The fifth blade; from Part I of The Claws of the Earth

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It was twilight when the queens party neared the gates of Korlot. Eventhough they knew the power of the Hooded One was there, nobody felt it as they kept up silent prayers to Yukati.

Yukati had to admit to himself that he relished the prayers, he felt power flow through his veins, he felt he could use even harder spells than just the imperceptable shielding he had put around each person. He felt the spell of the Hooded One pushing harmlesly against it, it was a small spell, but more than enough to keep the common people under it, especially as they had been under it for a long time already.

He felt he could break the spell, but didn’t dare it yet. He feared the violent reaction of the Hooded One would ruin the carefully planned attack and their one chance of success, but as they were winning the battle he would try.

‘Who goes there?’ a voice came from the gate.

‘Your queen, you dimwitt,’ the lady in waiting answered.

It was quiet for a while and when the queen thought they would be denied entrance heavy bolts were heard being pulled aside.

One of the big doors opened silently on well greased hinges and a guard came out. ‘Begging your highness’ pardon, but we have to be careful with the enemy lurking about.’

“You did well my good man. Now let us enter so we can get warm in the palace.’

As they rode into the city they saw preparations for a siege everywhere. The armoury of the king had been opened for the people who were walking around in quilted pieces of armour, some wore chainmail or breastplates.

Lord Guthrun saw that once the army was inside these people wouldn’t stand a chance, he hoped fervently that the power of the Hooded One could be quickly negated so that it would not end in a massacre. Of the towns garrison there were few left as most had fought in the battle to destroy Mintor’s army.

He exchanged a quick glance with Yukati seeing they were thinking the same thing, a quick look at Najir told him that the dragon had also seen it. A look at the queen showed pity for the people.

Riding onto the square where the remnants of the burned cathedral showed skeletal in the dying light they saw tha massive new statue of the Hooded One.

‘So you’ve come back to me, my queen,’ it sounded inside Lanoya’s head.

She bowed her head, as did the others and answered inside her head that she had returned to the father of the rightful heir.

The Hooded One laughed and said she was ever so welcome to see the siege of the false pretender fail.

She snickered; ‘Yes, it will be a glorious day to see this rebellion turned into dust.’

As they entered the throne room they were greeted by Raven and his assistant and food and drink.

Najir’s eyes were immediately drawn to the blade hanging over the chimney.

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