Chapter Thirty Two

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Blood trickled from the cut as the knife sawed through the meat, scraping against the metal plate beneath it. Lord Idris took a large portion of the steak and stuffed it into his mouth. He chewed generously before looking up from his seat, his eyes narrowing at the man standing in front of the dais. The room around them was large, not to the size of a Throne Room or a Great Hall in a keep, but large nonetheless. The walls were pillared with huge cylinders of marble with paintings and tapestries that would have broken most of the lords in the realm. Mayor Prichart’s manor was many things, but modest was not one of them.

“I am going to ask you to say that again,” the lord said through a mouth full of meat.

The man looked around nervously. He was average sized and dressed in mail armor and the blue surcoat of a Vintish soldier. He coughed his voice into action. “We have word from Bondary that Sir Jansan and his men have captured the prince and the girl. My scouts found them on the road northwest of Adremia, but the procession was much too small to have him with them. After some closer observation, we learned that they are only taking the girl to Harrendom. The prince himself is being taken back to Castle Bondary.”

Around ten of the lord’s men had placed themselves in various spots around the room, some of them eating, others listening intently. They were all dressed in the garb of common outlaws, and most of them had no trouble looking the part. Lord Idris had changed into a simple linen doublet and matching trousers. His hair was no longer pulled back, but flowed easily to his shoulders.

Lord Idris swirled the man’s words around in his head for a long moment. “It seems that Lord Borlay wishes to defy the king.” He pushed the plate of food from in front of him. “How was the prince captured by a halfwit knight and his band of drunkards? How many of his men did he lose in the struggle?”

“I… I believe none, my lord,” the man said with a deep gulp. “From what I could gather from the village people that saw the apprehension, the prince gave himself up without a fight. Sir Jansan, Lord Borlay’s man, surrounded him and the girl with around twenty men.”

A deep laugh emanated from the lord’s throat. “The Lost Prince, the man who has reaped death and destruction upon the empire for years and killed or eluded everyone who has ever gone after him gave up without a fight! That is what you are telling me?”

The man nodded his head. “Yes, my lord. By all accounts we can’t figure it out either.”

“You have men trailing them?”

The Vintish soldier shook his head. “Not him, my lord, only the girl. They must have split off before we were able to catch their trail.”

Lord Idris nodded. “Find her and bring her to me,” he said dismissively. “Alive.”

“Of course, my lord,” the soldier said with a bow. He could not have left the room any quicker without breaking into a run.

The lord rose from his seat and moved down from the dais. After watching the soldier leave, he turned to one of the men who had been standing off to the side of the large room. “What can you make of that move?”

The man was not dressed in mail armor, but wore a dark robe that crumpled at the floor due to the length. His hands were crossed into the sleeves in front of his body. Lines covered his pocked face and gray hair snuck from under his hood, his nostrils. He matched the lord’s gaze, disinterest written across his face. “The prince wanted to be caught. I would say that he has plans for Bondary. It is foolish to think otherwise.”

“He is willing to risk the gallows on the happenstance that he can escape?” The lord frowned at the absurdity of the prince’s actions. “Bold move.”

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