Cadonus looked around the room, eying his many advisers. “Grumbling old men.” He thought as they went on and on about the recent tax rises and small mutinies. “I disagree.” He stated finally as they started arguing, again, over the pros and cons of trade. “We need the extra fabrics and spices, the grain load is plenty, no need to hoard it so harshly.”

He felt smug as the men reluctantly nodded, moving on to the next point. His decision was always final.

Ferrus, the finicky court worrier rose to announce the next problem. Cadonus knew what it would be before he spoke and put up a hand, silencing him. He stood up himself and addressed those present. “Many of you have heard the reports from Timber, the wool merchant. Half of his load was stolen the other day in a hit and run bandit raid.” He paused, looking around the room, he was met with grumblings and small, annoyed shakes of the head. Such things were becoming more regular by the month.

“We have ignored things so far, the raids being of small consequence, but this cannot go on-”

Meryll, one of the younger and more wayward advisers, rose and banged his fist on the table. “We have to strike back at them!”

His outburst caused a stir amongst the seated crowd. Ferrus scowled at him. “Sit down boy, we'll do no such thing.” He turned to Cadonus. “We should send an armed guard of our own with the caravans.” This was met with nods and mumbled agreements.

“What good would that do?” Meryll argued back. “We cannot protect every caravan.”

“Silence!” Cadonus roared, seeing that the discussion was about to go out of hand. “We must find out the perpetrator, we have, until now, assumed that it was the Dax from the hills. Timber's report does not tie in with that. These rebels had a SoulRider, not one of ours but a SoulRider none-the-less.”

The only sound for a minute or so was the clash of the swords training outside.

Jaide finally broke the silence. “So what will we do?”

“We send out 'Hunt'.” Cadonus replied.

There was a collective shudder from the people assembled.

The End

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