Continued from Much Ado About Treason.
It didn’t take long after being summoned for the two guilty parties to arrive at the small, empty chapel. It was noon, and neither had any proper business there. The chapel was a mile out from the imperial city, and barely had room for three people to stand– especially if two of the three were overweight.
Nervously, the two men looked around. Finally, the first, slightly younger than the other spoke up. “I got your message, Huzho.”
The second, Huzho, paused. “You were the one that summoned me.”
The two turned their attention to each other, searching the other’s face for a few moments before the first man spoke. “You’re wrong. If you called me, and I called you, but I didn’t call you, you’re wrong. You called me here, forgetful geezer.” He snorted. “What did you want to talk about?”
Huzho sighed. “I remember recieving but not sending as well, but…” He shrugged, then sat down on the step leading into the chapel with a grunt. “I don’t like that the princess is going into the winter with her head fogged. She’s also without a promised husband, or even any hope of mothering bastards. If she doesn’t survive the winter, her brother will be the only one left in the line, and the closest other relative eligible is a family branch that split off four generations ago. The princess’s fourth cousin twice removed– Leeo Nel-Pallazhi– is the only other living person still young enough to learn how to rule, and he’s little more than an infant.”
“He’s six, isn’t he?”
“Six isn’t old enough to rule. We’d be stuck under the thumb of Nikho for at least seven years!” The older man ranted.
The younger winced. “Don’t say that so loud. I swear he has ears like a bat.”
One of them coughed, and when they looked at each other in confusion, it was clear neither had been the one who had.
“See who it is, Lhyi.”
The younger man scowled and looked around. “I don’t see anyone.”
“Someone’s here.” Huzho looked around with a scowl. “I don’t like this.” He sighed and leaned back. “Maybe I’m just too old for this secrecy thing.”
“Clearly, since you claim you didn’t send me the note.”
The older man grunted. “Let me see it.”
“Yes, now! It’s bugging me!”
Lhyi threw a wadded paper at Huzho, and the older man straightened it. Squinted eyes took in the crisp writing. “I don’t write like this.”
“What?” Lhyi looked over at him. “Yes you do.”
“No, I don’t. I can’t even read my own writing after a day!”
“Wait, then whose is it?”
Huzho leaned in closer to read. “It looks like-” His voice cut off. “I think we’re in trouble.” Visibly pale, he looked up.
“What do you mean, old man?”
“This is Nikho’s handwriting.”
Both men were silent for several long moments before the cough was heard again.
“I think…” Huzho swallowed a knot in his throat. “That might be him.”
“I think you might be right.” A calm voice from above spoke softly. “Go into the chapel, kneel before the altar, and start to pray forgiveness from Glorious Peeohchipel-lah, lest you stain your souls. Pray hard and long. You have much to apologize for.”