Golnar sat at the large desk in the study off of the throne room in the palace, looking at Philo. He almost couldn’t believe what he had just heard. Could it possibly be true? Could Gryphon Keene finally be gone for good?
“You are sure there is no possibility she survived?” asked Golnar looking at Philo. Golnar looked at Gryphon’s staff laying on the desk.
“I don’t see how she could. I know where I stabbed her. I know what was on that knife that stabbed her. She was dead within thirty seconds. He protector arrived, but he was too late.”
“I was hoping you would bring me back some more concrete evidence,” said Golnar. He didn’t need her staff. He wanted to see her dead for himself. He wanted to be able to touch her body and know for certain she was gone.
“I did what I could,” said Philo in irritation. “Her protector and Talon Wendell had arrived as soon as she was killed. I had to leave quickly.”
“She is gone, Golnar. You don’t need to have any doubt,” said Philo. “We should celebrate. Their queen is dead.”
“Why did you have to leave so quickly that you couldn’t grab her body?” asked Golnar.
“Talon Wendell sent curses at me,” said Philo angrily. “Kedan ran at me with his sword. Kedan seemed very upset by her death.”
“He has become attached to the old magical folk. It’s no matter. He has chosen the wrong side, and he will see in the end.”
“Still, we have much reason to celebrate. We have practically won,” said Philo.
“We still have a long way to go, Philo,” said Golnar. “I don’t imagine the old magical blooded folk will just stop. They will go back to following their young king after a time. What happens with the protector?”
“I’m not sure. I suppose he will become the protector of the young king if he can go on. Ansel was particularly attached to Gryphon. He will take some time to recover.”
“It seems we have is a time to move our plan along without interference. We shouldn’t waste it.”
“How are things going in the city?” asked Philo.
“I’m not sure. I will have to bring Till in. I’ve been a little distracted of late, but now I can focus once again. I will meet with Till this week,” said Golnar. It would be much easier to concentrate on things now that he could actually sleep.
“The sickness is still spreading in the kingdom. I know the magical folk have managed to abate some of it with their cure, but I imagine they will not be able to focus on that as they had before. Not when they are mourning their queen,” said Philo smiling.
“True,” said Golnar. “How are our soldiers’ numbers? I know you have lost some in recent events.”
“They are lower than I would like them to be. I will need to see about recruiting some in the fourth and third rings as magic users are released,” answered Philo.
“I will mention it to Till when I meet with him,” replied Golnar. “Is there anything else we need to discuss?”
“No,” said Philo standing up. “I think I will go. I will go home and visit with my wife. I have been very busy lately. I will be very occupied soon being the regent of the kingdom. I need to take some time while I can.”
“Of course,” said Golnar. “Not too much time, though. There is a lot of work to be done.”
“Take a little time to celebrate, Golnar,” said Philo. “I know how badly you’ve wanted Gryphon dead. She is gone. She will plague you no longer.”
Golnar nodded. “I am glad this is over. You have done well, Philo. You will have all that we discussed. I will see to it at the next Ancient Council meeting.”
Philo smiled and turned and walked out of the room, closing the door.
Golnar sat back in his chair and let himself smile. It was true, the queen was really dead. He would never have to see Gryphon Keene again. He was very hopeful that she would never enter his dreams again. He would not have to see her eyes stare at him with pity. He would not have to hear her laugh at him. He would not have to feel the conflicting feelings he had of her anymore.
Golnar sat with his head back against the chair and his eyes closed. He could not wait to go to sleep that night. He could not wait to lay in bed and close his eyes. She would not come to him, and he would sleep with no interruptions. He could almost fall asleep right where he was. A knock at the door woke him up. He sat up straight.
“Come in,” he called.
Camelia Belles walked into the room, looking angry.
“Good afternoon, Camelia. I am glad you have joined me today. Please have a seat.”
Camelia sat down in a chair in front of the desk. She looked up at Golnar with narrowed eyes. “You seem to be in an uncharacteristically good mood.”
“I am,” said Golnar with a large smile. “I have had some very good news today. The best news I have had in a long time. Now, what brings you to see me today?”
“I am concerned about Teryn,” said Camelia. “She is not feeling well.”
“Folk get sick sometimes, Camelia. I am sure she is fine. She will rest for a few days and be back to normal.”
“She has not felt well in a week. She doesn’t seem to be getting any better,” said Camelia looking at Golnar.
“Has a healer seen her?”
“Several. They have all given her different remedies to try, and none have worked. I think she might need some other kind of healing.”
“What do you mean?” asked Golnar.
“She needs a magical healer. She is a magical blooded woman, she needs a magical healer,” said Camelia.
“Where do you suggest we get one? All the magical healers are in places like Abscon or the Valley. They won’t just come to the city.”
“Surely there is one somewhere we could find. There have to be dozens if not hundreds of small magical communities in the kingdom. Somewhere we could find a magical healer who would come for the right price,” said Camelia firmly.
