Possible spoiler alert if you haven’t yet finished Blade of Lightning!
Chapter One of the sequel…..
“Let me see the prisoner.”
The guard jumped to his feet.
“Of course, sir. This way.”
He led the other man into the cell block. Arakar was normally a fairly peaceful city, but it had its share of pickpockets and thieves, drunkards and wife beaters. Murderers, on occasion, but at the present moment its jail cells held not one, but two prisoners being held on charges of murder. The guard knew without asking which of the men his illustrious visitor wished to see.
He unlocked the heavy iron door and attached a chain to the prisoner’s ankle shackles and pulled him ungently to his feet.
“Let’s go, you,” the guard said sharply, and he ignored the glare the prisoner gave him. He led the two men into a room, empty but for a table with two chairs on one side, and one on the other. That one was bolted to the floor, and the guard shoved the shackled man down into it. The chain he fastened securely to a rung set in the stone floor, well back from the chair. If the prisoner tried to stand, he wouldn’t be able to take even one step. When the guard was sure the man was secured, he took up a stance at the door.
But the visitor said, “Leave us,” and the guard frowned.
“Sir,” he started to say, but the man said again, sharper, “Leave us.”
“Yes, sir,” the guard said, and he went out, closing the door behind.
The door closed. The prisoner examined his visitor from under hooded eyes. Well dressed, with a cloak of fine material, the man held himself arrogantly. One used to power, then. The visitor stared at him from the other side of the table, where he sat comfortably.
“You are Torgan Gal,” the visitor stated. “Known to your friends and confederates as Snick. I am Counselor Ristan Priano.”
Snick narrowed his eyes. Counselor Priano was known throughout this part of Nedda Province as one of the powers behind the growing anti-Keeper sentiment.
Priano smiled, but Snick noticed the smile did not reach his eyes.
“Messengers arrived today from Jacarta,” he told Snick. “The Keepers here in the city ready themselves.”
He paused and Snick knew he was expected to ask. He wasn’t going to, not willing to give the man the satisfaction, but something in Priano’s manner made him curious as to the man’s motive for coming to see him.
“Ready themselves for what?” he growled.
“It seems your Master, Dunai? He did not escape his retribution after all,” Priano answered with a pleased smile. “He will be brought back to Arakar within the next two weeks, and you and he are to be taken to the Keepers for judgment.”
“They can’t judge me,” Snick said with a frown. “I’m not a Keeper.”
“Ah, my friend Snick, but you accepted the powers of a Keeper, and so you will be judged accordingly.”
Snick knew the man was right. It was a risk he’d accepted when Cato had bound him to the path of Fire four years past. He considered Priano carefully.
“What is this to you? A trial by Keepers is by law outside the jurisdiction of any city Council, or even of a province Governor.”
“Outside the law, you mean,” Priano said with a flush of anger, showing Snick for the first time a true emotion. He mastered it almost immediately, the same casual nonchalant expression taking control. “As to what it has to do with me, well – I have a proposition for you.”