Chapter 05 of Quest for the Blue Crystal

Kratia was not in cheerful spirits when she returned to her castle at Hornblower. Sarral was the sole person to greet her, a wise decision on his part considering her mood.

“Welcome, my Lord,” he began, before being abruptly cut off.

“Did Nickademos arrive safely?”

“He did. And he is being held securely,” he paused and raised his hand in assurance even before her scowl could fully form. “And gently! In the interior guest chamber, as you had directed. I have two guards inside his room, and one wizard watching him via sensiball.”

Kratia nodded. “How long did it take to move him to the chamber?”

“Not more than forty seconds, my Lord,” answered Sarral. “Your spell placed him on the main floor within the expected time frame, and guards took him immediately to the chamber. Prior to that, I placed Juran under house arrest. He’s in one of the white cells, as you ordered. Three of your more accomplished staff magicians provided spells of concealment and illusion over the entire castle during your absence. I shall permit them to cease their efforts now, if you have no objection.”

Kratia’s frown relaxed. “Excellent work, Sarral. Let them rest. I will go to  Nickademos at once. But keep his guards in place.”

“Do any of the other Lords suspect that you transported an extra person from Earth?”

“Of course not.” She brushed by Sarral and headed for the stairs to the depths of her castle. Sarral cleared his throat, and Kratia stopped.

“What else, Sarral?”

“Jed Nalton, Lord. He has refused to petition the Esaf for the garrison of troops.”

“But he must. Did you show him the pattern of Rep attacks? How they attack further south each week? Hornblower will be in range within a month.”

“Yes, my Lord. I presented the facts, and the projection was quite clear. The man reamins obstinate.”

“He and his damn fool notion of a militia.” Jed Nalton, the appointed Palatine for Hornblower, took his position seriously. It was within his authority to form a small community militia, and the Esaf Condeu no doubt would reward him if it proved effective.

Kratia’s frown returned. “I’ll handle it, Sarral. After I see my guest.”

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