The other members of the council nodded. It was interesting to see all of them listening calmly to a man who was raised in a fisherman's hut on the wharf.
"He is and will continue to be a problem,” he continued, “as the city will turn itself into a hotbed of intrigue. Cloaks and daggers are all well and good, but the barbarian has a way of turning what should be a transition of power into a war. One we cannot afford."
Micah realized that all the members of the council were focused on her sister. Sera came to the same realization a few seconds later and looked around the room.
"What?" she asked, her eyes narrowed.
"We all think you must be the one to tell Skharr he has to leave the city," Micah admitted once it was clear that none of the other members were willing to state it in so many words.
"Where is everyone's sense of heroism now?" the guild captain asked. Her gaze swept around the table and met those of every member of the council. Each one looked away as she stared challengingly at them.
All but Sefor, who frowned a little and leaned forward.
Finally, she nodded. "Very well. I'll talk to him about leaving the city."
"Today," the viscount insisted.
Sera drew a deep breath and studied the man carefully. "I could always have him say goodbye to you first."
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I suppose…tomorrow is soon enough."
She smirked, pushed up from her seat, rolled her shoulders, and stretched languidly. Something graceful always seemed to define her—as if she was perpetually in perfect balance and could snap into action from any position. It was intimidating, and Micah couldn't help but feel a little jealous of how the woman was able to carry herself.
"You finish your yammering," she said. "I have a barbarian to find."
She left quickly and her sister realized that the gazes now turned to her once she was gone.
"And if he refuses to leave?" Benning asked and raised an eyebrow.
Svana snorted. "I suggest we wait to confirm his plans before we consider what options we have available to us." Her gaze shifted to the Marchioness Edenine, who had dark, almond-shaped eyes and tanned skin that perfectly matched her short black hair and delicate features. "The man is known to be influenced by the wiles of the flesh when other considerations fail."
The marchioness narrowed her eyes. "I thought you had a predilection for barbarian flesh. Why would you pass the duties on to me?"
Of course, Svana's dalliances with the barbarian were an ill-kept secret. She had helped to spread the word as the man's physical attributes were likely to intimidate any lesser men who might try to court her.
The fact that it was her secret to share showed when she grinned impishly at the other woman. "I do have a taste for the man but for the moment, I am still…recovering. Besides, he would see any wiles of mine coming from a great distance. Someone new who he does not know would be a finer tool for the work at hand."
The marchioness leaned back in her seat and nodded acquiescence.
It was interesting that none of the men at the table feigned any kind of outrage at the impropriety under discussion. When they were all behind closed doors, none of them cared to maintain the pretenses that governed their society.
Skharr had only ever visited the outskirts of the Warren in the past and in reality, this was limited to Throk's forge. He had assumed, however, that the dwarves in the city had gathered in a small microcosm of their own.
They were notoriously fond of their own company, after all.
That said, he had no idea that the Warrens ran so deep under the city. What had been wide hallways had opened out and led deeper into the earth, carefully and lovingly crafted by skilled hands. They passed through a handful of water caverns, where he could see the water flowed clear and with no particular smell. This meant they had managed to tap a source from well below the city and far from the sewers and the swamps.
That alone was impressive. It was the type of productivity he had come to expect from the dwarves but it was one thing to hear of it and another to see it in action. He’d spent time with them before in their homelands and it was encouraging that they had retained these abilities so far from what they were familiar with.
Those who lived there had created a small city, complete with their own guards who patrolled through the Warrens. All studied Skharr like they were trying to evaluate him and decide whether he posed a threat to them or not.
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