Interrogation by Queen Morgana

Kendall awakes to a horrible stench and the chink of chains as he tries to move. Seated in a stout chair, his arms and legs manacled to the same, each having a coil of chain wrapped about before ending at a limb. His body feels numb except for an ache that hints of a nasty head wound. The Queen of Amber is before him, as well as the Captain of her Guard and subordinates. One already putting out a flame in a dish, the awful smell likely from there. Two more women behind him, all having naked blades out and watching him even as their Queen speaks. Besides that, from the look of the room and the lack of any windows, he doesn't seem to be more than a dozen rooms away from where he was attacked, or so he thinks. He sits still and silent to let everything settle in.

The Queen plucks a strand of his hair as he wakens and then waves her hand, producing a brass chalice marked with symbols and figures. She drops the strand into the chalice, and there is a sizzle and then scent of sulfur and pine. "Explain," Morgana says in a low voice.

Eyes flash in annoyance as she plucks his hair, but he holds his tongue as he looks carefully around the tiny, dark room. He clears his throat. "With respect, your majesty," he says quietly. "I must… request Ambassador Brisbane's presence at this interview, as my superior in Amber and to speak for my House."

"Denied. Speak. I will not ask again," she says briskly, and the room feels colder.

Kendall looks away into a dark corner of the room, taking a breath and letting it out again. "What could you possibly wish to know that you would not rather hear from the knight?" he says at last.

"The knight is not the one that was in the conflict. You were. What happened?"

"Not in the conflict?" he says with a frown coming to his face. "I beg to differ. It was she who began the conflict, both the duel of words and the petty insults. And it was she who changed the duel to one of steel by attacking me with her sword when she found her words insufficient to the task."

"You know the name of the woman who carries your child, Lord Kendall. Using it is the least amount of respect you can offer, given your status and superior etiquette. As well for the fact that she is dead and the child as well. Your child is dead." There is no emotion there, simply the words.

A shadow passes across his face and his eyes betray his pain as he learns the outcome. But the moment of vulnerability is quickly hidden away again behind an expression of cool indifference. "I see," he says softly. He turns his cool gaze back again to the Queen. "Then the revenge of the Lady Louella de Adriel of the Seventh Order of Lancers is complete and effective."

With a hint of compassion she says, "So you think she started an argument with you so that you would be forced to kill her?"

"What I think is immaterial, your majesty," he says, still appearing completely calm. "You hold every advantage here. My words are suspect, and certainly my actions have brought shame to my House. My only request is that my death absolve Chanicut of my failures in the eyes of Amber."

"To the contrary, Lord Kendall, I find your thoughts on the situation paramount. I gave you leave to court my child. You bedded her shortly thereafter and I offered no reproach to you for it. Has all that not demonstrated some fondness, some understanding on my part towards you? Yes, I have every advantage." She shrugs. "But does that mean your truth can not be heard?"

"I will not beg, Queen Morgana," Kendall says, enunciating each word with care and drawing on every ounce of dignity that his upbringing can provide, even in his current undignified circumstance and disheveled condition.

"I would not expect you to, Lord Kendall," she says, inclining her head.

"Then for the sake of my House, I will give you the explanation you desire. What do you wish to know?"

"Tell me everything as you recall it starting with when you and Lady Louella were first in each other's company before the onset of harsh words."

He inhales deeply and breathes out slowly, meditatively, thinking back carefully before speaking again. His voice takes on a distant quality, as of someone who has disengaged the mind from the emotions. "I first encountered the Lady Louella de Adriel while traveling to Amber through the Veil. She was escorting my party and we were separated from the bulk of the group. While alone, we were both affected by the Veil, so that I believed her to be a former lover of mine, while she appeared to believe me someone called Gareth." He pauses for breath.

"I mean not to tax you, Lord Kendall. When did you see her this evening?"

"I see. My apologies, Majesty," he says with a half bow from his seat. He has to think again for a time before continuing his emotionless recitation.

