“—allow me to determine his worth, if you would.” The King leaned forwards. “Most would deem Astor the wiser choice of the two. Whilst Eldin is said to be a knowledgeable youth, with the potential for a great strategic mind, he has no skill in arms, and that is where the younger Astor excels, is it not? There are many that name him the Spirit of Captain Damyen. But let us pause to reflect, what is a spirit?” Damyen had no answer he cared to give. “A pale reflection, with no substance. Whilst your Astor is undoubtedly strong and fast with a sword, he has not the mind to lead men, nor does he have any experience at real fighting. But—“and he regarded Damyen then, observing him as he had been speaking, rather animatedly at that. “—you already knew this, did you not?” He did not seem happy with his own assessment, and neither was Damyen. He had but one option left.
            “Then I would ask it for myself.” That took the King by surprise. There was almost laughter in his eyes, until it was replaced with sadness and... pity!
            “My Lord of Drayvon, it does grieve me that you lost him. Truly, few know it as well as me, none less so that the father. His talent shall be hard to replace, he was a young prodigy.” He sighed then, and stood up. The owl on its perch flicked its head between the two of them. “I shall be frank, though I mean you know insult. You are old, and in no fit state to lead men into battle. Whilst I would value you as a good tactician, that is all you would be good for as a member of the guard for which Eldin would be enough.” Damyen’s fists clenched so tightly it hurt. His face was red with rage but he would not release it here, now. “Let me see how this tournament develops, and then I shall make my decision.” He walked down the steps and clasped Damyen on the shoulder. “I bid Astor every luck in the tournament.”
            “As you say, Your Majesty.” He offered a sad smile then, and walked to the side of the thrones platform where a door stood.
            Damyen looked to the door that the King had left at. The two guards stepped forward, humour in their eyes, and then they left also.
            If I do not get my wish, so help Him and His House. Damyen let out a strangled cry, the grief and frustration was choking him. He tried to breathe, but he couldn’t.
            His idea had been thwarted. He would have thought the King of all people would understand his plight. Why could he not see reason? He had lost his son; he ought to be given his just due.
            What will I do, now?


The End

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