“So Arkus, that’s your name,”
“No, it is not. Arkus is the name of a very good man, a better man than I will ever be. I sent the letter through my sources; the wardens here are lowlife and cruel, but they all have a price, more often than not, one I can easily afford. Still, I am ever-wary of betrayal, and signing under a name that is not notorious in the East keeps me, and you, for that matter, safe,”
“Notorious? So who are you then?” Willow turned to the door and wondered if it was safe to speak without being overheard. At the same time, Anala took the letter from the arm and unfolded it whilst noticing his anxiety.
“You don’t need to worry,” she said, eyes on the paper. “I charmed this room with inaudibility. Everything said in here is silence, so all of those – oh Uncle, I can’t believe you told him that.”
He did not answer her, locked in conversation. “My family name is Paradam,” he said. “Once, that name was highly-respected, but in these times, nobility is fading away, and for those of us that pose a threat to the position of others, we are defaced and hunted. I’ve laid low for a long time to avoid this, until now. You may call me Percival, and the young lady you don’t like is Anala, my ward.”
Anala curtsied to him stiffly, then tossed the letter into the hearth in one sharp gesture. Willow reached forward into the heat, but could only watch as the seal bubbled away and the paper edges began to curl up and blacken. He glared at her caustically. “How could you –,”
“I’m afraid it’s for the best, Willow,” said Percival calmly. “Us coming here was a great risk. The name was not mine, but the seal and the words were; we can leave no trace of our presence –,”
“So why did you come?” he snapped. “If it’s so dangerous, what’s so important to you in this place?”
“You,” said Anala,
“You said that already, but why me? You said things in that letter, things about me that I didn’t think anybody else knew, about how I – how I felt and questions I don’t…” He shrank back into the chair, afraid of who they were and the extent of what they knew.