In the previous episode, Gremlaw, his wife and his daughter met with the King of Trathlain, king Lormenio, who informed them of the Empire’s request for Gremlaw to become the Trathlainian Ambassador. Readers voted that after speaking with his family, Gremlaw decides to turn down the King and ignore the Imperial request.
“We’ve all spoken about this, majesty,” Gremlaw told his king the following day, “And decided we’d rather turn down the emperor’s request.” His tone was respectfully quiet and he noted Lormenio’s disappointment at his words. The king did not let his feelings show for long however, stating,
“The crown thanks you for coming to our aid, please enjoy the hospitality of the palace for a few days before you return.” His, now harsh, eyes glanced from Gremlaw to his wife and then daughter. The small family, recognizing his dismissal, bowed and made to leave.
Outside the king’s chamber stood a tall and stocky man dressed in purple and crimson, trimmed with silver and sporting the DeLarouge coat of arms. Huleta felt her husband stiffen as he took in the hawkish features of Argrotiern, the most recent Duke of Tralandane.
“Your Grace,” Gremlaw bowed his head slightly.
“Gremlaw,” the duke greeted warmly, “How fares the academy?” He glanced at Huleta and Neevis who curtseyed gracefully, “I hope nothing is wrong?”
“Nothing, your Grace, his majesty requested our presence regarding another matter.” The thin duke nodded,
“Excellent, excellent,” he said enthusiastically, “Well, do not let me keep you.” He added, stepping to one side.
“Thank you, your Grace.” Gremlaw spoke in a neutral tone as he led his wife and daughter away. Argrotiern DeLarouge turned and watched them go, an unreadable expression on his face.
“I just don’t trust him,” Gremlaw told his wife as the three walked slowly through a grassed park dotted with trees and flowering shrubs, “You remember what his father did to us all,” Gremlaw looked from mother to daughter, “I’m sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Does that apply to me as well, father?” Neevis asked. Gremlaw suppressed a smile,
“Of course, my daughter, you’ve got the beauty and talent of your mother and me,” he planted a kiss on his wife’s bow like lips, “It’s just lucky for you, you got my beauty and your mother’s talent!” Both women looked at him in surprise before laughing. Huleta turned to Neevis,
“Get him!” She cried. Gremlaw ran.
Business at the Academy returned to its usual pace. A few new recruits were sent from the city to be trained in the arts of espionage, combat, linguistics and etiquette and two others graduated, Huleta’s tear-filled eyes bidding them farewell as the bond which grew between her and the youths was severed. The balmy, sun-filled days shortened and cooled in preparation for winter, prompting Huleta to take her annual trip into the city to place orders for supplies which would enable the Academy to survive the colder months.
“Have a safe trip, love,” Gremlaw said, hugging his wife and kissing her neck making her shiver, “You taking Neevis?” She nodded,
“She wants to meet with Tolmoran,” Huleta grinned, “Something about a book he mentioned he would lend her.” Tolmoran was the eldest of two children born to Mushi, the Lavashian woman who had aided Gremlaw’s escape from Lavash twenty years previous. Her husband, Dornoyen, led the DeLarouge household guard and had a fierce loyalty to the young duke, they also had a daughter, Salmira.
“Would this book have anything to do with secret trysts and kissing?” Gremlaw asked with a straight face. Huleta giggled,
“I think it might.” She said, “We’ll stay with Dron in the DeLarouge palace grounds.”
“Then I shall see you on the morrow, fair lady,” Gremlaw kissed her hand chastely and bowed in mimicry of a courtier, “Until then the sun will be dimmer, the stars less bright, food and wine will taste as poison and I shall count the minutes until I can gaze upon thy beautiful countenance once more.” Huleta curtseyed,
“Your honeyed words do quite carry off my breath, good sir,” she replied in an equally plummy accent. Gremlaw drew his wife into a tight hug,
“I’ve got something else that will take your breath away,” he growled, moving towards their bedchamber.
“Grem!” Huleta squealed as he dragged her across the room, “Grem! Stop!” Her laughter drained the fight from her and he allowed herself to be led towards their bed.
Late evening brought a cold wind from the east, chilling the tip of Gremlaw’s nose as he stared towards the city of Tralandane for any sign of his wife and daughter. Eventually the sound of hoofed feet pounding along the dirt road came to his ears and a lone rider clad in the garb of the DeLarouge family thrashed his horse up the final incline towards the Academy. Cold fright shot up into Gremlaw’s chest as he recognized the form of Mushi’s son Tolmoran almost throw himself from the panting mount,
“My…Sir!” The youth called, as he ran towards Gremlaw, “Your wife…Neevis…” In spite of the deep fear which had settled inside the man, he grabbed Tolmoran, supporting his weight,
“Deep breaths, son,” Gremlaw advised, “Catch your wind then tell me what’s wrong.” A minute passed eternally as the youth panted and Gremlaw was on the verge of screaming as Tolmoran cried out,
“Taken, sir. They have been carried off towards the north-lands!” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.erealities
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