In a waiting chamber in a middle floor of the Spear, the dragon Councillor and his protege sat kneeling against one wall. She searched the patterned tapestry facing them. The dragon opened his eyes.
“The man you’re going to see – I observed points of contact on him. Communication disturbance, perhaps. I recognized patterns there, and I feel troubled about it. So be aware, in every way.” She breathed deeply, returning his look. He nodded and rose to exit the room.
The Princess rested alone until the door opened once more, and her father stepped inside. “If you’re ready, Soleil.” She stood and straightened herself, inclining her chin before joining him.
They walked down the hallway past two corner turns. The walls of the octagonal tower turned gently around them, regularly giving way to heavy framed windows.
“You’ve been made aware of the state of things at the Verdant Plateau and in the quarantine areas, and of the other new outbreaks. You’ve heard what he’s done over the last twenty years, so you have some idea of who we’re encountering.
“We’re fortunate in not having contracted the affliction. Though tests show that Sturlusson has HA235, he’s not developing symptoms. We’re not taking chances, so,” he passed her a barrier field mask, “here you are. Observe him well, Soleil. He’ll soon be on trial.” They donned their masks outside the guarded door, engaging the minute blue glow before they went in.
The prisoner sat on the floor, his back against a wall bench. At their entry, he rose to this feet. Soleil walked in behind her father. The man before her was not as he looked in projections. The air around him roiled with energy, and she stayed on guard.
The King Ascendant gestured to the wall benches, and they all sat; the Princess and her father on one side, Sturlusson on the other. “Ionos,” began Vario. “We found your agent there, one Teryj Lakos. From Hirylien, like you. He’s told us enough to find the rest. But we know there’s more. Where?”
A grin spread across Raev Sturlusson’s face. For a moment, the Princess’ vision grew dark, and her temples felt warm.
“Waiting, aren’t they.” Her voice sounded thunderous hearing it for the first time since she woke. Sturlusson raised his eyebrows. King Ascendant Vario turned to regard her.
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“It is a very hard undertaking to seek to please everybody.”
by Publilius Syrus.
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