The last syllable died in the still air, enveloped by the unnatural blanket of silence hanging shroud like over the chamber. Thelandria held the gaze of her King, as Ariandaras digested the import of her words.

Finally, after several long minutes had passed, he spoke.

“So, if I am to understand this correctly, some human mage stole into the site of our most precious artefact, which we have guarded for nigh on ten centuries, and we have no idea why? Added to which, it would seem that this same artefact is somehow a worthless simulacrum, or may indeed never have been that which we long believed it to be? And again, it has taken this outsider to discover this?”

Thelandria inclined her head slightly by way of reply.

“So all we do know is that this mage hailed from Basilea?”

“Yes my Lord, his magic carries the flavour of the Golden Horn. I suspect that he has not lived there in many years, but it is there from whence he hails, and there that he now heads.”

Ariandaras sighed, flicking an imaginary mote of dust from his robes as he did so.

“What would you have me do Thelandria? If word of this gets out, it will cause untold damage. And yet I cannot allow this slight to go unanswered.”

“Sire, I believe that Madriga still lives within the City of the Golden Horn, does she not?”

Ariandaras snorted.

“Yes, and what of it?”

“Well sire, if you make a diplomatic visit to see the Hegemon then questions will inevitably be asked. However, if you simply visit your daughter…”

Ariandaras smiled. The notion was not an unreasonable one.

“And if this thief and vandal needs to be tracked down, what better individual to do so? Skilled, discreet, and…at a certain remove from Therennia Aldar.”

“So be it – I travel at dawn. Perhaps my daughter will have mellowed these last few years.”

“For our sakes sire, I hope not.”


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