Kane gazed upon his wraiths with utter disbelief, though his surprise did not show. Their failure shouldn't have surprised him, but he had dared to hope. "Tell me again. Tell me exactly what transpired."
Two wraiths stood before him; the other sixteen stood back at a distance. Behind the lot of them was the familiar backdrop of flames. Just recently he had increased his numbers to twenty-five. It took a great deal of strength to ensnare a single wrath, and each took its toll to retain. It would be many days before he could replace those he had lost. He was down to eighteen now...
The two before him recounted the same story they had just told him in greater detail this time. They went south, just as they were commanded. They converged on the king's tower while King Talon was away—distracted with the Gobelins in the East. They confronted the tower guards and stormed the interior. The king's backup arrived. Their group was detained on account of this, but quickly regained control. The human soldiers were no match for their evil. Only the king's Drengr put up any real fight.
"Just when we had the advantage," one hissed, "the girl appeared."
At hearing this a second time, his frustration increased. Lady Claire had arrived and taken up the fight. She separated herself from the others. Two fights followed, one on the tower's upper level, and one in the king's study. The majority of the Vodar were up on the main level keeping the bulk of the defense occupied. The capture was supposed to be easy, but somehow Claire had sensed their intentions.
"As their protector, she is drawn to the Stones," he explained. "Cyrus entrusted the duty to her. She sensed their danger. That is how their magic works—I warned you beforehand."
"We did not realize her strength, my lord."
"Clearly, else I would have twenty-five of you instead of eighteen." He silently cursed under his breath. "And you are certain of the magic she used?"
"Certain without a doubt. Her green flames turned them to ash. They are no more."
"Gods! She has found a way to completely eliminate you. This will not do." His nose flared in anger. "You are sure the flames were green?" he asked once more.
"Positive, my lord."
"Sprite magic," he cursed, saying the words as if they tasted like soap. "And what of the rest of you? Where were you while all this was going on?"
A wraith from the back stepped forward. "Fighting upstairs, my lord. We killed all soldiers but one. We could not best the king's Drengr. Once that was apparent, we retreated."
"I see. All soldiers but one, you say?"
"Aye, he was well protected. We wounded him but there was a girl. Her magic kept our poison at bay. Shortly thereafter he was taken away."
"The Seer! I should have known." He closed his eyes for the length of several slow breaths. "Such a shame..." He felt his lips curve into a smile before he opened his eyes to gaze at the Vodar. "Yes, such a shame for poor Saffra." He sighed. "Very well then. What is done, is done. Your misstep will require a change of plans. I hope you understand how inconvenient this is."
"Our deepest apologies, my lord."
"Yes, yes. I am used to those by now." He went to the large map still spread over his monstrous ironwood table. His eyes slid over it, landing on a small dot surrounded by little notes written in his own scrolling handwriting. He bent over the small dot and studied it. He had done the same thing several times that morning. It had become a daily habit. He would continue to scrutinize his choice until the final stone rested there. He needed to be certain this was the place.
He had hoped to send Wrath away. The clan leader had plans in place to carry out their biggest mission yet. Unfortunate as it was, that would have to wait. He needed to hide the final Dragon Stone first. He needed Wrath for that.
He turned to face his dark assassins. "There is something I must do. In the meantime, I have a use for you." The Vodar stood silently, awaiting their next orders. "I have been too lax on King Talon. It is time for him to feel pain...closer to home. Travel into Eigaden. Begin killing the children first, then the women, then the men. One death each night—unrelated. Let them feel widespread terror." As he said this, he smiled. "I dare say you won't complain about adding a few more souls to your tethers."
"We would be honored..."
"Honored?! Like you have a choice! Come." He called them to his side where he leaned over the map. "There, there, and there. Start with those three first. Break into three groups and split up. I will summon you back when I have need of you. Now go."
After a murmur of acknowledgement, they fled like black smoke through the cracks in the rock.
When he was finally alone, he went to his desk and took a seat. From a drawer he removed a box. When he ran his hand over the box, it opened for him. Wrapped in silk he found his final Dragon Stone. He left this for last because it felt better; he liked the color better too.
"Wrath—plans have changed. Our mission must wait. We will hide the final Stone first, then you are free to carry out your massacre."
Wrath was out flying over Ice Lake. He did not sound happy about the change. "I already prepared my clan for our coming feast. You tell me I must wait?"
"You must. Remember, if they surrender quickly, there may not be much of a feast anyway. Is that going to be a problem?"
There was a long silence—longer than Kane liked. At last Wrath answered, "We will wait. I will help you hide your remaining Stone."
"Be ready to leave at dawn."
When dawn arrived, they departed south on the back of Wrath the Red. In his pocked wrapped in silk, was the remaining Dragon Stone. He loathed to give it up, but it would be safer this way. If he were ever caught with one...well, he simply couldn't allow that to happen.
He planned to reveal himself to the kingdom at the battle for Fort Squall. If things went badly, he could not risk capture with a Stone in his pocket. While transporting himself throughout the kingdom was easy, the Stones could not travel with him. He would be cornered, forced to give up the Stone to save his own skin. He would never let it get to that. He had a war to fight; the Stones would simply have to wait.
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Reyr the Gold (Dragonwall Series 2)Fantasy
After fulfilling an Unbreakable Promise to Cyrus ( a Drengr Claire rescues), she finally accepts her new life in Dragonwall. She has discovered a new purpose--a purpose she created for herself to save Dragonwall. It is her destiny to defeat Kane, th...