“General Shabner,” said the Esaf Condeu. “What is so pressing that you need to speak to me in person? Are things not going well in Hornblower?”
“My liege,” answered the general, raising from his kneeling position. “There is a plot that I just learned about, involving wizards. I could not trust any open communications to you for fear of alerting the traitors.”
“Who are the traitors, Shabner?”
“I cannot be completely sure, but I believe that most of the Circle of Lords is involved. Definitely Icon.”
“Icon? The Center himself?”
“Yes, Esaf. They plot your death.”
The Esaf starred at the general, eyes wide. “What of Lords Kratia and Nexus?” he asked.
“I trust Lord Kratia, but the blind old man makes me nervous.”
“Looks can be deceiving. Nexus has long been a friend to me.”
“You know best, Esaf.”
“Why do you say there is a plot to kill me? Tell me how, when, who. Tell me everything.”
“It will be someone you trust, sire. That is why I suspect Nexus.”
The Esaf grunted and the general continued. “It is supposed to happen very soon, so you should take precautions immediately. They know you are fast, strong, smart and that you are always guarded. They said they have a way to kill you that you will not be able to defend against.”
“How did you learn all this?”
“I was listening from a safe place. I was not detected by my enemies.”
“Lucky. And that box that you brought with you?” asked the Esaf, nodding to the wooden box on the floor beside the general. The box was about eight inches wide by six inches high and thirty inches long; hinged at the top, no markings anywhere upon it.
“Proof of the conspiracy, sire.”
“Let’s see it.”
General Shabner opened the lid, reached in. He noticed with peripheral vision the guards raising their crossbows, ready to defend the Esaf should there be any weapon in the box. It would not make any difference. The guards would never recognize this for what it was.
Shabner held up an MP-5.
“What is that?” asked the Esaf.
“The weapon of your destruction,” said the general as he pulled the trigger.