Marlinger could not believe how both he and the life he lived, had changed since
the day that Liana had come into his life. This morning he sat at the
table, eating the breakfast she had prepared for him and watched her busy
herself with an arrangement of flowers. In the garden outside, the end of
the summer had brought even more blooms than usual and every morning Liana would
be out there soon after dawn, picking the blooms to decorate the house.
She had changed also and looking at her today, as she fussed over the vase
trying to make a long green-leafed sprig stand up, he saw how she had also
blossomed. A strand of hair had fallen across her face and with both hands
busy, she tried to blow it away by twisting her lips to send the air sideways.
Perigan laughed out loud and was rewarded with a smile by his wife, yet even as
he laughed, he wondered how he had lived so long without knowing the freedom to
laugh without causing offense. A frown crossed his face, like a cloud
crosses the spring sky and for a moment he was tempted to be less happy.
a woman who had avoided him with a purpose for so long and who had refused to
answer either his repeated calls at her new home over the years, or the constant
string of notes he had always been sending her to ask for her help with their
daughters, his ex-wife was trying very hard these days to attract his
friendship, perhaps even his long ignored love, back to her cause. As
Perigan's lot had increased, so his ex-wife's position had become worse.
When the Khan's fleet had sailed into Norden six months ago and the Guards and
two other regiments had entered the city through it's unguarded gates, his
ex-wife's employer had taken to his heels like the impotent, quasi-religious
braggart that he was and was soon no-where to be found and every coin Jaksonar
owned disappeared with him. Within a matter of days his ex-wife was back
at Perigan's door, pleading for understanding and putting forth her case for
assistance. The woman who had taken twenty thousand crowns from the man
who had molested his daughters stood outside of Perigan's door talking about how
they should now work together regarding their children now that the situation
had changed. Out of pure malice Perigan worded his acknowledgement of the
change in circumstances with words to the effect that ".
. .at least he will ruin no more children's lives", which his
ex-wife either did not hear, or chose to ignore, as she put forth her request
that he share the
load with her that she had only recently forbidden him access to.
Perigan refused her entry to what had once been her own home and then had later
used his busy schedule as a reason to send her away from his office.
Jaksonar's relatives had his house and the granary he owned, on the auction
block the same week as he disappeared, obviously trying to sell it and stash the
payment before the Khan's Army took it over as the spoils of war. They
argued to no avail however, when the new City Officer decided to turn the house
into a hospital for the poor and impound the grain held in the granary for the
use of Norden's citizens and the Khan's Army. They argued to no avail,
because the Khan's Council had appointed a man to the post of City Officer who
would neither believe their pleas of poverty, nor accept the bribes they
offered. That was not surprising, as Perigan had never liked the family of
his ex-wife's employer and it was he that the Khan's Council had appointed to be
the City Officer.
he wanted, Perigan could have taken the house for his own, in fact his ex-wife
had the audacity to suggest that they
did just that, as if Liana's involvement in his life was of no importance
whatsoever, but instead Perigan moved with Liana into a house overlooking the
sea. It had been deserted by it's former owner, his position as Garrison
Commander having been recently terminated.
office in the Norden Palace had previously been occupied by the City's Tax
Collector, another position which had been done away with on the arrival of the
Khan's Legions. Today taxes went to paying for repairs to roads, supplying
teachers for the new schools, or doctors and nurses for the hospital and the
thousand and one other administrative responsibilities Perigan had assumed on
taking office. Once that money would have gone directly into the treasury
of Prince Kalpon of Norden. Today the Prince lived on a small pension in a
house in the city and had resigned from all government matters.
in fact felt sorry for Prince Kalpon. He was an indecisive little man now
in his late forties, who tended to being overweight no matter how much, or how
little, he consumed in the way of food. Kalpon had never really ruled
Norden, for he had had a style of ruling that could best be described as accommodating
and he had left sordid things like decision making to his appointed officials,
all of whom had become very rich in his service and had disappeared very soon
after the Khan's Fleet had been sighted sailing towards Norden Bay. The
Prince was somewhat feminine in many ways, the opposite of his head-strong brute
of a father who had died leading the first army to go against the Old
Brotherhood during the previous war. Kalpon liked music and Perigan had
taken Liana to the Prince's new home on several occasions in the last few
months, to be both surprised and entertained by the man's expertise with the
last Perigan got up from the breakfast table and called to Liana that he was
ready to leave. She came into the room prepared to go with him to his
office, as she did every morning, telling him that the new housekeeper had been
informed that they would be eating out later and therefore would not be home
until quite late this evening. He and Liana left the house together and
climbed into the carriage that would take them to the Palace, with the light
hearts and high ideals of lovers engaged in a lifetime's quest for happiness,
not just their own, but of all the people within their sphere of influence.
they traveled along the street, Perigan contemplated the wisdom he had learned
these last few months about the state of marriage and wondered yet again if it
really was as simple as his own experiences had now convinced him it was.
