Chapter Eight

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The next day crept by as Narris went about preparing the remaining men for their journey back to Lilanth. During the night Liras and his escort of twenty five hardened warriors set out ahead of him to bring the Queen his written accounts, gathered from witnesses and ledgers alike. The trek would take the mounted procession at least a fortnight to reach the sandy outreaches of the City of the Moon. Narris and the rest of the men would arrive just a few days behind. He was no fool, though. He had made copies of everything and split up his guard to ensure that the truth reached his sister. The world around his people would fall if they allowed this snake into their kingdom.

It was mid-morning when Sir Yareck came to him once again. “His Grace commands your presence in the council chambers.”

Narris thoroughly enjoyed being commanded by strangers. “I am at his disposal,” Narris said with a bow.

The council room was on the same side of the keep as the Great Hall, but Narris had yet to see it. It was a simple enough room, decorated with ornate moldings from wood that even Narris had never seen before. In the middle of the room was a large, circular table made of a dark stone that was mirror-polished. The King sat near the back wall along with his second in command, Lord Braise Ashcroft of Westerlay, and various other council members that Narris had not taken the time to become acquainted with.

“My lord of the Uthari, please join us,” the King said smiling.

Narris returned it with as warm a smile as he could muster, and moved into the room, stopping front of the large table. “You sent for me, sire.”

The King nodded, “I was surprised to hear that you sent the young Liras back to the Moon City so soon.”

“Yes, well some of the men were having a difficult time adapting to the customs of your great kingdom, and were longing to return back to the city. After the festivities had concluded, I decided that they would be better served on the road home than sitting in the barracks waiting for me to eat a drink the days away.” Narris had an odd feeling about the room, but he could not say what it was that had alarmed him. As he carefully looked around he saw only six knights clad in armor as custom of the Keep Guards. They were tucked away neatly against the wall, standing stiff as statues.

“It is no matter,” the King rose and paced slowly around the table. “I had planned to request that you and your men serve as my own personal guards on the long trek to Lilanth so that I might pledge my love to your great Queen.” The King’s smile was toxic. “I am most looking forward to meeting her. They say she is the most beautiful woman in the world.”

Narris managed to keep a straight face. “And your plans now?”

“I can still use you and your men, though you will no doubt be less effective. We will leave on the morrow. I expect your host to be ready and at the gates at day break.”

Every member of the small council was staring at him in amusement. They all knew—everyone but him. “Your Grace,” was all he said with a bow. He turned and exited as quickly as he could. It was a natural feeling for Narris to want to squeeze the life out of someone occasionally, but the King seemed to push him further than anyone.

The walk back to his room was short, but plagued with fleeting thoughts and primal desires. His orders were not to escort the King all the way south to Lilanth. What is there to be done otherwise, he thought. There would not be a warm welcome waiting for him if the Queen thought that he thwarted the peace agreement before it even began with no other reason than to protect his pride. Damn the King. Damn him to hell.

As he approached the room to the solar he noticed that his guards were gone, along with the Keep Guards. He loosened the strap that held in his daggers and moved into the large room. The large man was standing with his back to the door near the fire pit, warming his hands once more, as was becoming customary.

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