It's currently untitled and is the one I mentioned earlier.
Later, after everyone was fed and bedded in the barn, Charles found Adrian sitting on a log, chewing on a twig. Sitting down next to him, the former looked off into the distance.
"You were supposed to be dead, but I guess word of your demise was exaggerated. That, or a miracle has occurred."
"That's what everyone was supposed to think," Adrian responded. "me being dead, that is."
"Most men would deck their best friend for deceiving them like that."
"Take your best swing then, I wouldn't blame you."
There was a long silence before the older man spoke again. "Why, though? Why did you throw it all away and leave?"
It was Adrian's turn to be silent before standing up with a sigh. "Honestly? I couldn't handle it, that life. The political games, shifting alliances, the daggers hidden in every shadow just waiting to sink themselves into my back. Then there was the corruption, always persistent and like an impregnable fortress. No, I just couldn't take it any longer and left and do you want to know another truth? It was the best decision I ever made."
The response from his friend was unexpected - laughter. Adrian looked down and raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Did I say something funny?"
"No, I forgot that you were always the most eloquent soldier I ever met. You could talk the edge off a sword."
"And the bloomers off any maiden in a five mile radius." Adrian laughed, followed by Charles. After it subsided, the former turned serious.
"Has Stephen really gotten as bad as you say? It's hard to believe that he would try to have killed."
"Believe it." Charles sighed. "Our 'mighty' Lord Protector has become a stone in the fortress of corruption and my blood wouldn't be discernible to the rest of the blood already on his hands, I'm afraid."
"What do you mean?"
"Two weeks ago, there was revolt in the lower quarter of Bonham and he crushed it. Brutally. He had the entire quarter cordoned off and brought in artillery with the new incendiary shells." Charles paused, a weary look on his face. Adrian was aghast, but motioned for him to continue.
"The fires burned for days, he wouldn't let the army or fire service put them out unless the flames moved out of the quarter. I was away at the time and by the time I returned, the inferno had been going for three days. I tried to talk sense into Stephen, but he refused to listen and so, I acted and doomed myself and my men in the process."
"I rounded up the Royal Guard and broke the cordon myself. We and a group of soldiers and civilians went in and put the fires out and rescued survivors. There weren't many and some of the worst off died later on."
"And Stephen would order your death for defying him like that? It seems so inconceivable."
"Oh, it's quite conceivable." Charles returned to the log and sat down, resting his arms on his legs and bowing his head for a moment before raising it and look at the other man. "Stephen has changed in ways that would shock you, my friend. But no, I don't think he ordered my death solely because of my actions that day. No, I believe he had planned it beforehand and merely used my insubordination as a justification to move against me. Only forewarning by one of his servants saved me and my men from the noose or axe."
"Speaking of which, where are they all? Unless he severely downsized the Guard, there should be more than ten."
"Some died resisting the new Guard when they tried to arrest them. Most escaped and I sent them into hiding until I could figure out what to do. The nine with me volunteered to act as my entourage."
Charles finished talking and both men stood silently for a while, lost in their thoughts. Adrian was dumbfounded about the change that had taken hold in the Lord Protector.
Obviously this is just an rough draft, it'll get better as I revise it. My weakest point is character interaction. I can write fairly decent dialogue, but not so much on the interaction front.
Feel free to share thoughts, criticism, and suggestions in the comments.