Level 08 ~ Andrew

Andrew sat on one of the white-marble benches in the audience hall of Cair Noren, the capital and castle of the Holy Kingdom of Landis. His head was hung and he and Banisher leaned against one another as he waited for his audience with King Cortez. It’d complicated proceedings that he refused to disarm upon entering the castle, but his father had only relinquished Banisher when he went to die. His brother still had Banisher clutched in hand when he died. Andrew intended to do the same.

Cair Noren, the city, was very different from the Silver Temple of Kakarus. Andrew had grown up in a theocracy where everyone viewed their lives based on how they could serve the gods of good and righteousness. Landis claimed to be a holy kingdom, but it was still a monarchy where petty nobles vied for political power and the will of heaven, not even the gods, was on people’s lips but rarely in their hearts. He couldn’t say for sure it was an environment rich for the seed of evil to grow, but he couldn’t imagine it did anything to deter that seed. Still, if demons meant to kill the king then he’d be here to stop them. He was just glad nothing had happened while he was jumping through hoops to arrange his audience.

Andrew looked with his eyes to check the extra guards that had been assigned to watch him for signs that he might go in soon. Something else came.

“Make way for Bishop Feanthar!” A crier came running ahead of a shiny trio of knights, “Let the King know that Bishop Feanthar has come bearing Heaven’s Staff and demands audience!”

Andrew raised his head suddenly as he saw the punk kid in priest’s robes carrying It. Heaven’s Staff. The only sacred relic entrusted by the gods to the continent of Yore and the foundation for the Stellan Temple. The kid had messy hair and way too soft a face; clearly he’d never been hit in it before. Andrew’s stomach sank as he turned and saw the guards at the entrance to the King’s chamber stand aside at attention, not for him but for this damn kid! Bishop? Bullshit.

The kid walked quick, rushing like he thought the king’s life depended on his news… Then Andrew saw the women traveling with his holiness. An odd entourage for a holy man. The blonde made sense, silver armor and stern expression, she moved easily in her armor and was obviously a skilled fighter even if a pretty one. She might hide her scars better than he did, but Andrew trusted she had them. The other one though… Since when did bishops keep harlots on retainer?

The harlot had blood-red hair and eyes that focused like a hunting cat’s. Her cloak, billowing behind her as she kept pace with the bishop, didn’t hide anything. Shapely legs, full bosom, thigh-high laced boots and a purple leather bodice that obviously was only designed to enflame men’s passions. She had the gait of an athlete though; the Church apparently didn’t waste its time with cheap harlots.

Nodding like an honored dignitary the kid just breezed right into the King’s chamber with his lady retainers and a mere three knights instead of the eight watching Andrew. Andrew stepped up right into the crossed glaives of the knights closest to him.

“Hey!” Andrew shouted after the kid, who paused to look back at him, “I’ve been waiting three days to see the king!”

The kid actually looked guilty, apologetic even, “I’m sorry, but this is important.”

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