“Greetings, citizens of Minsheen,” he said, looking around. He suddenly caught Carling’s eye and added, “and honored guests.”
He cleared his throat. “I know you didn’t come here to listen to me pontificate.” Chuckles sprinkled through the crowd. “So, I will get right to the point. With the passing of our dearly beloved lead stallion, Manti, it became necessary to select a new leader.” He motioned to the council members, who were now lined up behind him. “These are your council members, all very qualified Centaurs to be sure. However, it was necessary to select one to lead them and us.” He paused and looked directly at Carling. “At least until the rightful heir to the throne of Crystonia is prepared to take over that responsibility.”
Murmurs spread through the crowd. “Does he know something we don’t?” whispered a stallion behind Carling and Tibbals. Tibbals turned and looked at him but said nothing.
“As I was saying,” Adivino continued, “we need a new lead stallion. Therefore, the council has spent many hours in discussion and debate, which, I will admit, was heated at times.” Several of the council members cast their gazes skyward. Carling noticed that others turned their heads and looked at Zarius, who was standing off to one side, his arms folded across his chest, his tail swishing. “But, as is always necessary, the council has come to a conclusion. It is my honor to introduce to you your new lead stallion…,” he paused for dramatic effect…, “Chauncery.”
A loud cheer arose from the crowd, but Carling continued to watch Zarius. The council member’s eyes narrowed and his frown deepened, but he didn’t move or speak. He simply stood still, glaring at the crowd, his gaze moving from one group of Centaurs to another until he realized Carling was watching him. As his gaze met hers, Zarius raised his eyebrows and gave Carling a sardonic smile that sent chills down her spine.
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