The window by the balcony was opened. The wind whisked through, rippling the beige curtains that were drawn to the side. The candlelight fluttered. Candles were an old source, a pastime relic, barely made use in these modern times. But that’s the way Barko liked it. He sat there with his book in hand, the heat of the fire in the fireside beating against his skin. The wind ruffled through his hair, nipping at the pages in his hand, but Barko did not mind. It was soothing to him.
So soothing, that he believed that he could read endlessly in that moment; the passage of time forgone from his very thought. That was until…
The door was thrown open. Two men, one tall and burly, and the other thin with wispy hair, barged in. They wore no armor. Men like them never did, and never will. Not unless the rules that bound them changed. Rules set by a higher authority.
“Why do you barge in my room? What possible reason could you have to be so impudent.” Barko drawled. He did not even bother to look from the page.
“Why do you just sit there? He got away!” The thin one said. The thin one was called Jamk. And he was an upper functionary like Barko. Everyone in the room was.
“He got away? Was he even there? If he were, someone of Makron’s strength could not possibly have done that. Unless… you are slipping? Maybe you’re getting too old? Guess it’s time for your son to take your place. He can gather essence too, right?”
The thin man turned red with anger. “I will not be patronized! I know he was there. I heard him. I felt him draw in the essence of the earth and I felt it clearly. There was no mistaking it. Furthermore, Fokner here heard him run off in another direction as he came from the platform side. Even if it wasn’t Makron, someone had to be there, and yet we found nothing.”
Barko did not speak. He just kept reading. If he had said anything at this point, the flow of the conversation would go to Jamk. How could he allow that to happen? Barko hated to lose control.
Fokner’s deep voice rumbled. “I heard him. Jamk used his multiple body technique. Whoever was in the passageways could not have escaped. All the exits were blocked-”
“And yet he did escape!” Barko seethed. He slammed his fist against the arm of his chair and the wood splintered. Lucile is going to get annoying when she sees that. This would be the fourth one this month I have damaged. Reign it in Barko. Don’t get angry.
“If you were there with us then maybe he would not have lost him. My multiple body technique was not interrupted. Unless Makron has gotten stronger, or developed new tricks that we have no knowledge of, we shouldn’t have failed.”
“Shouldn’t have. Shouldn’t have. Bah!” Barko was getting really annoyed by the two’s foolishness. “You’ve underestimated him. You think because many of his subordinates are in your pockets that you know everything?”
Jamk snorted. “Those sons of… They are bought and paid for by everyone. Neutrality, my ass. Only he is so adamant as his own house is falling at the seams and brimming with traitors, but even if he was not so dumb and knew what was happening, how could he still be able to keep such secrets, secrets of his power, from us? How could he get stronger without us knowing?”
“Highly unlikely.” Fokner interjected.
Barko sighed. He flipped another page.
“You should have come with us!” Jamk roared, his anger rising as Barko ignored him.
“Why should I have? Is there a majority? Without a majority, we would have no law behind us and no soldiers. We cannot move so heavily without either of those.”
“We have a majority. Everyone has been vying for a reason to remove Makron. Now we have it!”
“Not anymore. Number one is gone as usual, playing politics in other cities. No one in his position has been to the capital in at least a thousand years, practically excommunicated for our lack of power. He is delusional, but still has power. A power that is not here, and thus, cannot vote. Five favors the King’s faction. Though in pretense Makron’s demise would be for the King, Five knows something is severely wrong and he would not vote favorably. As for Two. Two is held up in his war room, preparing his guard as always. He wants battle, but he has too much honor boiling in him. He would never turn against his own unless their was definitive proof of Makron’s treachery, regardless if he believes Makron is fit for the job.
“…Do you have that proof?” Barko’s eyes stared into Jamk. “Makron is still one of us. One of the seven. Without the others, even though we want him gone, we don’t have a majority. What you did was against what we are!” Barko roared. The flames in the fireside flared.
Jamk’s face flickered while Fokner said nothing. “You two are wasting your time. It’s lucky he managed to escape. If you killed him, then the delicate balance of the house would have really gone awry and who knows, maybe Arrodine would think of you as villains, and then the seal soldiers would finally make a move.”
Fokner, who had been quiet for a while, spoke. “You don’t really believe that their’s an eighth, do you? An eighth upper functionary? Or… That-”
“Don’t say it. I don’t believe in it. For three thousand years there hasn’t been an eighth and as long as I live, I will never believe there will be another. And I definitely don’t believe that The First came back. My faith is not blind.
Jamk’s eyes narrowed. He stared into Barko for a moment before turning and leaving with each step as abrupt as the other.
Fokner did not remain long, letting Barko be alone with his thoughts. Those two are impulsive. That damn chancellor. I have lost five, and now I’m stuck with those two idiots. If seven… If Makron is the perpetrator, then what? This is going to hurt me. This is going to disrupt everything! And if not. And if it was the chancellor? Would anyone know? Would there be proof? And who was that blue caped person? Many questions plagued Barko’s mind.
“Damn it. I can’t stand being held in the dark.”
It was then that the building shook. The glass by his desk fell and shattered across the floor. The paintings on the walls wobbled, as some fell and their frames cracked open.
A loud bang echoed in Barko’s ears. The building shook fiercely, more than the prior shake.
Barko drew forth some spiritual energy from his core and wrapped it around his body. He pulsed with a strong aura and the place then became still.
Dashing out his room, he ran down the hall and into the open area. He was near the place where the platform lead to the giant hall, which had held the party the other night.
Vases and glass; paintings and tables, were strewn over the floor, knocked about by the shaking.
Barko ran past the platform and into another hall. The same hall the blue cloaked figure had disappeared in. He saw the painting on the wall. The painting of the princess of Arrodine. Black midst the silver.
The walls were cracked, bulging out from the middle. The paint chipped off, and dust fell. Something happened in the passageways! Damn it. Don’t tell me the secret will get exposed.
Barko summoned his men. “Bar this area. Don’t let anyone into any area that seems to be affected by the blast. Form a radius, and you.” Barko pointed to his aid. “Inform the other upper functionaries of what happened here.”
Barko looked at the mess. He could hear knights climbing up the steps and the clanging of their metal armor. He could also hear the officials complaining. A commotion popping here and there. The chancellor would probably send out his men and summon the court in case it’s an attack. But the seal soldiers stood idle. Not an enemy then.
“Dear, God. Makron, what did you do?”