Kyrzhad removed Yndarr off of the list for Hadrax to assail. He would find another general to toy with the port. Then, when it was time for Niobe to vanish from the capitol, he would end the siege. Niobe would leave the capitol for Yndarr in a self-imposed exile from her beloved city of birth. He only hoped that she knew what she was doing.
With her revelation, and disclosure of her plan for her child, he knew he could never kill the bard. She had removed the bard from his list as well. After all, Hadrax was the bard’s son, and the child was to be raised by the bard. But why did Niobe want to go to the port city as well? Did she want to keep an eye on the child? Or did she want to seduce the bard?
His demented mind could find as many scenarios to why as there were truthful reasons. Still, he could never guess his own sister’s heart. Nor could he guess that it was as much to distance herself from his incestuous lusts as it was to be near her child. For all her cruelty, Niobe was still caring enough to feel the pains of love for her own child.
Unlike Kyrzhad, the bard had never seen Niobe. They had never met. He had only heard rumors of her. but Niobe held a deep respect for the bard. He was what held the four lands together.
Frustration set in for Kyrzhad. Two desires had been stripped from his grasp. Still, his sister was his greatest love. He would do anything for her. even allow her to go into a self-imposed exile.
By the gods, he would miss her! Still, he had all the women he could handle in his own seraglio. He couldn’t handle any more. He frowned and called for a messenger. in what seemed to be a flash, a messenger awaited his instructions.
“Get me general Khardym,” the emperor commanded, “I have need of him.”
The messenger nodded, bowed, and then left. Moments later, Khardym stood before him. The greying general still cut an impressive figure. The battle hardened general stood at attention.
“Your Majesty required my presence?” The elder general inquired.
“Yes, General Khardym,” the emperor replied, “I have an…errand for you. I want to feign a siege of Yndarr for a nine-month duration. There is to be no serious attempt to conquer the city, just a little something to create a diversion and tie up some of the troops.”
“Aye, Sire,” came the response.
“By some,” the emperor continued, “I really mean the majority of the potential reinforcements I could send to Hadrax. I want to…punish him for overstepping his bounds with my sister.”
“Not to question, My Emperor,” Khardym seemed perplexed, “But why only nine months?”
“Because, my dear general,” the emperor smiled, “that is when Yndarr’s new governor will arrive.”
“I see, Sire,” the general replied, “sorry if I seemed to question. It was not my place, nor intent. Makes perfect sense.”
“Good,” Kyrzhad returned, “good.”
Niobe knew that she would have to meet with the bard once she reached Yndarr. She had no desire to get involved with the port’s business, she just wanted to remain a safe distance from both her brother and her soon-to-be ex-husband. Both had taken advantage of her womanhood and both needed to be without her. She would be governor in name only, not in deed. The city would govern itself, for the most part, as it had always done.
But she would meet with the bard and make peace with him. she would explain why she was sending her son to him and why she was doing so in such an indirect way. The boy would need to be kept from the court. Even more, he would need to be kept from his own father. She wanted him to remain ignorant of his relationship with the imperial house.
If he were to grow up without knowledge of his imperial blood, he would be far better off. Kyrzhad had no heirs and would never have any. He was impotent. The lotus he partook in had made it so.
But finding that she was with child had opened her eyes. She no longer craved the high. She no longer wanted to hide from it all. Sobriety was more important.
She wanted to be able to watch her son grow, even if she wasn’t directly in his life. Hadrax could have his fruitless life of conquest and power. Kyrzhad could play his governors against each other all he wanted and sleep with their cousins. She no longer cared. Yndarr would be enough for her.
She rubbed her stomach. Suddenly, she felt remorse for executing the nurse and the surgeon. She’d had no reason to do so. It had not been their fault that she had become pregnant.
Perhaps, in a way, she had wanted to. She didn’t know. All she knew now was that she needed to protect her child and the only way to do so was to place the child under the protection of his grandfather.
But that would be in nine months. Until then, she had to make herself scarce. She had to remain hidden from Hadrax. She had to remain off limits to the emperor.
The thought made her retch. It made her sick to her stomach. Had she suddenly grown a conscience? Had she finally found her moral compass?
She put her head in her hands. Self-exile was better than either of the other options she’d had before. She really had no stomach for suicide. Nor did she want to die by the hands of Hadrax. She wanted no part in his unholy sacrifices. Let his future concubines and wives become his sacrifices. She would disappear from his life forever.
Hadrax celebrated the fall of Arboz by taking the governor’s daughters as his concubines. They would give him what he wanted. They really had no choice. He smiled.
They were his to do with as he pleased. He mused a while longer. Once they stopped pleasing him, he would send them as a part of the sacrifice into the mines. Any child would also see its end in the mines. Or be sold into slavery. He would make sure of it.
By the gods, he wanted no part of any child. They were leeches. They sucked the life out of the parent. They sucked the wealth out of a household.
No, he had never desired to be a father. He never wanted to have a family. He had only married Niobe in order to become next in line for the throne as emperor. But that was no longer desired. She had ruined that.
Now, he merely wanted to amass enough of a kingdom to oppose his brother-in-law and take the empire from him. it didn’t matter how long it would take, he would see it done. The Renge would be his.
Next: The Birth of the Chosen One