Chapter 22:


The Chronicles of Krarshe: The Hearts of Men, Volume 1

Owyn paced nervously to and fro in the empty hall, eyes affixed to the polished, ornate flooring. He stopped and looked at his visage in one of the golden vases that lined the hall. He was a mess, unkempt, disheveled. The bags under his eyes were prominent reminders of his sleepless nights since receiving his summons. He attempted to smooth out his hair into his usual ponytail, but his hands were shaking uncontrollably. He swallowed hard and reached into his pocket for his already-damp kerchief, dabbed pointlessly at the sweat accumulating on his brow, and stuffed it back into his pocket. "There. That's presentable," he said to his reflection, trying to calm himself.

The door at the end of the hall opened. "The Council will see you now," said a scholarly man as he emerged from the doorway.

Owyn breathed deeply, tugged at his coat, and promptly walked past the humorless scholar and into the dimly-lit circular room. He walked up a few steps onto a podium at the center. Owyn kept his gaze downcast as best he could, but threw glances at the thirteen seats that towered over him on all sides. The light in the center of the room grew brighter, causing him to wince and shield his eyes.

"Owyn Lavaud," came a voice from ahead of him, in the shadows beyond his sight. "You stand accused of flagrant misuse of your position. How do you plead?"

Owyn corrected his posture, trying his best to not squint against the bright light. "Not guilty."

"The Council granted you the position of educator under the assumption that you would utilize it to further the strength and power of Remonnet. How, then, does one proclaim innocence after the mass-withdrawal of those he has been tasked with educating?"

"It was not the fault of the educator," Owyn argued.

"No? Who then?"

"One of my former students. Surely you would understand if you read my report on the matter."

"The Council has read your report, do not speak to us in such haughty tones," another voice shot back. "One problematic student does not forgive the withdrawal of twenty-five others over this past half-cycle."

"If the Council has read my report in full, then you will understand why-"

"Yes, we have, but your claims are without merit," the second voice said, interrupting Owyn.

"But, in conjunction with Landry Chapuis' findings-"

"I have read Landry's research, Owyn," said a third voice from behind him. "The student in question certainly has an abnormal mana pool, and has a strong affinity for lightning magic, but these findings do not substantiate your claim that this one student has 'tainted blood'. His name alone is not evidence of association with malevolent entities."

"But I am CERTAIN of it!" Owyn shouted back, spinning around to look at his faceless prosecutors.

A sigh could be heard to his left. "Owyn Lavaud, you understand the severity of such a claim, yes?"

Owyn nodded silently.

"Then you must have evidence of equal severity for the Council to take action. Not just raving like a madman because you failed in your duty to us."

"I wish to provide experiential evidence that was not included in my report," Owyn said.

There was some murmuring around him. "Very well," the first voice said finally. "You may present it and we will judge on its merit."

"Upon his departure, he attacked me." There was more murmuring from the shadows. Owyn smiled as the first councilor tried to regain order. He continued, "When I grabbed him, I felt a jolt of electricity pass through me, enough to bring me to my knees. When I looked up, I could see it. The lightning in his eyes."

There was an eruption of whispers at this information. After a minute, the first voice spoke. "Your claim is that he attacked you with a castless spell, then?"


"That would certainly be compelling. IF it is true, of course."

"If I may interject," said a new voice. "My son knows the student in question and has told me of a similar experience."

"You may continue."

"My son knows of this Krarshe from his class with Owyn. He says at a gala hosted by House Bulliere that he received an electric shock when shaking the boy's hand."

"I was there to witness the effects," said another voice. "It was... mysterious to say the least."

The room again erupted into whispers. Owyn could feel the tides shifting in his favor now. He clenched his fist, confident in his path. Just one more push. "Members of the Council! I put forth that this elf, Krarshe, is not an elf. Instead, he is a half-breed, dragonborn, intent on disrupting Her Majesty's plans! A dangerous agent of our enemies!"

This set the Council off into a shouting match about the veracity and severity of this claim. Owyn smiled, satisfied with his approach.

The deliberation was interrupted by the banging of a gavel. "Silence! This petty arguing dishonors the Council! The Queen's Council!" After everyone quieted down, the first voice spoke again, "Let us discuss this in a civil manner. Owyn, you have made your case. Please wait outside for our decision."

Owyn bowed with a devilish smile. This was the best case he could hope for. The Council was certainly on his side now, with Queen and queendom on the line. He stepped down from the podium and out of the room to wait.

It was several hours before he was called back into the Council's chamber. He stepped up to the podium once more, this time brimming with confidence.

"The Council has made its decision. While your claims have severity, there is little empirical evidence for them aside from your word and the word of a councilman's child."

Owyn's confidence began to melt away.

"As such, you are hereby suspended from your position at the academy."

Owyn backed away in disbelief, the words ringing in his ears. This wasn't what Owyn thought would happen. He was so confident that he'd riled up the patriotism in the council.

"During this suspension, you are to procure evidence of this boy Krarshe's origins, whether he is half dragon, demon, or devil. Whether he is of the elemental plane, or is a fallen deity. Whatever the case may be, bring forth evidence of this, and you shall be reinstated."

Owyn was speechless. He wasn't so distraught now, with an avenue back to his respected position. But even so, this was a monumental task.

Before he could speak, the lead councilor continued. "Failing this, you will be expelled from your position and found in contempt of the will of Her Majesty, the Queen, and of this kingdom. Do you understand the verdict of the Council?"

Owyn swallowed hard. He could feel his palms beginning to sweat. "Y-yes," he said with a nod.

"Very well. Then you are dismissed."

Owyn bowed and once again left the room. Once the door closed behind him, he slammed his fist against the gold-inlaid wall of the hallway. "Five curses on them!" he spat.

"I guess it didn't go well."

"No..." Owyn said through clenched teeth.

"Did my father give my testimony?"

"He did, Armand," Owyn said, turning around to look at his student. "Apparently it wasn't enough."

Armand sighed, leaning against the wall. "So, now what?"

"Now, I find him."


"I need to capture him. To get evidence of his tainted blood," Owyn said, scowling.

"I'm sure we can do it easily enough. I don't think he would have gone far," Armand said.

Owyn shook his head. "It doesn't matter. I WILL find him. And I WILL see his head on a pike before this is over," he said, storming off toward the exit. "Upon my life, I swear it."