Trillian held his breath as the musty scent of the damp palace filled his nostrils. The women of Severum were allowed to clean, but Sideon preferred the depressing, gloomy air that hung even in the open areas of the Palace. It fed his evil soul the tiniest bit of comfort. Trillian did not find the air unbearable. The Master Trainers and Rangers were allowed brighten the fragrance of their rooms with the spicy aroma of pine. Though dreading the scent, Trillian also found it welcoming because it meant he was home.
The Ranger walked swiftly into his Master’s study, fearing the punishment in store for him. When angry, Trillian was the one Sideon took it out on.
Trillian was different from the others, his tolerance to withstand punishment was higher than most anyone else’s in Severum. He could bear it without discouragement, whereas many of the other men found themselves degraded and self-conscious.
Sideon wanted a chance to break that in him and to cause Trillian to crumble as the others, but his attempts were frustratingly futile.
Trillian stood at the door in procrastination. He finally raised his fist to knock just as the door swung open.
There, face to face, Trillian met Sideon.
“So, you finally come to me?” The Lord of the Rangers started.
His dark hair was pulled back and held in place at the nape of his neck. Streaks of gray ran above his ears and one shock trailed from the center of his brow down the back of his head.
The Old Master was in his five hundredth year and his life was coming to a close, though at least another hundred lay before him, belying the signs of age.
His angular face smoothed with relief, “Trillian, you are well aware that keeping me waiting is not a good idea. You know what happens to those who try my patience.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Wake up in a nightmare, you will, if I catch you coming to me late again.” As Sideon closed the door behind Trillian, the Master’s attention was drawn immediately to the severed wing which hung helplessly down the left side of Trillian’s back.
“What have you allowed to happen to yourself?” he shouted angrily. Sideon could seem merciful and gracious the one minute, but the next his anger would surpass constraint as he let loose in violent fury.
Trillian held his breath, ready to give his well thought explanation, but before he could begin, Sideon started right into his questions.
“So, did you complete your second mission?” Sideon asked impatiently.
“Yes Master, not one troll was left.”
“You had no encounter with any enemies?” Sideon clearly wanted the account concerning Trillian’s wing.
“This did not happen in Taar.” Trillian began.
“And has it something to do with the woman everyone watched you walk in with? Is she the one who gave improper care to your wing? I know you did not do that.”
The accusing tone in Sideons voice gave Trillian nervous pause.
“Tell me, what was she doing as she bandaged your wing?”
“I made no form of contact with this woman. I merely saved her from a small band of the Druids of Câr. She asked me to escort her to Severum this morning after she had given care to my wounds.”
“I do not believe you,” Sideon said with raised eyebrow. “I will have some of the satraps inquire of her, and if I find any reason for you to not be in earnest, I will send you and her away in disgrace.”
“If you will but give me a chance to explain—” Trillian suddenly collapsed to his knees as pain shot through every nerve in his body.
Sideon contemplated the idea of hearing his explanation, “Very well, I give you five minutes.”
Trillian related every detail that had happened from Taar, to fighting off of the last Druid.
“You used your power against them? You are not one who can work against the powers of the druids. What were you thinking?” Sideon asked angrily.
Trillian nodded, “I know that I should not have been so hasty in the matter, but I found this challenge welcome amid the frame of mind that had settled upon me.”
Sideon remained silent, so Trillian continued.
When the Trillian finished, Sideon sat back reflectively, “Your story does seem to carry some truth in it. You completed the task I sent you forth to do, you earned your punishment for combating alone, and so I suppose there is nothing left for me to do. Well done, Trillian.” He mused, tracing a finger beneath his chin. “What does this woman want?”
“I am not sure,” replied Trillian.
“Then I am giving her situation to you. You are free to go.”
Trillian knit his brow and stood, “Thank you, Master.” he replied slowly.
“Hurry and go to the healer. That wing must be tended immediately.”
“Yes, Master.” Trillian bowed at the waist, then turned to leave. He was confused, but was not going to hesitate for a moment. The mercy he had just acquired was a precious gift indeed. His hand caught the knob, and Trillian was gone without taking a look back.
Sideon almost laughed in glee, as Trillian closed the door behind him. He clapped his hands together in delight, lacing together the pieces of a grand new idea.
“Rûthlion!” Sideon called out.
“Yes sire?” the general entered from a side door.
“I want you to keep an eye on Trillian. This is the second occurrence of such events. You remember what kind of revolt he ensued last time, we do not want that happening again.”
“Yes sire. And the woman?”
“She can remain. Yulissa is promising, maybe she will be the one to beguile him.” Sideon mused.