|Subject: Prince of Shadows
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Date Posted: 22:54:36 10/01/03 Wed
They emerged at last in a large room, like a great hall compared to the cramped passageway. The room was lit by burning oil lamps, there were no windows. Little huddles of men and women were scattered across the room. Some talking, others gambling with cards or dice. Their faces looked yellow in the dim light and Noryn
noticed that many sported scars or broken noses.
The doorman pushed his way through the people until he came to a throne-like chair on a raised platform at the opposite side of the room. Noryn waited patiently behind him, whilst he explained to someone she couldn’t see about her coming with a message. At last the doorman stepped aside, and nudged her forward.
There was a man sprawled lazily in the chair, his booted feet draped over one elaborately carved armrest. His eyes watched her intently as she approached nearer the throne. They glittered darkly in his tanned, weather-beaten face.
A woman with masses of red curls was perched on the other chair arm with her arms wrapped loosely around his neck. Noryn saw her whisper something in the man’s ear.
He glanced from the red headed girl back to her, and a grin spread over his face.
If there was one thing Noryn couldn’t stand, then it was people making fun of her.
“Is something funny?” she asked icily, carefully ignoring the sinking feeling in her stomach. The man grinned at her in amusement, kissed the red-haired woman on the cheek and rose to his feet. He casually strode down the low steps to the ground floor and folded his arms across his chest.
“I’m Tyram” he drawled, “Also known as the Prince of Shadows... I believe you have a message for me?”
Noryn scanned his face quickly, he carried souvenirs from old fights... a slightly misshapen nose, and a vivid scar down his right cheek. But he was handsome, and his whole attitude showed that he used it to his advantage.
“Here” Noryn held out the parchment and waited for him to take it.
He scrutinised her as he reached out his hand. Their eyes met, and locked.
‘He’s trying to stare me out’ Noryn realised, and tilted her chin coldly, refusing to be the first to break eye contact. The seconds stretched into minutes as they stood there, frozen. Dark eyes locked with dark eyes in a private battle.
At last he relaxed into a roguish smile.
“You win” he graciously relented as he broke open the seal on the letter.
‘Only because you let me’ Noryn thought as she turned away, heading towards the exit.
“Are you leaving so soon?” he asked, a slight hint of suspicion in his voice.
“I have delivered the message” Noryn replied, “I have no reason to stay, they’ll be sending out a search party if I don’t return now.”
“We wouldn’t want that, would we?” Tyram laughed, beckoning over one of his men and handing over the letter. “Deal with it” he muttered, before striding across the room to stand before Noryn again.
“Am I at least able to learn the name of this beautiful messenger?” he asked, catching hold of her hand and raising her fingers to his lips.
“Noryn” she replied coldly, snatching her hand from his kiss, turning sharply and storming back through the dark passageway. He watched her go with a laugh,
“Stay away from the fire, you might thaw... and accidentally smile!” he called after her disappearing figure before returning casually to his throne.
Noryn hurried back through the dark streets of the Underworld, relief flooding through her body as she broke out into the light, open area of the marketplace. She
shuddered slightly as the images of the claustrophobic streets cleared from her mind, and smiled as she thought of the gold coins waiting for her when she returned to the Tavern.
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