There came an awkward silence between them as she turned to look back at the door. It was clear he was finished with her, but it was rude to just leave.

“If you don’t mind,” Liora started to turn towards the door, “I think I’m going to go say hello to Cael. I’m certain he’s been wishing to see me.”

“He don’t know yar here.” Charn’s statement stopped her hand from turning the handle of the door. She turned back, looking at the large man who’s hands were folded over his mouth. His green eyes glancing at her with heavy brows.

“But he sent me the letter… he asked for me to come.” Liora stated, turning with arms crossed.

“I wrote the letter… ‘course I used references to the letters he wrote yah and took some civil liberty to change a few words around but it got the effect I was hopin’ fer.” Charn leaned back in his chair, a smug smirk across his lips. “Yah’re here, that’s all that matters.”

She walked back to stand before the desk. Her chest tight as she forced her breath to stay calm. This man had kept his son’s letters from her, used her letters for his personal gain, and used her feelings for his son for his selfish reasons. She had been warned about the manipulative methods of those in the South but she had no idea the King of the North was just as back handed.

“Why?” Liora growled, leaning her hands on the edge of his desk. “Why the hell would you do something like that?”

His smirk only grew noticing her snarl of displeasure at his comment.

“The boy gets gifts all year round. There ain’t a thing he wants that he doesn’ get… but yooou.” Charn leaned forward, their faces only a few inches apart. “Yooou is all that he hoped fer and yooou is what I got ‘im.”

Liora searched the stern face of the aging warrior before her. His heavy brow, his flaring nostrils, his yellowed teeth peeking through his lips partially hidden by his wiry red beard. This man who had hated her… who had physically assaulted her within the first days of meeting her had asked her to be at his son’s coronation. It didn’t make any sense.

“You asked me here to be a present for your son?” The words felt strange coming off her lips. “The Morzi brat – traitor to the North – is your gift to Cael?”

“Bloody brilliant, eh? He’d never expect it.” Charn laughed, leaning back in his chair.

“But why?” Liora still couldn’t understand.