Chapter 7 - Talon's Intimidations

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The Great Keep, Kastali Dun

Talon stared at Reyr and Claire as they entered the dining hall. They laughed and smiled as they conversed. Her arm was laced casually through Reyr's. She wore a light blue satin gown that cut low upon her chest. Her hair was pinned back behind her, showing off her long neck. He found his eyes wandering over her, taking her in. His hand tightened around his goblet as he watched them. It was so easy for Reyr to be around Claire, so effortless. He was not blind to their budding friendship, nor was he ignorant of the deeper feelings Reyr had for the woman. Reyr hid them well, but after centuries of friendship, he could read Reyr as no one else could.

How he hated his scars more than ever as he watched the two of them-how he hated the man his misfortunes had created. His appearance and the color of his dragon scales were like a curse. He so often found himself envying others. Even now he envied Reyr as he escorted Claire to her seat beside Saffra. In his mind he envisioned a different scenario, one where Claire walked up the aisle towards him and took a seat beside him. She was royal, so why should she not sit at the head table? All those of royal blood always did in the past. When his parents were alive, he sat to his father's right while his mother sat to King Tallek's left.

He decided to make a point of informing her of this then shook his head. She already hated him. Forcing her to sit beside him during mealtimes would not go over well. Moreover, dinners would no longer be easy for him with her there.

His eyes remained glued to Claire as Reyr made his way to the head table. At that very moment, Claire's gaze found his. Upon seeing his open stare, she quickly turned away as if she had not seen him.

"Good evening, Your Grace." Reyr pulled his attention away and gave him a respectful bow before rounding the table to take a seat beside him. "You look unhappy, as usual my king. What is it you wished to discuss earlier?"

He did not answer immediately. Instead he considered his words carefully. "It is nothing," he said at last. He wished it to be nothing and he hoped that by silencing his thoughts, the issue would simply disappear.

"You are lying," said Reyr. "I know you well, remember? I can see the lie in your eyes."

He looked away from his life-long friend and sighed. "Claire does not look herself this evening. You were just with her. Is everything all right?" He glanced at Claire for the umpteenth time and saw her deep scowl. What had her so worry worn?

"And here I thought Your Grace would be more interested in this afternoon's drills," said Reyr, a chuckle rising from his chest. "They went quite well, in case if you were wondering."

"Cease and desist, Reyr. You know I already received updates from Verath."

"Yes, yes, I know." Reyr waved his hand in dismissal. "Just giving you a hard time." Reyr's eyes also darted in Claire's direction before he sighed. "I suppose Claire does appear rather upset. She had a long day."

After Reyr fell silent Talon was forced to ask, "Is that all?" He was certain his Shield was hiding something.

At that moment, the doors to the hall closed with a loud thud. Servants poured in from side entrances. The platters they carried filled the room with pleasant aromas. He felt his hunger rise. As of late, his appetite had been lacking. The pressure of his position was getting the better of him.

"I take it her lessons did not go well?" he further inquired when Reyr said nothing.

"You should discuss the matter with her yourself."

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