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(DRAFT) Miscreants: Inauguration - Chapter 4.2

by Liminality

A/N: Last chapter, Golzar was meeting the Queen, who offered a strange proposition, while Bryn and Gerhard waited outside. Here we get a peek at the waiting room, where an odd character is encountered.

It was dead silent in the waiting room. Honestly, Gerhard had found it remarkably strange that the Queen had a designated waiting room outside of her private chambers, especially one that looked like this. The chairs were packed close, as if to hold as many people as possible, while only one or two a time would head behind the intricately-carved mahogany door, where their reigning monarch awaited.

There hadn’t been anyone going in for at least an hour.

Gerhard bit the inside of his cheek, tapping his foot on the ground. He wondered: what was taking Golzar so long? Bryn’s seat beside him was empty – but he’d put his walking stick there, just to make sure Bryn would have a place to sit when they came back from their walk. The three of them would be here for a long while yet, it seemed.

He thought back to the events earlier that day. He’d woken them all up. Golzar and Bryn weren’t usually heavy sleepers, but he supposed the late-night planning and fussing over what Golzar would say if the Queen attempted so-and-so maneuver had taken a lot out of them. So Gerhard had pulled the furs off of them so the cold of morning would rouse them from slumber, and then went about making some tea so they could at least have something to drink before leaving on the long uphill ride to the palace.

The night before, he had laid out clothes for them that would be appropriate for such a meeting. Gerhard sighed. It had been a mistake for him to handle all of their diplomatic and strategic meetings during the war. Bryn had never wanted to come along, even as second-in-command, and Gerhard had let them skip out on it. Golzar often wanted to attend, but Gerhard had stopped her out of fear for her safety among the hostile nobility.

Gerhard knew how important dress and sensibility was to the noble class, especially when they dealt with those lower than them in rank.

He shuddered, remembering the time one of the Skyroot lords had threatened to cut off his arms after touching him without gloves on.

The bottom line was, though, that maybe they would have been more prepared for something like this if he had let them come along back then.

Slowly, the sound of rain pattering outside began to creep in. Gerhard turned around to look at the open window on the other side of the room. It was getting dark.

Gerhard heard footsteps from the corridor, and whipped back around to see Bryn walking back in with their cloak held over their head. “Hey, Old Shrew.”

“You good?”

“Yeah.” Bryn nodded. “Enough fresh air for me. Least before the shower started.”

Gerhard took his walking stick back, letting Bryn sit. He planted the stick between his feet, folding his hands on the handle. With a wary gaze, he looked around at the others waiting in the room.

A row or two behind them, a couple of nobles were waiting still. Gerhard knew most of the nobles had left by now, having done their business with the Queen in the afternoon. The two that were left were a pair of older men, who shifted uncomfortably in their blue coats. Though the clothes were no doubt thick, it was definitely a garment meant to be worn in the morning, with the sun still out and warming the palace grounds.

If these had been freepersons, or another serf, maybe Gerhard would have offered them his cloak. As it was, Gerhard thought as he turned around again, they would probably have the palace guards throw him out the window if he did something like that. Nobles always had something against touching things owned by serfs. Gerhard pressed his lips together. And what did he care, if a couple of rich old men were cold at night?

Gerhard looked up to find Bryn staring back at him. Their hazel eyes looked more greenish than brown in cold light of late evening. “Think Golz’ will be okay?” they asked.

“She will be,” Gerhard said. He knew he needed to convince himself of it, too. He had to. After all, Golzar had trusted him during the war. Golzar and Bryn and the rest of the Miscreants.

Before Gerhard could ask Bryn how their walk went, there was a noise at the corridor. Bryn’s head whipped around; their eyes narrowed. From the opening emerged a tall young lady, with brunette hair, who immediately marched over to Gerhard. The cold hand descended on his shoulders and Gerhard jolted, nearly wrenching himself away from her. “Advisor Gerhard!” the lady exclaimed, eyes shining. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you in person!”

