“What the other nobles are planning to do,” the baron explained, “is beyond everything that I feared they might be plotting. I fear that they are acting out of sheer greed, so much that they have lost track of what it really means to be of nobility in Summerlay.”
“But what is it that they are planning?” Cerys begged to know. She could see from her friends’ faces that they were becoming just as impatient.
“They want to usurp His Majesty, King Leonars,” the baron told them, his words falling heavily on their ears, weighing on their hearts like so much lead.
“Let us be up front about the matter, father,” James added, looking to the group in full seriousness. “If King Leonars were to be removed from this mortal coil, Duke Emerias would be the first to take his place. Everyone else among the nobility would receive an increase to their land and power, and all but my father and Baron Richard have every intent on garnering all the power that they can.”
“Are you seriously talking about regicide?” Peter gasped.
“But that is treason!” Bayani said when Lexavier and James both nodded. “How can they hope to succeed when the prince is sure to return? And what about the queen?”
“The queen died in childbirth ages ago,” the baron explained. “His majesty loved her too dearly to so much as consider a second queen, and so Prince Brendan remains his only heir.”
“Have no doubts about it, though; Duke Emerias is making arrangements to see to it that our prince does not return to Summerlay,” James added.
“But…” Cerys began, and then sighed, unsure how to word what she was thinking.
“Will the people not protest t such sweeping changes?” Himeko asked in her stead. “Surely that would not want this duke to take the throne after committing murder.”
Lexavier nodded. “The answer to that is two-fold my ear girl. Firstly, Duke Emerias will not slay His Majesty with his own hands, leaving the cause of his death to be completely unconnected to him. Secondly, the citizens of Summerlay have been so busy keeping the noir beasts at bay that they cannot assert what little power they have. Even with a full-scale revolution, it would be difficult to resist Duke Emerias.”
“And there is no revolution to be expected,” James added. “They will end up accepting Emerias as their king, the way things are going so far.”
“This is what we have to stop?” Cerys asked, suddenly feeling just how deeply the odds were stacked against her. “We have to keep the king alive, and also figure out how to get rid of these monsters?” She wanted to wilt down into the crevices of the couch and not come out; fantasy was so much easier to play at than to live out, especially when the plot involved intrigue.