"I arrived before Lady Louella, and waited until she was escorted to the room. She was not armed or armored, a fact that appeared to distress her, as her hand went often to the place where the pommel of her sword would be. We spoke. I asked her to explain her hatred of me, beyond the obvious. She told me of past wars with other Houses of Chaos, but would give me no details. I explained to her that I wished to discuss our offspring. She attempted to manipulate me. I realized what I had hoped could be a reasonable conversation was not to be. Knowing this was likely my last opportunity, I decided upon a plan to convince her to agree to give custody of the child to me. I manipulated her, too successfully. I had not intended for us to battle. She summoned her sword to herself and attacked. I defended as best I could, but she was Sar'Kun and there was little I could accomplish to retaliate or escape. Her sword found my flesh—"

His recitation pauses, jaw clenching and left hand balling into a fist in remembered pain. He breathes deeply before continuing in his smooth and calm voice. "I called upon the Serpent for assistance against the power of the Unicorn that flowed into me from her sword. I took advantage of an opening in her guard. She fell. I would have healed her, if I had had an opportunity."

"Do you feel that your words drove her to the actions she took?" the Queen asks softly, sadly.

"It would appear that I overestimated the amount of control she had over her emotions and how that would affect her actions," Kendall replies, his eyes turning again to the darkness beyond the Queen. He tries to make a hand gesture, but is stopped by the manacles. "To wit, my judgment has also been impaired by these circumstances. My purpose was not to kill my son."

"The sword surprised you," she says, quietly. "Did you even know she possessed it?"

"I knew of it. That is to say, she had threatened me with it previously," he says, his voice ironic. He pauses a heartbeat before continuing in his normal tone. "She did not have it in her possession when our encounter began, nor did she have it when it ended. She summoned it to herself, and yes, that was unexpected."

"So… goad her into a situation where she is not thinking clearly, logically and then she makes an agreement that gives the child to you. Was that your plan?"

He smiles a little. "That is one way to put it," he agrees.

She sighs with some sorrow. "Was that the plan for the start? Did you enter the room with that intention?"

He does not answer immediately, still staring into the darkness. "No," he says at length, almost too quietly to hear. "I had hoped to convince her in some other way. She did not want the child. I did. If I could have given her something for the babe, perhaps she would have been willing to bargain. But she planned to use my son against my House, and I will defend Chanicut in whatever way I can."

"Defend it even if it meant your son's life?" she asks, just as softly.

Kendall's gaze shifts back to look again at the Queen. "The House is more than my son, or myself," he says. "It is greater than any one of us, greater even than my father. If I saved my son at the expense of my House, I would have nothing to give him. And if my son was raised of Amber and destroyed my House, I would be left with nothing."

Morgana nods her head in somber agreement. "Did you… think that I would have allowed Louella to raise that boy in such a fashion?" she asks as though the thougth had just come.

He pauses again to choose his words carefully. "I know not what might have occurred if my child had been raised in Amber," he says at last. "I know only that… he would not have been my child."

His words carry tremendous weight, evident on her face. "I see."

She turns to one of the knights. "He will be turned over to the King's guards."

She looks back at Kendall and is openly sad, sad and disappointed. "If you survive this, make no contact with Margot. None at all. I hope… I believe you can see the bigger picture, the one she won't see because she is young and in love for the first time. Stay away from her, Lord Kendall. Far away."

"As you wish, Majesty," he says. A nod from the chair is all the acknowledgment he can give. "There are others in my House that may act as representatives of an agreement between Chanicut and Amber, should that still be an option for the future."

She nods with a faint smile, "I am certain there are, Lord Kendall."

He gives her a brief, puzzled look, but then pushes it away. "Before I am dismissed, may I ask you a question regarding our discussion earlier?" he asks.

"You may." She says.

He hesitates a heartbeat, as though trying to decide whether or not to go ahead, before continuing all in a rush. "Let us suppose that one of your children had been raised in Chaos from the time he or she was a babe, perhaps in the House of Jesby, or Hendrake or Sawall. It need not be Chanicut. Would you not find that child a stranger to you? Alien and unknown? Just as I am alien to you, disliked and distrusted?"

She shakes her head. "No. I would not have. And I did not dislike and distrust you, Lord Kendall. I did not find you alien."

He shakes his head. "Perhaps not you, personally, but there is much hatred for Chaos in Amber. I do not mean to be disrespectful to you, but I find Amber confusing and… chaotic. A child of Chaos would not need to ask questions of my duty to my House. A child of Chaos would know." He sighs and looks away into the dimness. "Yet it is immaterial. You have been most patient and gracious, and for that I am grateful. I know the situation between the Lady Louella and myself reflects poorly on my House, and I wish to make amends, in whatever way I can."

She shakes her head and smiles sadly. "A child of Chaos… I think in your words you come to the very heart of our differences, Lord Kendall."

His expression darkens, lips pressing together into a firm line. "We are different," he agrees after a space of five heartbeats.