“I’m not sure where we would start,” said Golnar.
“Can you ask Philo, maybe? Could we send a letter to someone in Abscon? They will not ignore a sick mother. I know they won’t.”
“The folk in Abscon will not be wanting anything to do with us at the moment, even if it is for a sick mother,” said Golnar.
“I don’t believe that,” said Camelia. “Write the queen if you have to. She would not want a mother to suffer. She would not want a baby to lose his mother.”
“It will be impossible to write the queen, even if I knew how,” said Golnar.
“Why?” asked Camelia. “I’m sure Philo could get some sort of message to her.”
“No,” said Golnar. “Where the queen has gone, no message would reach her.”
“What do you mean?” asked Camelia
“Gryphon Keene was killed yesterday in Abscon. Our plan worked. Philo managed to kill her.”
“What?” asked Camelia with large eyes. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” answered Golnar with a smile. “Philo was quite certain she was killed.”
Camelia looked down, twisting her hands together.
“What is wrong, Camelia. You seem upset by this news.”
“I was only thinking of my son,” said Camelia looking up. “I know he is with them. I hope they do not retaliate by hurting him.”
Golnar gave a small laugh. “I rather think he is one of them now. He tried to kill Philo in retaliation.”
“Then I worry what you will do to him,” said Camelia.
“He has chosen the wrong side. If he comes to Aurumist to fight against us, what can I do?”
“What if he survives the war. What if he surrenders? Will you show him mercy?” asked Camelia with tears in her eyes.
“I’m not sure. I suppose that depends on you, Camelia. Will you continue to serve as you have been asked?”
“I will,” said Camelia quietly. “If you will find a way to help Teryn. I want her cured. Her son needs her. If something happens to Kedan, Teryn is all that boy will have. I need you to find a way to help her.”
“I will do what I can,” said Golnar. “I will check on her myself. I will talk to Philo and see if he knows a healer who could help.”
“Good,” said Camelia. She stood up and fixed her skirt as she looked up at Golnar. “All I care about in this world are my son, grandson, and Teryn. If you let anything happen to them, I will make sure you pay for it.”
Golnar chuckled. “You shouldn’t make threats you can’t deliver on, Camelia.”
“What makes you think I can’t make this threat a reality. You underestimate me, Golnar. I have ways to make sure you fail. I have ways to make sure everything you have worked for comes crumbling down. If you cross me, you will pay.”
“I will try not to cross you then, Camelia,” said Golnar nodding at her. “But remember your grandson is within my grasp. Your son’s mercy will be at my hand. I can take away everything you love within seconds. Keep that in mind as you visit the fourth and third rings this week. I want to hear of progress.”
“You will,” said Camelia. “I have to go write some messages and have them sent. You will have to excuse me.” She turned and fled from the room.
Later that evening, Golnar sat in his tower alone. He had eaten a large dinner. The first time he had really eaten in weeks. He let himself relax as he looked over at Gryphon’s staff that laid against the wall by her door. He couldn’t stop smiling. He felt so light. He would be going to bed soon. He no longer feared sleep. It would be welcomed.
Golnar rested his head against the back of his sofa. A fire burned in the fireplace along the side of the wall. The rest of the room was dark. It was warm in his room, and Golnar felt his eyes grow heavy. Maybe he wouldn’t even have to go to bed. He could just lay down on his sofa and sleep. Golnar closed his eyes and slumped down. He felt himself doze off when he heard her voice in his head.
“Golnar, are you satisfied now?”
“Yes, very,” whispered Golnar.
“You are really happy that I am gone? You really wanted me dead?”
“Yes,” whispered Golnar. “I have never wanted anything more.”
“You like to tell yourself things to make yourself feel better. I’ll ask you again. Are you happy I am gone?”
“Yes,” said Golnar louder. He felt tears sting his eyes. “I never wanted to see you again. Now I don’t have too.”
“We will see if that is true, I suppose. Go to sleep, Golnar. If you are so sure you are happy with my death, then sleep.”
“I will,” said Golnar. He slumped fully down on the couch and stretched out. He closed his eyes tight and waited for sleep to come, but it would not. He willed himself to sleep, but he could not make himself. He changed positions, still sleep did not come.
He got up and took a sleeping potion. He went to his bed and laid down. He tossed and turned, but sleep would not find him. He laid on his back with his eyes open, looking at the ceiling. He thought of the queen. He thought of the fact he would never see her again. He didn’t know why, but he did feel melancholy. He felt as though perhaps he had done wrong.
Golnar shook his head lightly. Why was he doing the things he was? What good would any of this do? Golnar took a deep breath as he felt one tear escape his eyes. He whispered aloud to the room, “I am sorry, my queen.”
Golnar closed his eyes and found sleep. No dreams came to him that night. By morning he woke up, not remembering much of the night before. All he knew was he was glad Gryphon Keene was no more.