I’m experimenting with posting different things, to try to decide what to focus on. This is a scene (or maybe a fraction of a scene) from a much longer story that I’ve got planned. I hope you enjoy it, and find it intriguing – let me know in the comments!
With a flick of his wrist, Oswald finished unlocking the magical defenses on the door. He nodded to the guard, who drew back the bolt and swung the door open, revealing the accommodation beyond. Oswald entered, and as the guard closed and bolted the door behind him he felt a buzz as the magical defenses re-engaged – the tang momentarily distracting him from all the worries and duties he felt surrounded him.
Stefan, formerly known as the Third of his Name, sat in the middle of a well furnished room, which apart from its location many people would have taken to be the audience chamber of a noble from a well-to-do family. But it was the little details, Oswald knew, that would constantly remind his old friend of his reduced status. Although the various elaborate hangings helped protect the room from the cold of the stone walls, absent were the royal reds that Stefan had grown up with. The shelves were well stocked with a mixture of fiction and philosophical writings, but were common oak rather than the elegantly swirling wood of the much rarer Imperus tree. And while the two rooms were lit by many torches set in ornate holders around the walls, as well as blazing fires, they were absent of any natural light, or the hint of a breeze – a curse for a former king who had loved to spend his days riding through his country.
Stefan rose to his feet and invited Oswald in, the mage just able to discern the hints of hurt and the slight tremors of doubt that had crept into Stefan’s voice, the commanding baritone that Oswald knew so well..
“I see they’ve granted you permission to see me,” Stefan said. “Or is it that they’ve commanded you?”
“No, I wished to see you. And the permission was mine to grant – I’m still the Aegis.“
“But where do you derive that power from, if not from me? Who will protect you when they all turn on you just as you did on me?”
Oswald paused, momentarily silent. He’d hoped to make sure that Stefan was comfortable, and perhaps fall into a discussion about the mysteries of the world or any of the topics they’d previously discussed in front of a warm hearth – anything as a way to escape from the bounds of seemingly endless and conflicting responsibilities that he found himself currently tangled up in. Instead, here he was, facing this understandable but caustic bitterness that had seemingly leached away all of the comfortable familiarity he and Stefan had enjoyed for so long.
It didn’t take long before Stefan asked the question that he’d clearly been pondering since that fateful day.
“Why? Why did you betray me?”
At least for this, Oswald had an answer.
“For I finally saw… no, I finally stopped ignoring at all the pain and suffering you could have been doing something to help. And I made the decision I’d been trying to avoid – that the people would be better off without you in power.”
“But we were doing so much good!”
“Not for everyone. Not enough.”