“Put me down here,” Wilal said.
The attendants did as he wished, laying the palanquin gently onto the ground. Wilal could smell the Northern Winds from here, the top of Lastmount Ridge. The salty smell of his home in the Northern Wilds, a place had not been to in years.
Not since he had deserted.
“Leave me,” Wilal said, waving to his attendants. It took all of his effort to move his wrist, but he was not going to show weakness in front of them. No one could know of how ill the great King of Lastmount was. It would destroy the peace he had spent years building.
Until Evatl takes the thone, he thought. His eldest daughter, waiting in the wings for his demise. She was smart, capable and most importantly compassionate. The world needed a compassionated ruler, after the wars of the last two hundred. Wilal had inherited a bloodied mess from his mother and his grandfather before her. Maybe, Evatl would be spared a kinder rule.
Wilal waited until he heard his attendants retreat behind the ridge, and then he let his façade fall. The Northern Winds called to him, the salt singing in his bones. How he wished he could return home, to the Northern Garrison. That was his true home, his true calling, staked out on the Crescent Islands, learning about magics of old.
Forgive me, he thought. The Northern Winds howled around him, tugging at his thin grey hair and chilling him to the core.
Silence met his plea. Clearly the Crescent Islands were not listening today.
Or they were ignoring me, he thought. Wilal forced his hand into the air, gesturing for his attendants to pick him up again.
He would have to try again tomorrow.