ashes and snow

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Jaron crossed his arms. “We’re not sure, my king. Like I said, the body was found only a few hours ago, we didn’t have the time to check on it.”

The king huffed. He lifted his hand and started to play with a golden ring around his finger. Was it strange that Eira only noticed its existence now?

“Didn’t have enough time...” he muttered to himself. “You know what? When something like this happens, you take the time to figure these things out before you bother me with it. There is no excuse to come to me unprepared!”

Jaron nodded his head, looking down in shame, “I will do so in the future.”

Arkyn turned to Alastair with a deathly stare. Eira could basically feel its heat as she looked through Alastair’s eyes. He’d be a dead man if he said something the king didn’t like. “Did you know about this?”

He quickly shook his head, trying to stop his hands from shaking. He was starting to sweat. “I didn’t. I heard about this at the same time as you did, king Arkyn.”

“Alright,” Arkyn sighed heavily. He closed his eyes for a brief second and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Where there any signs of abuse or a fight on him?”

“As far as I could tell from only seeing him, I would say there weren’t any,” he breathed in deeply and straightened even more. “He is being examed as we speak. If there is any sign, we will know tomorrow.”

They wouldn’t find anything, Eira thought. She needed to keep the focus off of her from this moment on. No one could predict anything about her magic, or else they’d have to die.

Alastair blinked as if he had heard her and his fists clenched uncontrolled. A shudder ran through his body, and goosebumps appeared on his arms.

“Do you at least know who it was?” Arkyn continued his interrogation. His tone was sharp and demanding, with no excuse for errors.

Jaron shook his head. “I did not recognize him- I only know he was one of the guards because of his clothing.” His eyes widened a bit, and he turned to Alastair. “As the captain, you should know who it was better than anyone else.”

He nodded his head, trying hard to focus. His foot kept on moving up and down as he tried to fight off this strange feeling in his head. He felt like someone was watching him, digging through his mind like a worm.

Somehow it was true, but Eira didn’t like him comparing her to such a weak creature. She took control of his body and moved his hand downwards. She dug his fingers into his thigh painfully.

She kept this on for a few seconds, keeping his mouth closed and making sure that he was feeling every once of the pain. She needed him sane, but she couldn’t stop herself.

Flaring panic rose in the back of his mind. He was trying to comprehend why he couldn’t move.

“Tell me about his features,” she spoke for him, trying to sound as natural as possible. She removed her hand and crossed her arms instead, leaning back.

“He had black hair and was very pale compared to the others... maybe he was one of the guards that guarded the library underground? It didn’t seem like he got out very much- but that could also have to do with the way he died.”

Eira listened to Alastair’s thoughts, keeping him contained in his mind like an animal in a cage. The man Jaron talked about seemed familiar, but he couldn’t quite place him yet.

Jaron shrugged, “I wasn’t able to open his eyes to look for his eye color. His lids were frozen shut.”

That cold had really done something to him, she thought, almost grinning. But where he was now, he probably would have enjoyed a bit of the cool his body was experiencing.

Hell had never been blessed with pleasant weather.

She rattled her thoughts away from the man and concentrated on Alastair again. She freed him from her grip and let him forward again. He needed to ask the questions now, she didn’t know a lot about the guards yet.

Alastair blinked a few times before he registered that the two males were looking at him, waiting for his answer. He furrowed his brows and cleared his throat. “Did you notice any scars on his hands?”

It took Jaron a second to answer. “I think there was one on his left and two on his right hand if that helps you in any way.”

Realization struck him like lightning. “It must be Primitivus,” he whispered out. His heart started to beat at a rapid pace.

“What was that?” Arkyn asked loudly.

Something was dragging Alastair’s shoulders down. His features softened as he stared at the table, unresponsive for a few seconds. He swallowed and then looked back up. “If I’m correct, then his name was Primitivus. He was an old friend of mine,” he nodded at Jaron, “and a guard of the library.”

His chest felt cold as the rage and anger started to rise. He’d kill for his companions. It was what he had sworn, before becoming their captain.

But now? One of them was dead- Primitivus, his friend, his brother, was gone. He would get the revenge he deserved. “If it was murder, I want their heads.”

Arkyn nodded at him. “They will be held accountable for their actions. Blood will flow once it is declared that it was murder.”

A heavy silence crossed the room. In the back of Alastair’s mind, Eira was webbing the beginnings of her plan, an idea stuck in her mind. She would find his murderer, alright. And declare war on her way.

Alastair’s gaze was fixed on the table, unable to move. Rage and grief were burning his chest in an eternal fire, keeping him in its grip. “Are we finished here?” he asked Arkyn. “I need to inform my companions.”

“I don’t think that there is anything left to discuss now,” Arkyn agreed. He stood up, addressing both of them, “Jaron, you will tell me about everything once you know what happened, and Alastair, I want you to strengthen the stake of guards. I don’t care if its nothing, it’s still possible for this to be something more. If there is a spy or murderer in this kingdom, he needs to be found.”

Jaron and Alastair agreed silently. They stood up and bowed for their king and then turned to leave. Eira slowly started to retreat from Alastair’s mind.

She opened her eyes to her shadowed bedroom, slowly moving her fingers and toes to bring them back to life. Her whole body was tingling. She sighed deeply.

It was exhausting planning a war.

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