Preview of ‘In the service of the King’

It has been some time since I last wrote. I hope this little story, that binds the madness of our past to that of our present is sufficient apology…

I looked out at the valley below the hill on which the fort had been constructed. The mist had entrenched itself asymmetrically amidst the greens, like cotton in a child’s soapbox. The smoky wisps that had escaped along the trail the man had taken to arrive at the castle’s foot had now been all but repaired. What was it that caused my disconcertion? Why was I so worried? I did not know. And this was after all, just one man. If I allowed him in, it would have been a job done well, no matter the unease I felt within. 

“Dwarpal, I sense anxiety in you. What seems to be the matter?” the man’s voice arose, serene, steady and yet the malevolence was there. It was very much there.

Now as much as I am the tower guard, I have been chosen from amidst a militia of several hundred thousands, for a reason. I know my martial prowess is mediocre – a fair assessment, not a modest or ambitious one – my arrows have more precision than the sting of my melee attacks, and I do have a rather keen sight. But apart from these, I have been told, my instincts at sensing danger far exceed that of any other man in the Northern Kingdoms. I had sensed the treachery of Kharasala when he had come to the court of the king, the despondency the new king would scorch us with before he was even anointed and the treachery of Parvateshwara in the Battle of the Rohil. And although, as a mere infantryman, my words fell on deaf ears, Shaktar, our great minister of war came to know of my perspicacity. It was he that appointed me to this role, and he had asked me to ‘use my discretion when necessary.’ Over the years, I have done just that, and many say that it has been the cause of my downfall. Or rather my stasis. For I have not risen in rank since I called foul on the emissaries of Mahendra, even though my fears about them were not entirely unfounded. And today, I stand on the brink of going against my better judgment and letting a man, who protocol dictates, should be allowed to pass. 

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