Chapter 14: An Unsuccessful Pilfer
Under the Reign of Falconis XXVI, the Falcon nobility had underwent a dramatic and decisive change. The nobility was reigned in under his control and all major fortresses and outposts were seized by the Falcon government. Some of the nobility had violently protested, but the iron grip of the king triumphed over all. Additionally, he required all members of the nobility to reside in Falconis City for at least four months out of the entire year.
Such was the case even now, and as a member of the nobility, Martin had a residence in the city. For the most part, Falconis city had no regular plan or order, sprawling as it grew, but this sector was different. Here the streets were wide and straight, to better allow the carriages that frequently passed through. A light snow was falling and Martin’s well shined boots crunched through the untrod firmament.
It was cold, unusually cold now. That morning a heavy blizzard had come through, depositing some two feet on the city. Normally, winter snows like that which was passing through did not come until January. Turning a corner, Martin dismissed the two soldiers who were accompanying him. Both saluted and Martin casually returned the gesture before they walked off, talking. Even sound seemed to be dimmed now, muffled by the snow. A few houses later, Martin turned into the short sidewalk that led to his front door. Like his own character, the abode was remarkably plain compared to the others that bordered it. The first floor was of hewn granite and a wattle and daub structure encased the second. Procuring a wrought iron key from his pocket, Martin tried to open the door. To his surprise he found the action had locked it rather then the other way around.
“Odd, I could have sworn I had locked it…”
The man’s thick brow wrinkled and he passed his hand over his lightly balding head. Turning the key again he opened the door and closed it behind him. Like the outside, the interior of his house was simple as well.
For one, Martin rarely came, most of the time instructing younger officers and staying at various barracks. There was a foyer – to the right there was a sitting room, the left a small dining room and in the back, separated from the house was a kitchen. Martin did have one servant who most of the time simply served as a house sitter. The general’s keen militaristic mind sensed something wrong though. Moving his foot somewhat, he felt it slide just a bit. Looking down, he saw a small spot of oil, directly below one of the door’s brass hinges.
Dusk was approaching and walking to a small teacart in the dining room, Martin stuck a match and lit the two candles on the table. Before he closed the drawer, he looked down in it again. Normally he kept any important documents carefully stacked in there – stacked they were, yes – but not the order he usually placed them. He paused for a moment with a troubled expression on his face. Something was up. Looking behind his back, he pushed a small lever on the back corner of the drawer. A small compartment opened up and reaching inside Martin lifted up a small stack of papers. Flipping through them, he saw that nothing there was out of order. He put them back and closed the drawer once more.
Walking to the sitting room Martin briefly looked around. Nothing there was wrong. He took a few minutes to light a fire and then started to walk up the stairs that led to the second level.
Here he had two bedrooms and a small office. The first he did not bother with, that was Matilda’s room. The same went for his own room – all of his work was conducted in his office. Opening the door, a blast of cold air greeted him. The window shutters were wide open and papers were strewn over the desk, the floor and most everywhere else. Looking outside, all Martin saw was a single figure walking away from the house nearly a block away. He closed the shutters and sat down in his chair, rubbing his eyes. He had known this would happen, rather, he quite nearly expected it. He did not blame Durlass of being suspicious, but the Marquis would never be sure of his intentions this way. Martin smiled and then laughed – high treason was not something you write on a scrap of paper.
Frederick walked down the street, heading deeper into the Falcon capitol. That incident was close – too close, and he had not come away with anything worth mention. Martin certainly looked clean, that was for sure. But there was something to him that wasn’t quite right. The way he had quickly pushed up the ranks to get to his position. Durlass was right in his suspicion that Martin might be up to something.
Meanwhile, Martin was in the sitting room with a cup of tea in his hand. The incident of a few hours ago was to be expected, but it forced him to delay a bit. Durlass was keenly suspicious. Any action that Martin took now would certainly ruin his chance at taking the throne or any position of power. He would have to wait for Durlass to make the first misstep.
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