“What is this?” asked one of the guards.
Both of them raised their axes defensively.
“I am here to see Dehoran,” said the Forgotten One.
“It is too late for petitions; not that he would see the likes of you in any case. Why do you come, wearing a mockery of the king’s elite mail?”
The Forgotten One leaned closer.
“I am the true king,” he said sternly.
“Tonunda’s son? My father told me he was a freak of strength.”
The Forgotten One bunched the Guardsman’s mail at the chest, and threw him into his companion. One landed on top of the other, looking up with shocked faces.
“Convinced now?” said the Forgotten One.
Running feet scrunched on the white pebbled path. Coming towards them was a Devra of the guard. In his late 50s, the man was still impressive of bulk, and fast on his feet. He drew his axe across his chest in salute of the Forgotten One. When he raised his horned helmet, Olleton saw a broad Nusallean face greying at the sides.
“It is I, still Devra of the guard.”
“It is good to see.”
“It is even better to see you, my king. Have you come to remove Dehoran? None of us have any love for the man; me included.”
“I will tell him to step down from the throne. If he will not, then I will remove him.”
Kija placed a hand on his shoulder, halting him.
“You will find Dehoran will not be so compliant. He has come to enjoy the throne. It will not be as easy as you think.”
“I will do what I have come here to do,” he said, walking on.
“You two,” said Kija. “Run ahead and inform the rest of the guard that their king has returned.”
The Guardsmen snapped to attention, and ran ahead on the white pebbled path.
Kija fell in beside the Forgotten One, casting a glance at Olleton.
“What of the boy, my king?”
“He comes with me.”
They marched together, with Olleton behind them, soon entering the checkered floor of the rounded throne room. As the Forgotten One halted in the centre of the throne room, Olleton receded fearfully behind him. At any moment, the twenty Blue River Guardsmen lining the walls could leap into action.
“Dehoran, I deem you unfit to wear Nusalle’s crown! Step down from the throne!” boomed the Forgotten One.
Dehoran, obese with the opulence of his rule, sat upon the throne unperturbed.
“Seize him,” he said calmly.
His Guardsmen remained in place.
“They know who their true king is, Dehoran.”
Dehoran smiled, tapping his sceptre against his cheek.
“I am no fool. Did you not think I saw the day you would come back for the throne? Lin su!”
A man, clearly Yacatanese, wearing black lacquered amour, stepped from the folds of the curtain behind the throne. He donned a broad helmet with metallic horns flaring from the forehead.
“Lin Su was once the chief body guard of the emperor of Yactan. I paid a great deal of money for this man. Half the treasury in fact. Just for this day.”