‘Then you are wiser than I, it would seem.’ Axiolis fell quiet a moment as they reached the elevator once more. ‘My servant’s wife is dead now because of what the Vanguard did to us. His wife. Practically my daughter. When I think about that... I become much less confused.’
‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ said Garovel.
‘When Zeff and I were interrogated, their questions seemed to be most concerned with the oldest of Zeff’s daughters, Gema. It appears as though the Vanguard is quite desperate to find her.’
‘Did they tell you why?’
‘Supposedly, she killed an Intarian diplomat, but I do not think that would evoke the level of aggression they have shown toward the rest of the Elroys. I sense a greater plot behind all of this. At a guess, I would say that Gema has become involved in some kind of power struggle. I only wish we knew where she was.’
‘Tell me more about these Elroys,’ said Garovel.
The Golden Fort’s assembly hall was a domed chamber of formidable size, naturally lit during the daytime by two high-placed rows of elliptical windows. Gold-and-white banners hung from the ceiling as yet another reminder of Hahl Saqqaf’s presiding ownership.
Asad had been waiting all afternoon for another chance to speak. Abbas and the others had heard his arguments four times previously, and still no decision had been made. The routine had begun to wear thin.
As he sat listening to a lesser lord from Egas drone on about rural livestock, he just tried to resist the urge to rub his forehead and sigh. Thankfully, at least, his red cowl allowed him to hide his expression. He was the only one of the eight Sandlord heads garbed in crimson today, as he was the only one intending to speak before the assembly. It made him stick out in the line of seated white robes, but he was accustomed to such things by now. His golden yellow eyes and black full body tattoos had never made it very easy for him to conceal himself, even among his brethren here.
‘Not much longer now,’ said Qorvass in Valgan. ‘Just be patient.’
To Asad’s eyes, each one of the eight reapers present was a large insect--a scorpionfly, more precisely. Their long wings, however, consisted of burning flames, and their bulbous eyes held a dark glow.