The Lord of Illusion - 3

Read The Lord of Illusion - 3 for Free Online

Book: Read The Lord of Illusion - 3 for Free Online
Authors: Kathryne Kennedy
    Roden turned, flipped up the back of his coat skirts and sat on a chair slightly across the room from them. “You are being too modest, Lady P—something-or-other.”
    “Pembridge. Dowager duchess from the house of—”
    Imperial Lord Roden waved her to silence. “It hardly matters. What shall your illusion be? A prancing unicorn? A garden fairy to delight the ladies?”
    The duchess humphed again. “I am not some young girl, my lord, to enjoy such amusements.”
    “Excellent! Some sophistication is in order, then! We sit all atremble, Lady P, awaiting your creation.”
    Camille uncurled her fingers and edged her hand atop the duchess’s, squeezing those old bones lightly in warning.
    But the lady ignored the touch, her brow furrowed in concentration, those weak eyes staring at a spot on the solid gold floor halfway between her and Roden. “I have tried,” she said, “to perfect the illusion of Grimor’ee.”
    A hazy golden dragon took shape upon the floor.
    “But I can never quite get it right,” finished the duchess, blinking her eyes at the illusion. “I told you, my lord, my powers are weak, barely worth your attention. This is the best I can manage.”
    Camille gently squeezed Lady Pembridge’s hand again. This might not be such a disaster after all. If the lady insisted that this was the best she could do, the elven lord might humiliate her as badly as he had the young girl—but that would be all.
    Roden looked scornfully at the illusion of his dragon-steed. “The scales look like fur and the eyes are all wrong. And it is barely two hands high. Surely you can produce better than this? Why, Grimor’ee would be insulted! He has been known to eat men for less.”
    The duchess gaped. Camille knew the lady feared the dragon more than she did the elven lord himself. Indeed, that’s why she worked on her illusion of the dragon, to try and mitigate that fear. Camille also knew Grimor’ee did not eat humans, had tried to reassure her mistress that the dragon was certainly not the raging beast the court made him out to be.
    But Camille could not reveal how she knew this for a fact. Could not repeat the story of how she’d been mishandled by soldiers, crawled to the tower to escape them, and for the first time had been met with concern. In the golden eyes of a dragon.
    The duchess stared at her illusion in horror. “I… I meant no disrespect to Grimor’ee. Perhaps I can manage… yes, I shall try harder…”
    Her frail body vibrated with intent. Camille squeezed the lady’s hand harder in warning. But she already felt the thrumming of the elven blood within those old bones, gathering whatever power the duchess possessed in an attempt to strengthen the illusion.
    The hazy dragon-shape solidified and grew to the size of a small pony. The outline of golden scales became bright and sharp. The eyes blinked, now looking as real as Grimor’ee’s own, the irises separated by lines of red which made those golden orbs resemble a sliced pie. Wings delineated with ridges of muscle began to beat the air, fanning the silver-white hair of the elven lord.
    Camille huffed and glanced at her mistress. Most half-breeds could create a realistic illusion. It took stronger power to add sound, touch, taste, smell… and only the elven lord himself could add them all to create illusions realistic enough to completely fool the senses.
    “Who knew the old hoyden had it in her?” whispered a man to their left.
    Imperial Lord Roden narrowed his eyes. “It appears that you have been withholding the true extent of your powers, Lady P.” He lifted his scepter. “I wonder what else you might manage given the proper incentive.”
    “No, my lord,” blurted Camille. “She has very little power, I assure you. It’s just that she fears Grimor’ee.”
    The court gasped as one that a mere servant had the temerity to speak within their presence. Worse, a servant who had once been a slave.
    Roden ignored her, his attention

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