Sucat woke to light shining on his face. By the look of the light it was mid-morning and no one had come to check on him or wake him or bring him food. He felt horrible. His mouth was dry and it tingled. His head ached and his body was sore. There was a funny sort of smell in the room that made his stomach turn over.
He flung the covers back off of him. He was naked and there was blood on his skin. He looked around his room and saw the furniture disturbed and turned over. He saw the ink on the wall across from the bed and shards of broken pottery on the floor.
He saw Jyll’s feet protruding beyond the foot of his bed and he recalled stabbing her last night. She was dead. Then he recalled that she had told him she had cut the ropes binding Ranee and Hyd.
He dressed quickly pulling on the first pair of leggings he could find and a tunic laying near by. He did not notice the clothes covered in Jyll’s blood. He just needed to know if he had lost his cousin, Hyd, and his wife, Ranee, once again.
He ran down the stairs and through the hall and out the doors into to the courtyard. He never even noticed that no one was about. All he saw was that the barrel was empty and the pole stood alone. He could not believe that they had escaped him once again. He shook his fists to the sky and yelled out a curse.
It was not until then that he realized no one was around. He stood in the courtyard calling for Captain Kennard. Captain Kennard did not come. He called for Gregor and Gregor did not respond to his calls. Next he yelled for Konard and like with the others he got no response. His men had deserted him. No matter he would find others. He had gold now. He could buy soldiers. He could buy anyone and anything.
He went back into his hall and called for a serving wench. None came. He went to the kitchens and found them empty. When he bought his new soldiers he would have them hunt down all of his serfs and have them killed. He rummaged through the kitchen looking for food. He was hungry. He found roast meat and some stale bread. Fresh bread had not been baked this morning. He drank a mug of ale and felt better. He went out back to the water barrel stripped off his clothes and climbed in to clean himself. The water was cold and it cleared his head. He got out and did not worry about walking around naked. He did not put his close back on since now he saw the blood all over them. He walked into his hall without clothes.
He went up stairs and dressed more carefully this time. He would ride over to the Margrave’s holdings and get men from there to help him hunt down Hyd and Ranee. He would also hunt down his brother, Kennard and kill him. He had suffered his presence on this earth long enough. He would also find that bastard, Eadward and kill him too. No more fooling around with revenge. He would just kill them all and begin anew.
Once he was dressed, his hair combed and his sword strapped to his side, he went downstairs and out of the hall to his stables. There he found that all of his horses were gone. Now he would need to walk. He hated walking. He would rip someone’s legs off for making him walk to Uradel.
He set out on his way. Each step he took making him madder and madder. He plotted all of the different ways to have people killed. And even though each thought gave him pleasure when it came time for it he would just have each one of his enemies run threw with a sword.
The walk to Uradel would take him most of the day. He had hoped he would find a farmer with a horse he could take but they were no where to be found either. He would have settled for a plow horse or an ass, but all of the animals had disappeared, too.
In late afternoon, Sucat reached Uradel. The place was quiet. It seemed as deserted as Briefadel had been when he had left there. No animals were in the fields. The farmers were missing. None of the serfs were about the yard. He could not imagine where they all had gone. They should be working making his new holdings profitable for him. He had many people to punish in the near future, many lessons to teach. He walked through the yard calling for people. No one came to him.
He looked into the stables. Here he saw horses. Oddly enough he thought he saw Captain Kennard’s horse. He also thought he saw Eadward’s red horse. But he must be seeing things from his long walk. It was not possible that Captain Kennard or Eadward were here of all places. He went in and looked more closely. Yes, that was definitely Captain Kennard’s horse. And that one over there was Eadward’s roan. And in the back stall he saw Hyd’s big black beast. This was strange. He looked into each horse’s stall and found only animals, no people.
He went out of the stables and looked in the black smith’s work shop. The fire was burning strong but this building was empty, too.
He left the smithy and crossed the yard and headed to the great hall. The doors were closed. He walked up to the building and the doors slowly swung open, each held back by a squire.
“About time someone showed themselves. Where is everyone?”
