The Betrayal, Volume 1

“So, my love,” he said with a grin as they snuggled in bed, with their infant son between them, “how does it feel to have the most beautiful child in the world?”

With a scent of roses, Nismala’s favorite, in the air, the bed of imported silk and lace made a stark contrast to the tapestries and austere decorations of the rest of the plain, militaristic keep that doubled as the royal palace of the new nation of Ravannah.

“Hmm, I don’t know,” she said with a big yawn that was quickly replaced with that mischievous smile that he had fallen in love with. “How does it feel to have the most beautiful wife in the world?”

Mishtar was about to reply when he heard a soft knock at the door to their bedchamber. Hearing a hesitant knock at the door, Mishtar deduced it could only be their new serving girl, Kari, with their breakfast. Not wanting to be seen in only his smallclothes, Mishtar hurriedly dressed and answered the door. Giving her customary greeting, which his wife Nismala swears is “My Lord” though all he hears is a sort of squeak, Kari set out the meal on their small but beautifully carved and gilded table. Rubbing his hands together at the sight of roasted venison and some sort of porridge, Mishtar was about to sit down when another arrival interrupted him with a low grunt.

“Excuse me your highness,” Joffrey said with a perfect bow, “but you are needed immediately in your audience chamber. I believe the council would like a word with you.”

“I don’t suppose this is something that can wait till after breakfast is it, Joffrey?” He said with a sigh.

“No, my lord, they were quite insistent,” Joffrey said with exactly the proper amount of regret evident in his voice. Joffrey always did everything exactly as it was supposed to be done, which is why he was such an excellent steward and ran the castle with ruthless efficiency.

Buckling on his armor and sword which were never far from hand, Mishtar said a quick goodbye to his wife and son and went to his audience with the council.

Walking to the grand double doors of the audience chamber, Mishtar waited for the herald to announce him before he entered. The great audience hall was a massive room made entirely out of jet black marble imported from the mountains to the north bordering the great desert. Huge columns lined either side of the hall with a large dais at the end which held the throne of Ravannah, carved simply out of the marble and gilded with images of swords and knights with Mishtar’s symbol, the two-handed sword, most prominent. Entering the room he noted that several of the council members were not present. Though odd, it seemed he had more pressing matters to attend to as he saw that every council member was wearing their full ceremonial regalia as they would at notable events such as state banquets and full trials. Seating himself on the throne, Mishtar steeled himself for what he thought would be a lengthy discussion.

“So, what was so important it couldn’t wait until after breakfast?” Mishtar said, the corner of his mouth curling in slight distaste. “I don’t suppose the raids have started again?” He hated dealing with the council members, especially the seven in front of him. They were the former rulers of the city before he came and were not pleased at his take-over three years previously though they had served loyally since he had gotten their pledge. He had kept them on to solidify his base of power and to stop a majority of what would have been a bloody conflict within the chaotic city. His orderly and militaristic ways brought peace to a city that had been rife with crime and murder and as such they were unable to do much to sway the people from Mishtar, the popular leader from the north.

“Our apologies, my lord,” said Kalish, “but there have been some problems we have been discussing that we would like for you to know about.” Kalish had been the last to swear allegiance to Mishtar and the most powerful of the council. It was widely known that he was one of the leaders in the succession for the crown before Mishtar claimed it for his own.

“Forgive me my lord but it seems that we have uncovered a plot to assassinate you and your family,” Kalish said gravely. “The thieves’ guild has apparently been hired out by some notable members of the city and you and your family are in grave danger.” Kalish wrung his hands while he was speaking and seemed genuinely afraid. Mishtar also noted a slight sheen of sweat upon his brow and absently thought it odd because it was quite cool in the large chamber.

“Do you know who these brigands are that would do such a thing?” Mishtar asked, his voice quaking in anger at the thought of someone harming his beloved wife and son. “Why have they not been rounded up and taken to the prison?”

The council members looked at each other and Kalish had that oily smile on his face that Mishtar had always found disconcerting. “Because my lord,” Kalish said, “I am not very found of prison cells.”

“What have you done, Kalish?” Mishtar said, his voice fearful for his wife and son. A large group of archers dressed in guard uniforms, no longer hidden in the shadows of the chamber, stepped out from behind the large columns, their arrows pointed at their lord’s heart.

“You see, my lord,” Kalish said in a bored tone, “my god has plans for this city. His herald is coming and I must prepare the way.”

Some of the archers turned and pointed their arrows at the council members. One of them, stepped forward and said, “No Kalish, we think this is too good of an opportunity to leave for you. As such, our bargain is ended; we are taking Ravannah for ourselves.”

“You fool,” Kalish said, ignoring the archers, “did you really think I was going to come in here with only you for protection?” Several dozen soldiers rushed into the room and charged the archers. Some of the archers loosed their arrows at the council members striking several of them who fell heavily, while the others turned and battled with the soldiers.

Thinking only for his wife and son, Mishtar charged through the melee, sweeping assassins and soldiers aside alike with huge swings from his sword. Quickly getting through, Mishtar ran down the corridors where full out battle had erupted. It seemed that the entire thieves’ guild, along with half of the standing army of Ravannah, were fighting in the halls. Looking out a window as he went by, Mishtars heart fell. The city that he had tried to create was now going up in flames. He had failed in his duties as Lord of Ravannah; he only now hoped he would not be too late in his duties as a husband and father. There was fighting in the streets and chaos reigned. Pushing that thought out of his head Mishtar ran the steps up to his bed chamber and through open the door.

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