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Lynn’s eyes widened. “I can’t take this, Your Highness! It’s worth more than everything I own!”
“Well, be sure to return it to me later, then.”
Lynn was incredulous.
Meriwether pressed onward. “Lord Haqq said he would meet you in this castle, yes?”
She managed a nod.
“Knowing him, he will probably be in the basement studying one thing or another.”
“He told me where he would be.”
“Ah. Good, then.” The Prince turned to Hector next, making the young man tense up. “If you can, please have your reaper speak to the others around here and find out as much about the current circumstances in Sair as you can. Then report back to me. I may have need of such information.”
“Ah--” Hector glanced at Garovel, and when the reaper nodded, he said, “Y-yes, Your Highness.”
“Thank you,” said Meriwether. “I will remain here while I wait for Lord Abbas to see me. I suspect it will be a while. I will call Ms. Edith here if anything urgent should arise.”
The Prince all but pushed them out of the room after that. Hector and Lynn exchanged looks before rejoining the crowd of people in the curved hallway. They made for the basement first, which wasn’t the easiest thing to find, but Garovel was able to petition a couple of passing reapers for directions.
Hector wanted to ask Lynn more about this Haqq person, but with all the people around, he couldn’t bring himself to. Instead, he settled for another private conversation with Garovel while they walked.
‘Who owns this fortress?’ Hector asked. ‘Do you know?’
‘It belongs to the Saqqaf family. My understanding is that they are the most influential of the Sandlords.’
‘But Haqq Najir isn’t one of them.’
‘No, he would of course belong to the Najir family.’
‘It would be nice if we could make allies with these people.’
‘Even though they’re fighting the Vanguard?’
‘That’s not what Emerix said. He said the Rainlords are fighting the Vanguard. He didn’t say the Sandlords had joined them.’
‘But yes, it does give me pause. I don’t think the Vanguard would attack anyone without good reason. At least, I hope they wouldn’t.’
‘What’ll happen if the Sandlords do join in?’
‘Hard to say. I don’t think the Rainlords can stand up to the Vanguard on their own.’