Elymas Calls Foul

“Highness, as Skyll of the Tree and the sacred garden, I believe I’m the true assessor of this situation.” Elymas’s voice was tight. “I know what is at stake. By whatever means, this man has an outline, a distorted outline of the Outer Flower on his palm. And how should he come by this? Are we really to believe that a light, no, a flame that roared like a bear fixed it in his palm? And if this is true, what is the source? Is it foul wizardry? Or did it come from the Elynon?

Elymas was trying to keep his voice calm, but the effort caused his body to tremble. Even his legendary gold medallion, the one he always wore called “The Sun” jumped intermittently against his robe, as if punched by the beat of his heart.

The Sun jumped against his robe.

“And why should the light appear to a barbarian and not to your Majesty? You are the King! Nay, this man is full of trickery, and if indeed this message comes from the Shautu, perhaps the two of them, conspiring together, made this plan. The Shautu, remember the Blood Wars, has sent this unskilled speaker to disarm us with obscure prophecies and bizarre theology. What this man tells us reeks of sorcery and the dark craft. Treason as well. He has blasphemed the Outer Flower by disfiguration and then incites the common man with calls to war. I demand that he be arrested!”

“What stupidity!” Vue shouted. “Oren has come unarmed into our court with a miraculous message, the like of which we’ve never heard. Majesty, I beg you not to be persuaded by the foolishness of an earth wizard grown old.”

Actually, the King didn’t look like he could be persuaded by anything. He looked as though he might collapse in his chair. He tried to hoist himself up by the arms of the throne, but the effort proved too much and he slumped forward, chin sunk in the folds of his robe. Ondred stepped closer and whispered in his ear, but William shook his head.

“I learned in war only to attack those areas where it was possible to effect a change,” William spoke after a pause and slowly. “It seems to me, Oren, that the mark in your hand is a matter of belief. Elymas declares it blasphemous while Vue believes it is divine. I can’t tell a man what to think.” Whatever was afflicting his body was not affecting the King’s mind. William had never been better than when planning strategy, and clearly a battle was being fought before his throne. “I will follow A’sing’s suggestion. It is the most plausible yet. And since we have the acolytes present, we will begin from that angle. If one of the novices penetrates to the third level, we will know the new Earth Skyll is either newly born or waits in the womb. The mark is Oren’s alone and not ours to interpret.”