In the previous episode, Gremlaw and his family were at a dinner hosted by Emperor Laz-Tuin-Kavash who offered them an escort back to Trathlain, which readers voted they accept.
“Marshi!” Neevis cried out as the pale Lavashian hobbled slowly into the plush tent Gremlaw had been appointed. The magician’s skin was as pale as fish bellies and she looked as if she had aged years since they saw her last.
Camped only a few miles from the vast tent-city in which the Lost Ancestors had set themselves up, the Lavashian army was systematically cutting off all supply routes to their enemy before their final destruction was brought upon them.
“Greetings to you all,” Mar-Tshi-Srin spoke in a breathless half-whisper and was leaning heavily on a guard. Gremlaw jumped to her side and assisted her to a stack of cushions Huleta prepared, “I must apologize for my appearance, she was more powerful than I could imagine.”
“How are you?” Gremlaw asked, ignoring the reference to Zhul-Quin. Mar-Tshi-Srin flashed a tiny smile,
“I will recover, eventually.” Her eyes became deadly serious, “It was all her, Gremlaw,” she added, “I saw inside her smashed mind while we fought. Her father, Zha-Quin, had plans to poison off the Imperial family and usurp the Imperial throne. When you caused that to fail and he was executed, she went mad. Although she managed to bring the Lost Ancestor tribes together and unite them under her banner, her only goal was revenge against you.”
“When her palace spies sent word you might become the Trathlainian ambassador, she hatched the plan to kidnap Huleta and Neevis,” Mar-Tshi-Srin trailed off, panting to breathe. Gremlaw remained silent while Huleta and Neevis looked at each other.
“Ah! Gremlaw!” Laz-Tuin-Kavash shouted as the Trathlainians entered his pavilion that evening. “Good to see you once more!” He waved them in, seating them around the low table, “How does Imperial hospitality compare to that of Royalty?”
“Most favorably, majesty,” Gremlaw replied. The Emperor laughed,
“Ha! I am sure you would tell Lormenio the same thing,” Laz-Tuin-Kavash pointed a finger at the other man, “A born politician!” He announced, “But what is troubling you? I can see it in your face.”
Gremlaw took a deep breath before asking,
“What’s going to happen to Zhul-Quin?” The Emperor’s face fell. He speared a piece of meat and chewed thoughtfully.
“Zhul-Quin,” he drew her name out slowly, “Is a valuable commodity, and will be returning to the palace with me.” The Emperor’s entire demeanor had changed to one of hostility towards his guests. “Leave me now,” he ordered shortly.
Gremlaw felt white-hot rage and apathy well up inside him simultaneously. He knew, without being told, Zhul-Quin would be used to breed more magicians in exactly the same way Mar-Tshi-Srin’s mother, Mi-Zhu-Quan, had been.
Nothing had really changed, he concluded. After everything he and his family had been put through, it was as if the old Emperor still held the throne.
Gremlaw stood and faced Laz-Tuin-Kavash. Could the death of one man make much difference? For that matter, can one man make a difference? Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.