A messenger was sent (and returned in one piece) to Bennett's home, saying that the Protection Council wished to negotiate. Bennett had agreed to bring the closest of his men, with no treachery.
Lady Cluere knew better to then to anger he ex-husband, though she wished to bring Thomas with her just to spite him. She had a better idea, though.
She took with her Duke Korman, Lord Gascon, Lord Thane, Reverend Martell, Lady Brighton, Kate, Landon, Arowyn, and Trey. Her husband would be arranging things in Old City, should something go wrong. Thomas agreed to watch, but say nothing.
They met outside, in the courtyard at House Great, as planned. Two tables had been set out there, for eleven people each, facing each other. the High Lord Dictator and his party were already seated, waiting for them there. Lady Cluere seated herself, her party following suit.
"Joren." she waved her hand lightly at the servants who offered her food and drink, indicating that no one in her party would be eating or drinking. She folded her hands in front of her on the table.
"Anna." Bennett nodded back, sipping from a small glass.
"Terrance." He addressed Duke Korman.
"Annanais, Derek, Jacob, Elisabeth, Kathryn, Landon. Arowyn." He also smiled. A look passed between Arowyn and Trey, who were seated next to each other.
"Who is this?" he asked, looking to Trey.
Kate turned pale, glancing at Lady Cluere out of the corner of her eye.
Lord Thane inhaled sharply, and glanced at Kate (the man had a reputation of being heartless among his enemies, and even a few of his friends, though he most certainly was not).
"No one, sire. I have gotten all information that I could, but there is no one matching his description in our system nowadays." Thomas spoke up quickly. Bennett nodded.
"Thank you, Thomas. I want you to check all records, no matter how secret. You have express permission."
"Thank you, sire." Thomas nodded. Arowyn glanced at Thomas sharply, pretending to size him up. Thomas folded his hands behind his head and grinned at his long-time friend.
"Now." Kate stood, and strode over to face Bennett's party, looking every member in the eye.
Two Generals. Janus, the man who they had traded for Arowyn's safety. Bennett's senior secretary, a woman in her late twenties. Thomas, the Duke of Plight. Three other men she didn't recognize by face, and three young noblemen who had been promised glory and gotten paperwork.
Kate smirked at them, inwardly thinking that something wasn't right.
"What are your terms? Or do you wish to hear ours first?"
Bennett glared at her, but kept the smile on his face. "Please, be seated, Miss Martell. Our meeting is a friendly one." he looked at his former wife. "What are your terms, Lady Cluere?"
"You surrender at no cost. We let you and your co-conspirators live outside of Soori, and the Norwans go home. We find a new king from among the Virden relatives, if possible" She nodded to her own father, who rose and finished.
"But if we must fight, then we would avoid the abominity of bloodshed by having a duel of swords. Your best man against ours. The losing side must agree to the winner's terms."
Bennett laughed. "Well, you have thought of everything." he nodded to Lord Gascon, who sat down with dignity. "My terms are this: Should you figure out this riddle, there will be no need of bloodshed on my account." Lady Cluere glared at him again. "You know I always hated your riddles."
"To see this awful twist of fate/ my own course of knowledge you shall take/ A direct descendant among you rests/ of the one who died whom I detest/ Of my own you she was until now, of some who returned we want the one."