Eleven

Challenging the Law

If he wasn’t careful, he was going to see the moon set and the sun rise before he made it to his bed chamber. His eyes, worn from piecing together the writings of several pages, closed with every footfall. Tehveor leaned against the wall, depending on his ears to locate the next set of guards.

Even if they saw him, he owed no explanation; living in the king’s home naturally created a hesitation to risk gleaning knowledge not meant for you. But curiosity was powerful and a royal family member leaving in the night would naturally raise curiosity about meeting a lover. That was dangerous enough, but if anyone witnessed the true nature of his nights-swordplay lit by the full moon, whispers of a rising kingdom, or piecing together fragments of parchment with the gentle aid of candles-he would be branded as a threat to the Erish kingdom.

The double life was disorienting. The caves were naturally dark and the torches burned every hour, creating a false world where day and night blurred, creating a hive of activity.

It was jarring to return to the quiet halls of the castle, finding most of the windows dark and only the watchmen drinking boiled chicory, exchanging tidbits of sleepy conversation.

He slipped through the panel, sliding it into place and locking it behind him. Eying his bed, he forced shuffling steps to the chest to fish for clothing, squinting in the darkness to differentiate the cloth. He needed to wash and change, or his bedding was going to stain with the red dust of the caves.

He rose, shuffling toward the water basin, but the pewter pitcher was empty. He glanced toward the cold fire, wondering if Thymon was ill. No matter how creaky the man’s knees became, he’d never missed a morning greeting Tehveor or an evening preparing the chamber.

Tehveor glanced toward the door, spying the faintest bit of light showing through the keyhole, then collapsed.

Idiot.

Of course, Thymon hadn’t brought the water. Tehveor left the door locked when he went through the passageway to Sentarra. He wondered what story the man offered to explain why his charge was refusing to answer his knocks.

He cringed, creeping toward the door and unlocking it, on the off-chance that the man was sleeping in the hall, unsure of where else to go before his duties were done.

Thymon had given up, but a new pitcher sat by the door, next to a stack of firewood. Tehveor winced, kneeling to gather the things before peering toward the soft glow that showed beneath Kael’s door.

That couldn’t be from a night fire, which would have burned down by now. Kael must be awake, perhaps ill, perhaps too worried for sleep – or perhaps hurt.

Tehveor frowned. Kael had never given signs of physical damage, but he hadn’t explained the nature of the tension between himself and the king either.

Tehveor slipped toward the door, tapping it with one finger. If Kael didn’t answer, he’d leave him alone.

“Who’s there?” Kael called.

“Tehveor.”

“Enter!” Kael’s muffled voice came after a long moment.

Tehveor slipped inside, blinking against the light. The bed was made and the prince, who should have been in it, was seated on the floor surrounded by several thick volumes.

“You startled me,” Kael rubbed his eyes. “I’m glad it is only you. What are you doing up so late?”

“I saw the light under your door. What’s this?” Tehveor peered around the mess.

“These volumes,” Kael said, beckoning toward the books, “contain almost every law that has ever been written. I have come to the conclusion that we have altogether too many.”

“When did you decide that reading law books was more important than sleeping?” Tehveor asked.

“You know how the law system is set up so that the punishment correlates with the value of the object stolen?”

“Yes.”

“Master Tarvyn sent in the list of punishments in our realm for Father’s inspection. One of them is for someone named only as “Karlyn” who stole a ring from the pocket of Lord Meron. He’s been caught before for minor things, a few coins here, a loaf of bread there. He was beaten for those crimes and released, but the ring was worth much more, and Tarvyn ordered him to be killed for it. But here’s the thing: he’s seven years old.”

“Is he from the streets?”

“I haven’t any idea,” Kael said. “But there must be a law somewhere about children.”

There was. Tehveor nearly told Kael, before he realized he’d read the law in Sentarra’s writing, not Eirlerre’s.”

“Will the king let you change it, even if you do find a law?” Tehveor asked.

“I’m not going to Father,” Kael said. “The boy dies in the morning. But the executioner cannot fight a law, and he will have to let the boy go. He’ll be long gone before Father finds out.”

“The boy, yes, but what about you?” Tehveor asked. “Your father will be furious when he finds that you have revoked his orders.”

Kael fumbled with the book, refusing to meet Tehveor’s gaze. “Father won’t do too much. He’ll fume like he always does and probably shun me for a few days, but it won’t last.” He flipped a page. “There have been so many times that I thought he would hit me, but he hasn’t. I really cannot imagine what it would be like to be actually beaten.”

