The sound of a quill scribbling against paper filled the air, a scratchy, familiar noise that seemed to suit the dim chamber quite well. The pale moon and starlight, pouring in through the room’s sole window, proved too weak to provide adequate light; as such a few candles, strategically placed along the ledges that ran around the walls, had been lit, their flickering flames giving off just enough light to see by.
Matthias crouched over Lord Selwen’s… Over his desk, his head bent low and his bared arm stained with ink. It was far easier to clean his skin then to clean his clothes, after all. The lad’s eyes, struggling against the exhaustion that weighed them down, blearily stared at the rows of numbers and figures etched onto the parchment, scanning the countless digits for any signs of an error or miscalculation.
“Heh…” The young man sighed as he dropped his quill back into a half-full inkwell, not noticing the pitch black drops that flew through the air. It seemed that even if he took a day off to enjoy the hunt, the kingdom’s finances had no such luxury; business would happen whether or not he was here to keep track of it. And at the rate things were going…
“Nope. Nuh-uh. Don’t go there.”
Groaning, Matthias pushed himself to his feet, his arms stretching up towards the ceiling and his joints cracking audibly. “Going to go mad if I keep this up…”
Though the corridors were almost as dark as his workplace, the torches hung every few yards provided more than enough illumination for the lad to make his way through the castle. It only took him a couple minutes to navigate back to his bedchamber, and, besides a few sentries, his walk was entirely devoid of human contact.
Ignoring the soft snores that wafted from beneath Auric’s door, Matthias slunk over to his wardrobe. Though his limbs were dull and tired, he managed to undress himself without too much trouble, and soon he was sitting on the edge of his bed. His nightgown, though it could probably stand a washing, was comfortable enough, and the young man lay back, closing his eyes and willing oblivion to sweep over him.
‘Out of sight, out of mind’, apparently didn’t apply when your work involved keeping a kingdom from spiraling into debt. And with Bryce’s betrayal, and war looming on the horizon, things only looked like they were going to get worse. Matthias snorted as he rolled over, unable to slow his racing thoughts. Bryce, Ygraine, the North, the South… Why was it all crashing together like this?
When he had first come to White Lake, Matthias had been convinced that he could solve any problem with words and half-truths. Now he knew better. Leon’s plan, though it appalled him, was a necessary measure; it was the only way they could hope to preserve whatever fragile facsimile of peace they currently possessed. Still, killing a man, even one as twisted as Bryce? It struck him as dirty, depraved.
“Stop being such an idiot,” he muttered into his pillow. They had to do this. It was as simple as that. And he would need to do his part; the financial situation was only going to get worse if Valania broke into all out war.
But, if he was going to keep up with the likes of Auric, Leon, and Analiese, then he’d need to do something about his skills. He needed… He needed to be stronger. Simple as that.
But that could wait until tomorrow. For now, sleep.