‘As long as your servant’s bare skin is making contact with this shield, his passive soul defenses will be dramatically increased,’ said Sazandara. ‘Unless, of course, his soul defenses are already superior to that of the shield. In which case, no increase is granted.’
Garovel hovered nearer. ‘Hmm. I didn’t realize that was even possible.’
‘I would have been surprised if you did. Haqq made the breakthrough himself. It is still not a widely known development.’
‘I see. Are you sure you’re willing to part with it? This seems like an incredibly valuable object.’
‘This is merely a test piece, hence the antiquated simplicity of its design. Haqq wanted to see if he could integrate the materials properly. It took him several months to craft enough for just this shield alone. And admittedly, as irritating as Haqq can sometimes be, I was rather impressed. I don’t know how familiar you are with integration abilities, but being able to craft THIS much of any self-repairing material is quite a feat.’
Hector and Garovel exchanged glances.
‘In other words, yes, it is immensely valuable,’ she went on, ‘but I do still wish for you to have it--partly as an apology and partly to teach Haqq a lesson.’
Garovel shrugged. ‘Well, I won’t refuse such a useful gift. Thank you for your generosity.’
‘You are quite welcome,’ she said. Then she turned to Hector and added, ‘Lord Darksteel.’
Hector’s brow rose at that.
Sazandara’s bony smile widened. ‘After we met yesterday, I asked Haqq’s nephew to look into you. I didn’t realize it would be such an easy assignment for him.’
‘And here I was just getting accustomed to no one recognizing Hector’s face,’ said Garovel.
‘I must say, your actions in your home country have been quite bold. Are you not concerned that the Vanguard will come to recruit you?’
‘Indeed. Certain factions have recently been quite... aggressive in their attempts to gain more members. I imagine your servant’s fame will make him rather appealing to such people.’
‘Hmm. That’s odd. Not long ago, our Queen went on a veritable quest to find Vanguardian allies, and yet she was barely able to procure the aid of a single servant.’
‘Yes, but that was when your country contained the stench of Abolish. Now that this is no longer the case...’
‘I see your point.’
‘Perhaps there is more riding on your alliance with Asad than you realized.’
‘Perhaps you’re right.’