Chapter 2.1: Thronethief

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A legitimate death threat this time? Jeffrey Greenborne wondered

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A legitimate death threat this time? Jeffrey Greenborne wondered. 

As Steward of the Throne of Pent, being disliked, even hated, was part of the daily routine. This hatred was amplified, of course, by his abysmally low birth and the details of his dubious rise to power. Envy from less fortunate commoners. Disgust from blood-worshiping nobles. His list of supporters seemed to wither daily. 

The Inn Tower was the most luxurious lodging in the White City, the garish suites overstocked with opulence only the profligacy of royalty could fully appreciate. Jeffrey, however, cared little for such distractions. He hadn't been raised with wealth and even these years later still found himself uncomfortable around it. All he really cared for today was an inn that didn't have a man standing in front pointing at his window and shouting.

"The Proxy King! The false regent! The proletariat usurper!" 

The man had engaged in this full-throated propaganda for the past three rings of the hour bell, his voice astonishingly deep and resonant. Every word was diamond clear even at Jeffrey's remove. A damn admirable measure of skill and persistence. Jeffrey almost liked him.

The Steward pinched a folded parchment between his thumb and forefinger, keeping it at arm's distance like something rotten. He turned away from the window to read for the hundredth time: Quit wasting our taxes on the fucking peasants or we'll march your lowblood head out of town on a pike.

Troubling, indeed. The letter had appeared in the gap under his door sometime in past hour. It seemed he was a boulder in a river of hatred. Rancor flowed around his every curve and eddied in behind him. The vicious current cut away at him one grain at a time. Perhaps one day he'd be nothing but a delta of sand. Protester on the street, death threats under the door. 

A very limited selection of people had access to the exclusive Inn Tower, leaving only two possibilities: One, someone had broken into the heavily guarded area, making them extraordinarily skillful and, by extension, extraordinarily dangerous. Or two, it was from someone within his own cabinet. Either way was un-palatable. 

It means I can't trust anyone, especially the people closest to my side.

Firm knuckles tapped a stern beat on his door. Jeffrey set the death threat on the desk and straightened his gold-trimmed doublet.

"Enter."

The heavy oak door swayed open with some effort, admitting an abridged man with wizened eyes and baggy jowls.

"My lord," said the newcomer with a deep bow after pressing the door closed behind him.

"Master Gomes. It's an honor to host you."

Stevenson Gomes straightened his back as best he could and looked Jeffrey up and down. "You look magnificent, my lord."

"I look like a gaudy brat and no one will take me seriously. But thank you, Master Gomes."

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