She shakes her head, "You don't understand what I am saying. It doesn't matter where the child is from."

His hands clench again, but then he takes a calming breath and looks at the Queen once more, relaxing and speaking in an even voice. "I believe we had this difficulty when last we spoke about the child, and I do not believe I was able to make myself understood. What you say is true, insofar as that goes. It matters not at all of what bloodline the child may originate. If he had been accepted into Chanicut, he would have been Chanicut, and would have been given all the privileges and responsibilities that come with being a member of my House. Just as if the Lady Louella had agreed to become Chanicut, she would have been Chanicut, though she was originally of Amber. All the members of the House would accept this; there would be no conflict, because we observe our duty, and we care for our own. Moreover, it is simply not our way to have multiple and possibly conflicting loyalties. What you might have chosen to tell him about his heritage if he were raised here would have been your own decision, but simply having my blood running in his veins would not have made him a member of my House."

He hesitates, knowing what he was thinking would not be well received, but then continues anyway. "I have been in Amber a short while, but what I have learned here so far has been… troubling to me. I had not seriously contemplated siring children in the past, so this turn of events was unexpected and… disconcerting. It may simply be a personal failing, but I wanted more for my first child than what I perceived he would receive if he were raised in Amber. Other children, perhaps even children from a marriage with a woman of Amber, would be different - they would be negotiated beforehand, the agreements would be in place. I would be aware of the situation and the stipulations, and would be prepared. But… I did not want my first child to be raised to hate me," he admits very quietly.

"I am sorry you felt that is what would have happened, Lord Kendall. You give the impression that you find us less…cultured…less civilized. Backward, provincial…lacking." She smiles a bit, though it is not warm. "To use polite words…for you are ever polite."

"If you survive this…" She pauses and smiles. "Learn from it."

"Would you have taken the child away from Lady Louella and raised him as your own?" he asks her point blank.

"Yes. I was too far along already with twins to transfer the babe to my own womb," she explains. "Your son would have spent time here and in Chaos. If Louella could not have loved him for all that he was, yours and hers, then she would not have had anything to do with him and he would have learned of her when he was grown and able to decide his feelings for himself."

"I had hoped he could be a bridge, proof that while we are different, the differences are not evil or wrong. Just differences."

He is silent for a time. "A noble intention, perhaps," he says at last.

She chuffs out a breath. "Perhaps indeed. Good bye, Lord Kendall." And she turns to leave, obviously insulted.

"Your majesty," he says to her back. "In your view, what should I learn from this, if — as you have said — I survive? It is certain I will take many things away from my experiences in Amber, but I am curious to know what you believe I should remember."

She stops at the door and doesn't bother to look at him, "To open your eyes and your heart. Let go of your preconceived notions. Stop thinking that the right way is Thelbane's Way. That anyone not of that place, of a House, is backwards and backwater. You didn't do that and now your child and his mother are dead and my daughter's young heart will take its first blow. Good day."

With the Queen leaving, so goes her escort and then the body of the fallen and her honor guard. Louella lay upon lances, covered by the Standard of the Order she did join. Only Pridia, the Captain of the Queen's Guard remains, to unlock and retrieve the manacles used upon him. She pauses at the door to say bitterly, "Your escort will be here shortly."

The look upon her lovely features is of anger and hate, yet understanding of her Queen's ways and the depth of her mercy. "But I should warn you, Lord Kendall… look upon each face of the girl pages you see, and remember. One of them, in time, will take Louella's place, wield her sword, and be told your name and what happened here." With a glance back, Pridia adds, "Let us us hope, this girl will be as forgiving as the Queen she serves."

Lord Kendall stands once the manacles are removed, rubbing his left wrist absently. "Just so long as the tale is recounted accurately," he replies, voice cold and full of disdain. "The Lady Louella forsook her honor. She attacked me - with words, with blade, with the power of the Unicorn. Even here, in the Unicorn's own seat, the Serpent came to my aid and removed all traces of the Unicorn's taint. Be sure the tale is truth."

Kendall's words almost send Pridia into a fury, and only by great inner strength does she keep those emotions under control. She leaves without saying more, but as the male knights - members of the King's own - begin to escort him to his next destination, Kendall notices a very unusual number of female pages upon his route. Many looked exhausted, looking to have run there just moments before, clueless to why. But they do become attentive as Kendall and his escort walk by. Only once at the doors, do his silent guards do speak. "King Eric requests you stay within till summoned."

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
Aftermath: Report to Brisbane

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