“Forgive me, mother. If you were in my place, you would understand.”— Embossed leather journal recovered from Karan Taul palace, author unknown
The carriage door shut roughly as three of the Claws helped Valasar inside, out from the cloying fog and the sounds of panicked citizens.
“Back to the palace, quickly! Protect the king with your life!” came a voice from outside. Arkis addressing the driver. The carriage lurched into life, trundling forward through the crowd as Valasar scrambled to a seat. Oros sat down opposite, Garn and Sarix standing watch by the door, green and red glassmail glinting in the carriage’s diffracted light.
“How?! How did this happen?!” Valasar’s face contorted in rage and pain, remnants of the woman’s mysterious liquid still running down the side of his face in rivulets.
Sarix and Oros looked to Garn.
“I…I’ve no idea, sire. He vanished in thin air!”
Valasar spat on the floor, a gauntleted hand sweeping over his face and coming away with purple liquid. “I told you, Garn! I told you! One wrong move and you gut him!”
“Sire, I didn’t have t—”
Valasar grunted loudly, sinking his head into his fists. Silence fell over the Claws before the Scalelord spoke again. “I want them dead. All of them. Do you understand?! Dead!” He made a pain-wracked vocalisation, pulling one gauntlet from his hand and rubbing wildly at his face.
“Sire! Are you alright?” asked Sarix, an air of urgency in her voice.
“Poison,” grunted Garn, moving adroitly from his position by the door to the king’s side, despite the rickety movement of the carriage wheels on the plaza cobbles. “Let me see, sire.”
Valasar lashed out, shoving Garn forcefully into a carriage wall. “Do not touch me! Dead, Garn! Do you understand?! No more chances! No executions!”
Valasar stood, leaning against the frame of the carriage with one arm, the other clutching his eye as he addressed the Green Claw. “Yes, sire—” Garn began.
“Silence!” Valasar turned his gaze to Sarix and Oros. “They have made me look a fool! In front of my own people! I trusted you all with this modest task and you failed me! You failed your country!” He took a few breaths. “I want every guard in this city searching for them. Seal the gates. The curfew stays in effect. If they are seen, they die.”
Slowly, the king removed the hand from his eye. A milky-white patina could be seen slowly spreading over it.