I couldn’t see Samel so he had to lead me by grabbing my arm and pulling me in the direction he wanted us to go. It was unnerving to feel a hand gripping me that I couldn’t see and it threw me off balance to have him yank my arm one way or another, so I was glad when Samel stopped and let go.
We were in a room that looked like it hadn’t been used in years. It was caked with dusty cobwebs and the only furniture was a bed frame and a stool.
Samel appeared in front of me and brushed his hands down his clothes as if wiping dust off of them, thought I couldn’t see any. “It’s a good thing I go around invisibly,” he said. “My clothes are entirely un-presentable after trekking through the woods for so long.”
“Where are we?” I asked him, completely unconcerned about his clothes. “I thought we were supposed to be able to listen in.”
“We will.” He walked to a wall. “They’re meeting on the other side of this wall.”
We pressed our ears to the hard surface and listened.
The first hour of the conversation was nothing but accusations and guesses. Everyone was trying to come up with who might be able to conjure a grimulin and which country would have a reason to assassinate the king. Ryker asked Tallis if any of the ambassadors had felt any amnesty toward them or spoke of anything that may be an indication of plotting against Minaria’s king, but Tallis told him that none felt that they or their king was threatened in anyway.
Then someone came in and told them that the grimulin that had disrupted the meal had come from the dungeon. In fact, there was a whole prison cell full of them. The total count of grimulin in the castle was seventeen.
There was a lot of discussion about who put them there. Everyone knew Bayvlad was the only sorcerer in the castle and most likely the only sorcerer capable of conjuring a grimulin in Minaria, but because he was so close to Ryker and held a powerful position, no one would actually accuse him.
Tallis told me this would happen when I’d let him know about my idea to let the grimulin out. We could only hope that someone would mention it to Ryker privately, which Tallis would be doing as soon as he could get Ryker alone.
The meeting was adjourned without coming to a conclusion, but as we heard everyone else leaving, Ryker’s voice called Bayvlad to stay. When everyone was gone, Ryker said, “Someone is after the Hashna Stone. But are they trying to steal it from me or….”
I guessed Ryker was worried that someone suspected that he was posing as Radon and trying to know for sure by having the grimulin sent after the Hashna Stone. If the grimulin didn’t fly for Ryker, it would be a dead giveaway that he didn’t have the stone.
“I fear that it is someone who suspects what’s going on as well, Highness,” Bayvlad said.
“But who?” Ryker sounded like a spoiled child demanding to know why they had to eat their green beans.
“There is only one person who would have access to the dungeon, have reason to be suspicious, and be capable of conjuring a grimulin.” Bayvlad paused dramatically. “Tallis.”
My eyes widened and I kept myself from groaning. Samel’s face mirrored mine. Tallis wasn’t supposed to be blamed for this.
“He was the ambassador to Hashna, and you know that his daughter just came back from there. Perhaps she came back with some information that made him want to investigate.”
“But Tallis doesn’t know magic.”
“Not that we know of,” Bayvlad said, “but he spent over ten years there. He could have learned magic from the dwarves. He would keep his skills a secret if he was suspicious of anything. Waiting for a chance to find out the truth.”
“Then why didn’t he try this three years ago?”
“It takes time to conjure so many grimulin, besides, he probably didn’t want to do anything unless he was sure. The dwarves must have found something out and sent his daughter to tell him.”
Ryker made an uncommitted noise. “You know a lot about the grimulin.” There was a silence. “Why didn’t you tell me they could be made to be seen and told to do things? Like take things that couldn’t be touched by human hands.”
“Bringing them into the physical realm is a dangerous procedure,” Bayvlad blustered. “Only the foolish would attempt it.”
“Yet someone attempted it seventeen times!” Something slammed. “Dangerous isn’t some fairytale dog-creature. Dangerous is the Hashna Stone staying with my brother.” There was a gulping sound and I imagined Ryker was dumping some wine into his mouth. “Can you get those grimulin in the dungeon under your control or do they need to be destroyed?”
“I can control them, Highness.”
“Good. I want that magical dwarf stone around my neck by tomorrow.”
“But, my king, it will be difficult. They are very unpredictable and hard to control. They are likely to turn on the one trying to get control over them.”
“I saw how you made them disappear. I’m sure they won’t be too challenging for you.”
“It takes a lot of strength to get control over even one and I have spent mine dispelling the creatures tonight. It may—“
“I want. It. Tomorrow. Are you loyal to me or to Radon?”
“You, of course, my king.”
“Then quit acting like taking it from my brother will break your heart and do what you should have done three years ago.”
“Yes my king.”
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