Chapter 1.2: Conspirators

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"This is a very dangerous time," he said in a hushed voice. A single wavering candle separated the two men, one with an angular jaw and hard, dagger-point eyes. The other gray, weary and frail with years. Outside, the circle of wagons was quiet, the only sounds an occasional rustle or muffled cough. Night was far past full. Other than the handful of guards on perpetual orbit, the people were asleep. 

Except them. 

"Even the oldest can't remember a time when so much was at stake."

"I suppose so," the second man whispered, glancing nervously to the flaps laced over the entrance. One mistimed visitor and everything he'd worked for could break apart like a boulder crashing down  a mountain. His very life, in fact, would be forfeit. "But I keep my trust in the royal family. And in the system. It has held for 300 years, after all."

"The system is bullshit!" 

The second man's eyes darted to the carriage portal again. 

"Rollo Calazar is young and dangerous. He is much more a sovereignist than his father. Tahala's royal family is too soft to protect us if the Calazars invade."

"The King is a wise man!" 

"The King is a bird watcher! And I'm surprised the Queen's swollen head fits through Shamala's gate! And his worthless sons. One a poppy addict, the other practically an invalid. Tahala needs strong leadership!"

"What are you suggesting?"

"I know you are close to the royal family. All I am asking is to keep your mind open."

"My mind open," said the second man, chewing bitterly on each word. He wagged his head. "Open to what?

The grim man's creviced skin was as channeled as broken basalt. 

"Tahala must any cost."

"What you imply could be construed as treason."

"There is no treason in being loyal to my kingdom! And to the line of Omar Roberts."

"You question the line?"

He grinned murderously. "Should misgivings arise to who is the true heir, let's just keep our minds open."

The second man slouched. "It's late. We'll be in the capital tomorrow, finally. We should all be fresh for the big day."

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