The pains were coming quicker now. The baby was not far from being a part of the world. Niobe called for the surgeon and the nurse. She had also called for one more soul to be present, the Yndarrean slaver. She had a message she wanted him to bear along with the child.
Now, she awaited his arrival. His mission was of the utmost importance. She felt guilty, doing things this way, but it was necessary. The boy could not be raised as a nobilis. She wanted him to live a carefree life as a child of the Renge.
It was far better that he be in the care of his grandfather. She would be there in Yndarr, close enough to keep watch on his growth. But she would not interfere. For all intents and purposes, he would be the adopted son of the bard. She would be happy only to watch him grow.
She snapped out of her thoughts as the slaver appeared. He was a wizened old man, ancient in appearance, with a dark look about him. the creases in his face told of countless slaving expeditions into the barbarian wastes and the wilds.
“Milady?” He inquired. “You sent for me?”
“Yes,” she panted, another labor pain rippling through her body, “I have need of your services. But I have very explicit instruction I need you to follow. The child, my child, is to be sold to only one person.”
“Milady?” he nodded.
“The bard of Yndarr is his grandfather,” she continued, “And it is to him, alone, that you shall deliver the child. This one is not supposed to go to the slaving pens. Whatever price the bard gives you, take. When I arrive in Yndarr, I will pay you the difference.”
“Yes, Milady,” the slaver answered.
“I am sending a message along with the child,” she panted, “to be delivered to the bard with the child. It will bear my mark and explain all to him.”
“Yes, milady,” came the final affirmation.
“Await the child’s arrival beyond the door of my chambers,” she directed, “and I shall call for you when it is time.”
The slaver nodded and left the room, passing the surgeon and the nurse as they entered. Both gave him a look of contempt.
“Why is he here, mum?” The nurse inquired.
“He will be running an errand for me,” Niobe replied, “that is all you need to know.” She looked over at the surgeon. “Did you bring the parchment and quill as I asked?”
“Yes, milady,” he acknowledged, handing them both to her but holding the ink.
She wrote, shakily, the message for the bard, then rolled up the parchment.
“Bring the candle,” she instructed, “and my signet.”
The nurse hurriedly went to Niobe’s night table and found the signet, then grabbed a candle from one of the stands. She handed both to Niobe, who quickly dripped the wax onto the scroll and marked it with her ring.
“Take this to the slaver,” she stated, handing the message to the surgeon, “please.”
The surgeon nodded and left the room for a few minutes. When he returned, he knew it was time. The baby would wait no longer.
Kyrzhad sat upon his throne, pondering his next move. It had been six months since he had granted Niobe her wishes, but he had not yet heard whether she had given birth or not. Nor had he witnessed her departure from the capitol.
Undoubtedly, she would oppose his attempts to take the cities surrounding Yndarr, so he would have to plan new wars. Moving his attention from the southern wedge of land, and keeping away from most of the ports, he searched his maps. He could keep Hadrax within the central corridor of the four lands, or he could send his champion on a quest out of the four lands. He smiled.
He poured over his maps. There had to be something he could send the ambitious general in search of or some lost city he could send him to find. Anything to keep him busy while Niobe was still in the capitol.
There were many relics he could send Hadrax to search for. The almost mythical feather-blade, a sword so light the bearer would almost forget that they had possession of it. The Eye of the Oracle, an orb with the power to tell the future. The Orb of Rynge, the relic from which the Renge had gotten its name. The Armor of Daanon, a mystic armor so fabulous that it made its wearer unkillable. Or Atrene’s Shield that, when looked upon, imparted wisdom to its owner. Or the Cloak of Veljuk, which made its wearer invisible. Last, but not least, there was the ring of Kalybo. No one knew what the ring did, but everyone seemed to desire it.
Yes. He would send Hadrax on quests to find these relics and bring them back to the capitol. Most of them, anyway. He didn’t trust his general with the armor, cloak, or shield. But, then, he didn’t trust any of his generals with quests such as those.
He continued looking at his maps. Maybe he would send him in search of Desolon, the lost city. Or maybe Rogue Lorne. Or maybe Darkvald and its hidden companion cities.
He schemed, creating elaborate quests and dangerous battles to send his new general to perform. He wanted wars. He wanted adventures. He wanted to end the quiet that had lulled the nobilis to sleep.
Con Tikiraud entered the world quiet as could be. Fiery red hair upon his head marked him as the promised one. His eyes, open from the beginning, were pools of inky blackness that seemed to pull whoever looked into them in and entrap them. This, the surgeon and nurse could tell, was no ordinary child. Even Niobe could see that con was going to be something special.
“Call the slaver in,” she requested in a whisper, “I need to talk to him.”
The nurse nodded and went out into the hallway beyond Niobe’s chambers. The slaver accompanied the nurse back into the chambers and stepped to Niobe’s side.
“Milady?” He inquired.
“You know what to do now,” she stated, placing the child in his arms, “Guard him with your life and get him to the bard. Remember. I will pay you what he cannot. Just make sure he is the one who pays you. No one else. Make sure the bard gets my message. I will see the two of you in one week. Understood?”
“I understand,” he replied and left.
After he was gone, the surgeon looked at her reprovingly.
“What have you done?” He demanded.
“I have sent him to his grandfather,” she replied, exhausted, “for his own protection. The slaver is the only one who knows how to find the bard.”
The nurse and the surgeon looked at each other stunned. They had not even taken that into account. They had simply assumed that she had sold the boy into slavery. Now, they had to look at things in a whole new way. Perhaps their mistress wasn’t as evil as they had been told.