Chapter 31

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The young woman faltered, clearly torn between her loyalty to her mistress and her fear of the consequences that her loyalty could result in. "Yes, she was," the woman finally managed.

But Athar had already made up his mind. "It is obvious by the length of time it has taken you to respond that the truth differs." The King's Advisor summoned two other guards and ordered the woman to be led away.

"That is enough Athar!" The Prince's words stopped the guards in their tracks and silenced the loud murmurs in the hall. "Leave Fhyndhella and her father and her attendant out of this. This is between you and me."

The wizard stroked his beard slowly. Though he looked to the Prince, he spoke to the guards, his voice just above a whisper. "You will carry out my order or you will find yourselves occupying the cells on either side of hers." Unsure of themselves, the guards decided to adhere to the orders of the party currently in power and led the woman away. They did not even know that the wizard bent their wills to his own.

Then Athar drew himself up and wrapped himself in a glamour. Those in the hall looked upon him with awe. When he addressed the assembly, his voice was strong and compelling. "I have held the position of King's Advisor for a great many years and through many reigns. And while all the Kings and Princes I have known have had their differences, none were as pronounced nor as serious as those between Nherycyn and Rhenycyn. They were repeatedly at odds with each other over numerous issues, some of great import. It is no secret that the King delegated many of his responsibilities to me instead of Rhenycyn. You are all aware of this and you all know why. Nherycyn had little confidence that his son could adequately rule this kingdom.

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