The evening was warm and the air full of moisture. Shojak patiently stood in the long corridor of the palace. Narkanai Kalalii had ordered him to wait outside of her door and turn away anyone who sought her presence. Of course, he did as he was told. It was his job as an itsalii to protect her from harm and to be sure he met all of her needs. It was quiet as he stood alone in the hallway. He only nodded to a few servants and soldiers that simultaneously passed. The night wore on and many of the residence of Sondast and the staff of the palace would be retiring to their sleeping quarters soon. The silence became to be too painful for him to bear. Two night guards, Lyyel and Exonaeth, arrived to relieve Shojak for the remainder of the night.
"Rest well tonight, Sir Shojak," Lyyel wished him.
"Thank you, Lyyel... Exonaeth," Shojak nodded to each of them.
Exonaeth bowed his head without a word and took to his post. Shojak decided that he would check upon the Narkanai before taking his night to his resting area that was connected to her room. As he entered the room and called out for Kalalii he found that she was no longer there. His heartbeat began to race as he searched her room and noted that the doors to the terrace were left ajar. Without wasting time to call out to Lyyel and Exonaeth, he bolted out of the room in search for the missing Narkanai.
As he ran through the palace gardens he exhausted all of the possible places to look for her first. As if on queue, he recalled the brief exchanging of words between Kalalii and Svyyn right after their history lessons. During that time he wasn't close enough to hear what was said but he managed to catch the very last word, 'tree'. It wasn't hard to figure out what tree she was talking about as the ancient tree was quite popular in Sondast. He changed directions and headed for the ancient tree. His feeling was that Kalalii snuck out to rendezvous with Svyyn there for some secret meeting. At least, he hoped he was right. In any case, that would be the best place to start looking. Shojak quickened his pace so that he would appear to be a blur to anyone who would see him.
As he neared the designated location he noticed two figures glowing near the base of the tree. He instantly recognized Kalalii. He slowed his pace, quietly and swiftly hiding in the shadows. Shojak made sure to get within ear range of their conversation.
"Are you sure you're up for it?" Svyyn asked.
"How did you find it? We're not supposed to leave the walls of Sondast," Kalalii said with concern and disbelief.
"Where is your sense of adventure, cousin?" Svyyn sighed, "Honestly, don't you feel like you need to have some self deserved freedom? Aren't you at least a little bit curious?"
"What if you're wrong and we get caught?" Kalalii asked.
"Look, if you're too scared to take a walk outside of the city walls for just a short while and be back before the suns' rise then just say so," Svyyn started to walk away.
"No, wait," Kalalii said after a short pause, "I-I want to go."
"I knew you would come to your senses," Svyyn smirked, "my friend is waiting for us."
"I thought it was just between us. "
"Well, how else are we going to get there without a guide? Besides, we don't know the way...but he does."
"I see," Kalalii said nervously. "Okay, let's go."
Shojak didn't like what had just transpired, but he decided to follow them in secret. If he exposed himself now and foiled their plans she would only find a way to sneak out again. She may be more careful to evade him next time. If she was planning on escaping beyond the walls of Sondast, she will need protection. He will watch over her in secret for now.
"What are you thinking, Narkanai?" He whispered to himself.
To be continued...