Tehveor swallowed, turning to fish a book from the floor. “Let me help you. Which book should I start on?”

“Not that one,” Kael replied. “I looked through it last night. Start with the book over there.”

“Did you sleep at all tonight?”

Kael shook his head. “No. You did though. Thymon knocked on and off for an hour.”

Tehveor’s face heated, but he gave no reply. The candle shrank as they turned pages, scanning the handwriting of ancient scribes until servants began walking up and down the halls.

At the fifth set of footprints that scampered by the door, Kael slammed the book shut. “I don’t know what to do, Tehveor!”

Tehveor glanced toward the window at the growing light. “When is the execution?”

“Late morning. We only have a few hours.” Kael sighed. “I cannot even see the words anymore. I wish I could memorize better. I should know these laws.”

“You couldn’t possibly know all of them,” Tehveor argued, perusing another book.

Kael sat up, glancing at the door, before he shoved the volume under the bed. “Laver is coming. Quickly, Tehveor! Help me.”

The boys shoved the books beneath the bed, and Tehveor rolled after them as the servant entered.

“Good morning, My Prince.” Laver bowed. “Does my master need assistance before he breaks the fast?”

Kael swayed gently against a small table. “No. Thank you, Laver. Please inform my family that I’ll not be joining the family for breaking the fast.”

Laver’s mouth drew in a tight line before he bowed. “Does My Prince wish me to bring him something to eat before he starts his duties?”

“Nay.” Kael turned away. “You may go.”

As soon as the servant left, Kael retrieved the books, surveying them ruefully. “That was badly done. I don’t even remember which ones I looked in.”

“What if there isn’t one?”

Before Kael replied, the door slammed against the wall, and Darshon stomped into the room. “Why are you not coming to break the fast? Father will be furious, and the day has only begun!”

“I’m looking for a law to protect a child,” Kael growled. “I have been looking for two nights. I haven’t slept and my eyes hurt and I’m running out of time, so don’t chide me for not coming to eat!”

Darshon blinked. “Why didn’t you ask me to help you?”

“Could you have done it?” Kael snapped.

“I don’t know.” Darshon’s words came clipped. “What sort of law are we looking for?”

“Something to save a child from death for stealing a ring,” Tehveor explained.

Darshon rolled his eyes. “You’re both idiots. You’ll never find it in those books.”

He strode out, leaving Kael muttering and squinting at his pages.

Tehveor pried the book away. “Let me look. I haven’t been reading for as long as you.”

Kael relinquished the volume and lay back on the floor, covering his eyes with his arm. “Someone really ought to organize these.” When Tehveor did not answer, he continued, “Master Remarr will be delighted, I’m sure, now that we are both falling asleep during studies.”

Tehveor smiled. “He will understand. Why didn’t you ask him? He would probably know of a law, and he wouldn’t tell.”

Kael shook his head. “Father hates him enough already. If Father is angry, he can be angry with me. Besides, Remarr could be whipped for something like that. I’m sure Father would be delighted for an excuse.”

Darshon reappeared, dropping a book at Kael’s lap. “There.”

Kael peered at the words, wearily shaking his head. “Can you read it to me?”

Cheeks puffing out in a breath, Darshon read, “If a child is under the age of ten, he may be exempt from any punishment at an authority’s discretion.”

Kael stared for a full five seconds. “How did you find that?”

“I remember everything I read, Kael. I’m not altogether stupid. I could help you if you would ever bother to ask.”

“You have read the law books?” Kael’s eyebrows rose.

Darshon shrugged. “There’s nothing else to do.” He handed Kael the book. “You have your law, although I’m not sure how you plan to use it. Now, will you come to break the fast?”

Kael struggled to his feet and slipped a ribbon into the book to mark the place. “I cannot believe you found that.”

“I cannot believe you spent two days looking for it.”

During the meal, Tehveor’s eyes darted from Kael to Setta, trying to decide whether he should accompany the prince or go on to his duties at Sentarra.

No one spoke until Galephy slammed his goblet down. “Someone talk!”

Margaret jumped, then pressed her lips together and reached for a drink.

A servant, with a sympathetic glance at the queen, swallowed and braced himself to step forward. “My King.” He offered several letters on a platter. “Perhaps you would care to read your correspondence?”

