In truth, Shinatos had been expecting this. He knew his actions were suspicious and someone would eventually get curious. He wasn't worried about the trap door, however, as he had a specialized lock and key made for it, but he was concerned at the implications. Blood was still evident on his hands, though they remained hidden under his High Lord robes.
"Experimenting," Shinatos answered, causing Kurjus to raise an eyebrow. This man was usually good mannered and even a joker, but he was a hawk when it came to his investigations. He also had a unique skill; to tell when someone lied. "Something to act as a buffer should we be forced into the war."
Kurjus smiled and nodded. "Of course, of course." He sheathed his sword at his hip and walked across to Shinatos. "So, what is this experiment? Something that will scream justice to our enemies?"
Sadly, Shinatos knew the man was not being sarcastic at all. Justice, he was sometimes called, for his overwhelming love of what he believed in. It was unnerving, but Kurjus was the best tactician and one of the best swordsmen in House Rose. No, maybe in the whole Kingdom of Bastion. He was also dangerous to have against you.
So, it became necessary for Shinatos to become fluent in talking like a politician. Which meant a lot of bending the truth.
"Not in the way you might think," Shinatos answered, turning to start walking towards his bedchamber. He had to avoid sleeping with Claudia on the chance the sickness might spread, though it was unlikely according to the doctor. "It is more of a... defensive measure. Not flashy like you like."
The man nodded to himself. "Nonsense, my lord! If it helps the people, it screams justice!" Kurjus smiled widely and looked out of a passing window. "Besides, I know you feel the righteous Resonance of Rose's people ringing in you just like me! It's up to us to make it continue!"
God, this man... Talking to him annoyed Shinatos. Children, women, soldiers... He could deal with all types of people, but this sort of eccentric person was beyond him. He would go on relentlessly about being a hero and helping the people, which wasn't bad, but it was redundant. And he was the General of Rose! Bah.
"Any news from the spies?" Shinatos asked, trying to prevent another rant. He already heard the latest report, or lack thereof, a few hours back, but he needed a new subject before Kurjus went back to asking about the catacombs.
Kurjus nodded. "Actually, we got a message just earlier saying that Kemon was now targeting Trine. Apparently General Rauk was assassinated and his bones taken from his body. I don't feel as if you need reminded who is known to use bones." Rose's general growled. "Evil necromancers! They play with forces too dark to control!"
Shinatos sighed inwardly. He had become obsessed with the art of raising the dead ever since his younger brother died years ago. Now, he viewed it as a precious secret that had the potential to end death itself. But, there would always be the close minded...
"General, are these rumors? Or can the information be taken as fact?"
The general blinked. "Well, they are rumors, according to our men. However, I do believe it holds some merit."
Shinatos shook his head. "Merit or no, we must assume we are still targeted then. We cannot lower our guard even slightly as long as Kemon is willing to invade. It is fortunate that Rauk is gone, despite how it happened." By me, Shinatos left unsaid, as I took the name Dethnus Ackearose yet again to act as Thorn. "We must make use of this and see how we might further prepare our lands for potential invasion."
"Of course, my lord!" Kurjus smiled widely and struck a pose. It was... still odd to see him do so, but he tended to get away with doing pretty much any odd thing he wanted to. "We shall be ready for their cowardly actions against us!"
This was Rose's most talented general in the last three decades? God above, it still amazed Shinatos how brilliant the man was. He had obviously already thought ahead of Shinatos and started preparing the borders as well as anything else that needed doing. Really, this was just an exchange of irrelevant information.
"Well, General Kurjus, I must take my leave to rest. It's been a long night."
The man looked at Shinatos oddly. "Indeed. One day I hope you will show me what you are working on. For now, though, I bid you a good night, my lord."
They separated, giving Shinatos a massive feeling of relief, and he made his way towards his chambers. As he walked, he passed guards who saluted him and maids who walked about doing cleaning and the like. To an outsider, it might look like a normal day inside the Rose mansion, but Shinatos knew better. Each of those 'maids' were trained warriors and those guards were the Rose Elite Guardian Corps, the most elite warriors Rose had. Generally, they stayed spread out in the city below and some of the surrounding towns, but since it was wartime they stayed by their High Lord.
No one had ever come this far, though. They never would. If they did, it would mean Rose was already beaten.
But, there was no need to dwell on this. Shinatos had made it to his bed chamber and he was tired. The days running around talking to the lesser Lords and dealing with reports, added in with the energy the ritual earlier had taken, he had little keeping him from collapsing on his bed. Sadly, he still needed to wash up and change.
Only... He was not alone in his room.