My guards stayed close, nexus spears leveled as we walked towards the side doors to the courtroom. Beyond them I could hear the voices of the other Sivvas as they entered. No laughing though. The tones were a combination of worried and curious. Who was the Sivva on trial?
So they don’t know. I thought, sighing. We reached the door, and I was ordered to stop. Then we waited. Miraza departed, and I heard her calling out, over the hubbub.
“Silence! Everyone take your seats.”
The room quieted down.
“It is with a most grievous heart that I must impart terrible news to you all,” Miraza sighed. “We all believed that when the dark days of Karnax had ended, we did not need to fear each other. Sivvas could trust in other Sivvas. Indeed, this is how it was meant to be. However, there would always be one who questioned. One who waited in the shadows for a chance. We have suffered another betrayal of a fellow Sivva, and are willing to give them a trial, perhaps, before fully accusing her of her aiding the traitor Karnax in his return!”
More whispers. A minute later, Miraza must have silenced them, because the room fell quiet again, the noises dying away.
“It is with great trepidation that I gather you here for the trial of one of our most trusted- our most talented Sivva in many years- Râegan Castaldi.”
Her words had the desired effects. Gasps rang throughout the room. I heard Dalz’s voice echo from somewhere near the back.
“Is it?” Miraza replied. “Bring the convicted out.”
One of the Sivvas guarding me flung the doors open, and my entire group slowly started forwards again.
Mutters broke out at our arrival, though I pretended not to hear them. That may seem childish of me, but these were people that I’ve known my entire life. For them to believe I’d turned, to see their hatred where there used to be respect, was too painful to look in the face. So I did my best to shut it out.
Even worse was the fact that it was all a lie. A trap devised by Karnax. I could imagine him out there now, laughing. He had set this up well- too well. There would be no changing the council’s mind now. They were out for blood. My blood. How could I explain to them? How would they believe me?
The answer was depressingly simple. They wouldn’t, and I probably had at most a few hours left.
Karnax gritted his teeth. His hand twitched slightly at the side, yearning to strike down the Hâfléng before him. He forced himself to calm down, to breathe. They were necessary- and only just. They would be a useful army when the time came.
He yearned to return to Simar immediately, to breathe in the sweet, unpolluted air, to see the grand buildings of Shivax again, and know they all would be his.
But it wasn’t time yet. He would bide his time until she was dead.
He sighed, searching again for the young Sivva’s name. It was an elusive thing- it constantly slipped out of his reach. He had a hunch that somewhere, somehow, he knew her name.
“A shame, Sivva,” he murmured. “That you will die unknown. Unamed. But then again, does it matter? In the end you worked just as well for my plans, named or no.”
“My lord…?” the Hâfléng said uneasily. Karnax smiled at the title. He was long since tired of these lesser creatures treating him like an equal. As if he wasn’t there ticket to a return to Simar- a return to power. It was time for them to recognize that, and treat him as such.
“It’s nothing of your concern,” he said lazily, dismissing the Hâfléng with a wave of his hand. “Bring me a glass sphere for scrying.”
“My lord, we have none free-”
Karnax seized the front of the Hâfléng’s jacket, drawing the frightened Hâfléng towards him so that their faces were inches away. This one was young, only 17 or 18. Good. The younger ones were easier to intimidate.
“You think that matters to me?” he growled. “If there aren’t any free, make one free, and bring it to me. Or believe me, the punishment will be painful, more so than you could ever imagine. Do you understand?”
The young Hâfléng nodded frantically. “Y-yes my lord. As you wish. Immediately.”
Karnax’s smile returned as he released the Hâfléng, who scrambled backwards into safety, out of his reach. As if that protected him. Karnax nodded briefly, dismissing him. The boy scuttled away, and Karnax watched him go, amused.
After a moment, he returned to his thoughts. He snapped his fingers, and a small Hâfléng girl scampered into the room. She was the daughter of the Hâfléngs’ leader, and was one of those who had been tasked with waiting upon him.
“Bring me oil,” he ordered her.
She smiled, dropping into a pretty curtsy. “Yes my lord. Right away.”
Karnax nodded appreciatively as she exited the room. This is how his servants should be- instantly obedient. Why could this child understand it, while others that were much older than she did not?
Moments later, both Hâfléngs returned, the boy with the glass sphere, and the girl with the oil. The boy presented the sphere to him then quickly hurried away, while the girl presented the oil with another deep curtsy.
“Your oil, my lord.”
“Well done, child,” he complimented her.
She flushed, curtsying even more deeply. “It’s nothing, my lord.”
He nodded. “I’ll remember your services in the future.”
“Thank you my lord,” she smiled. Then she left the room through a small side door.
Karnax dipped his right hand into the oil- defying everything he’d been taught about scrying spells. The oil would be tainted now- and harder to see out of. But that didn’t matter to him- his powers were great enough, and he didn’t need to see in the closest detail anyways.
He cast a scrying spell, knowing that finally it would penetrate the borders of Shivax. He resisted the urge to look it over again, to admire the buildings that would be his. He reminded himself that he had much more pressing things to do. The time for admiring would come later. Now was the time for… other things.
He passed his hand lightly over the sphere, and a courtroom materialized before him. He smiled, knowing it well. It reminded him of his own banishment, yet now that day held no pain for him. It was simply a thing of the past- an irritation and nothing more. At worst, a setback, or possibly a delay. But it wasn’t a tragedy, nor was it a calamity. In the grand scheme of things, it was unimportant.
Karnax located the face he was looking for. The one that stood before the Sivvas, bearing the full weight of their anger and betrayal. The young one.
He found her quickly. Her face was set, almost stone-like, impassive. He could only imagine the emotions that must be raging inside of her at the moment.
Despite the fact that she was only a pawn, Karnax couldn’t help but admire her calm resilience. He would have expected her to break down by now. He scanned her face for any sign of emotion, anything at all, but there was nothing. It was as if she simply didn’t care.
“You play a strange game, Sivva,” he murmured. “You do not fear them, I see. Disappointing, you could have been a strong ally, if circumstances had been different”
A dark smile spread across Karnax’s face. He knew now that things were going his way. The Sivva would be played into his hands.
“You’re lucky,” he murmured into the sphere. “Not many get a second chance. Yet you, somehow you have managed it. You may yet be useful to me, Sivva.”
By the end of this, she would be in his hands, under his control- or dead. That would be assured.
He set the glass ball down, but didn’t dismiss the spell. Instead, he allowed himself to hear, seated in a chair that had been provided. He wished to see how the Sivva would handle the trial.