Hesiope thought she saw Therakles standing on the Great Hall’s steps when she rode into the Palace courtyard with her delivery, but that shouldn’t have been possible. She couldn’t see him after she’d dismounted and handed off dispatch bags, and so put him out of her mind.
She didn’t think of him again until just before lights out, when he slid quietly into the courier’s barracks above the stable. He glanced appreciatively around the room over the stables before directing his gaze at the far-end window. “My apologies, ladies, but needs must. I know many of you neither trust nor like me, but your lives are in danger if you remain here tonight.”
“Why do you think that and why should we trust you?” Maenea was half undressed but she wasn’t letting that faze her.
“Sentences half heard. Whiffs of fear and excitement in the corridors. Because killing you isolates His Majesty from the rest of the realm. Because I do like you all and I’m loyal to the King.” He held his hands out beseechingly. “Please, come with me now. Quietly. Your horses are already being moved and so are the stable lads.”
“He believes he’s telling the truth,” commented bright-haired Atheda. “Let’s go.”
At midnight their barracks and stable blossomed into flame with a soft whump!