32 Robin Hood 1
Nathan walked up to Vincent and Zach whilst being accompanied by a few youngsters. The group was very lively and Nathan wanted to take this opportunity to introduce them to Zach and Vincent. He had high hopes that some of the youths would join the mercenary band. The gift they had presented had shocked the crowd and he was planning to strike the iron while it was hot.
Vincent saw the approaching group and heaved a sigh of relief. He was clueless as to how he should have dispelled the awkward atmosphere, thankfully Nathan came to his rescue. "Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you, master Vincent. Not only if he a genius wizard but also a very capable doctor." Nathan spoke in a joking manner drawing laughter from his company.
Vincent bowed and shared some polite words with the people Nathan brought over. All of them were young and promising warriors. A few were even in the cusp of becoming a tier two warrior. Nathan put in a few words to make the conversation flow smoother. Maybe because Vincent wasn't too good at conversing with strangers or his own lack of communication skills, Nathan didn't find the interaction to be as smooth as he had hoped it would be.
As he began thinking hard about what he could do, his sight fell on Zach, the social butterfly. Noticing his strange expression, Nathan couldn't help but ask, "Young master Zach, you don't look so well. What happened? Is the food not to your taste?"
Zach, who had been thinking about his earlier interaction with Elaine broke out of his reverie because of Nathan's question. Realizing that people were looking at him weirdly, he hurriedly put on his signature smile and laughed. "Haha it's nothing. I was just admiring the grand hall. I must say, it looks very dazzling today. Please pass on my words to the baron, young master Nathan."
While Nathan had to admit that the hall looked better than ever before, he had never expected Zach to make such a bad excuse. The heir to the Rolft viscounty was well known for his glib tongue and excellent conversation skills. Nathan could clearly surmise that Zach was flustered but had no idea why. His eyes met Vincent's and he raised his brows to question what had happened.
Vincent lightly shrugged to convey that he had no idea. He did, but he couldn't bring himself to talk about it. After all, the situation seemed delicate and he didn't want to ruin the mood.
Zach quickly pulled himself together. Soon, it was as if he was never acting abnormally at all. The group mingled much better with the presence of the social butterfly. Even Vincent, who felt rather awkward at first, fit in like a clockwork. Nathan sighed to himself while envying Zach. As a noble, connections was a must and being able to blend in so well would work wonders for anyone regardless of the situation.
Viscount Rolft and Baron Gill were joined by the other lords. In contrast to the joyous atmosphere in the hall, the air around the lords was grim. Serious expressions were plastered across each of their faces. Viscount Rolft was helpless as he lamented to himself.
This isn't going well. No one trusts each other. At this rate, our plans will never be put into motion, achieving them will be nothing but a pipe dream. How did it come to this? Just the rumors regarding the invitations from the Athos Theocracy shouldn't have sowed such discord among us. Specially since we are too far from them and our lands won't be affected by the war too much.
If we play our hands well, we will have enough time to complete one citadel and fortify the city. If the citadel can act as a deterrent, we can complete the other citadel as well. As long as we can achieve this, we will be able to secure our survival. We can't do this without pooling all of our resources together. But, why is everyone so disagreeable today? Did I miss something? Nothing comes to mind.
Only Gill and I seem to be clueless. What is happening? Did an unexpected development take place? I should have received the news as well if all the other lords know about it. This won't do. I have to find out right now. No faster way than to just ask the lords. Lets dispel this gloominess for now.
"Today is a great cause for celebration. Let's forget about the talk we had earlier. How about we cleanse our palate and begin anew? I have with me here a bottle of Mardedge Sherry, aged for 25 years. I couldn't bear to drink it until today. But, now that all of us lords have gathered, there couldn't be a more fitting occasion." Viscount Rolft spoke with a brilliant smile on his face. He carried a bottle of scotch and poured the contents into crystalline glasses. A sweet and smooth pleasant aroma wafted out of the bottle and spread outwards.
Viscount Duddet stepped out and helped Viscount Rolft. He had promised to assist Roflt in persuading the lords and he had to keep his end of the deal. It didn't really matter to him whether Rolft succeeded or not since his grandson was already made the heir of the Rolft Viscounty. But, the construction of citadels and fortified city would indeed put his heart at ease regarding the war.
"It is a joyous occasion indeed. To think that you would willingly to part with such a prized whiskey. I would hide it in my cellar if I were you." Viscount Duddet joked as he bought his face to the glass and took a deep breath. The smell of chocolate and spices mellowed by the oak wood hit him and he closed his eyes to relish the moment.
Various other lords joined in and they were soon laughing merrily. It was uncanny how the ambience surrounding the lords had changed in a matter of moments. Viscount Rolft tried digging around but couldn't get any hints as to why the lords were so disapproving towards his proposal. The mood had finally settled down and he couldn't be too aggressive or straightforward with his probing, or else his prized whiskey would have gone down the drain.
Forcing down his unease, Viscount Rolft played along with the rest. A few moments passed and he was waiting for the right time to arrive when he realized that his mouth was filled with saliva. Gulping it down, he tried to calm his nerves but found out that he was unusually tense.
This isn't right. I have been through tougher situations and I could handle them relatively calmly. Why am I so tense? This is weird. Did I always produce so much saliva when I was nervous?
To his surprise, his mouth was filled to the brim with saliva once again. Looking at Viscount Duddet whose lips had been dyed blue while he wasn't paying attention, he finally realized that something was wrong. A scary thought popped into his head and he gulped subconsciously only to find that even swallowing turned laborious.
All of the lords stared at Viscount Duddet who was showing abnormal signs. The viscount just stood there motionless, oblivious to the panicked expressions on his peer's faces. Amidst the shouts and nudges, he fell over in a stiff manner.
Baron Bisca looked at the pale faced, blue lipped Viscount Duddet who lay motionless on the ground and the glass of whiskey next to him. An indescribable rage came over him. Not only had Rolft used the opportunity to gather all the lords. But, he had poisoned all of them simultaneously. As the thoughts raced inside his head, fear made its way into his heart and he shouted in a shaky voice with a finger pointed at Viscount Rolft. "What have you done? Have you gone INSANE! You will not get away with this."
Viscount Rolft wanted to speak. He wanted to shout out loud that he didn't poison anyone and that he was innocent. But alas, his throat failed him and he couldn't make out even a tiny squeak. In his desperation, he turned to Baron Gill and Viscount Burns to plead for help only to find that they were looking at him with questioning gazes full of bewilderment.
The whole hall went silent after listening to Baron Bisca's hysteric shout. The musicians stopped playing their instruments and the servants stopped moving. The guests followed the source of the scream only to see Viscount Rolft falling down and joining Viscount Duddet on the floor. The entire crowd grew trepid and it didn't take much longer for the hall to turn chaotic.