Part II here.
Part III here.
Finally, it was Jon who decided the matter for him. His little brother trotted up to him, face red with exertion. He was so exhausted by his journey that it was several seconds before he was ready to speak. Honestly, thought Josen, now what was the point of that? He hurried as fast as he could so he could tell me what time it was, and now he’s so warn out he can't tell me a damned thing. If he didn't have the family nose, I'd swear Mother had been guilty of infidelity. "It's been five hours now, brother," Jon panted, finally. He sank to the floor, and prostrated himself, still breathing heavily.
Josen rolled his eyes. There went another shred of family pride. Jon might be young, but that was no excuse for deliberately making oneself lose face. It struck Josen as quintessentially unfair that he, the member of his family that actually deserved some modicum of respect, had been put in a situation where any course of action would make him look like an idiot, whereas his brother seemed to go out of his way to don a jester's—
And just like that, Josen's course of action was made clear. "Excellent work, Jon," he said. He put his hand out and helped Jon to his feet. "Please go in and inform Lord Aginor of that fact."
Jon was taken aback, but he knew better than to ask questions. "All—all right." He walked over the oak door, opening it with great effort. Josen averted his eyes and took a prudent step backward, remaining just outside the line of sight of anyone who just happened to be standing by the door. I'm sorry, milord, Jon must have misunderstood me. I couldn’t stop him. Youthful exuberance, I'm afraid. You understand.
"Lord Aginor?" Jon called, peering around the corner of the door. "Are you— Oh."
"What is it, Jon?" asked Josen sharply. Some sort of edge had come into Jon's voice, and it was an edge far sharper than just a boy who had stumbled in on a coupling.
"Oh. Oh. Oh." Jon stood still for a moment then let the door shut. He pushed past Josen and ran down the corridor, at a pace even greater than the one when he arrived. The boy never looked back.
"Jon! Get back here this instant!" Seeing that his brother had no intention of heeding him, Josen strode towards the door. He paused before opening the door, hesitating briefly. Oh, come on, he told himself. How bad can it possibly be?
As soon as he entered, Josen was instantly assaulted with that ridiculous perfume that Lady Caitlin, for some obscure reason, had decided was essential to the proper upkeep of a bedchamber. A woman must always smell like a woman, as she put it. Privately, Jon was certain she did it purely because she knew that prolonged exposure to the stench put him into a sneezing fit, and she enjoyed watching him suffer.
Really, even if they did hate each other, she and Aginor were, in many ways, very much alike.
After anticipating something horrible enough to justify his brother’s actions, the first sight that caught Josen’s rapidly watering eyes was so mundane he nearly laughed aloud. The kitchen cat was on the floor, lapping up a pool of wine that had been spilt. God only knew how it had gotten in, but Josen took silent consolation that even Aginor couldn’t control its peregrinations. The wretched thing was obviously enjoying itself, emitting a surprisingly loud purr as it continuously twitched its tail from side to side. He idly kicked it away and it darted out of the room, delivering a parting hiss as it went. Jon must have seen the wine and assumed it was blood, he reasoned. He bent down and put a finger into the spillage and frowned. It was too thick, and too warm. Dear God, it is blood. With that knowledge came another sudden realization that underneath the putrid perfume lay another scent, the peculiar mingling of freshly spilt blood and freshly spilt bowels that followed the recently dead. It was a smell that Josen had not experienced first hand in quite some time—outside of his nightmares, at least. He followed the pool of blood back to its source, and saw what really should have been the first thing he noticed when he entered the bedchamber. Lady Caitlin sat on a chair next to the window, her arms wrapped around the pummel of a sword that was plunged into her stomach, all the way up to the hilt. At her feet lay the lord Aginor, his head twisted at such a great angle that it was clear his neck had been broken.
For a long moment, Josen gaped at the corpses of his former lord and lady, his mind racing with possibilities. "Well," he said, finally.
"This changes everything."
And that's the prologue. If anyone wants to see the full thing, get in touch.
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