Friday, July 24, 2015

Bonus Scene 7 - The Restorer's Son


The Restorer's Son - Bonus Scene
In which Zarek anticipates sparring with Kieran

After Chapter 25


            My sword danced, perfectly balanced in my grip. The young soldier across from me responded with such a timid thrust that I barely kept from decapitating him. “Attack me! Stop sniveling.”

            He swung with more vigor, but still kept too much distance to be a threat. How could I ever strengthen my skills when every sparring partner feared accidentally nicking the king?

            My mood darkened, and I advanced on the boy. One of my generals told me this lieutenant was the best swordsman he’d seen in years, but so far he’d acted like a skittish lehken colt. Before I could mount an attack that would force a stronger response, a messenger skidded to a stop in the doorway of the practice hall.

            “Excuse me. Sorry to interrupt, but you asked for a report . . . ” The skinny boy wrung his hands and shifted from foot to foot. More sniveling.

            I sheathed my sword and waved him into the room. “It’s all right. We hadn’t begun yet.”

            The lieutenant, already covered in a sheen of sweat, turned a shade paler and wiped his forehead. The messenger took a few cautious steps into the room.

            “The prison guard reports that Kieran interviewed the woman and she collapsed. The practitioner was summoned, and she recovered.”

            My brows rose. I’d sent Kieran to question the newest trespassers from Braide Wood, not kill them. 

            I sighed and sank onto a nearby bench. “You’re dismissed,” I told the young lieutenant. He gave a stiff bow and half ran from the room. I turned to the messenger. “Tell the prison chief I need a more detailed report. Keep me informed. Oh, and tell my aide I want some orberry wine.”

            The messenger scampered off, and after murmured words outside the door, I enjoyed a few moments of blissful isolation to think. Had I been wrong to trust Kieran with this small job? Did he plan to silence the prisoners because they had information he wanted to keep from me?

            Trust was never a wise plan. My grandfather had been murdered by his most trusted general, who was then killed by my father when he took the throne. I’d fended off several failed coups since becoming king. Kept me alert.

            Maybe I was slipping.

            Though I wouldn’t admit it to anyone, protecting my position every moment of every day created a deep loneliness that even a few convenient temple girls couldn’t chase away. My recent conversations with Kieran were a welcome distraction, and the strange Verses he recited stirred interest in me that I hadn’t felt in years. He’d had a chance to kill me and hadn’t taken it. Still, I knew better than to trust him.

            Kieran had been a welcome diversion and a good Perish opponent, but the things he spoke of had added new complications to my life. Time to get my focus back on protecting my throne. Perhaps I would need to interview the new prisoners myself—as if I didn’t have enough to do with Bezreth pressuring me to reopen the temples, the generals scheming, and enemies threatening every border. 

I drew my sword and indulged in a few patterns, then reluctantly sheathed it. I really needed a good session of sparring. A smile stretched my lips. Perhaps Kieran would be an interesting opponent and far less overcautious than any of my soldiers. My mood lightened as I left the hall and headed toward my quarters.

You can find more of the story in The Restorer's Son.


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