They did not answer him but gestured for him to enter the building. He walked in and found the hall full of people. They turned towards him when he walked in. The men bowed and the women curtsied as he walked down an isle they made for him. He smiled at them. This was a reception he liked. Each person there treating him with the respect he deserved. As he went forward people backed out of his way as if they were afraid of him. He was happy with their behavior.
When he got closer to the front of the hall, he saw Captain Kennard, Gregor and Konard. The men were blocking his way to the main table and they did not move. They also did not bow like the other men had done. They stood in front of him, arms crossed and looking at him as if they were in control. Sucat looked behind him and saw that the people in the hall closed in behind him. They no longer looked afraid of him. They no longer looked at him with respect. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. Something was very wrong here.
He went to pull his sword from his belt and his arms were grabbed by men on each side of him. He called out in anger and alarm but no one heeded him. Captain Kennard stepped up to him and took his sword and his knife from him. Once he was disarmed the men who had grabbed his arms let him go. It was then that Captain Kennard, Gregor and Konard moved and Sucat saw Ranee sitting in her father’s chair.
Her hair was short, cut in choppy chunks that stood up in some places because it was so short. Jyll had told Sucat that she had cut of Ranee’s hair but he did not believe her and so he was shocked when he first saw Ranee. Once he got past the look of her hair which was the first thing he had noticed upon seeing her, he looked at her face. She had a black eye and her cheeks were bruised and swollen and cut. Despite how bad she appeared she looked at Sucat with her chin raised. She was defiant. She sat forward in the chair no doubt unable to sit back because of the injuries on her back she had received at Jyll’s hands. The look in her eyes as she looked at Sucat was cold.
Sucat looked to Ranee’s right and saw Hyd standing behind her chair. He stood straight and tall, his sword at the ready. He had a black eye too. On Ranee’s left stood Eadward. He was bent over slightly, favoring the side in which he had gotten stabbed, but he held his sword at the ready too and Sucat did not doubt that he would be deadly if he needed to be.
Ranged behind Ranee, Hyd and Eadward were more of Hyd’s loyal men. Each of them had their swords out, waiting.
Captain Kennard, Gregor and Konard moved to the left and it was here that Sucat saw his people. His cook was there and the ditch digger whose name he still could not remember. His bastard brothers and sisters were there each one smiling at him and he shivered. He was very afraid now.
He looked over to the right and this was where the Margrave’s people stood. He had hoped to get some help from them but they looked on with dispassion and boredom. There was a woman there that looked like Ranee and this must be Ranee’s mother. Thinking of Ranee’s mother made him think of his own mother and he wonder if she was still being watched by her keepers. He looked back to where his people stood and he saw both women who were charged with taking care of guarding his mother. He raised an eye brow to them in question and they both shook their head. He assumed that meant his mother was now dead too. All of his family gone. He looked at Captain Kennard and his other bastard brothers and sisters but he no longer believe any of them were really related to him as he now accepted that Franck was not his real father. He did not look like any of them. His father’s line would go on.
Ranee stood up in front of her father’s chair. Hyd looked at her and moved slightly as if he would help her but when she was able to stand on her own Hyd relaxed and moved back into position. She stepped forward, moving slowly and carefully.
All of the people in the hall turned toward her except Hyd and Eadward and the men behind her. They watched Sucat. As did Captain Kennard. He moved a couple of steps closer to Sucat.
Ranee looked at Sucat for several minutes without speaking. Her quiet was making him very nervous. Finally she blinked and spoke in a clear calm voice.
“You are not my husband. You entered the marriage contract under falsehood and forced your way into the agreement. Our marriage has been ruled null and void and you are accused and convicted of the rape of a royal maiden. The punishment for this offense is death.” She took a breath to steady her voice.
“You, Sucat, are a murderer of so many people. There are dozens of witnesses to all of the people you have murdered. You have judged and found guilty. The punishment for murder is death.”
He tried to speak but he could not find his voice.
“Your property is forfeit and upon your death will be claimed by your cousin, Hyd, Count Stahl.” Ranee walked up to Sucat and kissed him on each cheek and stabbed him in the heart.