Jin sipped some tea while listening to Jane and Shiroi be led away. The gates soon closed behind them. And from behind Jin came the sound of a closet door closing. Someone was heard walking across the room. They stood behind Jin’s chair for a moment, and then moved to the spot Jane had been sitting, and sat in it.
“Well?” Jin asked.
“I managed to hear it all. Interesting. Very good job, by the way,” Gardos said. He was dressed in black, though in not the same clothes seen on him a few years ago. Two years had chipped away at portions of his youth, though he looked as well as he ever did.
“Thank you, sir. I apologize that I did falter in places, but it was fortunate that everything worked to our benefit. And now a goal, one unexpected to be accomplished so quickly, has been.”
“Yes, getting cooperation was a good feat. As was placing the blame on that man, I admit that was quite good. But I have some issues now. That child was being monitored, like the others, you know that, correct?”
“Yes sir. What did happened to little Miss Melonscone? I would have thought you’d guard her against anything bad.”
“We had to dispose of her and the child she was with. If I had known about her being the future queen, we would have avoided it. Even still, there was a problem with the conclusions she was drawing,” Gardos said.
“What could be so harmful about a little girl? Is this how Grip now does things, or is it just incompetence? She was useful, valuable! How can I guarantee anything to Madam Melonscone now?” Jin asked, and then slammed his cup on the table.
“Watch your words with me, if you want to keep your precious position,” Gardos said.
“Excuse me. But I cannot believe a little girl could be any threat,” Jin said, calmly this time.
“If you had heard the conversation she was starting, you’d rethink that. It turns out I have had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting her and one of her friends before, years ago. And it seems like she and that brat overheard things they shouldn’t have. And were about to connect my visit to your name. Before they could connect anything, we got rid of them. Immediately. It was drastic, but necessary.”
“I see. Yes, if she truly was going to be a threat, it was, in that case. To think children could stumble upon things so great. That’s why, Gardos, always be cautious about what you say, even in private. Regardless, wouldn’t it be too late soon enough? It’s unfortunate, then. But we can still use her. There is something the girl should have had. A ring, a signet signifying her nobility. Search the body for it, and please let me have it. I can use it in the future. It’s unfortunate; we’d be able to do more, much more with her alive.”
“I’ll ask my men. It was a hasty endeavor, I’m not sure where she is, outside the city somewhere. But it shouldn’t be a problem, the body wouldn’t have been looted. Will you use it to manipulate the mother?”
“Of course. Thank you, Gardos. I apologize for my manner, ambassador. This play as regent must be going to my head. All for the great Grip empire, should I say?” Jin laughed slightly, and Gardos with him.
“I’ll be returning to Grip soon. I will inform Head Lord Welnic of all that has transpired. I do have a question, though, for you. What of the heir?”
“Still nothing. We’ll keep trying to pry that information out, if it exists. It looks like the puppet will have to suffice. Honestly, I do not believe the heir even exists. I believe it, but knowing Fidel and his dually obnoxious and secretive ways, I cannot shake the feeling that he hid a child as a last prank on his friends, and also to spite all his enemies. In all likelihood, even if the boy does exist, he wouldn’t have been raised as an heir. He probably doesn’t even know that he’s royalty, assuming he lives.”
“That isn’t reassuring. Welnic believes the boy does exist. And from what I’ve heard, I believe it too. I hope you understand the consequences, should he appear.”
“It’ll be easier to deal with if I have that signet. It’s unfortunate the girl is gone. She could be used in both cases. I’m going to have a problem if Madam Melonscone finds out the truth. Did you really kill the child? Truly, or are you keeping a secret from me as well?” Jin asked, his voice trembling.
“It was hasty, but yes.”
“And you saw it yourself?”
“Mostly? Gardos, may I ask? Did you actually see the lifeless body?”
“No. I didn’t confirm it. But it should have happened.”
“I see. Well, the signet should settle things. I’ll plan the for the rest, regardless of the girl’s true status. Thank you for the privilege, Gardos. When you’re about to leave, please do not forget to see me one last time.”
Gardos took his leave. Jin sat alone, staring at the ceiling. He contemplated the events of the night, and the struggles he was facing. He dropped his old and feeble act, and pulled off the fake beard, revealing a far younger man. He stood up and quickly paced around the room, gesturing and mumbling to himself. He walked to the table and picked up the teacup. He finished off the contents, and then held the empty cup in front of his face. He thought of Fidel, Jane, and the other powers that tried to oppress him. He threw the cup across the room.