It seemed as if he had experienced a lifetime where his wishes and feelings had
been completely ignored by his ex-wife. His pain, while witnessing the lot
of his daughters after the court case, had been answered by both his ex-wife and
her mother, by the simple decision that they and therefore his daughters, would
be better off with him out of their lives. The fact that his daughters had
begged to be with him, or that he had cried himself to sleep night after night
for months, had obviously never even occurred to their mother or grandmother.
Once his ex-wife had decided that her life would be better without him, she had
also decided that he had no rights whatsoever. When she had other things
to do, or the children's demands had got on her nerves, she allowed Perigan to
have them for an hour or so, at best for a day, in the way another woman would
allow a servant to look after her pet dogs. Now that the tables were
reversed on her and her lack of concern for the girls in the past was being
stated out of their lips, she was whining and blaming everyone and anyone,
circumstances or events beyond her control, for everything that had ever
happened to them.
had decided that the difference between being married
to someone and merely living
with someone, was in many ways like any other form of partnership.
When you were only living with someone, then it was normal to preserve an
identity and individual life outside of the partnership. What that really
boiled down to Perigan's mind, was that only living
with someone meant you only had to devote a part of yourself to the
married on the other hand, meant that one only had the partnership to be
involved in and everything else became secondary to it. He now understood,
many years too late, why his ex-wife had felt constrained by his constant
attention and his wish to be part of everything she did. She never had
understood how he had felt that something was not fair and that he was losing
out in the partnership, when she became upset that he wanted all of her time and
attention. His time with Liana had convinced him without any shadow of a
doubt that he had indeed been married
to his ex-wife, however he now knew that she had only been living
with him. In a way he now accepted that he had much to thank her
for, for if she had not left him when she became convinced that he could not
increase her standard of living anymore, he might well have lived unknowingly in
a parasitic relationship for the rest of his life. As it was, she had
finally sucked all the confidence out of him and thrown him aside for someone stronger,
meaning, someone whom she would not have to support with affection, attention or
anything else that detracted from her main objective of concentrating on
had been his ex-wife who had years ago gone before a Priest and later the Judge,
to ask for the separation of their property and the ending of the marriage.
He still felt pain when he remembered how cold and calculating she had
been throughout it all and as far as he had been able to figure it out later,
the main reasons for her wanting out of the marriage was that he
was too poor and too old fashioned. It still shocked Perigan, all
these years after he had learned to accept it, that Lidoreen had never seen that
she was in any way responsible, nor that he or the children had had any right to
expect love, affection, care, or even basic loyalty, from the day he had been
unable to provide her the high life style which she demanded. Now however
things had changed and Perigan held the upper hand for the first time in a
years ago his ex-wife's generous
employer and his kind
and understanding wife had pushed her out, after all those years of
faithful service she had given to them, leaving her no choice, but to become the
mistress and then wife, of one of their senile old retainers. Even so,
when they left Norden and the old man she had married to please them died,
leaving all of his worldly goods to his sons by a previous marriage, so did her
security leave her also and she realized what Perigan had known for years.
ex-wife had convinced herself that her employers were her friends,
whereas they had really only seen her as merely another retainer and, suddenly
deserted by those upon whom she had relied for support, duty
were words she was able to use again. Obviously, for now she was calling
for what Perigan had cried out for so long ago, when she had coldly dismissed
him by telling him that he was a romantic
dreamer who lived beyond his means. The latter slur had become
something that amused Perigan these days and no longer tempted a feeling of
guilt from him. He had lived beyond his means alright, of that there was
no doubt, for that was the price that his ex-wife had made him pay since just
after they had arrived in Norden, just for the honor of her staying with him,
long after she had relinquished all the responsibilities of being a wife to him
and a mother to their children.
had already made decent provisions for his daughters should anything ever happen
to him, now he had to decide what he should, or should not, do to help his
ex-wife. He had given the matter a great deal of thought lately, in fact
it had interfered with his sleep some nights. His ex-wife had forgotten
him and her marriage vows, when he and the girls had needed her, merely because
she had expected a high standard of living without the responsibility of having
anyone who needed the return of affection and support. He also knew the
pain and heart-ache her total self-concern had subjected his children to and
that he would never be able to fully forgive. That she could ever have the
character to be more than just a selfish companion, always jealous of any
attention given to others, or of their daughter's lives ever exceeding the
narrowness of her own, he very much doubted.
