Alassa’s Tale–Snippet II

3 Nov

Just a treat for the readers …

Prologue

King Randor had, as far as anyone outside a very small group of trusted counsellors knew, three reception chambers in his castle. There was the Great Hall, where the monarch might address the court or hold formal events; there was the Privy Chamber, where the Privy Council met and talked; there was the King’s Bedchamber, where the king’s most intimate associates – or those the king wanted to favour – were invited for private discussions. A watching courtier could tell who was in favour and who was being frozen out, or who had influence over the king, simply by determining where the king chose to meet them. A man who was invited to the Privy Chamber was a man to watch.

There were two other reception chambers, protected by a combination of subtle magic, powerful wards and simple misdirection. The Royal Chamber was reserved for the Royal Family and the king’s most trusted counsellors, it’s mere existence known to a select few. The other – the Black Chamber – belonged to the spies. Only a handful of the king’s agents knew of the chamber – or how to use the secret passages to enter without being detected – and none of them could step into the castle itself without Randor’s permission.

The chamber itself was surprisingly bare, for all that it belonged to the king. Randor sat in a large chair, rather than a throne, and sipped from a glass of wine he’d poured himself. Dust hung in the air, a mocking reminder that the chamber hadn’t been cleaned for nearly a year. It would soon be time to bring a maid in to do the work, then execute the poor girl and dispose of her body somewhere in the catacombs. Randor had balked when his father had shown him the chamber, back when he’d been on the verge of ascending to the throne, but he’d long since lost any doubts about the practice. Secrets had to be maintained, whatever the cost in blood and treasure. And it was never safe to know the secrets of a king.

He took a sip of his wine as he brooded. He’d been king for nearly thirty years, yet he was on the verge of losing his grip on the kingdom. The barons were rebellious, the common folk were revolting … and he couldn’t trust even his own family! His brother was an enchanted fool, locked up for his own safety; his daughter was an ambitious bitch, moving steadily to secure more and more power for herself. It didn’t really surprise him – Alassa was his daughter, after all, and it hadn’t been that long since Randor had fought for scraps of power from his father – but it worried him. A conflict between the royals could easily lead to outright civil war as the barons sought to take advantage of the chaos.

And the more I restrict her, he thought grimly, the more likely it is that she will rebel.

He stroked his beard, cursing his own mistakes under his breath. He’d banked everything on getting a son, a legitimate heir. Even if the baby boy had been four or five years younger than Alassa, there would have been plenty of time to raise him to be a king and teach Alassa that her duty lay in supporting her brother. Alassa was a competent sorceress, after all. And if you couldn’t trust your own flesh and blood, who could you trust? They would have made a great partnership … but it had never come to pass. Alassa had been his only child – she was still his only legitimate child – until well after he’d been forced to confirm her as his primary heir. And then …

The irony was enough to make him wonder if he’d offended one of the gods. He’d seduced Alicia – the sole surviving heir to the Barony of Gold – as an act of revenge against her dead father more than anything else. The pleasure he’d got from making her crawl had been amusing, all the more so because he knew her father would be screaming curses from the traitor’s grave. But Alicia had become pregnant and given birth to a handsome baby boy, fifteen years too late. Randor ground his teeth every time he thought about it. There was no way he could put Alassa aside, not now, without sparking outright revolution. And Alassa would be a formidable foe.

He took another sip of his wine. His father had had no trouble controlling Randor, but Randor had never been in any doubt that he would succeed his father. He’d undergone an apprenticeship under a harsh taskmaster, a father who had never hesitated to box his ears for mistakes or failure. But King Alexis the Great had understood Prince Randor because he’d been a young man, once upon a time. Randor hadn’t had that advantage with his daughter. In hindsight, he knew he should have treated Alassa as his heir from birth. But he’d squandered the opportunity in his desperate bid for a son.

And Alassa has some of the most powerful people in the world on her side, Randor thought, grimly. And she has time on her side.

The room felt colder, suddenly. He still shivered when he remembered Emily breaking out of his wards, even though a dozen wardcrafters had sworn blind they were unbreakable. Randor had had the men executed afterwards, more to assuage his fear than anything else. Emily could have killed him in that moment and he knew it. And he was sure she knew it too.

