Slumber Page 35

Kir shrugged, looking between us both. “I didn’t know it was you. I got word that a fancy gent and lady were here and I knew the Markiz would be interested.”

I gaped, feeling disorientated and lost. “The Markiz?”

Kir nodded grimly. “Things have been changing in Vasterya for a while now, Rogan.”

Wolfe growled, “Changing how?”

Gesturing to the bed, Kir slumped down into the armchair. As I took a seat beside Wolfe on the bed I realised how much older Kir looked than Wolfe, despite them being of the same age. It was almost as if Kir had seen too much; whatever he had gone through had made a physical impression on him.

“Who do you think set the rookery up, Wolfe?” Kir exhaled slowly, seeming pained to be having to explain this.

I was still completely lost but Wolfe drew in a breath, “Markiz Solom.”

“What?!” I squeaked, any colour in my cheeks surely having completely leached out now. What on haven were they talking about? Why would the Markiz create the rookery?

“The Markiz cottoned on to the fact that the Princezna’s powers were beginning to weaken in Vasterya. Suddenly all these plans and feelings he had buried inside himself were bursting forth, being allowed free reign. With no word from Silvera that there was anything wrong with the Princezna, tipping him off that there was some kind of cover up going on, the Markiz began making plans.”

“What kind of plans?” Wolfe asked softly, and I knew that menacing quiet did not bode well.

Kir shrugged again. “I was working for him, he found a Glava useful and he paid me well. When things began to change he put his plan to take the sovereignty over into action.”

My stomach plummeted and I felt like I had been kicked in the ribs. “Take the sovereignty over?! Is he insane?!”

“Yes.” Kir nodded. “Quite possibly. He’s started training an army. He paid me to start the rookery up, hoping that a gangland at the border would put off visitors who may take tales back to Silvera. So far it’s worked.”

Wolfe was frowning. “I sent men in only a few weeks ago. There was no mention of an army.”

“No there wouldn’t have been. The army is trained out in the west near the sand dunes. And the people of Pharya are almost religious in their belief in the Markiz and would never betray him. Without the Dyzvati power these people are easily brainwashed, especially with food and money.” He snorted and gestured around him. “Even I’ve been brought low by it.”

I narrowed my eyes on him, suddenly understanding his role in this. “You would have let him do this? Bring an army into Silvera? Betray Haydyn?”

My old friend remained expressionless as he replied in a flat voice, “I suspected Haydyn was unwell and that it was being dealt with. I expected this madness to be over soon and for me to return to working for the Markiz who would remain a Markiz, not a Kral.”

Remembering the boy who had fought so savagely against Syracen when he hurt me, who had taken a lashing unlike anything I had ever seen, I wanted to believe him, but there was a hollow darkness in Kir’s eyes that hadn’t been there those many years ago.

Wolfe cleared his throat, breaking the strained look Kir and I shared. “So what were you planning on doing with us?”

“Making sure you weren’t spies. I thought the Markiz would pay good money for you. And he certainly would pay good money to get his hands on the Captain of the Royal Guard and the Handmaiden of Phaedra.” Kir shook his head, grinning wryly, not seeming to believe we were here. “But he won’t find out about you. I would never let any harm come to either of you.”

I exhaled sharply, my relief palpable. “Thank you, Kir.”

He threw me a boyish smile, one so genuine we could have been children again, planning new ways to harass Syracen, consequences be damned. He looked me over and I felt his gaze sharpen. “I knew you were pretty, Rogan, sweetheart, but I had no idea you’d turn out so well.”

I felt Wolfe stiffen beside me at the compliment and tried not to blush at Kir’s roguishness. He had been like that as a young teenager as well. In fact he’d once kissed me on the cheek when Syracen was visiting at the palace. Kir had gotten away from him and come to find me. I think I’d been hiding out in the gardens, terrified to be in the same building as Stovia. Sensing my unease, Kir had teased me into playing a game of tag with him. A few games in and we heard Syracen bellowing for Kir from the bottom of the gardens. Kir’s eyes had hardened but when he saw me watching he’d turned his bright smile on me and swooped down, planting a kiss on my rosy cheek, telling me he’d be back for me.

“You’re just the same,” I laughed, shaking my head at him.

His eyes told me he disagreed before he turned to Wolfe. “What about you, Wolfe? How is life treating you these days? Got a wife yet?”

Wolfe grunted.

Kir didn’t seem to be bothered by Wolfe’s monosyllabic response and instead stood to his feet. “You look like you both could do with a bath and some food.”

Immediately panic set in, Haydyn’s face swimming before me. “Actually, Kir, we really need to be going.”

“Where are you heading?”

For some reason I wasn’t sure we should share that information with Kir and wasn’t surprised when Wolfe grunted, “Ryl.”

We weren’t going to Ryl. We were going to Caera, but if anyone had intercepted the messenger then he would verify that we had wanted him to contact people in Ryl. Plus, the Guard were in Ryl. No rookery gang could outfight the Guard.

So, Wolfe didn’t quite trust Kir either. I felt a pang of guilt that I shoved away forcefully. Nothing could get in the way of saving Haydyn. Not even an old friend.

Kir nodded. “Well you’ll need horses. I can get you horses. But I have a lot of explaining to do to the gang and well… you both look like you could do with some freshening up and some rest. Let me have the bath filled, and Wolfe you need to take care of that wound.”

We didn’t argue with Kir. Mostly because I think we were desperate for a bath. It was the spoiled upbringing in us both. Kir had a couple of the men fill the bathtub with hot water and I left the room with Kir, while Wolfe bathed. He took me to another room down the hallway, away from the gang members. It too was kept quite clean, a couple of armchairs here and there, painted theatre posters covering the chipped walls. I sat down, confused by the strange mix of alien and familiarity in being with Kir. I smiled in thanks as he handed me a glass of water and sipped greedily, not realising how thirsty I was. My eyes widened at the touch of Kir’s fingers on my face, but he was just tipping my cheek to the side for a better look. His green gaze darkened to the colour of the forest at night.

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