Flashfiction: An insult, a message, a warning.

Adel pulled on the glove, wincing as the soft leather brushed against the bandage. The sight of his left hand still constricted his chest, revulsion and rage warring for prominence. Kehlo replaced the bandage each day and Adel forced himself to watch as her quick hands unwound the linen. Just three fingers now, the smallest replaced with a red slowly healing stump.

The man who’d maimed him would pay, him and whoever sent him.

An insult, a message, a warning. He cared not what it was meant to be, for him it was a sign. He’d been dangerously close to finding something and caution had proven ineffectual. It was time for another approach.

Kehlo’s boot scuffed against the rug behind him. It was her announcement, none of trio made a sound they did not wish to. He turned and smiled at her. “Everything in order?”

The woman nodded and removed her cowl. Her round pretty face was marred from chin to hair line with a deep pitted scar. A memento from the time before she and her brothers entered into Adel’s service.

He breathed out. Uncomfortable business. “My brother?”

She shook her head and Adel frowned. Zahi’s sudden absence made the whole affair suspicious. Two brothers steadfast in grief painted a better picture than a dead king and a missing prince.

Zahi would return. His brother was the loyal type and Adel would need the blind support. The scholars and nobility would follow Adel, but he was no warrior. For all Zahi’s faults the man knew the spear better than any, and the younger prince was well known in the camps and guard posts. “Keep them looking.” He told Khelo and the slight woman nodded.

The sounds of hurry heralded a fervent knock on the main door. Adel did not have to look to see Kehlo disappear.

When he opened the door the captain of the guard was already bent into a bow. “Apologies m’lord.” The men around him were nervous, tension tight in their shoulders and knuckles white on sword hilts.

“What’s going on?” He asked, as he should.

“An assassin’s been spotted on the grounds.” The captain said. “It’s not safe here.”

Adel didn’t move. “Assassin?” He asked, looking unsure. “Surely I would be safest in my rooms.”

He’d barely finished before the Captain shook his head. “Please m’lord. There have been casualties, you are in danger.”

Now Adel stepped forward. “Casulties? I don’t—You are the captain of our guard, what are you doing here? “ Adel allowed something to dawn on him. “My father, why are you not fetching my father?” He demanded.

“I’m sorry m’lord.” The man bowed again, remorse actually coloring his tone. Adel schooled his expression into one of concealed grief and most of the guardsmen looked away. “We’ve not caught them yet. They will be found.”

They would not if Adel had any say in the matter, but he just nodded. “Good.” He said voice tight. “Find them, I’d like to see my father’s—my father. I’d like to see my father.”  He needed to send his own message.

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