KAHRNAHRGX’S FACE BETRAYED nothing of his thoughts. His senior commanders stood in a half circle around his massive throne. With his thick palms pressed together in front of his face and his elbows planted on his knees, he peered past his talons, standing like sentinels directly before his eyes.
Finally, he turned toward Lement-Nor, stationed below and to his right, nearest the dais.
“Are they prepared, then?”
“Yes, my lord,” the hybrid asserted.
“The female’s mind hangs by but a thread—”
“And the boy?”
“His transformation requires only the final step.”
“He suspects nothing?”
Lement-Nor snorted. “He is nothing but an assemblage of anger, confusion and unruly hormones.”
“You answer a question I did not ask,” Kahrnahrgx murmured slowly, his eyes flaring like melting flint.
Lement-Nor bowed slightly and tipped his head low.
“No, my lord. He suspects nothing.”
“It would be well for you he doesn’t.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Turning to his left, Kahrnahrgx signaled to his palace marshal. The marshal’s place was three paces to the left of the throne and one pace back, a deferential position but still near at hand when his master required him.
He stepped forward to the edge of the dais and called out in a clear voice like a trumpet, “The Lord Kahrnahrgx summons General Uu-Descah.”
From the rear of the great hall, a mammoth gargoyle stepped forward and moved towards the throne. The general’s width nearly matched his height. While not tall in comparison to other accomplished warriors, his massive shoulders spanned almost half again the next strongest fighter. There was an awkwardness to his gait. His shoulders undulated up and down, as his torso swung resolutely back and forth. Where his right foot should have been was lashed a worn leather boot.
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