Title: Poison Master

By: Smartkitty314

Synopsis: Poison Study, written from 3rd Person Limited (Valek's) Point of View. The book's events from a different perspective.

Rating: Pg-13. Nothing more mature than anything found in the book itself.

Disclaimer: This exists solely for the purpose of me enjoying myself and practicing my writing, not me making any money.

Chapter One: Setting the Pieces.

Valek slipped through the hidden doorway into the shadows of the curtains silently. The Commander leaned over his desk, scowling at a bit of paperwork, although Valek knew the true cause of his displeasure—the tempting-smelling meal that sat beside the pile of work, slowly growing colder.

Now that he thought about it, this door was a security risk—any servant could slip in, unnoticed, with a knife. The Commander would be dead before he could even turn around and see who hit him. His fingers twitched towards his knife as he imagined Ambrose slumped, still and bloody, on his great desk.

"Valek." The Commander's voice was curt. "My lunch is cold."

Valek smiled to himself. He had overlooked an important factor—the Commander's powers of observation were nearly as good as his own, and the Commander was the only person to ever beat him in a fight. An assassin would need legendary prowess to dethrone this military dictatorship.

"Sorry, sir." Both of them knew he wasn't really. In all the castle—in all of Ixia—he was probably the only one who could come and go as he pleased, and the Commander would wait for him.

He quickly sniffed the food, sliced slivers of the meat, gurgled the cider, then nodded. No poisons. The Commander wasted no time digging in. His rumbling stomach overcame his slight revulsion at the thought of cold food.

"So, what are you planning, Valek? I can see there's something on your mind."

Valek smiled. "I don't trust General Brazell."

The Commander laughed. "What's new? You don't trust anyone, but you haven't trusted him especially since I appointed him."

"He's ruthless and power-hungry. And he's doing something, I know it."

"Valek, you see conspiracy theories basically everywhere. He's here to see the death of his son's killer. It seems perfectly reasonable to me."

Valek flashed one of his rare smiles. "That's a moot point. How many actual plots against you have I stopped, compared to the number that I've suspected? You may not be paranoid, but trust me, the whole world is out to get us. The Generals want more power. The rich miss the old Regime. The Sitians miss the rich trade. People romanticize the past and ignore the benefits that this new governing system of equality is unfair because it doesn't allow for situations."

The Commander shrugged. "I never promised it would be perfect. It's far more fair than the rich bribing their way out of punishments. Besides, you take care of the other situations." The Commander might not officially agree with how Valek handled more questionable situations, but he understood the importance of keeping the peasants content. In fact, Valek suspected he would do the same if he didn't care so much about living up to his own standards.

"This might just be one of those situations."

The Commander leaned forward. "I'm listening."

"The entire orphanage didn't fit with Brazell's personality. I've suspected something for years, but nothing has turned up on it. Now out of the blue, one of the orphans murders his son? I would understand if she were insane, or working for a royalist network. I've kept her under observation in the dungeon for nearly a year, and she's not stupid, and she's not insane. She had no contact with any networks I know, and I've had my spies scouring for any trace of conspiracy. As far as I can tell, she's innocent—except for that one instance of murder—and most people don't have it in them to take another's life, not even if their own life is threatened."

"So? What can I do? I'm not going to break the Code of Behavior now."

Valek smiled. He knew he was going to get his way. Gesturing to the Commander's half-eaten, cold food tray, he asked, "How would you like to have a new food taster?"