Authors: Dan O'Sullivan
‘And why doesn’t the Empress just send in soldiers?’
‘She tried. That’s why Rassut’s no longer in Orapba. It was like he had warning. He was gone from Orapba before we could blink. The people that the Empress put in charge of trying to remove him from Orapba are all dead. ‘
‘What about Khimerahd? How do you plan to find her?’
‘I was going to sneak into the building and have a look around, but those damned dogs aren’t making it easy. They’re trained to not take bait, and they won’t obey any but their own masters. Even if we had a bunch of soldiers, we can’t just descend on the place indiscriminately. There are people inside who I’m sure are being kept as slaves. There are women and children.’
‘I know you said your job was supposed to remain secret, but I think it’s time to get help.’ Kelian glanced towards the hut.
‘I’d be grateful,’ admitted Evan. ‘You have arrived at the most opportune time and I see you’re surrounded by a fairly powerful entourage.’
‘Captain Mercah said when we arrive in Tathra we would be met by someone we could trust. Would that have been you?’
‘I don’t know. I was supposed to be back in Tathra by now.’
‘So who in Alkira knows of your work other than your father?’
‘Just King’s Marshall Danil and your father also knew of course.’
‘That’s about to change,’ stated Kelian, standing up and walking back towards the hut. ‘It will have to change if we have any chance of finding your friend.’
‘She’s not just my friend, she’s my cousin. Aunt Leana is her mother.’
hope that she might be alive?’
‘I hope. Perhaps stupidly, but I do hope, which means I have to try to find her.’
‘Yes.’ Kelian nodded seriously. ‘We do. Where’s your daughter?’
‘She’s with Aunt Leana, back in Tathra. How I miss my baby girl, Kelian. Callum was right. It’s a hard life for the child of a soldier. It’s not easy for Norah.’
‘Well, the sooner we find Khim, the sooner we can all go on to Tathra,’ said Kelian decidedly. ‘Let’s talk to Borgulnay and see if we can come up with a somewhat workable plan.’ They reentered the hut and Timbul, Araas and Milgorry looked expectantly at Kelian.
‘Since I’m sure you’ve all been following my private thoughts-’ Kelian began.
‘Surely you couldn’t think we’d just let you wander around Qinel without keeping an eye on you.’ Timbul raise an eyebrow as if this was obvious. Kelian ignored the remark and turned to Borgulnay.
‘Did these rogues fill you in on our discussion?’
Borgulnay had the grace to turn red as he nodded.
‘Good. I want some kind of plan to get Khimerahd out of Russet’s Noose. Work with Evan and see what you can come up with.’
Callian regarded Kelian worriedly. ‘Kelian, I don’t think you, Elena, Immy or Louisa should stay here in Qinel. I think you should set out for Numher.’
‘I most wholeheartedly agree,’ said Administrator Tappy adamantly. ‘And Colonel Borgulnay and Captain Gilgarry should stay with you. The rest of us don’t matter, but you must get through to Tathra. Something’s been niggling at me about the Empress’ request. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know it is imperative you don’t let her down.’
Kelian considered Tappy’s words. ‘I don’t like it,’ he said eventually. ‘I don’t like sending people into a dangerous situation whilst I waltz merrily up the road to Numher.’
‘That’s something you might have to get used to, Majesty,’ said Tappy seriously. ‘There will be situations where it will be necessary for you to send men into danger. Just remember that the men you command have sworn to protect their Kingdom...and their King. They gave oath by choice. And the guardians, in actual fact you have no true authority over them, but by their nature they are duty bound to follow your command. I guess that’s one of the idiosyncrasies of being a guardian.’
Kelian stared around the faces of his friends. ‘So who is going into Russet’s Noose?’
‘Just me, Tim, Araas and Mil,’ said Callian. ‘If Evan will allow us to take his thoughts we’ll have some knowledge of the place.’
‘I can take you in there,’ said Evan.
‘No,’ said Callian. ‘If something goes wrong, it might be difficult enough getting Khimerahd out safely.’
‘And you don’t want me to slow you down.’ Evan tried not to look hurt and failed.
‘I want you to get Kelian to Tathra if the rest of us are returned,’ said Callian seriously. ‘If there are only humans inside, and Khimerahd is alive, getting out is almost a joke. If they have a whole lot of the fallen cluttering up the place...well, it may not be quite so easy.’
‘So we find each other in Numher?’ asked Gilgarry.
‘No. We’ll catch up to you long before you reach
Numher.’ Timbul walked to the window of the hut. ‘The night is passing. This changes our plans, so perhaps you should get some sleep.’
All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.
This first digital edition published by Dan O’Sullivan in 2014.
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in this novel are the work of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
Published by Dan O’Sullivan
Copyright © Dan O’Sullivan 2014
Dan O’Sullivan asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.