Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

They reached the garden room. Both guards at the entrance bowed respectively as they opened the doors for her. Rays of sunlight penetrated from the glass ceiling. Each pane was tinted with mixtures of hues from greens to lavenders, all brightly illuminating the plants around them. The room felt more like the size of a large home, the expanse reaching farther than most peasant cottages extended. It was brown season, and the leaves and greens outside were withering away, just in time for the white equinox. But in the warmth of the garden room, the plants thrived and bloomed despite the crisp conditions outside.

Quietly heeling beside her, Fen was just as confused about the abrupt meeting as she was. “I’m sure it’s just to ask us what sentence I passed over Lord Bovin,” she said, sensing the wolf’s nervousness, “nothing unusual.”

He didn’t believe it. Fen felt something off with this meeting, and to his credit, so did she. Her companion’s gut was never too far off, and she always learned to rely on it. When passing sentence, Thea always curried a letter to the Viceroy with her ward’s seal, authenticating that the script had come from her directly. To have the king’s advisor call her to breakfast right after her interrogation was out of the ordinary and never happened. 

“Viceroy,” she said, only bowing her head slightly as was custom for her station. She was thankful it wasn’t from the waist; the pain would do nothing but weaken her in the eyes of the viceroy.

“My lady, “ he said, “thank you for gracing me with your presence this morning.”

The king’s advisor moved away from the small table that stood against one of the large panes lining the entirety of the garden room. He was a man who loved to listen to his own voice, always finding reason to strike up a conversation. Though he was older than the king’s 50 years, the viceroy had the stamina of a person scores younger. In his youth he had served the king’s father as head of his personal guard, and when her uncle came into power, he was appointed a seat on the king’s court.

“My pleasure.” She kept the formalities quaint, but made it obvious she wasn’t too keen on being summoned so abruptly.  “Was there something you needed?”

His dark blue robes swayed as he walked to the other side of the room, stopping in front of a tetrile plant. It was the only plant known to secrete poison that was enough to kill a living person. She had seen it used once before during her early years in the castle.

He ignored her question. “How does our keeper of the coin fare?” As he stepped away from the tetrile, one of the panes highlighted his gray hair, the blue glass changing his strands to match his sleeveless garbs.

“Not well,” she replied. 

Fen circled her and took his regular place in front, watching the viceroy closely.

He ignored the wolf and continued to speak to her. “How did he feel?”

“Above all, fearful.” 

“As he should have been. No one steals and gets away with it,” his voice deepened, “especially not one so close to the heart…or rather pockets of the kingdom.”

She nodded once. “Will that be all?”

“No, that will certainly not be all,” said someone behind her.

That voice. It was a deep baritone she could never escape. Her heart pumped faster, as beads of sweat dropped down the side of her face. Years have passed and even as she left childhood behind, the power in that one voice could stop her senseless and force her to bow before him without hesitation. 

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