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King of Blades – Chapter 9 “Settling In”

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“We are completely unprepared,” the Algoman prince explained that evening. “We had no information suggesting that Reesh was going to attack us. All we had gathered was that he planned to attack Phelin. We were preparing to send an envoy here the very day we were attacked, but he never had the chance to leave.”

“We’ve been aware of the threat,” Wildas assured him. “We weren’t aware that Algoma would be attacked, though.”

Coulta, who had spent all afternoon contacting his spies to be sure of this, nodded and added, “None of our people knew about it until the rumors started a few days ago.”

General Ruairi sighed and shifted in his chair. “It’s amazing how well Reesh’s men kept their mouths shut about that part of the plan.”

Jaimathan shook his head. He actually looked like royalty now that he was clean and dressed in clothes that must have come from the wardrobe of one of Wildas’ brothers. “It would have been nice to have had warning, yes. My parents and sister are in hiding with their Guardians, now that Reesh has infiltrated the castle.”

“But Queen Cyra doesn’t want us to send aid?” Admiral Pavle questioned, stroking his short beard.

“Our sources tell us that Reesh will attack Phelin as soon as your forces leave to aid Algoma,” Jaimathan explained, shaking his head. “My mother wishes me to stay here until the entire situation has played out.”

“An interesting request,” Rohan replied.

Jaimathan gave him a tight smile. “My presence here will be useful to you, if the attack comes.”

Coulta wasn’t sure what sort of political advantage the Algoman could offer, but he wasn’t about to ask. He could tell Rohan was thinking the same thing, as he simply raised a brow in response to their guest’s declaration.

“I don’t doubt that,” Shelton stated, making Coulta wonder if his mentor knew something that no one else did.

_____

Over the next several weeks the Algoman guests became an unremarked upon part of the castle life. There had been a stir among the castle servants and the citizens of Ryal for the first few days, and the members of Wildas’ extended family constantly called upon the prince to welcome him. When he wasn’t being greeted and honored, Jaimathan could usually be found socializing with any of Wildas’ top advisers. Wildas more or less took him on as another adviser, requesting his presence at every evening meeting.

Braith was usually to be found working with Shelton and the other mages, and both Myri and Anil were clearly forming a close friendship with Fae. Alidex, meanwhile, kept to himself and was often seen wandering the castle halls at odd hours. He didn’t break his agreement to respect closed doors, but he seemed to get quite a bit of enjoyment out of startling the cooking staff and passing through the throne room while Wildas was hearing petitions. He even wandered in to watch Coulta training his spies one afternoon, standing in a corner of the Hall with his tail swishing and his eyes following every move. Coulta had witnessed the unicorn’s ability to speak, but he was surprise to note that Alidex rarely spoke to anyone but Jaimathan and Shelton, who had managed to earn his respect somehow. Coulta figured it had something to do with Shelton’s unsurpassed magical abilities.

Then, four weeks after the Algomans arrived, something very strange happened.

Coulta was with Wildas, Shelton, and Rohan in Wildas’ office. Shelton had been speaking with the kings about their most recent updates from Algoma, when Rohan had arrived to make a request of his brother.

“I need your permission to hold a trial for a place in the Guard,” Rohan announced.

Wildas waved a hand at him. “Go ahead.”

“Then, I also need your blessings for me to be married.”

They all looked at him curiously. Rohan was one of the last people Coulta ever expected to be married.

“Are these requests related?” Wildas questioned warily.

Rohan looked away from all of them. “Possibly.”

“Are you marrying her because you actually care about her, or because she’s carrying your child?” the Grand King demanded.

“Both,” Rohan declared.

Coulta had a feeling that if Wildas hadn’t been so stressed, he wouldn’t have been reacting so badly to his brother’s situation. Wildas was fuming, though, and Coulta took a step closer in an attempt to calm him. Before Coulta could reach his husband, however, Wildas snapped. The Grand King picked a glass paperweight off of his desk behind him, and hurled it at Rohan. The Guard General bellowed a curse as the paperweight shattered before him on the stone floor, and stumbled back against the wall as a black and silver flame erupted where it landed, then quickly puffed out.

Everyone stared at Wildas, while Wildas stared at the shattered, scorched glass on the floor.

“What was that?” Rohan demanded, pulling himself away from the wall. “For fuck’s sake, Wildas, are you trying to kill me?”

Wildas didn’t respond, just stared at the hand that had thrown the weight, clearly dumbstruck. Coulta could clearly see that Wildas’ hand was unmarked.

Shelton held out a hand to the Grand King, opening his mouth to speak, but before a single word could leave him, but queens came bursting into the room.

“Why do we suddenly have powers?” Myri demanded.

 

 

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February 25, 2012 - Posted by | King of Blades

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