Anden did not return home for four days. Kethel was torn to bits over the whole affair, and occupied herself by overseeing the cleanup of every last part of the estate. Pine and Amelia were to be kept indoors at all times. No news came to them, and only the lesser servants were allowed to leave the estate. Amelia didn’t even want to leave her room after the news was broken to her. Her handmaid Eirou had to bring all of her meals directly to her at her window box. Pine visited her a few times, but she didn’t say anything, and would simply stare through to the garden below.
Neither Tora nor Duran seemed much affected by the news of their ruler’s end, and were seemingly determined to keep Pine in high spirits. Even though his mother restricted him to the closest courtyards and forbade him from getting anywhere near the front gates, he had enough space to practice with his new sword. Duran wasn’t the most skilled of sparring partners, but hedidhave a few wooden practice swords in his possession, and it was enough to get out all of Pine’s excess energy.
All of the household meals were comprised of gala leftovers. Since it had been cut short, there was a surprising surplus of fine pickings. In order to prevent it all from spoiling, the servants were encouraged to consume as much as they pleased. Kethel didn’t even seem to mind, which baffled Pine, as she was particularly against spoiling the servants for any reason. She was always muttering something about uprisings and scandals. Nonetheless, the servants ate extremely well during those days. They seemed to strut about the premises with the gait of royalty, their spirits lifted by such regal fare.
Pine spent his morning and afternoon meals down in the servants’ chambers at their large wooden table, listening as they spoke in lowered voices about this or that.
“An assassination?” one of the maids was saying, brushing vainly at the fur along her thighs. “An apt reason for having such high security!”
“It couldn’t be, I heard that Mederan had an entire fleet of guards waiting in every corridor, and archers in every window,” Ya’ille, their head gardener, shook her head as she entered the room, wiping soil from her tiny palms. “At least…not one involving daggers, there is no way that someone could be foolish enough to rush Citadel Bandellear.”
“Perhaps a squadron did it,” spoke one of Duran’s elder brothers. Boru was his name, and though Pine didn’t see the stable master very frequently, the shock of white fur up his muzzle distinguished him easily. “I’d bet a firstborn pup that one of the outer ring gangs has been plotting after him since the decree of year three.”
“Which decree?” blinked one of the younger Cakumi.
“It raised the tax on owning homes and businesses for those not established, and put a hefty tariff on all their herd goods on inner lands,” Boru grumbled, as if the sting of the decree had hurt him directly. “Ruined many a young herdsman…such good breeding stock, gone to waste.”
“You speak with such insight, brother,” Duran was almost chuckling. “For one who has not been more than a league away from high block.”
Boru snuffed at him, “you know fair well that I’ve been in contact with them! How do you think I’ve raised such prize Ardock on this estate? They don’t very well pop out of the ground! And what of the Litten herd I’ve been cultivating? And the Imargo…I’ve got some well-bred pot-bellied individuals that’ll well be able to feed us all for a month each!”