Rainwater drizzled down the black walls of the carved tunnels beneath the castle, creating a sheen that reflected splinters of grey light from the wells above. The passageways were silent save for the occasional catch in the kahr’s breath or drip of water. To the few, wretched creatures that lived down there he appeared as a dead man: his eyes glazed over, face expressionless and body inert. For all the stillness of his countenance his mind worked at considerable speed. Three days had passed since he’d taken up his position and three days remained before his pain would be gone. Nalka had not spared him in his mourning, though Morghiad would rather have remained imprisoned by its pain forever. He considered the same problems in sequence. First, no one had come to arrest him for his crime. The guilt of it weighed upon him: he had sought justified retribution and yet he had committed an unjust act. He had to pay the price as any other Calidellian would. Second, Artemi would return in a few days, but he had no idea where to start looking for her. Third, the country was leaderless, and he had a responsibility to secure it.
The short beard that had propagated along his jaw itched furiously. Then again, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d washed. He should have bathed for Artemi’s funeral. He should have attended Artemi’s funeral. Instead he’d hidden in the darkest corners of the castle and only visited her when everyone else had departed. She’d looked very pale, he remembered, paler even than her naturally fair skin should have been. They’d dressed her in her uniform and given her an officer’s burial, but they’d strewn fire-blossoms through her hair as if she were a queen. Morghiad could not comprehend where anyone could have found fire-blossoms in the heart of winter. Their smell had been spicy, powerful and hot like the height of summer. It was a scent that would stay with him. He wanted to hear her voice, or see a smile unfold on her lips. But many years would pass before he’d know those things again; if they found her, or if she chose to return to him, and if he still lived.
He moved his green eyes to examine the earthen floor; it was damp and smelled heavily of mould. She could be anywhere in the world, and no books he’d read ever spoke of a pattern in vanha-sielu rebirths.She should have been his queen.He had to find a new leader, but no one else knew the intimate workings of the country so well as Acher’s old inner circle. Morghiad trusted none of them to look after Calidell and Gialdin responsibly. More and more, he was pushed to the conclusion that he would have to step in. He deserved to be in prison, but the country would be better off if he wasn’t. This brought him back to the other problem: who could respect and follow a king who was a murderer? A sharp spasm shot its way through his muscles, causing him to grunt involuntarily. The kahr shifted his position slightly to relieve some of the pain, but it had little effect. If he were king, he would have the means to care for Artemi through her vulnerable years. Perhaps it would be better if Calidell had a well-meaning criminal for a king in the short-term. It was possible, he thought, that he could stabilise the situation before he was hunted down in the streets. Right at this moment he had very little to lose, either way.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Teaser for Vol 2 of The Fireblade Array....
Have a brief teaser...