Malia took her seat and sat forward, folding her hands together tightly on the table in front of her as she listened to the general. While doing her best to take in the details as he spoke, as soon as he mentioned the assassination attempt, Malia's attention subtly turned from the speaker to her fellow leaders. Sarnai arguably had the most motive, on paper, but the look of horror and concern on her face was telling. James's face hosted a ghost of concern. Francesca still just looked annoyed.
When he departed, Malia lifted her voice in formality: "Thank you for your service, General Kardos."
Sarnai: "Why though?" "Why attempt to assassinate a child who hasn't even been granted the throne?"
James: "There are many reasons, the most prevalent would be he is next in line for the throne"
"The most obvious suspect would be someone with an - arguably - equally valid claim, hoping to remove competition," Malia mused, but cast a glance at Sarnai and, with almost too much ease, dismissed the possibility. "Clearly not." The comment came across as an insult, insinuating the young consort would not have the stomach to arrange an assassination, and indeed drew a wry sort of laugh from the Duchess of the West.
But as Malia continued, the barb faded from her voice and she seemed to extrapolate on the Green Duke's point as if explaining the situation to the Consort - or perhaps to herself, as her thoughts proceeded as if she was having them in the moment and simply explaining to herself.
"If there is no king and no rightful heir, power becomes decentralized from King's City." People would look to their Dukes and Duchesses instead. "It would allow quite a bit more…. freedom to lower nobility." Malia recalled reading a book to this effect years ago, although it had been a combination of lords and clergy involved in the conspiracy, which did not quite follow in Eventyr - unless one could substitute scholars for monks? She struggled to find adequate parallels, but it wasn't ridiculous…
Following the train of thought aloud, Malia went on. "Which means the next suspects would be the Dukes or Duchesses…." And immediately, her mind aligned in the direction James' had been going, and her gaze lingered pointedly on the empty seat. The South had been quite absent.
James: "I assume Kardos has double the guard protecting the Prince Regent, and the Royal Consort?" "And if the assassin yet lives... I wish to interrogate him myself"
The soldier addressed nodded vigorously, but did not dare utter a word. He did not actually know anything about the young prince's security except that a friend of his had been called in during the last hour from the alehouse to guard duty, and that was the same, right?
Malia's fingers unfolded, and although she was not as forward as to touch the Greek Duke's substantial hand, her palm pressed against the fine mahogany tabletop between them. She chose her words diplomatically - if James insisted on re-interrogating the assassin, it would show a lack of faith in General Kardos, who was already faltering visibly in his control of the city. So instead, Malia redirected James' attention where they both knew it belonged.
"Where is the Duke of the South's daughter?" Malia asked, rhetorically at first, allowing the obvious question as to why she had not been at the funeral to echo silently in the room. Then the Duchess went on, more pointedly, "She is a…. student, is she not?"