The Red Prince (ch. 3) by Acton Bell

(Page 1 of 5)

Rate this Story (5 best)

 

They came to the walled city and entered therein. And the people of the city were sore afraid. For Ur-lar who had called himself king was slain and none knew what to do. Many were the followers of Ur-lar who threw themselves upon the sword or flung themselves from the wall of the city for fear of the wrath of the true queen Nezlara. And the carrion birds did feast well on the remains of these.
Many there were who came to Nezlara saying, "Greatly do we rejoice at your return, O True Queen of Iazyges."
To those Nezlara said, "Rejoice not. For my return should have also been yours. But instead of sharing my flight you remained to serve the traitor Ur-lar."
And they said, "Have mercy, Great Queen!"
And Nezlara said, "I have none."
Then Nezlara cast them forth from Iazyges without arms, or bread or water, saying, "Aid not these traitorous jackals. For none did offer help to me when I walked through the dry places. And he who gives arms or bread or water to one of these cursed ones shall forfeit his own life." And none did succor those that Nezlara sent forth. (Of those that were cast forth, some were slain by bandits, some were slain by the beasts of the land, and some were slain by hunger and thirst. But of those that Nezlara cast forth from Iazyges, none survived.)
Then did Nezlara summon Blood and Pothos before her saying, "You have brought me safely to my throne. Now would I reward you. Ask of me what you will."
Blood said to her, "We have but done our duty to the Man of the Mountain. We ask no more than that."
Nezlara's pride was sorely pricked that Blood had turned back her generosity, and her heart burned within her to humble him and possess him.
Then said Nezlara, Queen of Iazyges, "Let a great feast be prepared in celebration of our victory over Ur-lar the usurper. And let Blood and Pothos join with us that they might share in our joy."
The storerooms of Iazyges were ransacked that the richest of feasts might be had. (And the people of Iazyges grumbled for they had no grain to feed their stomachs. But they spoke low for fear of Nezlara.)
Great quantities of wine were served to the guests of Nezlara. It was a heavy wine to dull the senses and Nezlara and her guests drank deeply of it. But Blood drank only water and his senses were his own.
When the hour was late, Nezlara called Blood to her and said, "The heat has grown oppressive. Step into the garden with me that I might cool my blood and stay by my side that none may accost me."
And Blood did as she bade.
Pothos say Nezlara lead Blood from the feast and he followed. But he kept to the shadows that they might not know he followed.
The garden of the palace was a place of shaded paths, small islands, and flowing streams. Nezlara led Blood to the center of the garden whereat there was an island, and on this island was a pavilion enclosed with silken draperies. And Nezlara led Blood into the pavilion.
"Come," said Nezlara, and she removed the veils from her body and stood without covering in the pavilion of silken draperies.

Next Page