Saturday, April 2, 2016

The King's Challenge #263 and #264

TKC 263 and 264

Damin slams his hand against the soldier’s brow, shoving his head against the bark. “Do not move,” he snaps, “or I will empty you.”

I am not the only one terrified by the notion.

No one moves.

Damin leans his forehead onto his hand, eyes closed. The soldier barely breathes, but his eyes skitter in every direction, trying to avoid the man directly in his face.

When a strong urine smell permeates the clearing’s damp air, I realise the other soldier has lost control of his bladder. What are these men afraid of? Treason is one matter, already uncovered; their fear speaks of something beyond even that.

Intense moments pass and it feels as if eternity has assailed us. Gennerin breathes harshly, fast. The man is out of his comfort zone. He is Ilfin and knows of the Greater Talents, while himself possessing something extra, but this is strange to him. Hell, it is strange to me.

Damin steps back, visibly shaking.

He jerks his head to me and his eyes are filled with sympathy.

Fear hollows my gut.

“Enris, kill them,” he says then and walks away, weaving through the trees to vanish swiftly.

I release an explosive breath … and so does Gennerin. We stare at each other, and I nod. The commander blinks, but he removes his weapon from the holster at his waist and shoots both men between the eyes. It is a silent weapon; the soldiers simply lean forward lifeless with bloody holes upon their brows.

We are hiding the bodies when Allin and Ross return. Those two look at each other and help us.

“This did not happen,” I state before we move to return to the shuttle.

“How do we explain their disappearance?” Corporal asks.

“I have sent them on a long range scout,” Gennerin says grimly. “Do not speak of this even among yourselves, in the event of listeners.”

Both soldiers simply nod.

“Return to the shuttle. I need a word with Lord Makar.”

Allin salutes smartly, takes Ross’ arm and marches him away with him.

The commander faces me. “I have the ability to hear truth in a lie or a lie in truth; that is my talent. It is the reason I am in command.

“They lied?” I indicate the region where we hid the bodies.

“No, Damin Mur lied.”

By the stars. I clear my throat. “What did he lie about?”

Gennerin blinks at me owlishly in the diffuse light. “I sense your disquiet. A man able to delve for what is hidden via touch? It fills me with dread also, for we all have our secrets. Know this, however; he lied about it, probably to scare the crap out of the traitors.”

“He cannot? Then what was that?” I wave at the two trees where the men were bound.

Gennerin shakes his head. “He is able to delve deep via touch, but it is never casual for him. In other words, he will not hear a man’s secrets in an inadvertent touch. He gives all of himself when he searches deep, for that is what is required.”

“That is why he shook after,” I whisper. Never have I been this relieved.

Gennerin inclines his head. “Your secrets are safe.” His gaze is unblinking.

Sniffing, I start walking. “Commander, the secrets I wish to keep hidden have to do with guilt over a certain woman. It is not about the big issues.”

Falling in beside me, Gennerin murmurs, “And mine concern my daughter back home. And my wife.”


We glance at each other and both of us grin. Indeed, our personal issues hurt more and thus we prefer them to remain hidden.


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