Trials of the Prey – Chapter 5

Posted by Akira | Posted in Serial Fiction, Trials | Posted on 30-09-2016

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Sloane gently grabbed Lady Kunai’s hand and placed it under his arm. They walked down the hall flanked by a bevy of guards as they spoke.

“My lady, allow me to escort you to your office where we can discuss the queen’s wishes.”

“Of course, my prince.” She knew this conversation would be delicate or he would just tell her in the hall. She had time to brace herself along the way to her office.

Their path turned and winded down a narrow hall and then back to the barricaded main atrium, where Gannon’s last battle with the air golemn was still evident. Around the mess of the atrium, and through the administration wing, they traveled until they found the very last of the offices. Her personal servant,  a wolfen woman with long hair in tiny braids, tied in a neat bun at the top of her head, approached a large table with a steaming tea kettle.

Lady Kunai waved her away, “Not now, please. The prince doesn’t have much time, I’m afraid.”

The dark-skinned woman curtseyed to them both and returned to the kitchen, closing the door behind her. Sloane pulled out a large wooden chair from the table and motioned for Kunai to sit.

He smiled and whispered, “She seems receptive of the nobility’s will in this matter. She even told her lorekeeper this is to be a national mourning, held until the king returns and declares the empire fully healed.”

Lady Kunai closed her eyes just long enough to soften the expression on her face. Her shoulders relaxed and she whispered, “I must admit, I did not expect her cooperation in this. What do you make of it?”

“She must be careful, as must we all. We have not witnessed her dabblings in politics before, but that does not mean she has been absent all these years. She knows what is at stake. Padraig is important, but if the sidhe take the throne before Kirwin’s return, all the rituals in the world won’t give the boy his throne.”

Sloane paced the floor while they spoke, a concerned look on his face.

“Revolution?” questioned Kunai.

He shook his head, “No one wants it.”

“It’s good to know she is on our side.”

“Careful, my lady. I never said she’s on our side. I only implied that she has her own politics and right now they align with ours.”

They shared an uneasy silence. Revolution, a queen with an unknown agenda, a regent to welcome… it was all becoming too complex, even for hardened politicians.

“Have you sent your girls away?” she whispered. “Jasper wants to send the boys abroad and I said no. We’ve been arguing about it.” She rung her hands in a nervous gesture that Sloane felt was unlike her.

He shook his head. “Never have we needed to appear united in our resolve than now. We already have a regent. You’ve seen the gazette… people are talking about revolt of our working class. The king and his youngest son are gone north, his heir is in ritual… there’s no one from the royal house to present a united message to the people except Aurora and Dillion. We can’t leave them to tend to this alone. If we send our children away, it sends a message that we expect things to get bad. Regular people start fleeing the city, jobs go undone, posts are abandoned… if you want to see what leads to revolution, send your children away and see what the peasants say about it.”

“We can keep the children safe in the palace?”

He nodded. “Before he left, Kirwin went to great lengths to make sure his allies would be safe.”

“In the palace and out?”

He nodded.

Her eyes widened, “More than the guards and mages?”

“Aye.”

“You trust his methods?”

He said nothing, his face as stoic as she’d ever seen.

“Of course you trust him. He’s your brother in  more ways than one.”

“Thank you.”

“Since we’re being honest… and in the interest of full disclosure… there are rumors the queen has lost her sight. Any truth to that?”

“I would have no way of knowing.”

“Ask Kirwin.”

He scoffed and smiled incredulously. “I know Kirwin is my blood kin and my brother in the Hunt, and everyone thinks we talk about everything, my lady. But, I can never question him about the greater powers he shares with his queen.”

“Treason,” she said, bowing her head. Kunai inhaled and exhaled a long, steady breath. “We’re committed to her, then.”

“Aye.”

“We send a herald with her proclamation to the barons.”

“Aye, and the allies abroad.”

She exhaled loudly again, her shoulders slumping. “I forgot about them.”

“I didn’t. We must craft a message that conveys our commitment to the allies and the strength of our throne.”

“And we must send heralds in all directions. We don’t want a single nation to feel slighted right now.”

Now it was Sloane’s turn to sigh loudly. “Aye.”

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