ALAZAR - Might I Join You, Wife?
Alazareth had a full day planned of checking on WaterRose and then inspecting the grounds of Nightway Castle and checking on the populus.
“You think it’ll take all day?” She asked sadly.
“Think you’ll miss me?” He asked over his shoulder as he finished wiping his face from the washing bowl on the mantle.
“I know I will.”
Alazar had woke up early every morning the last fortnight. Even the morning after the Forever Knight Ball. With a pounding headache.
Every day he met with the peasants to hear of their grievances.
“Your reputation as a good ruler is growing.” She murmured as she rolled onto her side to watch him.
“Why do you not sound pleased?”
She shrugged. “Perhaps I’m a bit envious. I wanted to be adored like that.”
“Don’t be.” He turned. Wiping his hands clean. “I do it for you. As your mate. I’m trying to make peace in the realm. Once we’ve established that, you and I will rule as one.”
She nodded. Cheek resting on her palm.
“What will you do, today?”
“I thought I might go see some of the villagers.”
He nodded. “Will you take Jacob with you?”
The knight I hand trained. Now assigned as her personal guard.
I could trust no one else to watch over her.
He pulled a white flower from the mantle and set it on the bed next to her. Dropping it on the linens next to her hands.
She smiled tenderly up at him.
Once she knew he was out of the castle. She strode to the window to watch him cross the bailey and meet the stableboy bringing out Erstwhile Knight. Alazar hopped smoothly atop him and left.
“Jacob!” Riaura called. Summoning the knight.
“Yes, Your Highness?” He bowed in the doorway, having been waiting outside at Alazar’s bidding.
“Please ready some horses. We’re going to MidGale.”
“MidGale? But I-”
“MidGale, Jacob.” She asserted decisively.
“Yes, Mum. Might I ask where we’re going and how long we’ll be staying so I can plan supplies accordingly.”
“To the Barrister’s House.”
“The Barrister-Danbur-But…He’s not going to like this Mum.”
“He’s not here.”
“Jacob! Are you going to guard me or not?”
“Oh, the hell if you’re leaving without me, Mum. He’ll kill me!” Jacob left to go prepared for the day.
Expecting he was down in the stables readying the horses, she went downstairs. Looking at the steps thoughtfully but as she reached the bottom step, she spotted boots and brown leather breeches. Her stomach sinking as her gaze trailed up to the plain brown belt and accompanying scabbard. Over a tan tunic. When her eyes lifted, she encountered the solid, knowing stare of her husband.
“Might I join you, Wife?”
“I uh-well, I was going…”
“I know where you were going.”
“Did Jacob tell on me?”
“He didn’t have to.” He said derisively.
“You read my mind?”
“No. I read your body language. I knew you were keeping something from me.” He titled his head reprimandingly. “You forget how well I know you.”
“No.” She shook her head. “You’ll not-”
“It’s too dangerous for me not to.” His eyes burned yellow. “You know I’ll follow you anyway.”
His tone brooked no argument.
She deflated. “I’m well-aware.”
“I won’t let something happen to you.”
“I know. Still, it’s something I need do alone.”
“I’ll give you space to do so. But if you need me, all you need do...”
“Is call for you and you’ll magically appear. I know.” Her shoulders slumped.
“You need not talk to him.” He offered. “I can keep him from you for an eternity if you wish it.”
For a moment she considered it. “No. This...I do alone.” She walked by him.
He caught her hand briefly. His fingertips trailed her palm and fingers as she walked. A reassuring touch.
Outside, Riaura found Ingenious. Making her way to the Barristers.
Once there she saw the front door was ajar. The house seemed impossibly quiet and no cattle milled on the lawn as they were wont to. She walked through gate and carefully closed it behind her.
A wide trail of seared earth rounded the side of the house to the open front door.
Riaura bent to touch it. Feeling the chalky texture.
Alazar rode up to the Barrister’s just behind her. Tying Erstwhile to a nearby tree before aiming for the house.
He found her following the ashen trail. Near the door, she heard voices from within.
“It’s time for you to go to his holding now.” Radix’s voice.
Riaura retreated a step and Alazareth caught her shoulders.
“What is it?”
“I know that voice.” She whispered covering her mouth.
He heard it too and his hair prickled in instinctive response. Radix.
“Let’s go.” He began to lead her away.”
“No, I want to hear this.”
“This is dangerous!” He warned in a hushed voice.
“I’m not going anywhere!”
If she fights me out here it could alert Radix. Alazar shifted uncomfortably. Tempted to haul her over his shoulder.
But she’ll scream. He knew with absolute certainty. He swore.
“This is foolishness!”
“No excuses!” Radix’s rasping voice rose and the smack of someone being struck. “You were tasked with something so simple.”
Danbury’s voice rose in a pleading response. “I haven’t failed! What more could I have done?”
“Control your fiancé!”
“I had her. She was my puppet for years. I don’t know what happened! I was suddenly banished from the Castle.” Charles’ voice cracked.
“Then you let the Knight steal her from beneath your nose!”
“What could I do?” Charles defended. “She’s been difficult to keep under my thumb lately.”
“You had your orders. Wed the girl, take the castle, and you get to be my ruler of Nightway. But now, you’re of no use to me.” Radix spat.
“Don’t kill me, Master!” Charles begged pitifully.