Chapter Thirty-One – continued
Four hours later, Adrian was ready to crawl back into bed, draw the curtains, and not emerge until he was old and gray. At the rate the councilors and generals behind him were escalating their very loud disputes and disagreements, he didn’t think he’d make it to his middle-aged years without having a head of gray hair.
Why the King had to stride off to war, he didn’t know. After just over a week of acting in his place, Adrian only wanted to beg him to choose another heir. Except he knew his sister would run away, the next heir was currently studying in the linked world, the heir after that was a womanizer, the heir after him was a mercenary who had decided she wanted nothing to do with her royal blood but still somehow managed to keep her place, the heir after her was little more than a toddler…
Inwardly, Adrian sighed. There were too many cousins who had decided Gray’s line was strong enough to keep ruling, so there was no need to actually behave like a royal. Unlike the Olidans. Adrian wasn’t quite sure why the King hadn’t decided to skip everyone and choose Lawrence, but the man had never seemed interested in ruling anyways.
Adrian turned, his shoulders tense as he recognized Kyanan’s voice. He had been expecting her for the past few hours, ever since they’d left the mermaid body in the infirmary. He hadn’t quite figured out if he was hoping for good news or bad news yet.
He was acutely aware of the rest of the room falling to a low rumble, could feel eyes turning in his direction. He’d asked them to gather, but not why. Initially, he had hoped to have a civil discussion on how to get and keep the upper hand on the Pearl Kingdom, but Kyanan had sent word that the surgeon was nearly done examining the body, so he’d left the councilors and generals to amuse themselves.
He would never do that again.
With a tight nod to Kyanan, he accepted the parchment from her and unfolded it. In his peripheral vision, he saw her draw away, but knew she would remain in the room, ever watchful and ready to call the guards.
His eyes hungrily scanned the words, devoting them to memory. His hands tightened on the parchment, his knuckles nearly turning white.
Merike’s body had showed signs of being tied up and her tail told of severe dehydration. Blows to the back of her head indicated she’d been struck multiple times with some kind of long pole, but the blood had been washed away by the sea. The surgeon hypothesized she’d been knocked unconscious while tied up and had been left on land to die of lack of water as a mermaid on land was little more than a fish out of water.
Someone had captured and killed the mermaid princess.
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