"They what?" Michael roared at the five guards cowering before him. Fear was written plainly on their faces.
"I'm sorry, my lords," The leader of the group squeaked in a small voice. "They," He swallowed nervously, "The two rangers escaped."
"Escaped?" Michael asked, voice dangerously soft, "How exactly did they escape?"
"They ran. We were bringing them to you, and they escaped through the servants' entrance."
"Five men managed to lose two miserable, injured, prisoners." He stated.
"I'm sorry, my lords." The leader repeated, refusing to meet Michael's eyes filled with anger.
These men were idiots. How had they managed to let two outnumbered rangers slip through their fingers? He had asked them to complete the simple task of bringing the two young men to them from the dungeons, yet they failed. "You five are complete idiots." He said stressing the last word. "I want you to find them, and bring them back here. I want them alive. Understand?"
"Y-yes, my lord."
"Don't come back unless you have them, or whatever I was going to do to them, I will do it to you! Now get out of my sight." He ordered.
The soldiers nearly tripped over one another in their hurry to leave the throne room.
Once the brothers were alone, Daniel sighed with relief. He would never say it to his brother, but he was actually glad that James had managed to escape. He didn't want to have to torture him for the information they needed. He did not want to have to kill James, but Michael had insisted that it was necessary. They could not leave any rangers alive if they were going to succeed in taking Araluen for themselves. It will be quick James, he promised, I'm sorry.
Michael misunderstood Daniel's sigh as one of disappointment, not relief. "Do not worry, Brother, we will have all of the rangers soon enough. This is only a small problem that will soon be resolved."
Daniel answered absently; his mind still elsewhere, "Yes, of course it will, Brother."
"Now there is the more important matter of finding out the date of the next Gathering. We can break one of the younger apprentices we have captured."
This snapped Daniel out of his thoughts, "Sam."
"The ranger that James escaped with left his apprentice behind. His name is Sam."