“Why?” King Galephy muttered. “I know what they will say.”

Ceslaya motioned for a servant to refill her glass, thanking him when he was finished.

Her words were almost clear now, though she spoke as little as possible because any time she departed from short sentences, her vocabulary garbled again.

“Setta.” King Galephy pulled a letter from the stack and tossed it casually toward the woman. “A letter from your husband. No doubt it is much more pleasant than all these put together.”

Darshon glanced at the servant who had brought the letters and received an almost imperceptible nod. He said nothing. His face did not change little, except for the slight smile that formed.

“Oh.” Setta said. “It’s not from Terrant. This is Joshah’s handwriting.”

“Will you open it here?” Tehveor asked, as Ceslaya set down her fork.

Setta smiled at them and broke the seal. “He must have been in a hurry. The seal is very messy.” A look of concern passed through her face before she brightened and smiled. “He says he was released early and will arrive tomorrow with a few friends.”

“That says something for the state of the roads,” Darshon commented dryly, “when a letter reaches its destination only a day before its writer.”

“Has he seen Father lately?” Tehveor asked.

“He didn’t say.” Setta closed the letter. “He actually didn’t write very much. The messages must have been going out immediately.”

“Hmmph!” Galephy handed a paper back to the servant. “Burn this one and don’t let me see it again.”

“May I go, Father?” Darshon broke in.

Galephy waved him off, and Darshon pushed his chair away from the table.

“Ah.” King Galephy grunted. “Tehveor, you have a letter as well from that girl—what is her name—Serrah?”

“Silvah, My King.” Tehveor answered, taking the letter from him. “Thank you.”

Kael stood softly, and Galephy glanced up at him. “Where are you going?”

“I have things to do, Father,” Kael answered.

“You won’t even wait for me to finish looking through these?”

“Whatever for?” Kael smiled. “I know I’ll not have one.”

When King Galephy did not respond, Kael left. Tehveor excused himself, slipping Silvah’s letter into his pocket as he followed Kael to the stable.

“I’m going with you.”

Kael nodded his assent, swinging onto a horse. “We must hurry if we are to arrive in time.”

“What will you tell Master Remarr?”

“The truth,” Kael answered. “But not until I must.”

They rode together through the gates and across the meadow, staying away from the road. It had been a long time since only the two of them ventured from the castle walls. Kael’s eyes roved, first on a burned building, then the fresh paint of the candle shop, then the girl shooing a cat from a doorway.

A few boys kicked a ball made of tightly wound rags. One stopped, wide-eyed as he backed against the building, for though Kael wore a cloak hiding his identity, they were both obviously wealthy.

A voice echoed through the alley, speaking in slow clusters of words.

“They have already started.” Kael kicked his horse into a trot. “I hope…”

He flinched as they turned onto the streets of the gallows. The two swung off their horses before pushing their way through the unusually large crowd that pressed and peered through the sea of heads.

“Supposed to be a richy die today,” a peasant commented, rubbing his hands together in anticipation. He paled only after he turned to Kael, then sputtered and bobbed before hobbling away. “Begging your pardon, Sire.”

Kael pressed on, too engrossed on his mission to pay much heed to the grim scene on the gallows. He halted, then whispered, “Ayth, Tehveor. Why do they treat the executions like a picnic?”

“Master Veaott, guilty of murder,” the proclaimer’s voice rose over the crowd.

A ripple of eagerness surged through the spectators.

“Now, we’ll see some justice!” a woman called.

But the soldier pulled a child from the covered wagon, steering him toward the gallows. The boy wriggled one way, then another, and the crowd quieted as his wail rose above the chatter. His face, wet with muddy tears, scrunched tighter as the guard spoke sympathetically, while nudging him forward.

The proclaimer lowered his list. “This is Master Veaott?”

“This is the only one left, Sire,” the guard answered before adding hopefully. “Perhaps there has been a mistake?”

“Master Veaott,” Judge Tarvyn called from his position on the bench near the gallows, “has been found innocent and released.”

“Nonsense!” A man from the crowd protested. “I saw him kill Jokthin with my own two eyes!”

“He has been acquitted!” Master Tarvyn snapped. “Carry on! Next prisoner.”

“Acquitted!” A woman with broad shoulders and a tiny waist, placed two calloused hands onto shrunken hips. “I dunno, Sire, what that means. But I doubt it has anythin’ to do with Master Veaott gettin’ off. I say you bring out your purse and see if it’s not a bit more full than it was upon your risin’ this mornin’, aye?”

