FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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RAESE - Keeping My Vow

Wilhelm Kingdom, Dread Country (Lost for seventeen years)

RAESE

Raese was awake for days. Trying to avoid the ghosts in his dreams. People so real to me, I must’ve known them once.

He knew the moment he fell asleep because he was instantly transported back in time, finding himself staring belligerently up at a king atop his throne, perched on the high dais. The floor in the throne room was giant gray slats of stone pieced together. With a Great Table in the Center. Currently behind Raese where he stood at the bottom of the steps. Red carpeting climbing the stairs to the throne and rounded behind it to mark the path to the King’s chambers. Giant oil bowls were lit on all sides of the room, brightening Wilhelm Hall.

King Lareth sat on the throne with a high crown jutting from his plump head. A prideful, greedy king.

Raese had never been one to tolerate being trifled with. I made a promise and I’ll keep it.

He and King Lareth had argued for several hours now. Both unyielding. Locked in this glowering exchange which had continued for several minutes.

It won’t be me that concedes.I can do this all day.

“It’s not enough!” Lareth shouted.

Cease your greed! Use some wisdom.

“It will be. We’ll use what we have to build your granaries. There’ll be enough.”

“There won’t be.”

Stop being naïve!

“There will. And you engaging in a powerplay with a Water Dread could result in the death of more men! You say you want to expand the kingdom. Is that going to do it?”

A muscle ticked in the young King’s jaw. “Have I mentioned I detest arguing politics with TreeCutters?”

You detest arguing with anyone more intelligent.

“You haven’t. But I’d hazard that’s to be expected.” Raese said dryly.

What’s he going to do? Hang me?

I’ll dangle there until they cut me lose. Then I’ll wake up and walk away. He knew from experience, unfortunately.

“How’d one of my TreeCutters become so bold?” Though still annoyed, the King finally eased and slumped back into his throne. Face impassive as he assessed the man before him.

Raese knew he looked unremarkable, layers of dingy brown cloth draping his slim frame in a makeshift cloak. With worn leather breeches beneath, well-used from days working the trees. The cloth wrapped his face, helping mask him.

But the shrewd narrowing of the king’s gaze told Raese he didn’t buy the disguise.

Raese sensed his small victory. “Another time and place, great liege.”

I was never good at pretending. Or lying.

Rhyers is a far better spy then I.

The king’s jaw jerked. “You’re quite comfortable arguing with Kings in Courts, aren’t you?” He brushed thin black hair over his shoulder. Steepling his fingers before his mouth. “I’d be very interested to know who you are…”

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