If I’d known how many changes she would bring, I would have had her killed, he told himself, again. A girl from an alternate world … if it hadn’t been Alassa who’d told him, he wouldn’t have believed it. But it’s too late now.

He looked at the simple wooden table, wondering if he had the time to watch his son grow to manhood. It would be good to have another heir, given that Alassa and Jade had yet to produce a child of their own. And then … who knew?

But he doubted the barons would give him that time. He’d banned private armies, after the coup attempt six years ago, but he knew the barons were secretly building up their forces in preparation for a war. They knew, as well as he did, that it was only a matter of time before hostilities broke out, once again. And the commoners were arming too. He knew that revolutionary groups were spreading, despite his best efforts. Recruiting sergeants had been attacked, tax collectors had been brutally murdered, priests who proclaimed the divine right of kings and noblemen had been driven from their temples … chaos was spreading, no matter what he did.

And Alassa … who knew what Alassa would do?

She had options, Randor acknowledged. And a very good reason to want to seize power before Alexis – Alicia’s child – grew up. And if she chose to side with the barons or one of the revolutionary movements … why not? That was precisely what Randor’s own father had done, when he’d assumed the throne. He’d played the barons off against the commoners and, in doing so, had taken control of the kingdom. Why would Alassa not do the same? She was a girl, just as Prince Alexis had been a fop who loved to play with soldiers. It would be easy for Alassa’s allies to underestimate her until they felt the knife at their throats …

The wards shifted, slightly. Randor tensed as he sensed his visitor walking up the hidden passageway, their presence muffled by the wards. The doorway opened a second later, allowing a cloaked figure to step into the chamber. She threw back her hood, revealing a pale face topped with inky black hair. Her dark eyes were wide with surprise.

“Your Majesty!”

She went down on one knee, hastily. Randor concealed his amusement behind his beard. Sir Xavier hadn’t told her she would be meeting the king, then. But the report from the Black Daggers had been clear. This was a report Randor had to hear.

“You may rise,” he said. He reached out with his senses, using the wards to get a better impression of his visitor. A magician … a powerful magician. She was masking well, hiding her power behind her wards, but that in itself was revealing. She might well be strong enough to face a combat sorcerer. “I understand that you have a report for me.”

“I do,” the girl said. She looked around twenty-five, although appearances could be deceiving. “I am Lynnette … Your Majesty … I discovered …”

“There’s no one here to hear us,” Randor said, dryly. There was no reason to take official notice of her stumbles. “You may speak freely.”

“I discovered treason, Your Majesty,” Lynnette said. “Treason most foul.”

Randor tensed. One hand reached for the sword at his belt. “Explain.”

“I must distress you,” Lynnette said. “I …”

“Then distress me,” Randor snapped, impatiently.

“I was tracing the remnants of the plotters who attacked the wedding, last year,” Lynnette said. “Sir Xavier tasked me with finding out who backed them.”

Randor nodded, slowly. The plotters – who’d come within millimetres of killing both Randor and Alassa – had been slaughtered. But someone had backed them, someone powerful. And that person had remained unidentified.

“It was Paren who supplied the funds,” Lynnette told him. “And the Lady Emily knew.”

It took Randor a moment to understand what she’d said. Paren? Paren the merchant? Paren the man Randor had lifted into the aristocracy? Paren the man whose daughter was one of Alassa’s closest friends and advisers? Paren …

A hot flash of anger roared through him. He believed it. Paren had means, motive and opportunity. And his daughter … his daughter was far too close to Alassa. Imaiqah had to know, which meant …

And Emily knew, he thought, angrily. His thoughts spun from side to side. He needed time to think. And she said nothing.

He looked up into two dark eyes. “Do you have proof?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Lynnette said. She recovered a set of papers from her bag. “Emily knew. And I believe that Lady Imaiqah knew too.”

Randor nodded, impatiently. Paren would not have left his daughter out of the planning, not when she’d been organising the wedding. Smuggling weapons into the ceremony would have been easy – had been easy – with Imaiqah’s connivance. And that meant … either Imaiqah had cold-bloodedly plotted the murder of her friend or she’d intended Alassa to take the throne after Randor’s death. And then … did Alassa know? Had she plotted to turn her wedding into a patricide?

