Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 82

er option. his chief stewards.” Khellus watched her go with her latest choice, a salted slab of mutton. “I suppose she’s the right age. But why didn’t you—” “Must be nice, both of you working there.” “Why didn’t I what?” Abrodail made a fist. “Write to let you know? Chase after you? You made your feelings rather clear by leaving, and if I gave up everything here to track you down in the hopes of some paternal fondness, it’d mean surrendering what little life I’d managed to build here.” She sighed deeply. “Besides, I didn’t want her to have a father who might never be around. Knowing your sort of business, I figured you’d forever be traveling, off on one mission or another until you got killed.” He drummed fingers on the table. “Fair enough.” To be honest, he felt relief at never having being dragged into Eogwen’s upbringing. It would’ve been one more complication, one more chain wrapped around his soul. Personal attachments of that sort always muddled the mind and heart, liabilities an assassin couldn’t afford. He looked to Favriel, who wore a bemused expression. “I’ll admit, you’re taking this rather calmly.” Favriel shrugged. “I came to terms with it when I married Abby. I love Eogwen like my own and would do anything to see she comes to no harm.” His voice and face hardened. Khellus held up a hand. “I’m not here with any intent to take her from you.” The man relaxed, if barely. “Then why are you here? I’ll assume it’s no social calling.” Khellus eyed his uniform. “You work for Asmoran as well?” Favriel drew shoulders back. “Indeed. I’m one of The other man smiled. “It has its advantages. We’ve no need to leave Eogwen with a marm. We get meals together and catch little times alone, so long as it doesn’t interfere with our work. Many staff have family members who serve minor functions throughout the operations. It gives the whole affair a rather close feel.” Khellus quelled a grimace. A great way for Asmoran to maintain an eye on his staff at large, recruit new addicts, and have plenty of blackmail opportunities to keep any potential dissenters in line. Abrodail looked tense as she watched Favriel and averted her eyes when Khellus tried to meet them. “You want help from me, you tell him as well. He’s loved me, cared for me and for Eogwen, and he’s never abandoned us and never will. He deserves to know.” Acquiescing, Khellus kept it as brief as possible. He used the same arguments he had to get in the door with Abrodail. Asmoran. The king’s edict. The talk of rebellion and the need to make an example to keep the other nobles in line before war broke out and threatened the whole region—their family included. To his credit, Favriel maintained his poise throughout the explanation, the only sign of tension being the occasional clenching of his jaw. When Khellus finished, Favriel sagged, as if a knot had loosened in his back. “I see.” He scratched at the light stubble on his chin. “This is... vexing.” He stared at his lap for a full minute, while Khellus and Abrodail watched each other over the table. For