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"Are you certain allowing this creature to stay is a wise decision, Sire?"

Galan bristles, wings twitching minutely at his back while he observes the scene beyond the window. Dusk is his favorite time of day, when both Gods have dominion over the land. Darkness paves its way through the fading light. The world becomes uneasy as dangers, real or imagined, disguise themselves in shadows.

As always, the sun is sure to rise even after the darkest of nights. A routine followed by the celestial being for longer than the oldest of memories. Nothing alters its course.

Yes, the sun is sure to rise again in the morning. The same cannot be said of this world's inhabitants. Namely the next person to ask him this very same question for the thousandth time.

"Why does everyone feel the need to question my decision?" He growls and spins to face the mage. Loth's slim figure hides under a full length forest green cloak, up to, and including the man's face. The end of a hooked nose and a pair of glowing blue eyes are the only features discernable under the generous hood. The mage shifts his weight under Galan's intense glare and leans against his staff. The movement jostles the jade gem hanging from his neck, a magnificent jewel trapped in a carved dragon's claw.

"My apologies Sire. I don't inquire out of fear or ignorance, but due to the mark." The corner of Galan's lip twitch. He hasn't informed anyone of the woman's mark. Imagine the tales those fool of his court would concoct! The General won't have mentioned it either. The man is far too private to blurt out this sort of information.

Galan fully intended on sharing this precious tidbit with his mage, eventually. This is the first time they've spoken since the woman's arrival almost two days ago.

Loth's observation is on point, as always. Fear is the driving factor behind the question's repetitiveness. A fear Galan carefully cultivated ever since he became regent for his now missing niece and nephew.

"I don't want to know how you found out, Loth. I promised you a long time ago not to question your methods. Just don't forget who funds your little side experiments."

The mage bows low. His pendant swings outwards, gleaming in the magelight before nestling into the folds of his robe once more. "Never, Sire. I'm always and forever at your service."

A fact I am well aware of. I simply enjoy re-confirming it on occasion. "What can you tell me about the rare mark?" Loth's luminous blue eyes fix on Galan. Sometimes the strange ocular effect unsettles him, though Galan carefully keeps this information to himself. Any display of discomfort will give the man power over him. No man, or woman, has power over the King of the fairies.

"The ancient scroll state the bearer represents both Nialand and Koleth simultaneously, or is endorsed by both Gods."

Galan crosses his arms. "I already know this particular bit of information. Is that all?"

"Of course not, Sire. The mark only appears during times of great distress. Historically speaking, during times of war. The scroll was not well cared for. Time's touch degraded the ancient paper and much of the writing was unintelligible. There's mention of keeping the balance. Unfortunately, it's the only scroll with any direct mention of the marked ones. All the others are histories. Not only do you know them well, but they were written by the victors. The information in them may be skewed due to that perspective."

"Interesting. Not entirely helpful, but interesting." So the woman's here because some great calamity is about to befall his people. Perhaps this works to Galan's advantage. Surely she's come to aide him. If the mark names her as a champion, he should cultivate her and ensure she becomes his champion.

"Loth, I want you to visit the temples of both Gods. See if the priests have any information on the mark stored in their archives. I trust you to be discreet in this task." Galan also trusts the priests will remain completely unaware of the mage's visit.

"It shall be done." Loth raises his staff - a long, straight rod made of dragon bone. A thin wire wraps delicately around the shaft and holds a diamond in place on top, an extraordinary crystal-clear gem larger than Galan's fist. The mage mumbles the ancient words to a familiar chant and removes the concealment spell ensuring absolute privacy from prying ears. Galan braces for the magic's tingling sting, grinding his teeth at the necessity for such a bothersome spell.

"One more question before you leave. How are the negotiations proceeding?" The mage's hand pauses on its way to the door's handle.

"Well, Sire. They agree to be of assistance to us, so long as we hold up our end of the bargain, of course."

"This makes for excellent hearing. Payment won't be an issue if they're patient. Such a large sum suddenly vanishing from my coffers won't go unnoticed." He doesn't miss the irony of requesting patience from someone when he'll demand immediate satisfaction of the terms.

The door shuts behind Loth and Galan returns his attention outside, his world now fully swathed in darkness. Magelights flare to life, the blue, pink, and yellow balls bob in place as fairies fly by. A multi-colored display lending brightness to even the darkest hours of the night.

The Gods smile down on me, providing me with a champion. It's all I could want, a way to protect my people, and my reign, in these uncertain times

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