The soft sound of silks moving contrasted sharply in her ears with the determined stride of the one wearing them. He had returned and found her report then. She had been careful not to enter his rooms until he called for her, but she should have anticipated that he would come to hers without hesitation.
The Void Ranger scrambled to her feet, bowing immediately upon his entrance to the room. The door yawned open, thudding against the wall behind it as he stood there glowering at her. “Your Grace,” she said gently as she rose.
“Explain. Now,” he demanded, his scowl deepening.
Sulime took a deep breath. “Five days past, the Hierarch sent for me,” she began. “He asked that I meet him in the backwater port of Booty Bay, on the southern tip of this continent. He said he had discovered something of great import.”
“And you thought he would report to you.” The sneer on his face left little to the imagination.
“I thought he wanted me to see it,” she replied carefully. “I had no reason to suspect the Hierarch. As he was covering the search on the Alliance side, I assumed he had discovered something that needed eyes among the Horde. And you had returned home to deal with matters there.”
Gilræn scowled. “I am not hearing a reason to doubt my most loyal servant.” He held aloft the parchment, in which she had stated only that she needed to share details of Borænin’s duplicity.
Most loyal servant. The words rang in her ears, stinging over and over. Putting on what bravery she could, she continued. “I arrived in Booty Bay. He met me at a tavern there, where he had paid off the goblins to poison me and hold me captive.”
“Why would he do this? It’s absurd.” Gilræn moved to the ornate chair in the corner and sat down. Looking up at her, his expression bid her continue, though the impatience held within urged her to make haste.
“Your Grace, he attempted to give me what he called a warning,” she stated.
The Lord Protector arched an eyebrow. “A warning. About what, pray tell.”
Looking at her feet, she murmured, “He claimed you intended to cast me aside.”
The golden man grunted. “The thought has occurred to me.”
Sulime nodded sullenly. “That is, of course, Your Grace’s prerogative. But I believe Borænin was attempting to turn me against Your Grace.”
“Why, again I ask, would he do this? He has served me loyally for centuries.”
“He mentioned the Novice, Your Grace,” she said softly.
“What of her?”
“He said you spoke of taking her as my…replacement. And then he said, and this is a quote, Your Grace, He was warning me that my toys can be made his.” She glanced up to gauge his reaction.
Gilræn’s response was to laugh aloud. “He is not wrong!”
“I lightly accused him of dallying with the girl. He did not deny it,” she said, a little more boldly.
The man snapped his fingers, his mirth taking on a dangerous edge. “I thought as much. Took him long enough to find one to make use of.” His hand moved to his face, fingers playing along his lips.
“I believe he became attached, Your Grace”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“To a Novice.” He listened as Sulime gave him an exact account of the end of her conversation with Borænin. Gilræn narrowed his eyes and rose very slowly fro his seat. “If you are lying to me to keep your place…” he hissed.
“I am well aware of the cost of such folly, Your Grace.”
He was on her in a moment, grabbing a fistful of her hair. He twisted until he drew small yelp. She quickly silenced herself. “You have no idea what I will do…” he said, soft as the edge of a knife. He shoved her backwards, sending her into the wall.
Not for the first time, she was grateful for the veil that hid her features, and her tears. “I have nothing to hide from Your Grace. My will is yours. My life is yours.”
“Yes. It is,” he said simply, smoothing out his sleeves to perfection once again.
She stood silently for a few minutes, hoping to allow the heat of his temper to cool. “May I ask Your Grace a question?”
“Make it worth it,” he replied with a scowl.
“Was it Borænin who suggested that you return home to deal with the Warrant Officer?”
Gilræn furrowed his brow. “If it was?”
“Then the day you left, he arranged to have me out of the way for a few days,” she explained carefully. “And now he is nowhere to be found.”
Gilræn closed his eyes. He shook out his arms and forced himself to be still. Runes appeared on the floor around him for a moment before his eyes snapped open. “Where. Is. He?” The runes faded almost as quickly as they had appeared.
Sulime shook her head. “I do not know, Your Grace. His Novice has not answered any summons either.”
Gilræn growled, his fists clenching. Black ice crept out from below his feet. “Five hundred years he has been loyal. This novice…she has done something to him. Find her.”
“I shall make every effort. I have already sent word to assets in Alliance territories.” Her confidence began to return as his fury with his favorite grew.
“Bring others through the rift if you need to. I want her found. Now.”
“Yes, Your Grace. I shall summon a pack of my hunters,” she answered, nodding curtly.
Sulime tilted her head to one side. “Two packs or just two hunters?”
“Packs, you stupid girl.”
Sulime bowed her head. “As you wish, Your Grace.”
“Assign one to search for signs of the Hierarch,” he growled. “I cannot call the Ren’dorei over to continue the searches for the rest. I need to know where the break started.”
“Understood, Your Grace.”
“Somehow I think the Novice he’s been hiding from me is the key,” he muttered, beginning to pace.
“Your Void Rangers will see it done.”
“They better, Sulime. Or they will lose more than their eyes this time.”
Sulime shrank a little.
Gilræn waved her off in a flurry of silk sleeves. “Out. I need to think”
Sulime bowed down graciously and backed out of her own room in retreat.