His fist gripped the front of my robe and slammed me up against the wall, causing a small explosion of pain in the back of my head. A rush of warm air hit my face with each word he spoke.
"You'd best watch yourself, kid; I can have you executed before you even open that lying mouth of yours."
"It was this lying mouth that won you your position in the first place," I smirked, "You couldn't afford that."
He snarled, his grip hardly loosening, "I can come close; what are you trying to do, ruin me?"
"It was a promotion, Quinn," I spoke calmly, "If you're really this threatened by my moving up in the Fire Lord's court then your fight is with the mirror--not me."
His thick knuckles pressed hard against my collarbone and I wanted to fight back but I knew it would be pointless. Quinn had be by muscle and height. Lucky for him, I had him by wit or the former city gaurd would still be enduring night shifts.
We had been friends before. He'd helped me find my feet in this big, sprawling city and I'd returned the favor by helping him fulfill his dream of sitting in a private council sharing his own, fiery opinnions.
Unfortunetly, like some here, he'd slowly been infected by the power parasite and never seemed to be satisfied with the amount of authority he already held. Torn left and right with jealousy and envy, I hardly recognized the man these days.
"Besides," I continued, my voice slightly strained by the pressure he kept applying, "You still rank above me. What are you so worried about?"
"You'll catch up," he growled, "I've seen how you work. You'll slip me right out of my place and take it yourself."
I shook my head, "You're crazy! I can't even keep up with my latest title yet. What makes you think I can just hop, skip, and slide on up the social ladder?"
"You're slippery enough for it."
I blew out my breath, exasperated, "It takes years for that, Quinn. I'm lucky to be where I'm at at nineteen."
He glared me down and I stared right back, trying to see even a glimpse of my old friend in those familiar eyes. I found only anger and confusion--the two enemies that seemed to claim everyone I'd ever surrounded myself with. I wondered how long it would be until they chose to overtake me.
"Let me go," I spoke carefully, slowly pressing against his fist, "You're better than this, Quinn. A true ruler is in charge of his own emotions first. That's what you once told me, remember?"
The storm seemed to calm, though his ego was still on the defensive. He roughly released me but then pointed a finger in my face.
"I'll be watching you, kid. I've seen you work."