And I let Imaiqah go to Cockatrice, he thought. What is she doing there?

He cursed. He’d have to act fast, but that wouldn’t be easy. Alassa had been sent off on a diplomatic trip, but she’d be back soon. Too many things would have to be set in motion before Alassa returned to the castle. And then …

If Alassa was ignorant, this will teach her a lesson, he thought. Trust was not something to be used in great quantities. And if she’s guilty … I still have a son.

His thoughts hardened. And I will hand the kingdom over to him if Alassa plotted to kill me.

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39 Responses to “Alassa’s Tale–Snippet II”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    Lynnette? Now why do I get the idea that we also know her as Nanette? 😉

  2. G November 3, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

    Wonderful scene!! But if Randor is as sophisticated as he’s portrayed, and he knows the magician is powerful, shouldn’t he be a little more suspicious that he’s being played?? After all, the easiest way for the Barons to take over is to foment conflict within the royal family…you might want to show him looking at the evidence, and planning to double check its authenticity…

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

      IMO Lynnette is “playing” Randor but she isn’t working for the Barons or anybody else in the kingdom.

      • G November 4, 2017 at 4:58 am #

        Lynette might well be Nanette–but Randor as a King should still be used to people trying to play him against others–medieval politics was ruthless…Interestingly, Randor acknowleges that Emily could have killed him if she wanted to in Wedding Hells–so he should know she’s not his enemy or he’d already be dead…

      • Pyo November 4, 2017 at 10:50 am #

        Yeah … I don’t find this very convincing. Unless Randor is already so far gone into some type of paranoid-delusional state that he’s not acting rational anymore this is too plot-convenient and not enough believable :/

  3. Jared November 4, 2017 at 12:25 am #

    O my!!!!!!

  4. PhilippeO November 4, 2017 at 2:54 am #

    Very Interesting !

  5. Puffin Muffin November 4, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

    Very interesting. I’m assuming this ties in somehow with the main story sequence?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 4, 2017 at 8:15 pm #

      Yes.

      Emily will be involved in the situation in the sequel to Graduation Day.

      • chrishanger November 5, 2017 at 9:31 am #

        Yep

        Chris

      • G November 9, 2017 at 5:41 am #

        Any chance of seeing Cloak talking about Emily with the Star Council (from the School of Hard Knocks) again??

  6. Wazman November 4, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    This is a unsettling revelation that the King now thinks that Pern’s daughter was involved with the failed coup. Just like Freida I find Imaqiah a interesting character and find myself worried about her possible fate. Would it be reasonable observation that Randor might even be a little afraid of Emily, and perhaps hesitant to attack her friends or herself directly.

    Ever since Alyassa and Imaqiah completed their fourth year at Whitehall and thus figuratively abandoning her at school. She has on more than one occasion worried about drifting apart from her closest friends. Could her very definition of what marks friendship be colored by coming from a different world. And do either Alyassa or Imaqiah feel the same as Emily about growing apart.

  7. Mark November 5, 2017 at 2:37 am #

    IMO, author is setting stage possibly for Alassa to bring about an end to Zangaria’s political mess, possibly over her Father’s dead body, and most of the nobility as well.

    • Wazman November 5, 2017 at 3:02 am #

      Hopefully since this story will be from Alassa’s POV we could catch a glimpse of how she has grasped how different her world is from Emily’s (ie from sharing Emily’s memories as well as the wedding present with the different governmental systems)

      Plus having a demon rampaging through her mind must of left some long lasting scars that she would imo keep to herself

      • Jared November 10, 2017 at 6:53 am #

        When did a demon rampage through Alassa’s mind?

      • Stephen Hullott November 10, 2017 at 9:16 am #

        Jared, the demon was in Alassa’s and other students minds in SIM 7 – ‘Trial by Fire’

  8. Stephen Hullott November 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    I wonder if this is where another of the demon in the School of Hard Knocks proficys comes true and one (or more) of Emily’s friends dies?