“Silence, woman!” Master Tarvyn bellowed. “Or I’ll have you flogged and then these people can see a show. Proclaimer!” Tarvyn turned back as the woman shrank back with lips pressed together. “Carry on. I don’t have all day.”

“Karlyn. Stole a ring worth 1000 leer from the pocket of Master Meron.” The proclaimer’s voice had lost the monotony it had held all morning and turned into a mumble.

“Stop!” a shrill command pierced the air at a pitch that only a woman could manage.

Kael’s eyebrows shot up as a girl shoved through the crowd, planting herself between the guard and the gallows. “What is the matter with you?”

Tehveor caught a laugh, recognizing the brown dress, though Eslaveth’s expression had changed from teasing to a dark outrage.

Master Tarvyn growled as he shifted in his chair. “What’s your relation to this boy?”

Eslaveth spun to send him an incredulous glare. “What’s yours? Most people have possession of a heart, Sir, and though you may be an exception to the rule, I’m not.”

“My cheley.” Master Tarvyn rose to his feet. “Only a family member may request mercy for a prisoner, and it would cost nearly 40 leer, which I doubt a young girl like you would possess.” He motioned toward the distressed soldier. “Take him.”

Eslaveth grabbed the child’s arm, glaring at the guard. “You’ll have to drag us both up there!”

“We have no mercy for thieves!” Master Tarvyn called.

“Where else can the boy find a coin for food, and what was the Lord Meron doing with a ring worth 1000 leer in his pocket anyhow?” Eslaveth answered. “That seems a foolish place to keep a ring.”

“I like this girl,” Kael breathed to Tehveor.

“We are all under the king’s orders!” The guard protested. “We did not come here to question his decision.”

“But I did!” Kael’s voice rang as he pushed his way toward the peasant girl and the street child.

Master Tarvyn raised his eyebrows with a sigh. “And who might you be?”

Eslaveth stepped to the side with the young boy, relief and curiosity playing across her face as Kael mounted the steps.

Master Tarvyn’s eyes blazed. “I’ll have you know, young man, that my judgments are final.”

“Your judgments are badly skewed,” Kael retorted. “Any man who will kill a lad for pick pocketing, yet release a nobleman who has committed murder has no place judging at all.”

Someone cheered from the crowd, immediately hushed by others who strained to hear Kael’s words.

“Either way,” Kael said,” there is a law protecting this boy. It states that a child under the age of ten may be exempt from any punishment at a nobleman’s discretion.”

“King Galephy has given orders!”

“Even our king can’t override a law,” Kael said.

Master Tarvyn smirked. “Where did you hear of this law? Are students now becoming judges? Run along and stop playing the hero.”

“It’s in the books. Look it up. We’ll wait.” Kael challenged.

“Why should I?” Master Tarvyn roared. “There is no nobleman present, even if such a law existed.”

The boy broke away from Eslaveth and stumbled across the cobblestone. He slipped his hand into Kael’s, gazing at his protector as Kael pulled him close.

Tehveor’s eyes roved the crowd. The man was right. There was no nobleman present, except the two of them, and no one would want to stand against the king because of the word of a young stranger. He caught Kael’s eye, ready to speak up, but the prince shook his head slightly.

“Go home, lad!” Master Tarvyn called out. “And I’ll not take this to the king’s ears.”

“I will,” Kael said. He unfastened his cloak and laid it over the boy’s shoulder, calling on an ancient custom of a ruler. A general gasp carried through the crowd. Knees collapsed and heads ducked to hide faces, except for the boy who peered around in confusion.

Master Tarvyn sank to one knee, then both, before he rasped, “Mercy, My Prince.”

A few in the crowd sneaked a peek before dropping their eyes again. Several held their breaths. Someone else muttered, “Kill him…”

Tehveor knelt with the rest to avoid detection. Kael had no authority to cast the judge from his position, and likely Galephy wouldn’t, but the prince stood still until the judge touched his nose to the platform.

Then he turned, silently picking up the child, leaving the man to sweat on the platform. People crawled or shifted to make a path ,but no one spoke as Kael nodded for Tehveor to rise and follow.

Kael shook as hard as those he passed, until the two boys stepped onto a side street. Tehveor peeked around the building, watching life breathe into the group. People whispered in clusters or ran from the platform where the judge still knelt.

