They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but Chancellor Virien’s rage will permit no delay. He lays his plans with care, devising the perfect trap for the two men who’ve foiled his plans time and time again. Captain Jisten and High Priest S’Rak are going down and Virien will be there to gloat over their misfortune. Will the lovers prevail once more, or will Lord Virien get the last laugh?
All was in readiness. Virien had laid his plans carefully, taking into account everything he knew about his enemy. It was almost Auranz’ Day, the summer solstice. The dark one’s powers were at their weakest as the sun dominated the sky. It drove Koilathan clockmakers mad that law and custom dictated that there always be twelve hours in a day. At midwinter, the day, and hence, the hours, were far shorter than they were now. The night was less complex, at least for Koilatha, since it was divided into only three watches, no matter now long or short the night might be.
Virien had learned that in the dark service, the night also had twelve hours. He didn’t really care how the dark ones divided their nights, but he had learned many such trivial facts while researching his target. With the help of some friends, he had all the tools he needed to bring the dark one down. It was time to act, now, while the court was in upheaval, preparing to move everything of import to Summertown.
This meeting, a last quick council meeting, was about that very exodus. The dark one was attending as a matter of courtesy, since he would be expected to move his own residence with the court. During the hectic argument and counter-argument that took place every year, as if the lessons of the previous year had been utterly forgotten, Virien fingered the crystal in his pocket and concentrated. The set-spell in the stone was triggered, casting its magic on the one it had been tied to—Rak. Hasaviz had made a few of these stones, using Rak’s blood and liberally spilled seed to bind them to him. Virien had inherited them, and more, upon Hasaviz’s death.
Luckily, Hasaviz had labeled the crystals, so Virien knew what each would do to the unfortunate victim. In this case, the magic triggered the slave fires, causing Rak to burn as if he’d not had sex in a week or more. He carefully did not look at Rak when the dark one shot him a suspicious look. Rak had to know who’d done it. There was nobody else present who knew Rak had slave fires, after all. Virien wanted Rak to assume that he was trying to force him to embarrass himself in front of the council. That wouldn’t displease Virien, but it wasn’t his goal.
He waited until Lord Keron was declaring something at volume to trigger the spell a second time, making it appear that he was goading Rak into a rash response to the pompous young councilor. His trained eye could see the beads of sweat forming on the dark one’s brow, the slight tremble in his hands. The spells were working on the poor fool now.