Fendri shook his head. “I care little about policy. Your goals are no different than any Mandrean ruler. You simply want to achieve total victory in your lifetime. If that is your will, then I will support you as always. I would caution you, however, that the words you speak sound very different than the ones you have used before. Be mindful of your comments and ask yourself, ‘Is that me talking or is it the Blue Sapphire?’ I serve your will, not its will.”
“I am the one making the decisions,” Mandrean said firmly. “The Blue Sapphire has merely opened the door for possibilities I never thought I could achieve in my lifetime.”
“So long as you are the one in control and not this evil gem, then I will stand behind you.” Fendri reiterated.
“What of this Grithinshield business?’ Mandrean asked. “I suppose you agree with Gramlick on that matter. You think I should just let him escape?”
“Before you had the Blue Sapphire I definitely would have said that,” Fendri noted. “The dynamic has changed and so have your goals. If you wish to pursue this path of conquest then Grithinshield must die quickly.
“It would seem you were each chosen by your particular gems for a reason. One stone is meant to check the other. I listened carefully when you read Grithinshield’s credentials. Linvin is a worthy opponent. He is also the kind of charismatic leader who could rally armies and indeed nations to his standard if needed. It would be unwise to meet him on the battlefield with an army at his command. From what the Red Sapphire said when he retrieved it, Linvin will be in your path every step of the way.
“Therefore,” Fendri concluded. “The wisest move is to kill him now at all cost. He is weakest while he is within our borders. Were he to return to Sartan, your goals would be in danger.”
“Then you agree with Necromancer that I should face him and destroy the vermin?” Mandrean asked for clarification.
“I agree he must be killed,” Fendri acknowledged. “I would waste two Divisions in a moment before I would see you fight him in individual combat.”
“You doubt my abilities?’ Mandrean asked with offence. “I have shown my skill on the battlefield many times before. Necromancer seems to feel I would dispatch Linvin handily.”
“With all due respect, My Lord, you have not drawn a blade in over ten years. As for Necromancer, he is no friend to you.”
“He cannot lie to me,” Mandrean reminded.
“True,” remarked Fendri. “He has a way of telling you only part of the truth so you will follow a path of his choosing and then convince you it was your idea. Bound or unbound, I do not trust his motives. He has his own agenda and I do not believe it is the same as yours.”
“So you think Linvin would kill me in a straight fight.” Mandrean stormed as his temper rose.
Fendri chose his words carefully. “I think it is an unnecessary risk. Look at what he did when he was underestimated once. Such a mistake must not be made again.”
Mandrean angrily took to his feet and turned his back to his friend. “My honor and reputation is at stake here. I must be the one to finish Grithinshield or else my men will not respect me. Without the backing of the army, my plans will be defeated faster than any outside enemy ever could.”
Fendri stood and returned the goblet to his master. Then he bowed, knowing full well what decisions had been made. “Is there anything else you require from me?”
“No Fendri. You may go about your business.”
“Very well, My Lord. I shall send servants to these chambers to reset the room. By your leave.” Fendri bowed again and left. He did not show it in his expressions or his tone but he felt frustration over Mandrean’s choices. Mandrean retired to his quarters to plan his next move.