Perigan had felt deserted and he had built up many arguments to excuse the
mother of his children for her actions, no matter how selfish they seemed, even
to others who came to him and comforted him. Now however he knew the
simple truth and it made him pity her. Lidoreen just did not have the
capacity for love.
Like some people can be born without the ability to hear, so she had been born
without the ability to love. Looking back on what he knew of her family,
Perigan decided that it might well be genetic, for it seemed to run in the women
of her family the way brown hair and light eyes ran in his own. She could
recognize gratitude and generosity and had confused the latter with the proof
that one person loved another. Success was wealth, therefore love was rich
living and expensive gifts, rewarded with intimacy and loyalty. No gifts -
no intimacy or loyalty!
the end he had decided that he had really never had a wife and two daughters,
but in fact had been a single parent with three daughters. This morning,
riding along in the carriage with his new wife, Perigan Marlinger came to a
conclusion. He still remembered with heart wrenching pain how his ex-wife
had laughed at his love and their daughter's needs. He also knew without
any doubt whatsoever, that he could never again respect her. Strangely
though he felt no anger towards her, for he realized that her inability to love
was as much a natural condition as would have been blindness in another.
It was these reasons that made him decide that he could not just allow her to
use his old-fashioned principles against him anymore. It was time, he had
decided, that she faced up to the responsibilities that the very act of being
alive demanded. Perigan had decided that his ex-wife could sort out the
problems she had created for herself, by herself.
a few hours of arriving in his office that morning Perigan had been able to
achieve what he had never been able to achieve before, due to the power of his
ex-wife's benefactors, their influence and their money. That morning he
called a judge to his office and explained how without his support the girl's
future would be less than it could ever be with it, especially now that his
ex-wife had lost her source of unlimited gifts and loans. The judge
agreed, established that Perigan did not have to provide support for his ex-wife
and accepted that the money at her disposal the last time he had been in Court
and the conservative, establishment protecting motives of Judge Koltesar, could
well have prevented Perigan from obtaining even the semblance of Justice.
Judge Koltesar was at this time running as fast as his well shod feet could take
him after Perigan's ex-wife's benefactor, his day of reckoning still a few years
hence. As it was, in a matter of an hour, his ex-wife's true character
surfaced through the words she used in her defense and Perigan left the court
the legal guardian of his children. He had his daughters back and was able
to truly protect them for the first time in years and his ex-wife had the
freedom she had always wanted. Only this time she had been given the extra
freedom of having to support herself.
had however not completely vanquished his real anger in the affair, for
somewhere in the territories controlled by the corrupt establishment of the Old
Order, Judge Koltesar still lived and avoided the punishment Perigan Marlinger
had waited for years to deal to him. The one true hate of the quiet
apothecary's life still walked free and unpunished, for the crime he had
committed against Perigan's daughters. Judge Koltesar had refused to hear
doctors, experts and witnesses, when Perigan Marlinger had been a nobody who had
come forward to defend his daughters against a man of the establishment and
Perigan had sworn that there would come a day when that pompous little man, who
gratuitously wore the robes of Justice for the self-centered rewards it brought
him, would see his own children change their names rather than be associated
with their self-serving and unworthy father.
Perigan rarely could get the thought of revenge out of his head. The pain of the long years since the court case where he had been denied any access to even the vestiges of Justice, had savagely stripped him the beliefs he had held since childhood. Now in the position of City Officer Fate had brought him one step closer to punishing those who had so cruelly used him and many other powerless citizens of Khanlar, for so many years. The power it gave him, moved him one more step to avenging his daughters for the loss of their childhood, that those uncaring, self-concerned parasites of the Old System had caused them. One day his wife's employer, the fat, body odor reeking woman lawyer who had pleaded her lies, the stupid retainer of his ex-wife's employer who had committed perjury and most of all that pompous small minded gray haired judge, who had all worked together and prevented his daughters getting any semblance of justice, would pay for their actions. They had probably already forgotten the insignificant little apothecary and his daughters. . . but Perigan Marlinger had not forgotten them and time was most certainly on his side!
* * * * * *
Satisfaction is the Greatest Prize of Victory
stood on the balcony of the Prince's chambers in the palace of Norden and looked
out on the bay that morning with a feeling he could not describe. It
teetered between complete satisfaction and justification and a nagging sense
that Fate might well have already taken the reins of control from his hands once
again. In less than seven weeks his army had conquered a quarter of
Khanlar. His enemy's main army had been destroyed and thousands of their
best troops now wore chains for having opposed him. Beneath him in Norden
Sound four Blackships tacked towards the open seas, a sign of the power he now
controlled. Yet he somehow felt like an observer in many ways, as the
strength of his administration gathered up the peoples and land his army had won
and crafted them into a manageable empire.
