Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 84

down on the squirm of guilt in his gut. He’d have preferred to use the fava-drul thorn to incapacitate a guard or errant servant. Contrary to what he’d said, it paralyzed but didn’t kill. Favriel would be perfectly fine within a day, and the deception would hopefully spur Abrodail to necessary action. A crash snapped their attention to the kitchen threshold, where Eogwen had dropped a clay jug of cream. “Daddy!” She splattered a milky puddle underfoot as she raced to Favriel. She must’ve cut her sole on a shard, for a trickle of blood turned her footprints pink. Eogwen tugged at Favriel’s limp arm until Abrodail pulled her away. Abrodail hugged her weeping child... Khellus’ child... and tried to hush her, assuring her everything would be all right. Daddy was just very tired and needed another nap. She bustled the girl upstairs, and soft sobs continued to float down until they trailed off. Khellus loitered, assuming the Eogwen had cried herself to sleep. Trying to be helpful, he dragged Favriel out of the chair and laid him on the floor, positioned so the man wouldn’t wake with a horrid crick in his neck. He straightened just as Abrodail reappeared on the stairs. She came down halfway and stopped to gaze at him in aghast wonder. “You really aren’t him anymore, are you?” Khellus stepped away from her husband, hands clasped behind his back. “No. Have you made your decision?” Her hand tightened on the rail. “Devils damn you for this, Khellus.” “I’ll accept that if necessary. Abby—” He paused at her murderous look and corrected. “Abrodail, there’s another killer out there already targeting your lord, a monster even worse than I am.” “Hard to believe.” “Compared to him, I’m a kindly butcher that puts down a fatted calf in a single blow. He’ll slaughter the whole herd just to reach the calf, slit its belly open, and choke it to death on its own organs. The reality is Asmoran is going to die no matter what. Best it be by my hand and by royal command rather than by a brute who’ll leave the city in chaos. Believe it or not, I’m trying to protect you.” “By poisoning my husband and terrorizing your own daughter?” “The former is a necessity. The latter would only matter if she knew and if I cared. As you yourself said, someone like me should never be responsible for an innocent flower like herself.” Abrodail came the rest of the way down to stand at arm’s length from him. Favriel lay between them, breathing steady. Her hand shook ever so slightly as she pointed at Khellus. “I want you to swear—not on your honour, because you obviously have none—but on the very bond you have to the king. Swear that once you’re done here, you’ll leave and we’ll never see you again. Ever. Not a glimpse, not a whisper.” He made a shallow bow. “Done. Shall we get to it then?” She blinked. “Right now?” He nodded at her husband. “You’d rather wait until tomorrow, when permanent damage might’ve already set in?” “Bastard.” She gritted teeth. “Fine. How do we go about this?”