A low baritone voice quietly spoke in the echoing silence, sounding like it was perhaps 30 feet away. "We meet, Princess". Suddenly, without any movement, a number of lit candles appeared in holders set around the perimeter of the large room, probably 50 x 100 feet. It was sparsely furnished with a heavy chair resembling a small throne on a platform at one end. There were two heavy wooden tables and a few solid chairs against the walls at Holly's end. The heavy wooden door behind her had a tiny hole for a door-handle, but strangely, the door handle was missing.
The strangest thing was that Holly knew this room didn't belong here in Castle Halbad. It appeared to have been brought here, walls, floor, furnishings and all from her father's castle in Palaten. To be precise, from the inner Keep. Even the paneling on the walls had familiar wood grain; the tapestries were the same as well; even one of her father.
Up on the "throne" sat a middle-aged man, his hand on his chin, evaluating her with steely eyes. Average size. Jet-black hair with a few gray streaks showing. He wore ornate red and black robes with several pockets, but no armour, and no weapons were apparent except a knife in a sheath at his waist. There were a number of shields and weapons of various types mounted on the walls around the room. Next to the chair and around on the dias were numerous items, rather cluttered.
"I am Lord Belzar," he spoke again. "The Emperor commanded that I bring the Legion to Palaten, which I have done. As well, to Halbad, which I have done."
He shifted gently in his seat, and continued. "Halbad will fall and the surrounding country in all directions then will be under my Lordship. Your Uncle will fall as well. He is too old and stubborn to serve me. But..."
He stared even more intently into her eyes, as if trying to reach inside with his message, and smiled maliciously, "...You could rule here, as Queen. You were supposed to marry some prince or other anyway, and settle down for once in your undisciplined life. The groom was chosen to take your hand, the marriage date was set, but I understand you... spurned his "love"." Belzar chuckled.
"So impetuous. But here is your chance to redeem yourself from the wild passions of youth. You can still have the throne, and marry any one or more of the thousands who will seek your hand."
One. You will consent to be summoned by me at any time or place.
Two. You will obey my commands. I will not make them often, but you must be prepared to carry them out without question.
As a token of your wisdom and full obedience, right now, bring the troll here. As you will be mine, he will be mine. But your existence as the new Queen will be much more pleasant than his! Ha, ha! More pleasant indeed."
His eyes narrowed again. "Do not think that you can hurt me. I am hundreds of years old and have dealt with whelps such as you and your wretched rag-tag friends for centuries before you were born."
As if to prove his point, he waved his hand, and the portcullis from the castle at Halbad suddenly appeared halfway down the room between them, imbedded in the wood and stone walls sideways, cutting the room in two, and preventing her from getting any closer. Holly could see through the interlocking iron bars as he spoke from the other end.
"Go now. Bring the troll to me. Then we can, shall we say, 'work out the details'."
The door handle suddenly appeared in the door behind her and the door opened with a 'click!'