“Your assumptions are correct,” Mandrean stated as he cut a steak on his plate. “I will deal him the final blow with my own hand.”
Fendri stood at attention and looked straight ahead. “Very well, My Master. If you have no other need of me, I will attend to other duties and send servants to collect your crockery when the tailors arrive.” He bowed to leave.
Mandrean was surprised by the quick offer to exit. “Why are you so eager to leave?’ he asked.
“I see no other need of my services at this time,” Fendri answered.
“That is not an answer,” Mandrean said as he took to his feet. Adjusting his robe, Mandrean turned to Fifty-Six and said, “Take your tray and leave us.”
The concubine nodded and followed her orders. Once she left, Mandrean began to pace before Fendri. “Alright,” he said. “We are alone now. Speak your mind.”
“With all due respect, My Lord,” Fendri began. “I do not believe my opinions will be to your liking. For that reason I humbly ask to remain silent.”
Mandrean was stunned by the comment from his oldest friend. “Do not make me order you to speak, Fendri. Say what you will.”
Fendri sighed and answered, “As you wish My Lord. If you choose to have this man hunted down and killed then go ahead. Leading the charge is foolhardy. Finding him will be a stroke of luck. Do not mislead yourself into thinking luck will transfer to the battlefield if you meet Grithinshield in individual combat. Even if Necromancer fashions a device to allow you to use the Blue Sapphire’s power, it will only negate Linvin’s magical advantage. That would leave your combat skills pitted against his. Such an encounter does not bode well for you.”
Mandrean could finally understand Fendri’s reluctance to speak. His words cut deeply. “You think Linvin could beat me in combat? How can you hold such an opinion? You have seen me in battle and watched me dispatch many foes. All you know of Linvin is talk. He is no different than any other man. Your position shocks and displeases me to great measures.”
Fendri could retain pretenses no longer. He vented his frustration by throwing the empty serving tray across the room. “You wanted truth, didn’t you?” he asked as he brought his face directly across from Mandrean’s. “Here it is for you. As I have said, your hand has not touched a sword in nearly ten years. You are at least as many years Grithinshield’s senior and have done nothing to keep your body in condition for battle. Meanwhile, your opponent is highly experienced and motivated. He is said to be the greatest warrior alive. Even if that proves to be an exaggeration, you cannot beat him in a fair fight.”
Mandrean gently pushed him back to a more comfortable distance and stated. “Your lack of faith in me is disappointing. Do not fear, Old Friend. I never said it would be a fair fight. According to my plan, I will only finish the life of our hunted game after the huntsmen have brought him down. You should have more faith in me. I am no fool.”