There was clearly some conflict in the bandit chieftain's heart, but it might not have been of the exact nature that those present would assume it to be. His eyes wandered briefly as he inwardly questioned himself, but he soon nodded and looked in the eyes of the gathered assembly, resting finally, albeit briefly, on the eyes of the Immortal herself.
"Your Majesty, forgive, if you will, the blunt honesty of what I must say. When I made this promise, it was in the belief that yours was just another brutal culture bent on conquest, regardless of the hypocrisy of claiming one conqueror to be better than another. And while I can not blame the Nashaki diplomat for this misconception, I CAN blame the culture of Athart. So, yes, I admit, the promise was made well after Nashaki reneged on their promise to my men and I."
His gaze had lowered somewhat as he spoke. He now raised it again, clearing his throat and speaking loudly, "But at the time, I felt I was honoring a legitimate fear that this revelation would simply land the world into the hands of a tyrant. And I would not have myself profit from sacrificing the world to such and end." He paused to see if offense registered in the Immortal's eyes, but he could not really tell from her inscrutable gaze.
"Well, I have come to realize how wrong this notion is. But I fear I must state this information for its honor to be judged. Like the information itself, it will be in exactly how it came to be suppressed, and the circumstances of its revelation, that will determine this. And if I am to be cast out or imprisoned, I will still feel I did the right thing."
He paused again to assess how much detail would need to be recapped, "I was born in Athart, and came to be a proud member of their slave raiders, one of the few goals a human can strive towards to obtain a measure of fair treatment by the avriel. Secretly, they hold considerable contempt for Nashaki, but maintain diplomatic civility with them because they long since saw them as a buffer against you.
"Some several arcs ago, a Qi'oran diplomat came to town as part of an entourage. I had already stricken up a romance with her from previous visits. But there was something different about her demeanor on this visit. She was then murdered and I was blamed. I understood there was nothing truly personal in the deed being blamed on me. I was handy, and my romance with her made tales of a jealous rage and a crime of passion very believable. I had been nowhere near at the time, but it became obvious I was not going to be given a chance to speak.
"My brothers had betrayed me, my father was undoubtedly pressured to disown me, and the woman I loved was dead. So I left and became a bandit. Last arc, when I came across a Nashaki diplomat bound for Yaralon, I captured him and discovered why they had done this to she and I..." He paused a moment to allow a theatrical tension to build, "She was going to inform the Grand Aeolian that Nashaki did not truly have a formal standing treaty with Athart. That in fact, there has not been a written alliance with them for decades, possibly centuries."
It did not surprise him that there was not an immediate realization of the potential ramifications of this news as he continued, "I was only a necessary patsy, which did not surprise me. But for a moment I did not understand why this would be a detail they would feel to necessitate a murder. But his panic soon confirmed my own growing suspicion."
A few faces began to register understanding as he went on, "We here, I'm sure, are all aware of the impulsive belligerence and insanely reactionary attitude of the avriel. He and his city feared that the avriel would fly into a rage, feeling they had been duped all this time. That they'd have felt as if they'd been the butt of a joke decades-long in the making. Nashaki honestly feared that they'd switch sides on the spot and join your army. Having grown up under their shadow, I truly sympathized with his concern. It is not far-fetched at all."
Several hands were now stroking chins as gazes were lost in thought. "While I can not say that they'd go to THAT extreme, or that you'd even want them, I agreed with the man that they would at least immediately pull out in the belief that they'd been tricked into a non-existence alliance. He went on to say that they had, of course, considered telling them themselves. But the current Nashaki administration had only discovered this situation as well. Some Grand Aeolian in arcs past struck some deal that was never put to contract, and it has been honored ever since."
One of the commanders asked the very same question Eddrick had asked back then, 'Why not make it official?' Eddrick laughed grimly, "I asked him the same thing. He said they didn't dare. That they might ask to see the previous treaty to make sure it matched. And the they'd find out there WAS no 'previous treaty'. They were worried about the avriel's reaction either way. They didn't want to admit openly that there wasn't one, OR do or say anything that might make them suspicious. So they've been concealing this detail from the avriel this whole time. And, of course, with each passing arc, the likelihood of an angry reaction by the avriel just becomes greater."
Eddrick took a deep breath and looked back to the Immortal woman, "So, there it is Your Majesty. I stand by your judgement. I say there is no dishonor in my having told you the truth. I likewise say there is no dishonor in telling the avriel the truth. Let them decide how they feel about it."