Crossed trajectories

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"You did what?"

Kirya Tellador was awake and feeling much more herself. She had been unconscious for three days, much to the consternation of all around her - though word of her condition had been the most closely guarded secret, with only minimal staff allowed to enter her chamber or even frequent that wing of the palace.

She sat in the chair adjacent to her desk and mirror and stared wide-eyed at Fenris. "You did what?" she exclaimed, again.

"He had been accused of assaulting you, your highness," Fenris said apologetically, his face that usual mixture of exasperation and amusement that he reserved especially for his dealings with her.

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Kirya said. "I don't know whether to be horrified or find it funny."

"I thought much the same," Fenris allowed, "though I failed to see the humour in the situation. But the accusation did seem especially tenuous."

Kirya held her head in her hands and groaned. "I can't believe you threw him into a jail cell, Fenris!"

"In defence of the palace guards, they did discover you both in a highly unusual situation."

"Perhaps they'd prefer I have these fits more often?"

"That's not entirely what I meant," Fenris said. "They were simply trying to protect you."

"My father is the one who thinks I need protecting, not me," Kirya said impetuously.

"You are the heir to the throne, Kirya," Fenris said gently. "I concur with the king's wisdom on this matter."

Kirya glared at him momentarily and considered retorting, then thought better of it. There was no winning an argument against Fenris Silt and she couldn't deny that he had a point, if she was being truly honest with herself. One of Fenris' most annoying traits was forcing her to dispense with pre-held misconceptions. The man had a pernicious rationality.

"What else has been happening?"

Fenris turned away to gaze out of the window. "Aside from your father's announcement of Mr Seldon's existence and of the celebration festival? I don't know if there's been time for anything else."

"How has the valley reacted?"

Crossing his arms, Fenris took a deep breath. "It is too early to tell. Word has not really spread fully to the population at large. Thus far the knowledge is held within the castles and homes of the nobility and guilds. There has been no shortage of incredulity, and much doubt. I suspect most will expect a ruse or a stunt of some form. Until, that is, they meet our explorer friend."

"I hope my father has considered the ramifications," Kirya said, sucking on her lower lip. "This will change everything."

"I think that's his intent, your highness," Fenris said. "You wield quite the strong influence over the king. Though do not tell him that I told you that."

She looked at him askance. "It's not for you to say, right?"

"Quite correct."

Standing, she straightened her dress then crossed the room to follow Fenris' eyes out of the window.

"Where is he now? Tranton Seldon, I mean?"

"In the gardens, I believe."

"Really?" she said, raising her eyebrows. As far as she could tell, nobody yet knew that Tranton had been trying to descend from the mesa, and she had no intention of revealing that knowledge just yet. It gave her a conspiratorial thrill.

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