Kael shifted Karlyn in his arms and dug in his pocket before motioning to a peasant boy. “You there! That girl on the steps in the brown dress. Tell her to come to me.” He pressed a coin into the boy’s hand.

The boy’s eyes grew, before his grubby hand clamped around the coin, and he darted into the crowd.

Kael leaned against the side of a building, gasping for air. “I forgot the horses.”

“We’ll get them,” Tehveor said, watching as Eslaveth toward the boy who pointed in their direction. She swayed toward them, then away before she began weaving through the scattering crowd.

Kael shook his head at Tehveor. “I didn’t think out showing myself. Father’s going to order me hung.”

“I doubt it,” Tehveor said. “But you did shine as a prince.”

“They weren’t supposed to know I was a prince,” Kael moaned.

Karlyn’s head jolted up. “You’re the prince??” The boy’s eyes widened, somewhere between awe-struck and terrified. “Oh, that be why they all knelt!”

Distress bled through Kael’s laughter. “You need not fear me, Karlyn. I came specifically for you.”

Eslaveth inched around the corner before kneeling in front of Kael. “My Prince calls?” She spoke to Kael, but when she lifted her eyes, they found Tehveor.

Tehveor squirmed as Kael motioned her to her feet. “It was a brave thing you did back there.”

Eslaveth rose, but said nothing.

“I’m curious,” Kael continued. “What were you planning to do with the child if you did win him?”

Eslaveth shook her head, scarcely lifting her voice beyond a whisper. “I had no plan, My Prince. I didn’t come intending to watch the trials. It’s only that I happened to pass by and see the boy.”

“What’s your name?” Kael asked.

“Eslaveth, from the Tevere Breotte.”

“The inn?”

“Yes, My Prince.”

“Do you know the owner there well?” Kael asked.

“He’s my uncle.”

Hope lit Kael’s eyes. “Eslaveth. Will you speak to your uncle on my behalf? Will you ask him to take this child as an apprentice and to teach him his trade? If he will, I’ll pay for the boy’s upkeep so he won’t be a burden.”

Eslaveth jolted, startled into lifting her eyes straight to Kael’s before she lowered them. “I will speak to him, My Prince.”

“Good. And if he cannot take the boy, will you find someone who can?” Kael asked.

She nodded. “Yes, My Prince.”

Kael shifted Kael into her arms. “Very well. I will send someone to the inn tomorrow to hear your answer.” He pulled the boy’s chin up. “Karlyn, these people are going to take care of you. You must do as they stay and never steal again. I won’t be able to spare you twice.”

The child’s lips parted, but he only managed a nod.

A carriage belonging to the king pulled to a stop followed by guards who led Shaton and Kael’s horse by the reins. Tehveor jutted his chin. “There are our horses.”

Kael motioned Eslaveth away, hissing, “Go! Take the boy! Quickly!”

The girl ran with the child, and Kael turned toward Tehveor.

“They may not have seen you,” he whispered. “If you slip away now, they won’t know you were here.”

Tehveor swallowed and shook his head. “I’ll stay with you.”

It made little difference. If the king was angry, he’d feel his wrath, whether or not Galephy knew he was involved. Besides, Kael still trembled from the confrontation, and he wasn’t sure the prince would make it to the carriage on his own.

“My Prince,” the guard said, but his nod held relief, confusion and a tinge of exasperation.

Kael swung into the carriage without offering an explanation. As it pulled forward, he collapsed against the cushioned seat, bringing his hand to shield his eyes. Tehveor studied the folds of the curtains, coaching his own breath.

Kael dropped his hand. “Well, the boy is safe. And perhaps he’ll remember and grow up to be good.”

“Perhaps,” Tehveor replied. By now the Sentarrians would wonder where he was, but if the king was angry, he couldn’t leave the castle anyway. His back tingled, and he closed his eyes to hide panic.

They did not talk. Kael kept his eyes closed, and only his occasional shifting or sigh indicated that he had not fallen asleep. Tehveor had seen King Galephy at the table when he was angry with Kael, but as far as he could remember, he had never seen the two in the hours before the king shunned his son. He had never seen Kael punished. But if Galephy did no more than shun him, why was Kael so frightened?

They were not summoned directly to the study. They went on their own, slowing only slightly as they neared the room where Tehveor had first been introduced to the king’s wrath.

The king stood at the window with his hands behind his back. Tehveor stopped near the door, waiting permission to enter, while simultaneously hoping the king would not notice him.

