The Secrets of Kings: Episode 10

7:30 AM

Diggory’s: Castle Grounds Keeper

July 7, 1390, 7:45AM

Diggory pulled the last of the fresh produce that he was to deliver to the kitchens, and gently placed it in his delivery basket. The sun had been beating down on his burning brow, beckoning sweat to the surface. He wiped it away with his forearm before walking the short distance from the East gardens to the castle kitchen.
Once he arrived, he peeked inside. The cooks and scullions  were all abustle prepping the council’s brunch. It took Diggory a few moments to flag down old man Glenn and a few more moments to wait as his hunchbacked, 77 year old frame made his way to him. As usual, he could see the old man was aching.
“Diggory, my friend!” Glenn exalted.
“Mornin’!” Diggory responded. “The produce you requested is all here.”
“Oh thank you, Lad!” Glenn squealed.
“How are you feeling today, Mr. Glenn?”
“These weary bones often make themselves known. To get old, my friend, is a dreadful thing.” He gave Diggory’s shoulder a gentle but shaky squeeze. “Be sure to live while you can.”
Diggory handed him the basket and followed the old cook to one of the large wooden prep tables in the middle of the room. “Besides that, dealing with a bit of a shortage. A couple of our boys are in the infirmary with some sort of ailment or another. I need to figure out who will be delivering the Prince’s breakfast...the King’s midday basket...well I suppose I could send those together to save some time.” Glenn thought out loud. “How’s your morning?” He asked, as he began arranging a tray and basket.
“Fine, sir.” Diggory considered momentarily before seizing upon the opportunity that had been presented to him. “Say, Mr. Glenn…” he began. “Perhaps I can bring these items for you. My morning is a bit lite. I would be more than happy to help out.”
The old man paused for a moment and looked Diggory in the eye. “You are a good man, Sir.” Diggory smiled at him as he returned his attention momentarily to the tray and added a few pieces of bacon to it before delivering directions. “This one,” he said pointing to the tray, “goes to the Prince’s quarters. The Veiled Lady will be expecting you any time. Deliver it first. The basket,” he continued, “goes to the king’s quarters. Leave it on the terrace table.”
“Alright.” He responded. “Not a problem, Mr. Glenn.”
Diggory watched as Glenn turned around and tapped the shoulder of a young man behind him. Glenn snapped his finger and gestured towards a large metal pitcher of juice, which the boy swiftly retrieved and handed to him.
Glenn lifted the pitcher to Diggory’s eyes to ensure he was paying attention. Once he felt assured, he continued with his instructions. “The prince will have cups in his room. Pour both him and his caretaker a glass and bring the pitcher, with the remaining juice, to the king’s quarters. He will have a guest this afternoon, so take a few moments to put out two glasses from the King’s drink cart. Got that?”
“Of course, Mr. Glenn.” Diggory affirmed as the old man filled his arms with the tray, basket, and a brimming full pitcher.
“On your way then.” Glenn said, nodding thankfully towards Diggory.
Diggory moved swiftly through the castle corridors. Taking care not to spill the contents of the royal family’s meals onto the floor, but also being mindful of the seconds he could save, and possibly use to search the King’s quarters for information that might be valuable to his cause. In eight years he had collected little to no evidence of the rumored misdeeds of the King. Arguably, he had never had any solid access. There had been a couple of occasions when the King had requested fresh flowers be delivered to his quarters but Diggory was always met with an internal frustration when Ponce and the King were both present for the delivery.
Today, however, would be different. The King’s monthly council meeting would be beginning any moment and he would surely already be in council chambers. It was well known that throughout the castle that Ponce would use the time of the monthly council meeting to either partake in a long nap or tend to other personal business around the city. Diggory was fully aware that this was the opportunity he had been waiting for through all of these years. He hoped that he could finally find something of substance to deliver to his contacts who, much like himself, were hell bent on bringing down the King.
He finally made it to the entrance of the Royal quarters where both one fat and one skinny boy stood.
“Good day, lads.” Diggory began. “Old man Glenn has sent me with the Prince’s breakfast and a basket of produce for the King’s quarters. I’m to set up for a meeting the king is to have later this afternoon.”
