Voidwalker: Prologue, p1

“Dangerous?!” The queen swung around to face him, her eyes filled with anger and she stalked toward him. “Of course it’s dangerous, or I wouldn’t be in this position. Where were your objections five years ago, Lord Merrinath? You were content enough to let Diarmid rush in.”

Lord Merrinath raised his hands in a half-hearted placating gesture as he slowly backtracked to maintain the distance between them. “Please, Your Majesty, there are significant differences,” He began, clearly trying to figure out his argument even as he spoke. “His Majesty King Diarmid had experience dealing with such things as haunted isles and mysterious ruins, he was a seasoned hero with many an adventure behind him. While you, if you will forgive my saying so, are someone who has lived a life of comfort.”

“Let us not forget the reason you have waited this long, Your Majesty,” Master Ra’niir, tutor to the prince, cut into the conversation for the first time. “Prince Loren may be growing up, but he is still in need of his mother. He is far too young to rule the city on his own.”

The queen shot him an irate glare before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. Quiet reigned for a few moments, a controlled calm settling over the queen. Her features softened and she even smiled warmly as she opened her eyes again. “Come now, gentlemen, you know quite well that something has to be done. The prince deserves to know what happened to his father and I need answers about my husband.”

“We know what happened to His Majesty the King, my lady,” Merrinath replied emphatically. “He met with the same fate as most of the royal guard and the crafters they were there to protect. The ghosts of the Haunted Isle returned.”

The queen looked at him as though he were an idiot. “I realize you were not present when Diarmid purged the Isle, Lord Merrinath, but as a scholar of faith you of all people should be well acquainted with just how unlikely an event that is. Do not spirits, once placated, move on from this world?”

“They do, unless disturbed.”

“And were they not left undisturbed? Indeed, did not they not explicitly support the construction of Raven’s Nest?”

“This is so, Your Majesty.”

“So why, then, would they bring death to the crafters, guards, and the King himself?”

Lord Merrinath shrugged, apparently quite unsure of the answer. Before he could figure out anything to say Master Ra’niir cleared his throat to get their attention. Being the argumentative type he would normally interrupt with his own thoughts on any subject discussed, yet the young man had been strangely quiet during their exchange.

“Your Majesty, if I may. In my dealings with otherworldly creatures,” He began, clearly attempting to use his limited experiences as a summoner to claim some sort of expertise. “I have found that they are often true to their word, in as literal a sense as suits their needs. While I confess that I have spent only a scant few years in your employ here, Your Majesty, it is my understanding that His Majesty the King spoke of building himself a royal residence upon the Isle when His Majesty the King made his deal to assist its unfortunate inhabitants with moving on.”

The queen arched an eyebrow at him, more annoyed than distracted by the constant ‘Majesties’. Unfortunately, the tutor was either oblivious to it or ignored her for he continued without so much as a pause.

“It strikes me as quite the different thing for numerous crafters to build a fortification upon the Isle, even if His Majesty the King intended for it to serve also as residence. From this perspective it seems to me quite possible, indeed likely, that the lost souls felt that they had been… I hesitate to use this word in relation with His Majesty the King, but lack any other: cheated.”