Coradel is a character I love, but for Book 1 at least, he’s going to have to be cut as a point of view character. Since this scene diesn’t contain anyone else, it has to go. So I thought I’d put it here instead; it makes the loss less painful.
Coradel checked his uniform one last time, locked the empty house and walked towards the centre of the town. Several neighbours waved as he passed them, but although he acknowledged them, he didn’t smile.
The duke would arrive home today, and there was no knowing if he would demand an immediate report of events during his absence, or ignore the existence of his guard for several days.
Perhaps Gairhard had been rude or dismissive, and the duke would return in a fury, renounce Gandor, and everything could go back to how it should be. Coradel grimaced. You could always hope, no matter how ridiculously unlikely your wishes.
He had taken the detour past the graveyard without being aware of where his feet were going, and he stopped at the lowest part of the surrounding wall, bending his head and trying to think of something to say. His thoughts were still bitter, though, and he walked on, quicker now, locking the anger down where it couldn’t betray him.
The guard saw him coming up the hill, and there was a flurry of activity around the mansion gatehouse. When he reached them they were lined up at attention, and he was obliged to stop and inspect, pointing out a frayed cuff here, a mud-spattered boot there. At the end of the line he nodded at the sergeant, who saluted him, and then left them to their repairs and complaints, heading through to his ‘office’, a small room squashed between the store and the stables.
Lew was there, standing in front of the door and pissing against the stable wall. He didn’t stop when he saw Coradel, but gave him a jaunty salute with his free hand. Eventually the stream ran slack, and he tucked himself in, shaking his balls into place before sauntering away. Coradel kept his face impassive as he walked into his room, but once the door had shut behind him he leaned his sword against the desk and slumped into a chair. How the hell had it come to this? His oath was held by a man he loathed with every inch of his being, who employed brutes and criminals to guard his own family, over and above the guard who were trained for the purpose. The duke had at least stopped making him the brunt of public indignities, but only when Coradel had pointed out that a guardwith no respect for its commander was a very dangerous beast.
And that man, locked in the cellar. If only the woman had come to him; he’d have got them away safely, provided them with horses, even. The man was no criminal, or he’d have had a trial. And the lady Ketten looked close to breaking point now, prisoner to the duke’s cruelty and greed. He could have found her a husband easily, had he been willing to dower her. She might not be pretty, but what he’d seen of her showed good sense and kindness. He might, in another life, have been tempted to woo her himself. He grimaced at that thought. Edril was the sort of man who would have his head if he even tried such a thing, yet at the same time would slap his daughter’s face as if she was the meanest drudge.
We are all trapped, he thought bleakly, by birth, by circumstance and by the past. We cannot move on until scores are settled and justice done.