“Massers!” I bark. He’s at my side in a split second, awaiting my command.
“How many guards were involved with the massacre?” I ask, searching the crowd for guilty faces.
“There were a total of twelve guards who completed the act, sire.” Massers replies immediately.
“Was the current head part of it?” I inquire, staring at the head of guards, who looks back at me with a blank face.
“No, your highness, he is loyal to the crown.” Massers says.
“Do you have a list of names for me? Guards and officials who cannot be trusted?” I ask. Massers nods and digs in his pockets. I hold out my hand and take the scroll he offers. Without opening it I turn to face the head of guards.
“What is your name?” I ask.
“Dormer, your highness.” He replies with a bow.
“Dormer. Are you loyal to the crown?” I ask, staring him in the eyes. I feel Caden come up behind me, both in support and protection.
“I am, highness.” Dormer says, looking back at me proudly. “I am loyal to the one true king.”
“And who is the ‘one true king’?” I ask, icily, voice laden with hidden meaning. If he answers wrong, he will die. And he knows it. Dormer drops to a knee, bowing his head before me.
“You are, my king.” He replies. I can’t help but allow a grin to pass over my face.
“Not king yet, I’m afraid. Just crowned prince until the coronation.” I say. Dormer looks up at me and I give him a nod. He rises back up and stands at rest, hand held at the small of his back.
“Take this list. Have everyone listed therein apprehended and locked in the dungeons until they can be dealt with.” I say, handing Massers’ list to Dormer. I turn back to Massers without dismissing Dormer.
“What happened to my father’s council? There were six, why are there only four?” I ask. Massers may be just a servant but eleven years of gathering information for me, plus years upon years of serving in the citadel, has given him ample opportunity to become quite knowledgeable on the inner workings of the Kingdom’s governing system.
“Your uncle relieved them of their duties. Two of them have died, one from natural causes and the other was executed for treason. The other four all live within the city.” Massers reports.
“Treason?” I probe, quirking an eyebrow. Massers grimaces.
“He was talking about how Sarsur’s claim to the throne was false. Sarsur had him publicly executed.”