“Are you questioning your king?”
“Merely his choice.”
“Still a crime to some kings.”
The person cloaked in lavender silk tossed her head mockingly. “Not you. You enjoy being questioned by competent people, which you obviously consider me to be, or you wouldn’t have chosen me.”
“You’ve just answered your own question.”
Noorilan rolled her eyes and sheathed the sword she had been idly examining for nicks. “No, because you always have a reason for thinking a person is competent. You don’t even know my real name, my king.”
Daniar picked up an iron poker from the fire and cauterized the wound still oozing blood above his elbow, studying his newest general with quick sideways glances. Replacing the poker, he reached for clean linen to bind up the wound but she was quicker, snatching it away from him. The right corner of his mouth tipped up in amusement as he held out his arm to allow her better access. Deftly, she spread salve on the ragged, roughly diagonal line and then bound it securely.
“Did you mean your loyalty?”
Arrested in her progress away from him by the voice that sounded as if it emanated from Vulcan, she halted and twisted back around. “What?”
“Did you mean it when you swore your loyalty to me?”
For several seconds, she stared into intense but steady eyes under craggy brows, searching for the trick in the question. “I swore a blood oath,” she answered finally.
“Yes,” he replied, smiling now. “And you come from a country that is possibly the only land to take it more seriously than ours.”
Smoky blue eyes widened. “So, you already knew I meant it.”
Bass chuckles vibrated the air as he came toward her and reached out to clasp her shoulder. “That is why I chose you. I don’t need to know your real name. Your loyalty is your name, your reputation, your record, and all that matters. Can you defeat your sister?”
Fire licked up her spine to dance with laughing confidence in her face. “Of course, my king.”
His smile widened at the emphasis on the personal pronoun. “I want her alive.”
“It will be done.”
His other arm came up to press a badge into her hand. “You are thrice welcome to the army of Kaliyev, my general.”
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