"A conspiracy against the King's life? Surely you're joking", I said, wondering what could have moved the superiors in Heartstone to send this total innocent on this mission. Maybe he'd made himself one powerful enemy too many.

He relaxed and his hand moved away from his sword. "No, I'm afraid not." He looked at me. "I can see what you're thinking, and you're right. I am a pencil-pusher, not a military man. But I am going to do this job to the best of my ability. I owe that to my King and country."

I looked at him and noticed that although he was tall he was still very young, almost a boy. "A lot of us have been called upon to do things that we never trained or prepared for", I said. "You'll manage."


We arrived at the prison's gate, and I wondered how many more times I would be seeing it. Still caught in the maze, I thought, wandering around in circles. Maybe there was an exit I wasn't seeing.

I knocked and the gate immediately opened, confirming my suspicion that we were being watched. Guards came out and lifted the body of Beron's brother off the horse's back, and we followed them as they carried it inside.

Jarvik came to meet us, followed by Moire. "I'm so sorry", I said. "He just died, and there was nothing we could do."

"I know", Jarvik said. "We were watching."

"I think the evil presence left him in the end", Moire said, "and there wasn't enough of him left to go on."

We watched the guards carrying the body disappear down the corridor. There goes my chance to find my son, I thought. Well, not that it was much of a chance to begin with.

From a great distance I heard my companion talk to Jarvik. Moire touched my arm, asking me if I was alright. I said I was. The stranger and Jarvik were still talking, and then they turned and started walking down the corridor. Moire took my elbow, and we followed them.

We came to a part of the building that I hadn't seen before, where the guards had their living quarters. Jarvik stopped and knocked on one of the doors. The door opened, and Merran appeared. When he saw the young man standing next to Jarvik a stunned look appeared on his face, but before he could say anything Jarvik pushed him back into the room, motioning for the rest of us to follow him. We went in and Moire closed the door behind us.

We were in a small bedroom, with a woven rug on the floor and a closet built into one wall. Merran was sitting down on the bed, still staring at the stranger.


The young man stared at his feet. "I'm sorry, I didn't know who else to turn to."

"Merran got up and took a few paces towards him. "Jadri?"

They hugged awkwardly, the youth leaning into the embrace without lifting his arms.

Jarvik sighed. "We need to talk, though I suspect I'm not going to like what you'll tell me."

Merran and the stranger sat down on the bed, Jarvik pulled up a chair, and Moire and I sat down on a couch that was pushed against one wall.

"You can start by telling us who you are."

"My name is Jadrek", the young man said. "The King is my grandfather." He looked down at his hands. "You'll probably think that I'm crazy, but I think my grandfather wants me dead."

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