always, the efficiency of the preparations of his Guardian mentors had once
again slipped into play, even as his armies had moved across the land in the
flood of annexation. No sooner had his regiments moved on from one victory
to the next, than a contingent of administrators, policemen and organizers had
moved in behind them, ready to take over the day-to-day tasks of managing the
Empire he had won. Even the prisoners they took did not suffer the usual
months of boredom and uncertainty that had always been the way of war in the
past. No festering prison camps, hastily erected and poorly managed,
sprang up during this campaign, for no sooner were their shackles put on than
they found themselves being marched to prearranged sites where their labor would
consolidate the conquest. The more fanatic and dangerous of them were
shipped off to the islands of Pida and Yadar, where their labor would transform
those barren places into fortresses that would serve as very secure prisons in a
matter of months. The chain gangs of once defiant soldiers kept on the
mainland, found that within a day or two at the most, they were being
efficiently worked, fed and housed as part of a well organized plan of
re-construction and consolidation. Like a great renewing,
(Jarin smiled at the memories that word evoked), every enemy prisoner was
allotted a task under the strict supervision of well-disciplined and motivated
captains. Roads, bridges, cities and hamlets alike, soon had their
contingent of brown uniformed prisoners-of-war laboring to improve them and
create a new superstructure throughout the conquered territories. Those
members of the former administration who had not taken off for other parts, were
interrogated, judged and either carted off in chains, or returned to the same
tasks as they had performed before the conquest had rolled over their lives,
only now they answered to a new administration.
Jarin however there was no such immediate purpose. In a few days he would
meet with the Priest of Priests Ragarian to negotiate a truce and until then he
was effectively unemployed. Exactly how this unprecedented meeting had
been arranged by the Guardians he had no idea, but it had been, and that was his
reason for being in Norden. Today however he was going to meet an old
friend, Perigan Marlinger, the man who had provided Sandar and himself with
horses and supplies the last time he had been in this gray stone city.
Kalpon, whom Jarin had been introduced to briefly on his arrival in Norden, was
a civilized man who had had a passion for gardens and it was in the Prince's
garden that Jarin greeted Perigan Marlinger. The small apothecary had
changed little since Jarin had last met him, however he now wore the uniform of
the Khan's Administration, the bottle green color of it's tunic complimenting
the man's small frame and graying hair.
my friend, things have changed a great deal since you provided General Sandar
and I with our disguise as merchants." Jarin greeted the
older man, offering his hand for a stronger than expected handshake.
have indeed Sire." Perigan replied, "And
all for the better I would add."
young woman stood behind the City Officer, dressed in a soft flowing gown of a
lighter green than his, her hair carefully braided about her head like a turban,
emphasizing her high cheekbones and large amber colored eyes. She stepped
forward on Perigan's urging and bowed her head, as the obviously proud official
introduced her to his Lord.
believe you already know my wife Sire. . ." Recognition came
to Jarin even as Perigan put his arm about her, "Yourself
and General Sandar rescued her from this place and I will never be able to thank
you enough that you brought her into my life."
the Gods, it's Liana. . . I thought you settled and adopted in Paramal. .
. How did you two ever get together. . ." Jarin
observed their obvious bond and found that he was immediately thinking of his
own wife, whom he had not seen in several months.
"It is a long story Sire. . ." Liana began, and for the next few hours the three of them laughed and compared histories, surrounded by the scent and beauty of Prince Kalpon's roses and when the time came for lunch, they entered the palace laughing and talking like long lost family members.
* * * * * * *
meeting with the Priest of Priests adopted all the trapping of a religious
ceremony and was carried out with more pomp and pageantry than Jarin would have
preferred, yet once again he found that much of his part in it was already
scripted and choreographed down to the provision of a great white quill, with
which he would sign his acceptance of it all.
location for the auspicious meeting with the two contenders for the title of
overlord of Khanlar, was set in the small village of Kitania in the western most
reaches of the Nation of Araz. It's location was in fact the main reason
for it's choice to be the site of this first meeting of the two most powerful
men in Khanlar, for it stood on the only ford for ten miles on either side of a
small river that cut through a large bowl shaped valley. It was a place
almost without trees, where it's inhabitants earned their livelihood by raising
great flocks of sheep, that over the centuries had made the place like a large
well tended lawn. There was no place for armies to hide here, nor cover
for hiding marksmen to commit assassination.
to the west though, an army of Church troops stood prepared and far to the east
the Khan's officers had drawn up three regiments, just in case the conference
should become a battlefield. As planned, a little after nine in the
morning on that fateful day, Jarin rode forward with a dozen of his advisors and
a dozen of his Guards, just as the Priest of Priests' party, of similar size and
composition, rode from the west towards the now deserted village of Kitania.
