A Crown of Frauds, Part 19

Lord Gregorin den Lushenos lost the game of rock-paper-broadsword that took place among the Council of Nine, and was nominated to venture through the mysterious dark portal that had appeared in the Square of Tammaz.

He had been, naturally, terrified of what he might encounter, his mind running wild and fed by all the stories the Council had been hearing in recent months, and all the terrible things that had been happening in Illian itself. Therefore, when he stepped through the gateway – banging his shins on half a coffee table and tripping over some sort of invisible blockage in the process – and was immediately set upon by a group of angry male channelers, this was only about halfway up his nightmare-list.

“Who are you?” one of the men pushed past the others and hauled den Lushenos to his feet with a great invisible fist of iron. Den Lushenos could feel the Dark One’s evil crawling over his skin at the very touch of saidin.

“It’s Lord Gregorin,” another voice said, and a smaller man pushed his way to the front. Den Lushenos was relieved to see the at least slightly-familiar face of Davram Bashere. He’d met the over-intelligent little fellow a few months back, when he was travelling around calling in favours to help in the search for his daughter. So far, nothing had shown up. “Put him down, Taim.”

Gregorin gulped, and when the iron fist loosened its grip he almost collapsed to his knees. “You’re … my Lord, are you Puddin Taim, the Dragon Reborn?”

“Not quite,” the terrifying man in the black coat said. “I’m his brother.”

“We, er, that is, the Council of Nine do think we should offer the throne of Illian to the Dragon Reborn,” Gregorin said. “Mattin Stepaneos disappeared, we do not know what happened, there have been a lot of strange happenings in Illian recently, people blame the Forsaken, but it seemed … uh … well, we panicked. I do have the crown with me.”

“Let’s see it,” Mazrim Taim said.

“Actually, it, er, it seems to have … when you picked me up just now, the crown actually, uh, did embed itself in my thigh,” Gregorin tugged aside his cloak to reveal the soft velvet pouch in which he’d been carrying the crown. It was damp with blood where the little swords had been pressed through the velvet and through his trousers, into his leg. He had already been in shock at the time, of course, so he didn’t really feel any pain. He pulled the bag loose with a plop, and produced the crown with shaking hands. “There you do go.”

“Thanks,” Taim said, peering at the crown and then handing it to Bashere. “We’ll give it to the Dragon as soon as he gets back.”

“Gets back?” Lord Gregorin asked. “Where is he?”

“Funny thing,” Bashere replied. “We were sort of hoping you could tell us.”

 


 

There once was a man name of Puddin

In Aridhol he lost his footin’,

He got left behind there,

and then lost his mind there,

And wound up a lover most wooden.

– From How Many Dragons Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb? – Lord Mangore “Bloody” Kiramin, Sword-bard of Aramaelle and Warder to Caraighan Maconar, translated into what was then called the vulgar tongue (circa 300 AB).

 

The End

of the Seventh Book of

The Steal of Time

 

 

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