Who was she? Gerhard wondered. He was still in shock, frozen, unable to respond. With pleading eyes he looked to Bryn, but Bryn looked quite ready to punch the woman, which wasn’t the kind of help Gerhard was looking for.

Gerhard frantically looked for insignia – something – that could tell him which noble house she was from, because she definitely had to be from a noble house, with this attitude and the fact that Gerhard knew of no one from the Guild who looked remotely like her. Her hands were smooth, with only the bare minimum of a callus from holding training swords, probably, and the tunic she wore was fashioned from silk, though it as in imitation of the plain unpatterned tunics that the chevaliers in general, but especially the heroes, wore.

Finally, he caught sight of a brooch she kept pinned close to her collar, and he blanched. It was the silver oak tree of the Skyroot family, one of the most important noble families in the kingdom. He remembered who she was.

“Lady Dene Skyroot,” he muttered. “Yes, it’s – “ he swallowed nervously, even though his mouth was dry “a pleasure to . . . see you here.”

The young woman grinned brightly. Gerhard wasn’t sure if he should stand, or if he should just lay there and let her continue holding on to his shoulders. It was a very precarious situation, he thought with a wince.

Bryn’s gaze sought his, questioningly, but Gerhard could only offer a quick smile that looked more like a grimace. If the lady had sought to grab him first, it was probably fine. But the close contact still made Gerhard shudder.

He had heard of Dene Skyroot’s eccentricities before, but this was the first time she had approached him without the large company of all the heroes.

He heard the two nobles in the back whispering to one another. This was bad. With painful slowness, he brought himself back to a sitting posture. Thankfully, Dene took this as her cue to let go of him, but she also took it as a cue to sit down right next to him, with an expectant gaze, as if she thought he would continue this conversation. All in all, Gerhard thought, clenching his jaw, it balanced itself out.

“M-m’lady,” he forced out, giving her a quick bow while seated. “How . . . has training been?”


Bryn had no clue who the strange noblewoman was, though that was probably chalked up to them missing many large gatherings with said nobility during the war. They could recognise the Skyroot insignia. They knew that the Skyroots collected taxes around Witchfield during the war, and that they had a large manor between the town and countryside regions of Witchfield. This woman must be important, Bryn figured. And so they couldn’t fathom why she was wearing an imitation of the heroes’ regular sparring outfits.

“It’s been splendid,” the woman continued. “William says I might make it into the Guild after all.”

Bryn espied the brief flash of incredulity in Gerhard’s eyes.

Before Gerhard could say anything else, the woman’s attention was turned to Bryn. She leaned forward so closely, Bryn could see the small mole on her pale neck.

“And you must be Bryn the Outlaw,” she said. “I’ve heard so much about you!”

Bryn only dipped their head slightly in response. Their tongue felt stuck to the roof of their mouth. It disturbed them, how she was speaking to them and Gerhard like they were old friends. With the two wealthy eavesdroppers in the background, Bryn knew rumours would start to circulate about a Miscreant being this callous with a noblewoman, but it was too late to turn back now.

Quickly, Gerhard interjected to save the situation. “My lady, you mentioned the Guild. Might I ask when exactly you and William made this arrangement? It’s just that the intakes of recruits have been a little different since the war ended and . . .”

“Oh, it was just last week,” Dene said lightly, as if commenting on a walk to the marketplace.

Bryn could not fathom how exactly a noble could join the Heroes Guild. They knew a lot of the inner workings of the Guild recruitment system, although the other aspects of administration like Council meetings were a lot less familiar to them. The heroes were considered chevaliers, honorary but lower class nobility. All of their recruits were either of the serfdom or the freepersons. The highest ranking, wealthiest recruits were children of lumber merchants and other tradespeople. Where would a noble lady fit there?

It would be like marrying down, Bryn thought. If someone of the noble class married a freeperson, for example, it was like giving up their social status unofficially and becoming a freeperson themselves. Except, hopefully, there would be no marriage in whatever Dene was planning.

“He said he could place me with one of the companies, if I completed a quest on my own beforehand.”