Every inhabitant of that place had been transported away for the duration of the
meeting. In the center of the village was a large barn, which had recently
been cleaned and newly white-washed, that also had the advantage of having an
entrance at either end. A dozen or so minor functionaries of both sides
had arranged the place ready for the meeting and they stood ready to lead away
the horses as the dignitaries arrived.
inside Jarin was struck by the cool simple lines of the place and flanked by his
aides, he walked down the carpet towards the great oak table that was to be the
site of the discussion, even as the Priest of Priests and his aides entered from
the other end of the room. Fawning functionaries ran forward to hold the
chairs as each man took his place, flanked on either side by those upon whom
they could call for advice or assistance, in the coming debate. No sooner
were the actors in this great play seated, than the orderlies left the room with
the utmost of haste and the two most powerful men in the known world faced each
other for the first time.
was Ragarian who broke the silence. Jarin was surprised to find that this
tall and dignified man had a countenance as wise and seemingly caring as any man
he had ever met.
am honored to meet you Prince Jarin, even if the circumstances under which we
meet are not those that I would have chosen, had I had the chance to choose
them." Ragarian said in a measured and almost friendly tone.
trust that we shall feel the same way at the end of this encounter, Your
Highness." Jarin heard himself reply, noting that his enemy
seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the exchange already.
would seem, Your Highness. . ." Ragarian took up the same
your forces have the upper hand at this moment and that we come here today to
evaluate the logic and outcome of either continuing this war, or of finding a
way to live with each other in the situation we find ourselves, at least until
events should find us a more sensible solution to our differences."
Toragor was having a hard time maintaining his composure, however he entered the
conversation without any visible sign of being a defeated man.
have won this campaign full square Your Highness, however we have sufficient
troops and reserves to counter any further attack upon the lands of the Church.
I myself feel that we have reached a position of stalemate. . ."
The General lost control and showed his anger for a moment, when Sandar made a
quiet snort of contempt at this statement, ".
. .and should you decide to press your invasion further at this time, it might
result in a situation where neither General Sandar nor myself, will be able to
prevent Khanlar from deteriorating into a state of anarchy that might last a
Sandar could answer, the Guardian Razarian tapped the table with his ring and
using that moment of attention Jarin took up the discourse. "It
is true your Highness, just as General Toragor states, that we may well have
reached a situation of balance. It is also possible that if either of us
was to press an attack at this time, we both might just possibly lose control of
the situation. However, for us to draw a line around our present position
and sit within it, we would need assurances from the Church that you would abide
by the same rules of non-aggression."
shall do exactly and precisely what His Highness Ragarian orders me to do."
The General replied.
should expect no less of you General, nor of our own commanders, however
agreeing to such a situation and policing it, have far different levels of trust
involved, I am sure you would agree."
Highness. . ." Ragarian seemed to ignore the exchange that
had just taken place and was looking directly at Jarin as he spoke, ".
. .I assume that you have brought with you an Agreement, perhaps I should refer
to it as a Treaty, which you would have us agree to; just as my ministers have
brought with them a long list of things they would have you agree to so that we
can achieve something from this meeting. If it were to suit you, I would
suggest that both you and I retire and allow them to broach these two versions
of what we all require and perhaps they will find what we already agree upon.
Then when they have forged an acceptable document that both sides can live with,
you and I can return for the final negotiations of what we should deliver as our
announcement to the people of Khanlar."
can see nothing wrong with that, Your Highness." Jarin tried
to make his voice carry the conviction of a man who has already won the day,
this Treaty, as you call it, will be signed before the week is out. I am
not prepared to allow this to develop into a continuing diplomatic play, which
would feed upon itself and become the cause of a thousand bureaucrats for the
merely nodded and then stood up and with the composure of a man who knows his
power, waited for Jarin to stand before they both turned and left the room in
Two days later the two leaders once again entered the village of Kitania to sign the Treaty which would forever bear the name of that small farming community that would never again be mentioned by History.
* * * * * * *
A Fall from Grace
watched the new arrivals step from the ship without really noticing them, intent
as she was on identifying the messenger that always arrived on the evening
packet. She suddenly saw the man in his black and red uniform and moved
towards him. Not looking where she was going and making her move as sudden
as she did, she stumbled and would have fallen had not the newcomer grabbed her.
