Creon, Master of the Smugglers’ Guild, was relieved to be rid of the lotus smugglers. An honest smuggler’d had a hard go of it while those miscreants had been around. Smugglers like himself sought contraband, things that the emperor had banned. Premium goods.
Pirates often worked with the Smugglers’ Guild, acquiring many goods from the Far Lands for them to sell on the black market. In return, the Guild would acquire weapons for the pirates. But the goods were sold at a premium. The cost was often too high for many common folk.
It was sad, really, the idea that most couldn’t afford the goods he smuggled into the Renge. But that had been the doing of the lotus smugglers. That damned drug had drained so many of their gold and silver that they could barely afford to live. Many were found dead after starving to death because getting high on lotus had been more important than eating.
But that was going to change. The drug would probably still find its way into the city, but not in the quantity it had been coming in. the new governor had seen to that. And with the Thieves’ and Assassins’ Guilds being given the OK to attack any lotus smuggler they discovered in the city, there was bound to be fewer on the streets than ever before.
It was funny, really. They had finally been sent a governor worthy of her post. She had vision. She had strength. She had brains. She was a woman.
Kyrzhad sent a message to Hadrax. He had kept his promise to his sister, though he had blotted her name from the family lists. He no longer had a sister. She had seen to that by leaving without a word.
Sure, she had left a note behind. But that wasn’t how he had wanted things to happen. He’d wanted to have a bit of fun with her before she left. But she had prevented that.
Now, he sat and stewed over the matter. The more he thought about it, the more enraged he grew. He hoped she liked living without an allowance. He had decided that she was to do without the governors’ stipend as well. Let her fend for herself.
Still, as promised, he lied to Hadrax. As agreed, he made it as if she had committed suicide. He owed her that much. No need to betray her by letting her ex-husband know where she was, no matter how tempting it was. No need for bloodshed.
Besides. He could take care of her by sending sieges whenever he wanted. He had not promised her that he would stop making war. Just that he would stop long enough for her to get settled.
Sobahn emerged from the western entrance to the mines of Korlabdis. The entrance was protected by the position of the antechamber where his hosts had created their sanctum, which cut it off from the rest of the mine. It was not attached to a mine tunnel like the eastern entrance, but actually came out of the western side of the antechamber. The dwarves had done well.
But so had Romnan and Qualzath while they nursed him back to health. In nine months, he had learned much from the twin mages. Much that the emperor himself wished to know, but would never be shown. Now as much a mage as his hosts, he was allowed to leave their sanctum.
But he had a reason. He was to go to Yndarr and help the new governor. He was to join her army. It was the wishes of those who’d saved his life.
He was to help her train them. But he knew that it would not be easy. He had to help her convince Khardym. But he knew just how to do it.
He had known Khardym for a long time. They had served in more than one campaign together. They had a strong bond that most would not understand. It was a soldier’s bond.
He had not been as open to learning magicks at first. But the twins had helped him see reason. They had shown him that it would be the only way to withstand the emperor’s sieges. As long as the mages stood as a defense, nothing could break them. He smiled.
Soon, he would open Khardym’s eyes and mind. Soon, he would help Yndarr become a force to be reckoned with. Soon, Sudia would be united.
The Sudian Orders of the Dark Ring had been easy to arrange meetings with. Yndarr’s longstanding acceptance of mages, no matter their affiliation, had earned it respect among those of the Ring. It was a safe haven for those hunted by the Inquisition.
Many of the Masters were ready to form alliances. The Ring’s Master had declared open war upon them by giving the Inquisition permission to begin culling their members. They felt that if they could form a strong coalition, it might stop the unholy murder of their populations. It might even serve as a way to gain new members.
But the governors were a different matter altogether. They rarely left their cities. They really had no need. Still, there was always hope they would accept Niobe’s invitation. If not, there was always the option of her taking the meeting to them.
But the governors’ link with their Guilds might serve as the means of convincing them to come to Yndarr. Usually, where the Guilds went, so did their cities’ governors. It was an unwritten rule. She could only hope.
The Guilds had sent out messengers. Their fellow Guilds would be willing to come to Yndarr to meet with the city’s new governor. But they weren’t so sure that the governors would. The merchants could pool their influence, but that didn’t mean that the governors would listen. Still. The Guilds were relying on the unwritten codes to persuade the governors.
Perhaps the alliance could grow beyond the bounds of Sudia. Perhaps she could get it to grow into Austre and Estre as well. The thought made her smile. If she could get it to grow, she could easily retake the cities Hadrax had usurped from their governors. Perhaps she could tighten the noose on the Inquisition as well.
She could only hope. At the moment, she had to wait and see if Sudia would unite. One step at a time. Anything more would be a waste of energy.
Pannas sat on the Guild Council Of Corbad. Like many of the Sudian governors, he was not actually of the nobilis. He had been elected by the city elders. He was also Master of the Assassins’ Guild. He had shown much wisdom as the last of the nobilis-born governors of Corbad died.
The governing family had bred themselves out of existence. The last governor had been impotent and had slaughtered his seraglio in a fit of madness, thinking they had cursed him. Lotus had eaten his freewill away with his sanity. In the end, he had been bedridden and completely mindless.
Upon his death, the city held an election of those they trusted most. Pannas had won unanimously. He had made the rest of his fellow Guild Masters a part of his new government and Corbad had become the first city to become lotus-free. He had not given the smugglers a choice to leave. The Guild had rounded them up and executed them publicly.
Now, he looked forward to going to Yndarr. He wanted to meet this new governor. Word had spread that she was doing wondrous things. Like him, she had banished the lotus smugglers. But she had allowed them to live and go elsewhere.