“Perhaps we could view the gardens in more detail later,” proposed Santi, a young ambassador. Nyci hoped they didn’t see the colour draining out of her as quickly as it was fleeing from the garden.
“Yes, yes, yes. Of course.” The tremour in her voice was increasing. curse Therys, curse him! Thumbscrews? She’d have him on the rack for this!

An awkward silence followed, during which Nyci watched a large rosemary plant gradually turn yellow and sink close to the sun-kissed earth. Even the ornamental hedges, carefully cut in the shape of nobles, were beginning to look diseased so that it was as if the nobles were contracting plague, spotted leaves curled.

With horror, Nyci saw that the waters of the fountain in the very centre of the antechamber were turning into a vomit like substance.

“What treachery is this, Counseler?”

The speaker was an old man in the Denar party and the only maskless one. His arm was raised pointing at the fountain and a wrinkled hand was protruding from his lacy sleeve.

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