As if she weighed no more than a toy, he righted her and nodded to her thanks,
his head bowing as he did so. Kirene noted the jagged scar around his
neck, the obvious brand of a long term slave, before she forgot him and was at
the side of the messenger. The messenger brought his fist up to his chest
in salute, before averting his eyes in acknowledgement and denial of the
question he knew she would ask of him.
time Kirene did not ask. There was no message from Jarin again. It
was more than two weeks since he had sent her the last simple note, most of
which had dwelt upon questions of their son Jatrin's fortunes rather than her
own. Her anger made her again unable to concentrate upon those around her,
as she turned on her heel to go back to her waiting coach.
me Ma'am." The voice was deep and soft, a man's voice. "I
am supposed to go to Suvak, but no-one told me which way it is. Could you
tell me the way, Ma'am?"
was about to stamp past him without answering when her eyes caught his, and she
watched him drop his head again, as if he felt that he was not good enough to
look at her straight on. He was clad in a tunic and trousers which had
obviously been made for a man of smaller stature. "Serve
Jarin right if I took up with this fellow and cuckolded him for ignoring
me." She thought to herself, that thought promptly followed
by another that said, "Which
is probably why he does not have time to write to me. He is probably
bedding every girl he can get his hands on."
with me." She heard herself saying, "I
will take you there. I have little else important to do this day, or any
other for that matter."
man followed her back to her carriage and when they arrived at it, he helped her
up into it and threw his sack onto the roof. He was about to follow the
sack, when she took his hand and told him to ride inside. "The
company will be good for me." She heard herself saying.
the road that ran along the docks and around the base of the city wall, they
soon left the city and were striking out across country towards Suvak, when
Kirene realized that she was already having fantasies about the unfolding
events. What if this big man were to reach out with his rough hands and
start touching her? It would not be her fault that Fate had taken this
turn, for if there had been a letter from Jarin she would be heading in the
other direction right now, back towards the palace and her own rooms, where she
would have curled up upon their bed and read and re-read his words until she
heard herself calling to the driver to slow the horses. Then she heard
herself telling him to take the coastal track, feeling the coach turn off the
paved road onto the earthen track a few minutes later. Then she called for
him to turn off the track and park the coach near to the shore, where a
convenient copse of trees hid them from the road. Then, even worse, she
told the driver to walk on down the road and bring her back a flagon of wine, "..and
take one hour, no more, no less!" She heard herself demand.
The coach tilted slightly as the driver dismounted and from her vantage point
she watched him walk away. Then she gave her attention to the man she had
waylaid and who now sat opposite her looking quite apprehensive.
heart was rushing. She could feel every extremity of her body trembling
with the illicit anticipation she was enjoying. This was wrong. She
knew it was, but it was also so exciting!
is your name?" She asked, watching the man's embarrassment
grow. He was a lot older than she was, forty at least. His hair was
gray and he looked as though he had experienced the hardest of lives. She
found she was most excited by the thought of his large scared and rough
laborer's hands touching her. Touching her most private places.
Ma'am. My name is Parsis." He replied, his discomfort
now increased as he felt the growth in size of his manhood stretching slowly
down inside those tightest of tight trousers he wore.
it? Parsis? Parsis what?" She felt wonderful,
are you Parsis? Where are you from? Do you know who's company you
are in right now, my man?"
Parsis Ma'am. I was born in Dynlar, I think. I am a . . . that is, I
was a slave. I came here to serve in the Army Ma'am."
Suddenly he was frightened. She felt it. "Look
Ma'am I don't know what a lady like you want's of me, but I don't want no
will be no trouble Parsis. Provided I leave here unharmed and you forget
about me the moment you leave me. I am a lady of importance Parsis my
ex-slave, but even a lady occasionally needs her desires met, and I have decided
that you will serve me for an hour in return for the journey I am making to help
that she slowly lifted her dress. Taking the material at the knee with
each hand she pulled her hands back until her naked legs were exposed to him.
Then she unlaced the bodice and slipped it over her head. Naked as the day
she had been born she lowered herself onto the carpeted floor of the coach, to announce that she was ready for him. The moment was
not what had Kirene had expected. It was as if she had just given the man
a reprieve from a sentence of death. He relaxed immediately and within
minutes they were tangled in a lover's embrace. Her clothes were crumpled
on the seat behind her, his trousers bundled on the floor beside them, as she
felt the weight of his body upon her. His male scent reeked from the tunic
he had merely hoisted up about his chest, letting her see and feel the
coarseness of his body hair. Jarin was almost devoid of body hair.
This man's hands were both rough and strong and his body was a trunk of muscle
that excited her as he labored to satisfy himself, while she ran her hands over
his muscled back and tried to hold the sweat slippery bulges of muscle in the
arms that held her. His loins slammed against her's like the torso of a
stone sculpture, his hands pinning her shoulders to the carpeted floor.
