12

The main Hall of the Palace was filled with sudden silence as Rhyshladlyn stood and walked around the royal table to accept the missive held out by the currier who was breathing heavily, dressed in the silver and maroon livery of the Eighth Qishir, silver eyes wide as ey bowed low, hands clasped together in front of em, before ey promptly turned and took off at a run back out of the Hall. With a shaking hand Rhyshladlyn broke the personal seal of the Eighth Qishir and unfolded the letter, keenly aware of the weight of Anislanzir’s gaze on his back.

Rhyshladlyn Ka’ahne,

I have purposefully excluded your proper title because I wish not to cause an uproar that you must face alone as Azriel has informed me of the situation you are trying desperately to survive in Shiran City. However, that is not why I am penning you this eve.

I am penning you because I was informed as well of your requirement to be notified of the date of Azriel’s tribunal with the Elders of his race. My answer is that I simply cannot allow that to happen. Not just for your sake, but for the sake of the Worlds. For your sire’s race has not had one of your kind born to it in its entire history and for you to testify on Azriel’s behalf you would needs must come out as who and what you are. I cannot allow for that because if what Azriel has spoken of as what your sire has done unto you in the past for simple, small infractions of which you may or may not have been innocent, this knowledge coming to light would garner a much worse reaction. If that reaction is anything worse than what he has already bequeathed to you, I cannot allow for the chance because once he did it it would incite war. I will not risk tearing the Worlds asunder for the sake of one person.

Thus, as you get this letter, Azriel’s tribunal has since passed. His punishment was light and he was ordered to solitary living for forty moon cycles in his homeland among his race and closely watched by his Elders. He was not branded with the crime your sire said he committed, so you needn’t worry on that.

I wish you the best of luck, Rhyshladlyn. May your gods forever smile upon you.

Signed in ink and power,
Qishir Lulphé Akkensahn, neodrach of Lipharein
Sire of Thayne Firesbane and Xitlali Sha’i’akkensahn

Rhyshladlyn stood there just on the other side of the royal table, hands beginning to shake more noticeably as he read the letter a second, a third, and a fourth time, unable to accept the reality of what he was reading. Lulphé knew, she knew, and yet she would do nothing to aid him? With a howling whine low in his throat, Rhyshladlyn clenched his fist around the parchment and with a thought set it afire, the white blue flames of coldfire swallowing the missive in one brilliant flash before Rhyshladlyn opened his hand and let the ashes fall to the stone floor.

“What ails you, my beloved second son?” Anislanzir’s voice broke the silence like a blade through flesh.

Rhyshladlyn flinched at the sound of his father’s voice, hands clenched into fists at his side as that coldfire licked up around over his palms and wrapped around his wrists, leaving his skin and the fabric of his shirt unharmed as it danced across his bent fingers for a few heartbeats before it spluttered out of existence.

“Naught of importance, fahmen,” Rhyshladlyn responded, voice like glass breaking against stone, sharp edges cutting across the heartstrings as it scattered across the floor of the main Hall.

“Well then resume your seat and finish your meal, my son,” Anislanzir said, voice ringing with a glee that had Rhyshladlyn biting back a growl.

Turning to face the table where his father, mother, and siblings sat, Rhyshladlyn considered telling the Lord King where he could shove his damned glee before walking out of the Hall. But at the look of fear in Azhuri’s eyes, at the look of regret so plainly written across Alaïs and Anis’ faces, Rhyshladlyn sighed and moved back around the table to take his seat next to Alaïs on Anislanzir’s right hand side.

