"I trust you bring me some positive news?" The figure at the window intoned without turning around.
Sullivan prayed inwardly, glad that he was already on bended knee. "I'm afraid not, Your Majesty. Both the Brisbee family and the Amulet were gone by the time we got there. Someone even forgot to lock the front door. We were able to just walk right in."
"Justin, I suppose." Said the figure morosely. "His way of rubbing my face in the fact that he's one step ahead of me." The figure then turned and walked toward a door that led to the courtyard overlook. Sullivan signaled the soldiers with him to remain where they were and followed.
When they reached the overlook, Sullivan cleared his throat and said in his most soldierly voice, "Your Majesty, permission to speak freely?" Jenner, chin resting on interlocked fingers as he leaned on the stone wall, gave a curt nod.
"Sir," Sullivan began, hoping that Jenner understood that he was trying to talk soldier-to-soldier rather than Officer to King. "You now have what we were all after. You now wear the Crown and sit on the Throne of Britain. What difference does it make whether or not you wear some worthless red stone around your neck when you have a whole nation under your feet?"
"Sullivan, do you know the legends behind that 'worthless red stone'; as you call it?" Jenner asked, his voice cold and distant.
"Of course, Sir," Sullivan replied. "Every child in the realm grows up with those stories. They've been passed down for longer than this Kingdom has existed."
"Yes, my friend, and do you know why that is so?" Jenner turned and stared hard into Sullivan's eyes, an almost demonic cast in his own. "Because those stories; those legends, ancient as they are; are true!" The new King began pacing agitatedly along the walkway. "All those battles won, all those armies defeated by heros who had only one thing in common: they all wore that Amulet!" Seeing that his acolyte was unconvinced, he continued on a different tack. "Besides, whoever possesses that Amulet has the respect of all of Britain. I'm under no illusion that I've started my rule with clean paws. Rumors as to the circumstances of my dear adopted brother's death are already spreading through the city like wildfire. As with all rumors there will be that few who, after the fires of half-truth and lies are extinguished, will keep a few embers of fact burning, always ready to fan them into flames of scandal at the first opportunity." He pounded his fist on the stone railing. "This I cannot abide with! If, with or without the stone, the people refuse to obey my will as their legitimate Sovereign, then they will be punished!" Jenner then stepped to Sullivan's side and whispered conspiratorially, "If, however, the flames that I've described can be stopped before they can do any major damage, who knows? The one who most diligently stamps out the fires would certainly be deserving of certain, shall we say, benefits?"
Sullivan, a follower of Jenner since becoming one of his guards many years ago, had learned quite well that, while vain and power-hungry, Jenner had a certain perverse sense of loyalty, believing that not only could you, for the right price, buy both happiness and friends, but, for just a bit more, you could also keep them. He nodded his understanding.
"Excellent!" Jenner smiled, baring his fangs; a sign that Sullivan knew meant that failure on his part meant the most dire of consequences. "A most dangerous flame burns even as we speak. I suggest that you find it and put it out as soon as possible." Jenner then quickly turned his back on Sullivan, his black cape billowing behind him, and strode through the doorway, leaving Sullivan to figure out how he was going to deal with a wily fox named Justin.