The fat boy nodded in his direction as the skinny boy pushed open the chamber door to allow his entrance. He thanked the two of them and walked over the threshold, hearing the heavy door creak shut behind him. He walked quickly down the corridor where he was soon met at the Prince’s doorway by The Veiled Lady, who held two cups in her hands.
“Diggory, what a pleasant surprise.”
“Good day, my lady.”
“You’ve taken up a new post, I see.” She joked.
“Just doing a favor for Mr. Glenn is all.”
“That’s kind of you. That old man’s been here forever.”
“Has he?” Diggory asked.
“So I hear…” She responded.
Diggory thought he noted a bit of nervousness in her voice. He wondered if, perhaps, she was attempting to charm him. He had no time for such non-sense, however, so he gestured with the tray and offered only a small smile. She seemed to get the hint and set both glasses on the tray before taking it into her own hands. He quickly poured a bit to drink in each glass and gave his leave before continuing deeper into the corridor towards the King’s chamber.
Once he entered, he took a quick look around. As he suspected it would be, the chamber was quiet and devoid of any staff. He walked directly to the king’s drink cart, grabbing two glasses from the top, along with a service cloth and then immediately made his way to the balcony. He plopped everything down, pouring just a bit of juice on the cloth. He wanted to ensure he had a reason to be in the chamber for a longer duration, and he decided a feigned spill might help his cause. After preparing his “evidence,” and making the table  look presentable, he rushed back into the chambers, throwing the juice-soiled cloth among the King’s soiled garments and towels and then made his way over to the king’s desk.
It was large and sturdy looking with ornate carvings all around it with an equally regal looking chair behind it. He sat down and began to take in the mess of books and papers that were strewn across it. Diggory carefully examined each document and leger while simultaneously taking care to keep it in the same state of organized chaos in which he had found it. Paper after paper proved fruitless. The papers consisted, mostly, of boring letters from diplomats and foreign leaders providing updates about their own state of affairs or requesting one form of aid or another. Diggory became increasingly annoyed by the banality of it all. He had been in there for some time when he suddenly heard footsteps fast approaching.
He panicked for a moment before quickly slithered off of the chair and under the desk. He breathed slowly and deeply as he heard movement in the chamber. He twisted ever so slightly, bringing his eye to one of the many very small holes amid the carvings in the desk. He found one that was just adequate enough that he could see a bit of what was happening in the room. He saw Ponce, a slight panic apparent in his body language, with a piece of parchment in his hand. Ponce slid the piece of paper into a nook between the bed and the small table that sat to its side.
Diggory let out an excited gasp and immediately regretted it. Ponce must have heard it, even if only faintly because he stopped in his tracks and scanned the room with suspicious eyes. Thankfully, he must have fancied it was all in his head, because he seemed to dismiss whatever suspicion he had rather quickly, turning on his heel and scurrying out of the room.
His heart was beating so quickly, he thought it might escape his chest, so he waited a few moments after Ponce’s departure before finally ascending from beneath the desk. He carefully peeked around the room, with a renewed sense of caution before he made his way to the bedside. Gently, he felt around between the table and bed until he felt the scroll and pulled it from its hiding spot.
Diggory’s hopes sank slightly when he saw that it was sealed, but he decided he did not want to miss his chance, so he stuffed the scroll in one of his pockets and moved toward the chamber doors. He peeked out hesitantly and was thankful that he did. He saw Ponce in front of the Princess’s chambers leaning over a tea tray, adding something from a small vial into one of the cups before stowing the vial in his pocket and entering the Princess’s chambers.
With the hall finally clear, Diggory took his leave, shuffling as fast as possible to escape the chamber. He opened the door to the quarters just enough for his thin body to make through. To his surprise the boys who were attending the door when he first arrived were not manning their post. Instead, he saw them far down the way, struggling to transport a large trunk. He counted his blessings before slipping down a different corridor and escaping their attention, making his way back toward the castle grounds.

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