Hatrilio's icy breath blew wildly in the dark night, the last sign. The birds of the air and the ships were tossed around violently in the tempest with many sailors abandoning their attempts to save their livelihoods. Whistling through the open window of Castle Yearn, the brown curtains billowed causing the dust to cloud the air. The muffled foot falls of the bare-footed maids rushed into the obscured hallway. With the slamming of a window the curtains fell back against the stone wall. The maids fell into position and quickly eliminated the grey coat and with a sigh left the area. They were safe for now.
The Lords of Geren sat stiffly around the iron table, their deep-coloured robes blending into the grey walls. Their faces, although bathed in the orange light of the sole fire, were pale and exhausted. Their eyes moved around the room feverishly, yet refusing to glance at one figure in the room, who sat resting his chin on his clenched fist. A deep drown was furrowed into his forehead as he stared at the large map in the middle of the table.
Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, Prosperian cleared his throat nervously. "Your Majesty, I do not mean to cause offense to your plans, but attempting to take the Grafreit Mines from the dwarves is extremely hazardous. Trying to take it by mere force alone would not prove a faithful friend. We do not understand the inner workings of those underground tunnels whereas the dwarves are born with the knowledge already seeded into their heads. Our men would be annihilated with we sent them in there. It would be devastating to send so many soldiers to their deaths."
The King deceased from staring at the map to fix his steel stare on Lord Prosperian. "Devastating
Swallowing slowly, Prosperian remained dignified towards the King despite the uncertain facial expressions from his fellow Lords. "Your Majesty?"
The King's expression became absent and unfocused and Prosperian found it difficult to keep his gaze in line with his. The staring game was second nature to Kawer. Unblinking, he spoke without emotion. "No matter how many deaths occur, if we learn something new each time then it is necessary. We cannot work the mine ourselves. That is a slave's work."
Morvin nodded. He did not like it but he also did not like to be on the wrong side of the King. Alovir was a little more displeased by this news.
"Your Majesty, the dwarves are greater in number than our own. Even if they could be forced into surrender, King Hraavin will not be subjected to such a way of life. His alliance with the elves would be paramount to our downfall."
Kawer averted his gaze from Prosperian, who had steadily grown paler and more uncomfortable towards the high ceiling. "Then we destroy this alliance, by destroying Hraavin."
A ripple of anxious and irate whispers broke out from around the table. Tarvin jumped to his feet, his face red with fury. "Kill Hraavin? You want our men to take Grafreit Mines and Marake?! This is outrageous! Hraavin is the only one who can control the dwarves! Do you not remember the Fallen Years? They almost destroyed us at Marake! You're leading us all to our deaths just for a pathetic chance that lets you keep your damn throne!!"
Tarvin's voice echoed endlessly around the hall due to the frightened silence of the other fifteen Lords of Geren. Morvin sighed and closed his eyes. His cousin Tarvin may have been just and right in his statement, but there was nothing more to be said or done. Kawer had installed some new equipment for individuals who decided to rebel against him in his hall; Morvin was there when the papers were signed.
There was a desperate gasp for air and then all was silent again. Morvin opened his eyes to see Tarvin impaled on the floor by a rain of poisoned bolts that had shot down from the ceiling. Kawer's getting more creative, he thought.
Out of the silence, Kawer spoke. "Morvin."
"Yes, my King?"
"Find Duke Ribello. Let him know he's been promoted."
"Of course, Your Majesty."
Morvin could feel the stares of confusion that were boring holes into his back as he left the hall. He understood their feelings; most of them were not used to Kawer's treatment of the Lords of Geren, but considering Tarvin was his cousin they must have expected him to protest or even show a flicker of emotion. But Morvin was older than they, and he knew Kawer. There was no space for emotion, otherwise you could be next.
A scream caught his attention and he turned back. Prosperian stood with his mouth hanging open. Tarvin's soul stood before them, being sucked away from his body as it was drawn to the Rift of Carala. The newly born Shade spoke in a hiss.
"Lies and deceit, lies and deceit
Your blood will coat this hall, Kawer."
With his final words uttered, Shade Tarvin disappeared from sight leaving only a lifeless body behind. Morvin watched Kawer as a tiny flicker of alarm broke his calm, emotionless demeanour.
"And you might want to be quick about it, Morvin."