King Arlan had shown impeccable timing in getting himself murdered tonight. Talyn could think of no better excuse to leave one of his mother's exhausting dinner parties than, "My apologies, someone assassinated the king, and I must go bring His Majesty back to life."
But now, as Talyn and his bodyguard strode through the palace halls, anxiety prickled the air. Guards watched them pass with uneasy stares. Servants lingered in doorways, only to scatter when Talyn glanced their way. Their uncertainty and fear smothered Talyn's relief, and a churning ball of worry spawned in his gut. He had yet to treat someone even half as important as a king. To fail wouldn't just be embarrassing; it would be akin to treason.
To succeed, though--that would foil an assassin’s plans. If a murderer truly wanted the king dead--permanently--then within the next few minutes, they had to kill Talyn too.
And unlike every other person in Aronia, Talyn had no one to save him from death.
He shivered as he stepped through the dining hall’s entryway. The air stank of citrus and blood, and shadows lingered in every corner of the immense hall. So did royal guards--at least twenty, spaced evenly, like armored pillars wielding sword and spear.
Talyn murmured to his bodyguard, "How could an assassin slip past this many guards?"
Gariss, ever-vigilant, did not even spare him a glance. "Maybe some turned traitor."
The doors behind them slammed shut.
Talyn spun around. Four guards had already moved to block the entrance.