I had watched my father try to reason with the prisoner, and try to use brute force to have the prisoner answer his questions. Neither method had worked so far. But I thought I had a way that might, just might get us the answer.
My father seemed shocked when I spoke up. He had allowed me to observe this interrogation, with an emphasis on observe. And I did learn some useful methods of interrogation from observing him. But a man always turns to reason and force. A woman questioning, now she might be able to get some answers.
My father pulled me aside briefly, as we both stepped out of the room to confer. "I told you you could observe Rebecca. I didn't say you could interrupt," he said quickly, glancing at the door to the room.
"But I have an idea father. Give me this chance, and I promise you you won't be sorry. And, should I fail, then you can continue along with your method. What harm could it do?" I pleaded.
My father stared at me, as if trying to assess whether he could trust me with this task. "I suppose you could do little to damage the small progress I have made. very well Rebecca, you have your chance. But if I give the signal, you stop, no questions asked."
I nodded, feeling relieved that my father had placed this much trust in me. He hadn't wanted me to assist him in being a spymaster, it had always been a title he had wanted to pass onto a son. But, having no son and only me as a child, I had talked him into letting me help. And now, here we were, a spy and traitor captured by me already and the chance to interrogate another one. Things were looking up.
We quickly stepped back into the room, and I could feel the prisoner's eyes on me, as if he knew the power balance had just shifted. I nodded to the man we referred to as Smith, one of my father's personal hired muscle before moving to stand next to the prisoner, a smile on my face.
"Poor Jon, they have been a little rough on you haven't they?" I asked, my voice almost sickly sweet. Confusion seemed to cross his face at my words. "And we all know that they could make you hurt more. But you seem the strong sort, so I'm sure you'll be fine. Those girls that came with you though, I don't know how they would hold up. Such pretty girls, for the common class that is. They don't have much substance to them though, do they? A bit like twigs, easy to snap, especially for one such as him." I pointed to Smith at the moment.
A flash of emotion seemed to cross Jon's face at the moment, and I could tell I was on the right track.
"Of course, I suppose you were expecting us to interrogate them next. And we will of course. But how we interrogate them all depends on you. Father has been known to be slightly delicate when interrogating ladies. He saves Smith for the men folk. But I think in this case he might make an exception. He does get so frustrated when he doesn't get answers, and Smith would produce quicker answers from those two, well for as long as they are conscious that is," I continued, trying to prompt that emotion I had just witnessed in Jon. I needed him to snap, to realize that his actions would have a direct result on how we treated them. "Can you imagine he treating that pretty brunette the same way he just treated you?" I asked, pointing to Smith who grinned widely in response.
A flash of terror seemed to cross Jon's face at the moment, gone in an instant. This one knew how to mask his emotions well. "You won't lay a hand on them," he said calmly, defiant.
"Oh you don't have to worry about anything from me Jon," I said, my face the very model of innocence. "I wouldn't want to harm them, they seem such fragile beings. But my father, well he is not necessarily a patient man. He doesn't like to hear the word no too often. And Smith there, well he just likes to make things hurt. Oh you wouldn't believe the number of ways he knows to injure someone, many without leaving a single mark. Why I would hate to see what would happen if he got his hands on those girls."
Jon's mask of indifference broke yet again, before slipping carefully back into place. I was amazed at just how well he was able to control himself. And yet the fact he was slipping seemed to show that he did care for these girls more than he cared to admit to us. "What is it you want from me?" he asked, his voice not quite as calm as before.
"We just answers Jon, that's all. A few answers to some simple questions. If you answer them all we might not even have to question the girls. But they'd have to be good answers, and true answers. Otherwise we might just need to bring the girls in and question them. And you've already felt how Smith likes to question. A few answers shouldn't so hard, right Jon? A few answers and there'll be no need to see the girls at all. Of course, if you don't want to answer, we can return you now, and switch you for one of them. I think we'll start with that brunette one, she seems the sort to give answers."
"I'm not going to tell you anything," Jon cried, still defiant despite the anger and worry I could see him, easier to read now that his composure was slipping for longer. Perhaps I was on the right track. It was time for once last throw of the dice, one last attempt. I could sense my father's impatience.
"Well I can see you are the stubborn sort. We're clearly not going to get any answers from you. It's a shame really, I was really hoping we could spare those girl's from Smith's hands. He has killed many a man with those hands you know, but he has yet to kill a woman. And we'll have him be careful of course, but he is so strong, and you never know when his hands might slip." I moved as if to turn away from Jon, turning to face Smith himself. "I suppose you can fetch one of the girls now Smith. Try not to rough them up too much on the way. You can start with the Brunette, Katrina wasn't it? Go and fetch her and bring her here."
"I've always had a thing for brunette's" Smith replied, a wide grin on his face, as he moved for the door. However even he knew to stop when Jon suddenly cried out.
"Wait," he cried, making us turn to face him again. "I'll give you some answers. Just don't..." he seemed to stop himself there, before he said anything else.
I turned to face my father, triumph on my face. He may be able to control himself well, but Jon was slipping. We had a start, and if he started to falter we could always bring one of the girl's in and make him watch their interrogation. That might be enough to ensure his tongue stays loose. "I believe you have some questions to ask," I told my father.
"I believe I do daughter," my father replied, his eyes filled with pride. "And as my daughter said, the answers better to be to my satisfaction. Otherwise I will have to find them elsewhere..."
Father was just about to begin his questioning when the door suddenly flung open. We both turned, ready to tell off whoever had just barged in and interrupted our interrogation when we noticed the woman standing there, and the man behind her.
"Your majesty," my father said, sweeping into an instant perfect bow. I quickly mimicked him, my eyes on the man standing behind the Queen, my eyes on my James.
"I believe you are in the process of interrogating a Jon Tilman?" the Queen asked, her expression haughty. It grated on me that this Iberan should have any power over us.
"Why yes, I was your majesty. If you wish to observe, then I can allow that. We were just about to get some answers," my father replied, his voice inviting even if his eyes were cold where they met hers.
"That won't be necessary," the Queen said, waving her hand as if to dismiss the question. Her eyes were on Jon's, a strange, almost wistful expression crossing her face. "I'll be taking the prisoner now."
"But the King..." began my father, clearly surprised at this turn of the events.
"I will deal with my husband, don't you worry about that," she stated, stepping closer to the prisoner, her eyes not leaving his. My eyes turned to James, as if urging him to look at me, to acknowledge me in some way, to see the power I wielded. Meanwhile, the Queen took another step towards Jon, until she was right in front of him.
"Jon Tilman is not your real name, is it?" she asked, her voice soft. The pair seemed to lock eyes for a long span of time.
"No your majesty," Jon finally answered, the confusion from earlier back in his voice. "My name is Jon Hanway."
The Queen nodded, as if she had expected this answer. Suddenly she turned to my father. "Begin cutting him down. He comes with me, and he comes now."