Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 21
“I should have known,” Osric muttered under his breath. The intelligent glint in his eyes reminded Leonard yet again of Wilhelmina, and he was sure he could see the taller man’s mind churning within.
“So you haven’t been working with her?” Wilhelmina kept an even tone and a straight face, mincing no words and wasting no time cutting to the chase. Her arms were crossed as she cast her own appraising look over her brother, weighing his every word and move, Leonard was sure.
The siblings stared each other down, the tenuous strand between them straining to pull them back together even as is it threatened to snap. The air between them seemed to crackle.
Leonard was uncertain what Osric could be so suspicious about concerning them, and it was indeed the weight of suspicion that hung over them. He continued to glance between the feminine and masculine features that were as similar as they were unique.
“Work with Etta?” Osric’s brow, if possible, furrowed more, the line of his jaw becoming harder. There was confusion written on his face and a shadow of something else. “What would I be working with Etta on? And why?” He crossed his arms across his chest, waiting for Wilhelmina’s answer.
“You’d know better than I,” Wilhelmina replied. Leonard thought there was something acidic in her tone. Another tense moment of silence passed in the strange group under the even stranger sky.
“Leave us. Go check the wards and perimeter,” Osric said over his shoulder to the two armed men he’d arrived with. The men exchanged a brief glance with each other before leaving without a word or glance at the unexpected visitors.
“Who is this?” Osric asked, thrusting his chin in Leonard’s direction.
“A Letterman, of course,” Wilhelmina answered casually.
“Of course he’s a Letterman, you came through the pond. But I don’t recognize him,” Osric replied, his tone taking on an edge as he inspected Leonard more closely with narrowed eyes and slight tilt of his head.
“Leonard, Leonard Letterman,” Leonard supplied before Wilhelmina could answer. He couldn’t explain why, but he felt he should introduce himself. Plus, so far he was feeling like the equivalent of the rucksack on Wilhelmina’s back, except he’d already served his most useful purpose, taking Wilhelmina through the pond to Krosis.
“Gerard’s son,” Wilhelmina added, still studying her brother’s face with her sharp, blue eyes. Something flashed across Osric’s face for the barest of moments at mention of this detail; so quickly, in fact, that Leonard was uncertain if it had been a trick of the oddly muted light.
“So, what brings the Letterman and you to Krosis?” Osric inquired, returning his attention to Wilhelmina. Leonard wondered why Osric seemed to stress Wilhelmina’s appearance over his own, not that it matter to Leonard personally, but it made him curious.
Wilhelmina looked back at Leonard for a moment before sighing and turning to Osric before replying. “It’s difficult to know where to start, but I have a few questions for you first, if you don’t mind.” Wilhelmina added a soft, placating smile.
Osric stood up straighter, moving his hands to his hips, flirting with his hilts as he considered, an edge to his features. “Ask away, but I cannot promise that I will answer.”
“Can I expect honest ones?” she looked unapologetic about the question, her face impassive as she waited, arms still casually crossed.
Osric looked to Leonard like he was about to retort sharply, but something stilled him and Osric inclined is head slightly as he answered. “I give you my word as a Pond that any answer I give, will be the truth.” His lips quirked into the barest shadow of smile that Leonard felt accentuated the man’s regal features.
“When did you last see or speak with Etta and concerning what?” Leonard tried not to look surprised by Wilhelmina’s steadfast and direct question, wasting no time. It made him begin to worry there was more of a time constraint than Wilhelmina had yet to mention; then again, it could just have easily been her natural way.
Osric considered the question, though Leonard couldn’t say if the consideration was whether to answer or trying to recall.
“We had a…disagreement, a few months ago. She left here in a bit of a rage and I haven’t heard from her since. The last thing she said to me was a threat and the need for keeping certain information to myself.” Osric’s eyes almost glittered as he watched Wilhelmina for reaction and reply. Leonard’s eyes flicked between the two, searching for any sign he could find. More than ever he felt out of place and useless.
“What did you disagree about?” Wilhelmina’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly. The energy around her seemed to vibrate to Leonard; it told him they were on the precipice of learning something of important.
Osric was in no hurry to answer, his gaze roving over the pond, the walls, the sky, and the two visitors in silence with a small, almost sad smile. “What does it matter to you? I find it hard to believe you’ve summoned a Letterman to come to Krosis to ask about a disagreement I had with Etta.”
The hairs on the back of Leonard’s neck stood on end; there was something in Osric’s choice of reply that struck Leonard as odd, though he couldn’t place exactly what. Instead, Leonard continued to defer to Wilhelmina, waiting to see if she would press Osric for an answer or move on to something else. So far, it was still uncertain whether they were dealing with friend or foe, and what either could mean for them.
“I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t of importance, and I have confirmation that it is Etta’s actions, at least in part, that bring us here. We are looking for more information on the matter. We also intend to locate and liberate people that we have reason to believe have been abducted from Palloria and are being held here against their will, and bring them back with us.” Wilhelmina eventually responded.
“Thus, we find ourselves here and inquiring about your last interaction with her,” she added. Leonard noted that she had not yet shared what they had found out after learning of Jarra’s betrayal. He was certain she was waiting for proof of Osric’s desire to assist them and that he could be trusted fully. This made him wonder how Wilhelmina was truly feeling, being fact-to-face with her older brother.
Again, Osric took his time to reply, considering all that Wilhelmina said, taking in the sight of their packs and weapons. The sight of the sword strapped to Leonard’s waist seemed to amuse him, which did not escape Leonard’s notice.
“I think we need to have a serious and more…open discussion, which means we should retire to a more closed area, such as the war room, so if you will please follow me,” Osric flashed them an unreadable smile, devoid of true warmth but not wholly unfriendly. Without waiting for reply he turned on his heel and proceed for the open doorway.
Wilhelmina exchanged a look with Leonard that he could not read, except for the mix of confusion and curiosity that he recognized in himself. She then turned to follow her brother, who was waiting for them in the break between the strange stone walls.
Before he turned to show them where they were going, Osric leaned close to his younger sibling and gently said, “You’ve certainly grown up well since the last time I saw you, and look to be in much better health,” a heartening if slightly devious smile on his lips.
Click here for Part 23!