Gendlac stood upon the parapets of Atlea. It had been thirty years since he came to power in Atlea. He knew that the time of lone cities was coming to a close. Soon, allies would be needed to defeat whatever evil lay upon the horizon. Niobe’s offer had been opportune. He had heard of her and had been warned of her treachery. But something told him that she was different now.
As a seer, he could read people. Their actions, their motives, their emotions—none were hidden from him. As an empath, he could feel their pain. As a sorcerer, he could easily disarm any who tried to attack him.
He had nothing to lose by meeting with the emperor’s sister, especially since there was a growing rumor that she intended to thwart his attempts to make war on the Renge itself. Solidifying Sudia would be a step in the right direction. The Renge needed a stable governor, even if it was a woman.
If the Guilds in Yndarr trusted her, then she was worth more than a thousand emperors. Perhaps the Sudian coalition could somehow work it so that she could take over the rulership-become empress-of the Rengelands without removing the emperor himself from the capitol city. But it all would have to be done one step at a time. Nothing could ever be done overnight.
He smiled. He would send his fellow governing mages his intent and hope that the others would follow his lead. All the Guilds had already agreed, from what he had heard. If the Guilds had done so, there would be little problem in getting his fellow governors as well. He descended from his lofty perch. Time to announce his intent.
Kyrzhad be damned. The emperor was already suffering the symptoms of a thousand or more curses. So were the remaining nobilis, but they didn’t know it. Nor would they ever.
Niobe, on the other hand, had started out just as vile. This new aspect of her personality had everyone baffled. If this meeting and alliance was just an act of sibling rivalry, it was the largest yet. But something seemed different.
It was as if she really cared about the people of the Renge enough to completely change. She seemed to no longer be the conniving royal she once was. Had she been stripped of her title? Or had she just had enough of the decadence and cruelty?
Niobe knew that some would doubt. After all, she used to relish a chance to hunt down and kill Guild members. Especially those within the Mage Guild. But now, she was asking them for their help. In a way, she was asking them for forgiveness.
She only hoped that they would put aside old differences and accept her request for allegiance. Without them all, she would not be able to unite Sudia. She would not be able to protect them from Kyrzhad. Or Hadrax.
She knew that the emperor, her brother, had been planning needless wars against his own subjects. He had already waged a few, and won, with the aid of his newest general Hadrax…her ex-husband. She also knew that he would likely turn Hadrax loose on her when the mood struck and she needed allies. Lots of them.
And the governors of Sudia needed her. Badly. Especially those over the Sudian members of the Dark Ring. They were sure to become his next targets when he realized that the other cities were united against him and could not be defeated or divided.
She smiled nervously. Things had to be perfect. She wanted the emissaries to be comfortable. A banquet would be fitting. Talking business over a meal was always a great idea. General Khardym stood beside her in the great hall of Yndarr’s gubernatorial palace. He had been helping her map everything out.
Now, he found himself drawn to her for other reasons. He had begun to have feelings he hadn’t had for decades, not since the emperor had raped his wife and daughters. After that, it had been one insult after another. Anything to keep the general under control. Kyrzhad had executed Myrtia, his wife, only days after he had done his treachery. For all he knew, Simala and Jinda were both already dead as well.
But the emperor had claimed that they were still in his donjons, alive. Still, it was widely known that one could never trust the emperor’s word on anything. Generals had been executed without being told why, even though they had been promised pardons.
“Milady?” He began hesitantly.
“Yes General?” she replied.
“Do you know of the fate of my daughters?” He inquired.
“By now,” she began slowly, taking his hand in hers, “they are probably dead. My brother has never kept his word on anything. Hold no hope of their being alive. I am sorry.”
“Milady,” he stated, bowing, “I pray that they are so. Anything but being at the mercy of that devil.”
“I know his evil all too well,” she said, smiling sadly, “I also suffered at his hands. It why, in part, I was the way I was.” She kissed him gently on the cheek.
Gullon stood at the window of her throne room. A new governor had taken their place in Yndarr and had asked all the governors to meet with her. She saw this as a promise of something better. Something greater. Perhaps this new governor would return Sudia to its former glory.
She had recently risen to level of Master less than one hundred years before, becoming one of the youngest to lead an Order at the time of her ascension. At the time, she was a mere twenty years in age and fearful that she was inadequate and would not be able to lead. Still, she learned quickly and found that she was a natural. Thrust into the role at the sudden unexpected death of the Order’s old Master, she found that the Order helped her learn all that she needed to learn in as short a time as possible.
Now, she was an old hand. The prospective of a woman being a governor of a city that had once been governed by a male was irresistible. Even more irresistible was the idea that the new governess wanted to unite all of Sudia. It was a two-for-one.
She had spoken to the rest of her Order and received their blessing for the journey to Yndarr. Soon, she would meet with Niobe, governess of the city. Soon, she would learn the plan for uniting the southern land of the Renge.