sure to add you to the acknowledgement page along with everyone else who has been so helpful.

Thanks for staying with this thing even though I was forced to take a little break.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: April 9, 2004 )

Morpheus
I've been running Morpheus, which screws up my Internet connection. So I'm probably going to have two comments up, because I don't know if the other made it. Here we go!

"His room was simple, with almost nothing to distinguish it from any other servants room."
Servant's.

"Sycophants one in all..."
And all.

This was a good piece, with a good closer. As always, looking eagerly towards future installments.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: April 9, 2004 )

Bart...
With exams I haven't had a chance to do as much reading here as I'd like, but I've enjoyed the bits and pieces of the series that I've read so far. I'd like to be more specific, but you'll have to settle for the customary pat on the back for a job well done (well, not quite done...looking forward to seeing what happens next ;)

-SD

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: April 14, 2004 )

a required field
Here's some more stuff, mostly just questions, less technical.

1)Whent is posing as a soldier. Unless he is a high ranking officer he probably shouldn't have his own private room. Most soldiers sleep in barracks. If he's got his own room apart from the other soldiers, then that would attract attention (junior soldiers/sailors are a nosey bunch).

2)"Whent could gather more information in a few hours than what usually took him weeks to obtain. " -- Seems awkward. I understand what you are saying, but when I say it out loud it feels funny across the tongue. It might just be a style difference, though.

3)Lady Jiles, or Lady Giles?

4)The false drawer bottom: Why would the king furnish his own guest rooms with places for his guests to hide things from him? I am, of course, assuming that a) the desk is part of the guest room furnishings and not something the guest brought with him an b) the guest is not someone who is permanently attached to the castle (the King's Hand, for example) Change that desk into a trunk, or something that would be more portable and I think you'll be cool.

5) Excellent use of the word counsel! I always screw that one up, between counsel(advice) and council(a group of people who make decisions).

6) Your ending feels like a cliffhanger. Unless you follow it up immediately with some action or thoughts of the character, it comes across as some kind of 1940's pulp novel and breaks the mood. The question is more or less implicit in the situation. You could just delete that portion of the sentence. Or you could add some action or thoughts, as though the character is thinking to himself.

Overall, aside from those minor things, I'm enjoying the development of Whent's character. You can see that his friendship with the king is definitely sincere, which makes Whent likeable, and potentially good hero material, or good sucker material if the king isn't really that good of a guy. I can see Whent getting politically sucker punched by someone in the future, forcing the king to "do something" about Whent. And I'd actually feel bad for him!
AKG

( Posted by: aikiguy [Member] On: May 5, 2004 )





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