On his way to study for the priesthood, Harow is mistaken for a bold and infamous duke. Instead of study, he finds himself thrust into action to rescue a beautiful queen and her spoiled daughter, as they flee the city. Now, a rebel army is hot on their heels and Harow must keep his wits about him as he leads the small group of survivors to safety.
“Did you kill him?” the low, harsh voice grated.
“Ah...no, I found him like that. I must flee, the enemy is near and...”
“Silence! Do not lie to me, boy. I saw him deliver a message to you. What was it? Tell me quickly or I will reach down your throat and pull out your feeble heart, then feed it back to you.”
Long bony fingers materialized from deep within black sleeves. One pale hand held a dagger with a thin curved blade almost the length of a man’s forearm.
“Rats stolen your voice box? No difficult problem, my young friend. I’m certain I can dig something useful out of you, given time.” He smiled, revealing yellowed, broken teeth. The words dropped to the melody of a soft purr blended with honey and seasoned with fine spices. “Come here, my friend, and tell me all you know of this affair.”
Harrowfelt his mind turning to soft gruel, felt those eyes burning two holes inside his aching head. Suddenly a hot desire to babble all, like a man who has just witnessed his own death and woken to realize it was but a bad dream, or a young rooster who has just avoided his first hungry eagle, gripped him.
“He had a message for the queen. The king is dead. He wanted me to take his medallion and ring, go to the palace, and deliver a message to the queen. He made me swear to do it. I do not know him. He fell there, right in front of me and died here on the street.”
The tall wizard bent, examined the body carefully, glancing up once or twice at Harow who knew he must look like a comic statue in the lane, mouth open, eyes wide. The sounds of fighting drew nearer, raging up the street on the other side of the row of buildings.
“You must do as you were bidden.”