Chapter nine

            The throne room had been transformed from dark unwelcoming state to something of a showroom. Servant's lined the wall each holding a in his hands a glowing blow of lava which lit the room with a warm shimmering citrine light. Throughout the day a steady stream of salesmen had been traveling in and out of the throne room pitching ideas for the execution of Adrian Parker to Stratagus.

Stratagus was seated in the throne drinking from a goblet of wine, the days event's had left him exhausted and bored. He drank the wine with pleasure. Roshell sat upon his lap as usual. Her head rested against his neck as she slept peacefully. Stratagus held her upright with his arm wrapped around her back. His hand rested against her hip.

A servant entered the throne room to announce the arrival of the next guest. Stratagus paid little attention to the man's name or the man himself for that matter. He fully expected to pay no attention to  a word the man said but that all changed very quickly.  Nearly all the men before him had showered Stratagus with relentless praise within the first few minutes upon entering, he did not. This young man took a different approach.

"My lord Stratagus I've come to stop you!" The man said with low bow.

Stratagus raised his eyebrows at the man, chuckling in amusement.

"Your about the make a terrible mistake." The man continued.

"Hmm. Who are you exactly?" Stratagus asked, looking him over thoughtfully.

The man smiled glad to have caught his attention. He decided to hold it awhile longer, stalling with his response as he took a lavished bow.

"My name is Theodulus." That was not true, this man was called Toby however, he didn't think it necessary Stratagus know this. "Designer of  Cages, dungeons  and traps. And I have just the thing for you to capture the fear of Devil's Helmet...word on the street is your slipping, losing your touch some might even say and it's all because of this Adrian Parker fellow. We can't have that and we defiantly can't have a celebration at his capture. No. no."

Stratagus laughed the man's confidence was refreshing...a little too refreshing almost bold. Stratagus let him continue.

"You're not happy you caught him you knew this was going to happen nobody outsmarts his majesty. So his execution should reflect that. If you let him die too quickly, there is no fun in that no lesson learned. If you kill him to slowly then he becomes a martyr, we need to make him into an example." Toby paused. Stratagus watched him coolly. Toby was unsure of where to go next. Stratagus should've asked him for his plan by now or shown some sort of interest. If Stratagus wasn't invested in the idea by the time Toby mentioned the cage he would lose him. Toby tired to drag it on a long as he could while still building interest. He'd have to read deeper into Stratagus but the man was very hard to figure.

"Imagine." Toby began. "Being able to show all of Devil's Helmet what a miserable disaster Adrian Parkers life has been for the past twenty years."

Stratagus shifted slightly in his chair, showing the slightest inclination of interest. Toby knew he was on the right track. He continued, careful not to lose ground.

"Remind the people that the only result to ever come from defying, disobeying..." Toby paused, as the perfect word came to his lips. " is a slow and painful death!" He let the words linger in the air around Stratagus. If he didn't respond now it would be difficult to sell him on the cage.

"Proceed." Stratagus prompted slowly.

"With your blessing. I propose a  cage, very elegantly comprised of doors. Doors that cannot open...all except one and that is where the firefly shall enter. Once the bug is inside the door is locked and it is only seconds until the people witness there is no escaping your displeasure."

Stratagus cleared his throat, looking the man over carefully. He sold the idea too well, almost as if he'd looked inside of  Stratagus and found what he desired. The offer was too tempting to resist.

"Remember that and don't displease me." Stratagus said. "I want that cage delivered to the market square by sunrise. You have three day."

The man smiled widely he bowed as he spoke,

"I'm not one to disappoint." He turned and strode from the room. Stratagus watched him go unable to shake a sense of familiarity.

The End

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