Suddenly, without warning she felt this adventure filling her with a feeling
that was deliciously wicked, she felt her
fingernails digging into the tense bulk of his back. A cry escaped her
lips as she opened her eyes in ecstasy and found herself looking straight into
Parsis' gray eyes. The same gray eyes as Jarin's. In a mixture of
excitement, guilt and fulfillment she closed her eyes and it was Jarin's face
that filled her mind, as the grunting man who was using her joined her in her satisfaction.
it was over. The excitement was gone, replaced by a screaming cut of
guilt, salted with an instant terror that she might have caught this man's seed.
Kirene pushed him off of her, even before his gasps for breath had completed
themselves. She dressed quickly and then watched while he casually
redressed himself. They sat there in silence after that, with her cutting
off any attempt by the man to strike up any form of conversation.
driver returned not long after and without a word passed the jug of wine through
the window. Neither of them touched it as the carriage moved off and it
was still untouched when they reached their destination. As Parsis stood
to leave the coach Kirene heard herself advise the driver to remain in his seat.
The man who had just used her. . . or had she used him?. . . stood above her,
his hand on the door handle and his body bent so that his head cleared the roof
of the coach. The feeling of power came to her again as he stood there and
before he could turn the handle Kirene watched her slim ladylike hand reach up
to touch the soft bulge in his trousers.
my fine ex-slave, I have the power to accuse you and have you back in
chains." She enjoyed his immediate expression of fear, as she
slowly ran her fingers down that obvious bulge in an almost longing farewell,
I have the power to return your favors a thousand fold."
hand left him and he opened the door and stepped down, looking into her eyes
with what she would forever remember as a mixture of fear and sorrow. Then
he closed the door behind himself, the driver threw down his sack and without
any comment whatsoever, the sullen man drove her back to the palace.
Sleep came hard for Kirene that night, and for many of the nights that followed.
* * * * * *
There are none so blind as the uninformed.
stood on the balcony looking out onto Norden sound. The sun was setting
behind the mountains on the other side of this natural inlet of the great
Northern Ocean and the glass in his hand needed refilling, as Liana came out
onto the balcony with a jug.
it please you Sire, I have to tend to my son, so I will retire and leave the jug
here and you men to your talk." She said, as she first
refilled Jarin's glass and then crossed to where Perigan sat in his chair to
refill her husband's glass.
to her word she left them immediately and Perigan rose from his seat to join his
Sovereign at the small balustrade.
are a lucky man to have such a woman for your wife." Jarin
said quietly, "Make
sure you give her enough of your time, Gods know I wish I had the time to spend
more hours with my own wife."
am sure she understands." Perigan said.
am sure she does." Jarin replied, "But
that does not mean I would not rather be with her than leading an army from one
city to another every day of my life."
the treaty signed with the Church Sire, you should be able to return to Lunza
for a few weeks to see your wife and son." Perigan said,
gets cold Sire, would you join me in my study, I am sure Liana will have had a
fire set for us. I have a bottle of brandy that I have been saving for
such an august occasion as this, perhaps you would help me enjoy it?"
to and to pick your brains, if I might." Jarin replied,
leading the way into the house.
hour later the sun had set, the glasses had taken their second pull of the
bottle and the logs on the fire were in the first stages of becoming embers.
As if bothered by some great secret, Jarin rose from his chair and asked a
singular question of the apothecary, now City Officer, Perigan Marlinger.
what do you think of our situation? You were at the Kitania Conference,
you have lived within the Old System for years and you know our Cause as well as
any. What do you see of our position at this moment in History?"
The Khan was absolutely serious as he asked the question.
I have been a man of the middle for all of my life. I have had an opinion
on every change and every law that government has put me under, yet I have never
had to be part of the decision making. I feel Sire it is easy to question
anything, when one is not requested to ordain a better course."
Perigan smiled, as did his Khan before he continued, "However,
seeing as you ask my opinion, you shall have it. I see Sire that we have
been given an opportunity that makes me wonder how much the Priest of Priests
was taught in his geography lessons as a lad. We hold Araz and Mozag, with
Zikon central in the line between them. If it were I Sire I would build a
great wall from Araz to Mozag running down the western bank of the River Araz,
across the neck of land that connects it to the River Mozag and then down to
join the very walls of the City of Mozag. It would give us a border that
few Church Generals would wish to attack."
must be talking to Tamerin," Jarin smiled,
suggested the same thing and we are presently looking for someone to take on the
task. Continue my friend, but concentrate upon the administration of this
great Empire I am now expected to rule."
I believe you have the opportunity to change the very character of government
available to you at this time, however, if I might suggest what I think might be
a better way. . ." Perigan waited for a moment and was
rewarded with a nod from a suddenly more attentive Khan.
. .Well Sire, for the first time in History one Prince, if you will, rules many
Nations at the same time. In all matters Sire you are now the Prince of
all the Nations you have conquered."
What is your point?" Jarin asked.