As the noise of the hundreds of conversations of Palace court and staff resumed across the Hall, Rhyshladlyn stared unseeing down at his food, mind swiftly trying to work around a way to combat this latest hiccup. Without Azriel, he was utterly alone, unprotected, unable to make any move without a near certainty that if he made a mistake, if he made a misstep, there was no guarantee Azhuri, Alaïs, and Anis would not be the first to be punished for Rhyshladlyn’s failures. And as much as he wished to bring this fight out to the open and call out the bastard that called himself Rhyshladlyn’s sire, it didn’t seem worth it. Not where there was so much more to lose. If it were just himself in danger? Rhyshladlyn wouldn’t hesitate. But as it was, he wasn’t the sole focus of Anislanzir’s rage, he wasn’t the only one that was caught up in this game of cat-and-mouse, this power struggle that Rhyshladlyn had no real doubt he could win if there were not innocents caught in the way between him and his target.

“Rhys, you needs must breathe, brother, before you catch Father’s attention more than you have by receiving that missive,” Alaïs’ high, clear voice whispered in his ear, making him jump slightly.

Looking sidelong at her, Rhyshladlyn sighed deeply, letting his magick settle and ground itself out as he picked up his silverware and once more began to eat the meal set before him even if his appetite had fled from him.

“We will meet up after the meal and figure a way to work around this,” Alaïs murmured, “for I assume the missive you just received had somewhat to do with Azriel?”

“Yes, his tribunal has already passed,” Rhyshladlyn replied, caught off guard by the way his voice sounded defeated, monotonous almost.

“What?” Alaïs snapped, clearing her throat when Azhuri glanced at her pointedly. “What?” She asked again, this time with less force and volume behind the word.

“Yes, Lulphé was made aware of the situation, was informed that I requested to be notified of the date of his tribunal, that I wished to testify…she purposefully didn’t send word until after it had passed,” Rhyshladlyn replied, taking a sip of wine.

“What was the conviction? Furthermore, what was her reasoning for knowing what is going on here and refusing to do anything about it?” Alaïs asked, turning to face him more fully, taking a sip of her own wine.

Rhyshladlyn huffed a low, dark laugh, orange-amber eyes staring hard at the half eaten plate of food before him, unable to stomach the idea of taking another bite. Leaning back in his chair, taking another longer sip of wine, Rhyshladlyn looked over at his sister, lips twisting in a poor attempt of a smile.

“He is being held in solitary living among his people and closely watched by the Elders of his race for forty moon cycles… her reasoning for not telling me about any of this, for not stepping in to help? She didn’t want to risk war. The crimes being done here are not worth tearing the Worlds asunder to aid one person,” even just saying it out loud was like admitting defeat.

Alaïs didn’t respond, merely stared back at him with a look of absolute shock before her expression darkened. With short, clipped movements, she turned back to her plate and finished her meal as fast as decorum would allow a female of her station. Once finished she laid her silverware in the appropriate manner across her plate and turned to face Rhyshladlyn once more.

“Come with me,” she said, her tone making it clear that it was an order. Giving respect to their mother and father, she moved around the table and headed out of the Hall, Rhyshladlyn trailing after her trying to ignore the sense of dread he felt as he did so. He knew without needing to look that Anislanzir was staring at them both. But remembering the letter he had burned not half an hour before, Rhyshladlyn found he simply didn’t care anymore.

*I will inform Anis that he may meet up with you and Alaïs in the usual place in the library,* Nhulynolyn murmured across their shared consciousness before his presence became distant signalling he had departed Rhyshladlyn’s body. It wasn’t long before he felt a sense of completion signalling that the message had been delivered.

*Do you think you can get to Azriel and let him know what has happened regarding Lulphé’s letter? Just so he knows I didn’t show simply because I was kept from knowing anything and not for any other reason?* Rhyshladlyn asked, dodging around the servants that scattered out of the way of Alaïs as she all but stormed through the Palace heading towards the library.

*I will do my best,* came the reply.

*Thank you.* No response came but the emotion one felt when doing something for someone they cared for came across their link before suddenly Nhulynolyn’s presence was gone.

With a sigh, Rhyshladlyn tried to have hope that this deadly game he was now fully engaged in with Anislanzir ended in the Lord King’s death and no one else’s. Because if the Eighth Qishir wasn’t willing to step in, then they and the citizens of Shiran City were well and truly on their own.

Faceless…Nameless…prevail us all. 

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