Outer Flower, 25

Argument before the Throne Continues

Elymas, tired of dragging his foot, sat down on the edge of the dais and shook his head.

“Do you live among the tribe?”

“Yes, my call is binding.”

“Excuse me, Elymas.” Ondred entered, followed by a page carrying a a tray on which rested a steaming goblet. The aroma of spiced wine filled the air as the page knelt and offered it to the King. Ondred waited until the page departed before continuing. “Unless I’ve missed some important revelation, I fail to see where all of this is leading. You’ve done nothing but establish Oren’s identity, and we already knew who he was.”

“That was my intent.” Elymas’s thin lipped smile was triumphant. “Oren, by his own admission, declared that he is bound to his tribe in the same way I, as the Earth Skyll, am bound to the garden. Am I correct in this?”

All eyes were on the Hunter. He nodded.

“So my point is,” continued Elymas triumphantly, “what is he doing here?”

“The Shautu sent him,” said William promptly, rubbing his aching temples. He looked briefly up at Oren. “Didn’t he?”

“Not exactly.”

Tension pulsed in the room, and for the first time, the large man seemed discomforted, shifting the weight on his feet.

“Did you come of your own will, then?” asked the King.

“No, though I was not forced. Not in the usual way.”

“You see?” crowed Elymas. “It is just as I thought. His very presence is suspicious. “Would the Shautu, whom we all all know to be an honorable man, unbind a man from his call to the Elyon?”

“El Rushnarra,” corrected Oren.

Elymas shrugged.

“It is a long story,” said Oren. “But I swear on my honor the Shautu violated no rules. The hour grows late, and I will be happy to recount it another time.”

“Excellent point,” suggested Hulse. “I say we dismiss ourselves from this self-appointed prophet so we may eat. Without us, the feast can’t begin.”

“Then let them drink themselves silly,” came William’s quick reply. He took a drink of his spiced wine, and color flooded his cheeks. “I said we would get to the bottom of this, and we will.”

The King pointed at Oren with the tip of his scepter, an indication that he should speak. Even so, Oren hesitated.

“It is better to state your piece now and at length before further misunderstandings occur,” advised Ondred. “Since Elymas raised this irregularity, we must deal with it.”

The Hunter nodded, albeit reluctantly.

“I’ll begin my tale, though I am used to the ardors of the hunt and not long passages of speech. I will give you an account of what happened to me in the Hollow Caves of High North.” He hesitated, and when he resumed, his voice implied a challenge. “This is no fanciful tale, though after today, some may choose to make it such.”

The warning was directed at Elymas.

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