  9. Ann November 6, 2017 at 3:50 am #

    The papers will be forgeries if they implicate Emily in the plot as she wasn’t. She was involved in a cover-up but there will be no paperwork about that.
    Rangor will be a fool if he trusts a single source of evidence against his daughter or Emily and he will lose control of at least Cockatrice and Sweinhaven if he moves against the supposed plotters and lose his court magician. As he killed his wardcrafters that may not have been as useful as it seemed. New wardcrafters should be curious about who went before them..If no new wardcrafters then he has bigger trouble.

    • allyk November 6, 2017 at 4:32 am #

      > Rangor will be a fool if he trusts a single source of evidence against his daughter

      all he needs to do is ask her since she can’t lie to him

  10. Ann November 6, 2017 at 4:35 am #

    As he knew the woman was a magician he should’ve asked her to give an oath that all that she had said and brought was true to the best of her knowledge

    • allyk November 6, 2017 at 6:11 am #

      her accusations were true

      Paren supplied the funds and Lady Emily knew (after the fact)

      • G November 7, 2017 at 7:28 am #

        But 1.) Alassa herself was shot (hardly likely if she was plotting against her father; and 2.) Emily did not harm King Randor when she could have killed him–so the idea they are plotting against him makes no sense…

      • chrishanger November 7, 2017 at 8:48 am #

        That’s the problem. Emily kept her mouth shut at what was (to Randor) the worst possible time.

        Chris

  11. allyk November 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

    i really dislike misunderstanding/miscommunication stories so I hope it doesn’t go there. A simple chat with Emily and a truth spell on Imaiqah should be able to get them past this point. Then we can get to Alassa trying to save the kingdom or something.

  12. MAD-ness November 6, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

    I think it was always going to have to end with Randor being overthrown by Alassa.

    His lust for power and control simply doesn’t allow for him to play nice with others, including those who would otherwise be loyal to him if he did not force them to become enemies. People like Paren, Emily, Imaiquah and Alassa.

  13. allyk November 7, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Yes, he’ll ask Alassa as soon as she returns, so that will be settled quickly.

    However it’s possible Emily might have wanted him dead but also wanted to avoid blame. Thus she could have been involved in the plot yet refused to take direct action

    One of Emily’s original concerns was that he’d execute all of Parens’ family because reasons. So there might not even be any misunderstanding involved. Plot to kill the king? Your entire family dies.

    If Randor tries to/succeeds in execute Imaiqah on such a basis, I can see Emily reacting . . . poorly

    • allyk November 7, 2017 at 8:29 am #

      (that was intended to be in response to G above)

  14. William Ameling November 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

    This may cancel my idea of an arranged marriage between Imaiquah and Sir Roger, by King Randor. Unless the proposal for the arranged marriage has already happened.

    • Jared November 7, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

      When did This happen? I don’t remember reading about this

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 7, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

        At the end of “The Sergeant’s Apprentice”, we hear King Randor talking to Sir Roger about arranging a marriage for Sir Roger.

        There’s no mention of who Randor wants Sir Roger to marry but William is thinking that Randor wants Sir Roger to marry Imaiquah.

      • Jared November 7, 2017 at 11:50 pm #

        I see,

      • Jared November 7, 2017 at 11:50 pm #

        I see,

      • chrishanger November 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

        It was one of the possible options, yes.

        Chris

  15. Kell November 10, 2017 at 6:09 am #

    I kind of feel like randor is jumping for an excuse no matter how small to go against or weaken Alassa. A young boy he can control but not alassa he basically has no one other then his armies who might not follow him. I would lime to see more of imique of all of emilies friends she gets the shaft the most. Hardly any screen time.

    • Jared November 10, 2017 at 6:51 am #

      It would be nice to see some stuff from Imaiqahs perspective. Let’s hope she lives through Alassa’s Tale.

  16. Jared November 10, 2017 at 8:58 am #

    I noticed that Randor killed the ward crafters for the WH incident with Emily. It’s interesting that he doesn’t admit that it was his lack of power and control that was the problem.

    • Stephen Hullott November 10, 2017 at 9:22 am #

      Royal infallibility!

  17. Jared November 10, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    Wow that was a glaring error on my part. Lol

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