Power Struggle

Jace stared across the table at the Grand Rose. She didn’t know what to do with him – and had no idea what kind of raw power she was actually dealing with. The runes she wore for protection were a joke after… after what he’d been through.

The Grand Rose cracked her knuckles, trying to stare him down. Jace denied her the satisfaction, crossing his legs and leaning back in his chair. The Grand Rose stood, trying to regain some semblance of command, and moved to the window. Checking on the sniper.

“I will assume you have been briefed on what we do here Lord Windsong?” she asked. Jace folded his hands behind his head and leaned against the wall.

“Let’s be honest with each other Natalia. You have heard the stories about me, but you also know where I come from and are thus willing to discount the majority of them until proven otherwise. Yet you are also concerned about having a telepath with direct access to the queen. State secrets and all that.” Jace stared at the Grand Rose out of the corner of his eye, watching the way her back tensed – a motion invisible unless you were either a fighter, or someone extremely good at reading people. Jace was both.

The Grand Rose turned back towards him, half a smile on her lips. “You can understand my reservations then.”

Jace stood, moving towards the window himself. “I respect the work the Roses do. I may argue with your methods, but this is the most justice I have seen extended toward my kind, and for that I thank you.”

“Why do I sense a but Windsong?” the Grand Rose asked. Jace smiled grimly.

“They say there will only ever be one telepath born in any given century. The last one died a child, nearly fifty years ago. The one before… your kind didn’t exist.” Jace lifted the curtain, keenly aware of the Grand Rose’s eyes on him. “You think that you are safe behind your runes and ward stones, but if I willed it, I could have you dancing like a puppet before me. You have no defense, not after what I have faced. I could have built an empire, and yet I come to you little better than a refugee. And it frightens you.” He could feel the Grand Rose going for her communicator.

“They won’t come.” Jace let his hood fall back, meeting the Grand Rose’s gaze. To her credit she matched it. “I love Kily. For her sake I will take the Oath and bind myself to this kingdom. You need not fear me.”

“And can I trust you telepath?” the Grand Rose asked.

Jace shrugged. “How would you know? I could snap my fingers…” Jace held up his hand, “but I choose not to. I have made my offer Rose. You know where to find me should you change your mind.” Jace left, flipping his hood back up to hide his face as he crossed the courtyard. A sniper tracked his movement, but she didn’t fire. Her orders did not come – they wouldn’t. The Grand Rose was many things, but stupid was not one of them.

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