"Oh, I can be and am quite serious," Valyrae admitted with an insincere smile.
"Aye, he be most serious," his companion added with a wave of his scented hankie and they both
laughed in Theobold's face.
"Ye do not have the authority to make decisions of this magnitude," Theobold growled, softly,
then added almost as an afterthought, "me lord."
"Oh, but I do, priest," Valyrae told him, then seemed to become intensely interested in the
fingernails of his right hand. "As the ruler of Stanyshaul, I can make whatever policy decisions I
feel are right for the people of this kingdom and I feel that me people no longer require the
guidance or the control of a religious order."
"If I may point out, me lord," Theobold said, trying hard to keep his anger in check, "ye are but a
regent, acting under the king's orders while yer father be away from the kingdom and it was the
king's wish that the Panel of Six assist ye in policy making decisions." He wanted to reach out
and strangle the smirk off the prince's face and may well have done so, if not for the pair of
sharp points pressing against his chest.
"Ye are trying me limited patience, old man," Valyrae replied, heaping yet another insult on the
priest. "Ye seem to forget that I celebrated me eighteenth birthday just a week past and the
Stanyshaul Charter so states, 'Once an acting regent obtains legal majority and the king be
located outside the kingdom, said regent has full and complete powers until such time as the
king shall return.' " Valyrae gave Theobold another insipid smile, as his companion giggled
once again behind his lace handkerchief. "That means, old crow, that I am now in complete
charge of this kingdom and ye and yer group of chanting cronies shall be out on yer collective
Shocked beyond belief at Valyrae's words--shocked almost speechless, Theobold finally found
his voice. "There shall be a reckoning for this, Valyrae," he snarled, his voice quivering in rage
and frustration. "Mark me words, prince."
"Aye, to be sure," the prince mocked, waving a hand in dismissal. "Now, take yer murder of
crows from the royal presence," he commanded. "I do not want to see them or yerself, anywhere
near us, ever again." It was a firm and final dismissal and Theobold realized that he could
accomplish nothing more here and in his anger he committed another serious breech of protocol
as he turned on his heel and stalked from the chamber. Mocking laughter followed him from the
In the outer hall, Theobold slowed his brisk passage only long enough to allow one of the other
priests to catch up with him so he could be instructed to take the 'panel' back to their quarters for
the time being. Then, his face flushed with anger and humiliation, Theobold passed through the
crowd of nobles and merchants, trying to ignore the muted sniggers and mocking whispers that
he heard from all sides as he headed back toward his rooms.
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