Sire, although you are the Khan and therefore have replaced Prince Kalpon of his
rights here in Norden, you have in fact chosen to rule much in the way that the
Priest of Priests rules the Nations under his control. Put bluntly Sire,
my office quite closely resembles the authority of those that served the Princes
of Norden of the past."
are you getting at Perigan? Speak freely my friend, you have my trust and
I want answers, not politeness in this matter."
is only one way to explain my concept Sire that I can think of. . ."
Perigan continued, "Let
us say you build that wall from the City of Araz to the City of Mozag and the
situation we have were to last a hundred years. Then you could look at
North Eastern Khanlar much the way I look at the Nation of Norden. Lunza
is to you, what the City of Norden is to me. The Nations under your
control are therefore like the towns, villages and hamlets under mine. In
other words Sire, if I were you I would wipe away the borders between the
Nations you rule and see the lands you control as one Nation, whole and unto
itself, controlling all of the cities, towns, villages, hamlets and holdings as
I do here in the Nation of Norden. Establish a Nation of Khanlar without
borders or other Nations within it."
the ways of a millennium? The people see themselves as Nordenese or
Lunzans, Karianese or Vanzorians, they might not like being denied their
birthright my friend?" Jarin however was obviously wondering
on what the older man had said even as he questioned it.
it has worked within you Army, it will work within your realm. The only
reason for Nations has been the need for the Church to play one Prince against
another and for the Princes themselves to protect and preserve what they
consider their birthright and property. It is all a matter of property and
feudalism my Lord. Well now the property is yours and the people's loyalty
is to a common cause." Perigan smiled and continued, "It
will be simple to implement also Sire, for we merely need expand the concept of
ruling one Nation to ruling one land. As I have my town and village
officers, you would merely add City Officers to that administration and above
them would be the Khanlarian Administration as today the Norden Administration
rules this place."
conversation might have gone on for hours, but an officer came to summon Jarin,
the hour being after midnight. Gathering up his cloak, Jarin headed for
the door accompanied by Perigan.
know Perigan, you have a valid argument. I will not forget it, in fact I
will have my Council begin considering it at once."
you Sire, you honor me." Perigan bowed.
my friend, you have honored me with your hospitality and your advice."
Jarin smiled as he waved at the mounted guard awaiting him in the courtyard of
Perigan's home. "Now
however my nursemaids await me. I never thought years ago that there would
be so many people who would like to see me dead as there are today my friend.
Bid thy wife my grateful thanks and best wishes Perigan. Mind her well, I
meant what I said when I told you you were a lucky man, make sure you look after
"I shall Sire. And I trust we shall be able to welcome you again soon." And with that the visit ended and yet an hour later Perigan still paced his study.
* * * * * *
The Treaty of Kitania
Treaty of Kitania was unique in Khanlar's History, in that never before had two
opponents sat down and decided to live with each other, before one of the
parties had been humiliated and totally defeated in the field of battle.
At no time during the Great War between the Asigan Alliance and the Church, had
either party called for a conference that might allow them to live together in
peace, not only that, but it had never even been contemplated by either side to
even suggest it.
coup, of bringing together the Khan and the Priest of Priests, had therefore
been a first in every meaning of the word and so both sides had seen to it that
every line, every word, of the treaty was observed, in public if not in private.
It was true that both men secretly sought the destruction of the other, but they
also feared the very real observations of General Toragor, that if they did not
live together in peace, at least for the moment, then the most probable
alternative was wide spread anarchy, where both of them would lose what they
it was that the great armies of both sides took up a duel personality in their
actions after the Conference of Kitania. Training for war increased in
both camps, just as closing the border between them and keeping the peace were
made the first order of the day. The Church built new forts and increased
patrols along the border, even as the Khan's forces built a great wall from the
northern coast all the way to the Lake Asiga. Patrol boats of both sides
sailed at regular intervals along the Eastern Waterway, keeping well apart from
each other and to their own side of that great thoroughfare, but always present
to prevent illegal crossings by the citizens of either side.
and cross border travel of any kind, all but ceased, except for the clandestine
crossings made by refugees and criminals and slaves fleeing their bondage in
Church lands, while diplomatic exchange reduced with every month. Families
were torn apart and the everyday lives of the citizens of Khanlar were disrupted
for awhile, while the two sides adjusted to the political and therefore
Once the political separation was achieved, both sides began preparing for war with the appetite of two young boys trying to see who could eat the most at a friend's birthday party. In a mood that could only be compared to a frenzy. Both the Church and the Brotherhood worked from dawn to dusk and sometimes longer, up-grading roads and defenses, forging weapons and training armies, as they sought to out-pace each other in the inevitable journey towards the War to end all Wars.
* * * * * * *
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