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    The Silver Wolf-For Crown Or Country: The Eyes Have It
    Posted on Thu, August 22, 2019 by LordCeb
    CruelSummerLord writes "

    Caradoc feared nothing that he understood. He couldn’t fathom Xeravho, though, and that disturbed him. Xeravho was the one who’d come up with most of the details to murder Count Fedorik of Idee, while Caradoc was responsible for planning the military invasion of Idee that would come with the Count’s death. The country would be in chaos with Count Fedorik dead and Idee at loggerheads with Sunndi, so that South Province would overrun it with little difficulty.




    Chapter Thirteen

    The Eyes Have It


    Xeravho Charren Del Naelax was often referred to as ‘the serpent’ by many of his fellow South Province aristocrats. None of them ever called Xeravho that to his face, however, deeply afraid of incurring his wrath. Xeravho wouldn’t have minded the epithet, though, as he considered it a fitting nickname. His entire body was pale and lean, and he seemed to move to side from side when he walked, giving him an almost slithering gait. The tight-fitting robes he wore, colored in a diamond-shaped pattern of alternate light and dark green, only added to his snakelike look. It was his long, narrow face, framed by a mane of whitish-blonde hair that flared like a cobra’s hood, that truly made him look serpentine. His eyes were a cold, piercing green that seemed to be everywhere at once, with nothing escaping their gaze.

    Caradoc feared nothing that he understood. He couldn’t fathom Xeravho, though, and that disturbed him. Xeravho was the one who’d come up with most of the details to murder Count Fedorik of Idee, while Caradoc was responsible for planning the military invasion of Idee that would come with the Count’s death. The country would be in chaos with Count Fedorik dead and Idee at loggerheads with Sunndi, so that South Province would overrun it with little difficulty.

    “Everything’s going apace?” Caradoc asked Xeravho as they ate a meal in one of the private meeting rooms at the most exclusive club in Zelradton. While Caradoc tore greedily into the large ham he’d been served, Xeravho slowly ate raw fruits and salads with some raw meat whose source Caradoc realized he probably didn’t want to know.

    Xeravho waited several several moments after he swallowed before he spoke. Caradoc hated how that put him on edge, and hated the fact that Xeravho deliberately did it to unnerve him.

    “Of course it is,” Xeravho said. “The forged documents directing the assassin as being an agent of the Count of Sunndi have been drawn up. I’ve selected the agents who will plant the papers framing the members of the Ideean court as Aerdi double agents, and they’re preparing to depart for Naerie. What’s so important that you demanded to speak with me?”

    Xeravho’s eyes flared as he said that.

    Caradoc found himself wondering if those eyes were the last sight some doomed rodent saw before a serpent devoured it. He drew courage from his next words.

    “I have a feeling that Prince Xavener of Darmen knows about our plan,” he said.

    Everything else in Caradoc’s sight seemed to vanish as Xeravho fixed him with a cold glare. He felt almost hypnotized, yearning for Xeravho to speak so he could answer any questions the serpent had.

    “What makes you say that?” Xeravho said.

    “Because I’ve been hearing inquiries about royal artifacts like crowns and scepters that might be for sale,” Caradoc said. “I’m known for collecting those things, and one of the people making those inquiries was seen at Xavener’s ball heading into a private room with him last night.”

    “And you don’t think it’s a coincidence?”

    “No. What possible reason could Xavener have for wanting to meet that woman alone? She was a disgraced maiden of Cranden, hardly a suitable romantic match for him.”

    “You presume much.”

    “How do you think I survive as part of House Naelax? Xavener could be seeking to avenge his father for my insulting him at the Herzog’s court.”

    “By claiming credit for our plan? Or do you suspect some other method?”

    “I don’t know, but I doubt his agents are who they claim to be. For all we know, Xavener brought them in as part of his own plot. This crown, or orb, or whatever they’re seeking, could be the payment they collect for assassinating us…or part of some larger gambit on Xavener’s part.”

    Xeravho’s eyes narrowed as Caradoc finished speaking. He fell silent for several long, tense moments, and Caradoc wondered what he was thinking.

    “…Whatever the case, I won’t let it get any farther,” Caradoc said. “My lieutenants will deal with them, and I’ll review my collections to see which of my artifacts they’d be interested in. If anything I own has interest to Xavener, then it clearly has value beyond its workmanship or what it’s made of.”

    Xeravho nodded once, and Caradoc did well not to breathe a sigh of relief.

    The serpent was satisfied with Caradoc’s plans, but he knew there were still too many unknowns. That was a danger not just in South Province, but across the Great Kingdom. Knowledge was power, and Xeravho noticed how knowledgeable Xavener was for someone of such tender years.

    Exactly what Xavener planned to do with all that knowledge was both the biggest unknown and the biggest concern for Xeravho. Their plan was an intricate thing-the false documents implicated Count Fedorik’s assassin as a Sunndian agent, and the false documents implicating some of his courtiers as Aerdi double agents strengthened the claim that Sunndi was acting against Aerdi spies. The plan depended on misdirection, and information falling into the wrong hands-hands like Xavener’s-could be disastrous.

    The serpent decided to let Caradoc proceed with his plans. They might solve the problem of Xavener’s agents, if that’s what the Cranden woman and her friends were, for him. Even if Caradoc was being overly cautious, Xeravho knew from personal experience that a lack of caution often led to catastrophe.

    Xeravho himself had other things to do, namely casting some divinations.

    And taking appropriate measures.

    "
     
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