Alara sat next to Palon and filled three cups from the tall silver pot. She handed one to General Rariden.
He cradled the china saucer in his brawny, weathered hand. Though retired and more than seventy years old, he was as robust as a man half that. Only thinning gray hair and a deeply lined face revealed his age. In his dark-gray suit and plain black cravat, he made the perfect picture of a distinguished statesman. “Alara.”
That soft tone was unusual. She met his eyes.
“I have known you girls your whole lives.” He made a little sideways smile. “You’re like the daughters I never had.”
Alara fixed her eyes on the coffee cup she handed to Palon. If he kept on that way, she would cry.
Rariden cleared his throat. “You must decide whom you trust more. Me, or your father.”
Alara’s breath shuddered out of her. “You, sir.”
He nodded. “Then do as I say.”
General Noryom Rariden retired from the army long ago, but everyone still calls him “General” anyway. He was a hero in the war that’s part of the backstory in Alara’s Call. After the war, he was elected prime minister and served in that role two terms. Choosing not to stand for re-election—though he could have—he became chancellor of the university.
He’s a lifelong friend of Alara’s family, and he occasionally, as a favor, teaches martial arts to his friends’ children, which is how he came to know Alara and her friend Palon.
He’s loosely based on Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Rariden is absolutely my favorite character in the Prophet’s Chronicle series. Isn’t it funny how often our favorites are the secondary characters? I guess that’s because we don’t have to give them as many flaws, and we don’t have to put them through so much hardship.