As the door closed behind him, Baron Dialgo Forn allowed himself to relax. For the first time all evening he was finally able to enjoy some time alone, lost in quiet meditation in the silence and calm of his study. He breathed in deeply to purge himself of all the worries and pressures placed upon him throughout the day. With a heavy sigh, the baron removed his coat and other burdensome articles of rank, and, slowly, he made his way across the open expanse of hardwood to his massive, hand-crafted mahogany desk.
The room was still about him; no breeze dared to enter the open windows on either side of the rectangular office. The heavy draperies framing the windows fell stagnate to the floor where they folded and creased in a most stately manner. Candles dimly lit the room, several in each corner with a modest chandelier looming above the hardwood in the center. Behind the desk sat a matching high-backed chair, upholstered in the finest of Myzan leather. In that chair, Baron Forn took his seat, presiding over the great study full of its elegance and antique furniture.
The quiet air was so soothing for the baron. All his cares melted away as he sank deeper into his mahogany chair. All alone he could unwind; he could forget all the difficulties of running a province of the Myzan kingdom. Unfortunately, his feelings of solitude and rest were to be short lived.
“You failed, Forn.”
The voice was low and familiar. It carried with it a hint of disappointment, as if the speaker were expecting to relay praise instead of scorn.
“Damn you,” sighed the baron. “Don’t you know how to knock?”
The voice emerged from the shadow of a set of drapes into the strong candlelight of the chandelier overhead. “And allow you the opportunity to turn me away?”
After a slight hesitation, Forn gave in to his fate. “Whatever. Please, have a seat.” He motioned to a set of lesser chairs arranged before his desk.
The figure, cloaked in a heavy robe of black twill, stepped forward and approached the desk. He stopped just between the chairs and removed his hood, revealing the face of an elder man, slightly wrinkled, stern, and wise. The solid expression he gave the baron clearly denoted his intent to stand throughout this confrontation; the intimidation was not lost by the baron.
“Dialgo, my patience is growing thin,” the older one began; each word was full of scorn and anger though his voice never audibly conveyed such. “I asked you to acquire one book. This is such a simple task. Why, then, have you failed me after three attempts?”
“Listen, that damned banshee is protecting that library as if it were the very gates of Hell.”
“If that were the case, Baron, you would not be having this much trouble.”
“You know what I mean…”
Silence fell upon the two. Forn sat brooding in anger on his leather throne. The man before him stood unmoving and emotionless.
“How dare you come here and criticize my work,” seethed Forn softly. “I give you soldiers to stage your battles. I’ve given you money to bribe your sources. I even promised to retrieve your old, dusty magic book for you and what have you done for me?”
“For starters,” the older man whispered, “I have spared your life until now.”
Another silence floated through the study. The flames burning upon the candles flickered mysteriously in a still wisp.
“I will give you one more chance to acquire the tome I seek. No more feeble-minded plans like your merchant convey scheme. This time, storm Westvale, take the tome by force, as your cunning is lacking. I’m sure such a show of aggression will stir up the Exiles in that region and give my comrades more to worry about. Should you succeed, and I require that you do, I will uphold my end of our bargain. You will receive power and life beyond measure.”
“An all out attack on Westvale? I don’t have that kind of authority, Ravenclaw.”
“Have you lost faith in me? Just order the attack. I will even make things easier for you. I will take the banshee away the battlefield.” The old man turned to leave.
“So you’ve become desperate. Is your time running out on you?”
“No, Dialgo.” His words came softer than any that had come before. The baron had to lean forward to hear. “Time is running out for you. Retrieve the tome and live with power as promised, or die by the same.”
Behind his desk, engulfed by solitude again, Forn found himself deeply worried and stressed.