As he stalked toward the doors, the two flanking guards dropped their halberds to cover the great
portal, essentially blocking his entrance, but that did not daunt Theobold. "Stand ye aside,
fools!" he shouted, raising one gnarled fist high above his head, as if he would smite down the
doors himself, "or face the terrible wrath of the One God!"
Theobold continued moving rapidly toward them and the guards became increasingly uneasy,
torn between the duty to their prince and fear of this mad priest and his unruly god. They
remained with halberds crossed until the last possible moment, then pulled the weapons back
just before Theobold reached them. The heavy doors were still closed, but without breaking
stride, Theobold slammed the palms of his hands against the doors with the strength of his rage
behind him. They were flung open to crash back heavily against the granite walls of the
audience chamber with such force that they rebounded from the inner walls and slammed shut
again, just missing the body of Theobold as he swept into the chamber.
Compared to the outer room, the audience chamber was small and nearly empty. A pair of
scribes sat to one side of the room at a small table, both of whom now looked up in surprise at
Theobold's unexpected intrusion, while two guards flanked the raised dais whereon sat the
ornate wooden throne of Stanyshaul. Prince Valyrae was seated upon the throne, leaning to one
side, whispering in the ear of one of his foppish sycophants. Theobold sneered at the sight of the
prince and strode toward the dais without waiting for his presence to be acknowledged, a serious
breech of protocol, but in his anger, Theobold cared not for silly formalities. The guards
immediately moved forward, lowering their halberds toward the priest, but Valyrae stopped their
advance with a word, though they did not put up their weapons. Theobold, his fists tightly
clenched, moved toward them and stopped with the points of the halberds only inches from his
"What have you, priest?" Valyrae asked in a mocking tone, not bothering to use Theobold's
rightful title as he addressed him. The prince leaned forward in the throne and lazily draped one
arm across his knee, while his companion giggled behind a handkerchief of violet lace at the
verbal slight against the priest.
Seething all the more that the young prince had purposely insulted him by not using his title,
Theobold growled his answer through clenched teeth. "What I have, me lord Valyrae, be
disbelief that ye have excluded the Panel of Six from this audience chamber and I require an
answer as to why this blasphemous action has taken place!"
Valyrae waved a limp-wristed hand to dispel the priest's anger. "An action can only be
'blasphemous' if one adheres to the beliefs of certain teachings, and since I no longer choose to
follow the path of yer god, me actions can not be construed as being in the realm of blasphemy."
Theobold stared at the prince, his rage mounting. "And, since I no longer follow the path of yer
god, I no longer need the advice of yer Panel of Six to help me make decisions for this
"Ye can not be serious in this, me lord." Theobold said, with barely controlled anger.
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