Bryn saw Gerhard’s eyes widen in surprise. He was just as lost as they were. 

Is this a review?



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30 Reviews

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Reviews: 30

Thu Jan 06, 2022 12:09 pm
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NewHope wrote a review...

Hello Liminality,

It is a great chapter, though I am a little confused by the ending. I love the way it just seems natural. The way a character who is excluded from the conversation, unsure of what to do, is important and something I wish I could see in quite a few authors.

The characters are all fabulously built and even from this chapter alone you can understand their roles. Their attitudes are very well placed. I love every character so far and the way you can describe a person throughout a paragraph. I can feel how nervous he was, almost sick to his stomach and how Dene just wanted to speak. Couldn’t imagine anything was out of place.

The ending was a little confusing. Instead of carrying on the conversation which I would have loved to see you begin asking who the nobleman was and almost just after telling us it was Dene Skyroot. If you rather wanted to look from Bryn’s viewpoint it will be more believable and realistic to say that Bryn wasn’t sure what the strangle noblewoman wanted.

But as I say it is great. Everyone has little quirks and problems they need to fix. Maybe they mistyped etc.

Good luck,

Liminality says...

Thanks for the review, Frances! Yeah, the ending is a little abrupt. I cut it there just to avoid this one post getting too long. In the future, I'll try to plan where these things end a little more so the reading experience is smoother. Thanks again! I'm glad a lot of the characterisation and mood shifts in the story were conveyed.

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Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:41 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi Lim,

Mailice back with another review! :D

This was a much looser part than the previous one and yet the ending overshadows this whole part. I found it very readable how you managed to lighten the tension from the last part and still bring out a new surprise.

Dene seems to be a very self-confident person, but not in the sense of being too conceited. She also doesn't seem naïve, but more like she takes everything at face value if you don't explain it to her afterwards; as if she can't really interpret sarcasm, irony and cynicism.

It did surprise me that it could come to such a point towards the end and I think that contrasts with the approach of using this rule/law. As was mentioned earlier about this noble family Skyroot, and how they act in the presence of sub-humans, I don't think they share the same ideologies as Lucretia or Golzar do now. I'm still very curious to see how you managed to put the focus on something completely different.

I found it a very enjoyable chapter to read, and also liked how Gerhard and Bryn did when Dene turned up. You've quite obviously managed to build in some foreknowledge in the last few chapters and have sublimely built it in again here, where I think there will come a point where the story has opened up to the point where it will slam shut like a Venus flytrap and Golzar and co. will be cornered into not having the freedom they currently have.

Not knowing now how much more Dene will be important, I found her description itself a bit short. You got the outlines, but not enough to form your own opinion. Maybe you could expand on that a bit. Otherwise it was a great chapter. It had this relaxed vibe, as I said, but then it changed to an unsettling mood.

Some other points my eye caught:

The three of them would be here for a long while yet, it seemed.

I'm not sure if by "three" here you mean Gerhard, Bryn and the Stick or Golzar. If the former is the case (:D), you might have to add a bit more of a personification so that it's more obvious.

He shuddered, remembering the time one of the Skyroot lords had threatened to cut off his arms after touching him without gloves on.

This is extreme, but can recognise this arrogance of the noble class.

With a wary gaze, he looked around at the others waiting in the room.

I don't know why, but I find it such a relaxing visualisation to imagine Gerhard, Bryn (and the stick) sitting like that. It has such a familiar yet comforting aura because of the description of the room.

Who was she? Gerhard wondered.

Shouldn´t here be a comma instead of a question mark?

With pleading eyes he looked to Bryn, but Bryn looked quite ready to punch the woman, which wasn’t the kind of help Gerhard was looking for.

I sometimes wonder with passages like this whether the author makes a face when writing something like this or not. In any case, I had a good laugh when I read it. :D

Have fun writing!


Liminality says...

Thanks for the review, Mailice! I'm glad you enjoy Dene's character. Yeah, Gerhard tends to be a worrier, especially about the noble classes due to past experience. Thanks for the input on the tension in the story as well!

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.
— George Eliot