Kael walked toward the middle of the room, rubbing his face. A passerby would have mistaken the position as expressing remorse, but Tehveor had seen the eyes that were reddening by the moment.

“Wondering, Kael,” King Galephy finally spoke. “How long did you think it would be until I found out?”

Kael kept his eyes lowered giving no reply.

King Galephy spun to face them. “Come in and shut the door, Tehveor.”

Tehveor swallowed, forcing himself to obey.

Galephy took three steps toward Kael. “Answer me!”

“I’ve done nothing wrong, sir,” Kael said softly.

“You are treading dangerous grounds, Kael,” Galephy growled. “You cannot override my decisions.”

“I was reinforcing a law. Isn’t that the purpose of a prince?” Kael’s calm voice was nearly hidden by Tehveor’s heart beating in his ears. “Even the king is held under the law.”

“I am the law!” Galephy spat. “A king must be firm. He cannot make mistakes. Revoking an order—you may as well admit that you don’t know what you’re doing. What will the people think then? Now look at me, and give me some explanations!”

Trembling anger laced Kael’s voice as he lifted his head. “What are your own explanations for killing Dovan? Or Megaron? Or Kavel? What about those explanations, Father? If I am forced to explain why I saved one life for stealing, then you must tell me why you took three others who did nothing!”

Galephy stepped inches from the boy. “I am the king,” he said. “You are my subject the same as everyone else. If you ever revoke one of my orders again, I will drag you to that square, strip your back and whip you myself, is that clear?”

Kael flinched, closing his eyes before he opened them, replying, “That is clear, My King.”

Tehveor felt the wall brush his shoulder blades as he swayed, then leaned against the wood for balance.

“I don’t think it’s clear enough,” Galephy said. “Who is the highest authority here?”

“You are, My King.”

“Kneel and say it,” Galephy said.

Tehveor’s throat grew so tight that he held his breath so he didn’t distract the king. A high prince should never kneel, even to his own father. Kael’s fist balled, then loosened before he dropped to one knee, collapsing when he was halfway down.

Galephy frowned, flinching at the sight he had created, but he said, “Lower.”

Kael’s jaw clenched as he moved the second knee beneath him, moving from the position of a subject acknowledging a king to a prisoner awaiting judgment.

Bile rose in Tehveor’s throat, and he swallowed it as the king repeated, “Lower.”

Tehveor turned his face, closing his eyes on instinct. He couldn’t leave, but he couldn’t watch Kael forced to beg. One day, Kael would rule, and they would support each other, forming an alliance between Sentarra and Eirlerre. There were degrees, of course, of ‘lower,’ but even the prince understood how far his father intended to take this punishment. When he pressed his face against the ground, Galephy changed his command.

“Now what have you to say?” Galephy asked.

Tehveor squeezed his eyes tighter, feeling his stomach clench. Several seconds passed before Kael spoke. “Forgive me, My King, for overriding your authority.”

Galephy let the silence stretch before he said, “See that it never happens again. You will return to your room and send your apologies to the family at dinner. You will immediately lock your door, slide the key to Tehveor, and he will deliver it to me.”

“Yes, My King.”

“Now go on.”

It was hard enough to move from his place at the wall. Tehveor wasn’t sure how Kael managed to rise, to walk to the door without collapsing. He followed him out, worrying about his own explanation to the king when he returned the key to his cousin’s door.

The room looked dreary, despite the sun ray that highlighted the drapes. It was far better than the dungeon, but Tehveor’s eyes darted toward the fireplace, already scraped clean. Lavar’s work was thorough, whisking away the water pitcher for cleaning, ignoring only the books stowed beneath the bed.

“Will you be alright?” he asked.

Kael shrugged. “I’m going to sleep.”

“Let me bring wood and water, at least,” Tehveor said. “It will grow cold tonight.”

Kael shook his head. “Father will know. It won’t last. He knows what he’s doing.”

Too well, perhaps. Tehveor swallowed as Kael whispered, “Tehveor, I’m sorry I dragged you into this.”

“You didn’t drag me,” Tehveor said. “I walked beside you, and I will always be beside you.”

Kael nodded, though there was no way that he could understand what Tehveor really meant. He shut the door, and Tehveor closed his eyes as the key turned in the lock. He knelt, reaching for the key and frowning as he realized that Kael must be kneeling to him from the other side.