The Savage King(4)

By: Michelle M. Pillow

"Oh, I'll take pleasure breaking you in, briallen. You'll make a nice little addition to my

harem. If you're lucky, I might even breed you," the King laughed harder, prompting his

men to do the same. The beefy shoulder beneath her stomach jolted with movement. Her

hands tingled from the tightness of the binds.

One of the warriors handed the King a loincloth and he wrapped it around his waist,

leaving his chest bare. With a look of severe consideration, the King didn't take his eyes

from her, as he ordered his men, "If she gives you any problems, throw her in the

dungeons until I return. I'll be more than willing to teach her the Var penalty for defying

the King's order."

Ulyssa grunted against her gag, glaring and cussing at her captors until her face turned

red. Attor leaned over and plucked a green plant with a yellow center from the ground.

Squeezing it between his fingers, he rubbed the pollen beneath her nose. Instantly, her eyes

darkened. She fell completely limp, fast asleep.

* * * *

One week later

"We can't make peace with the Draig! They're our enemies!"

At the sound of his brother's hard voice, Prince Kirill of the Var looked up from where

he'd been studying his hands. The stresses of the last several days lined his eyes--eyes that

were so dark a brown they were often mistaken for black. He held still, not moving from

the chair he rested in.

The old council hall was empty, except for Kirill and three of his brothers. Deep set,

antique, cushioned chairs were set around a large, intricately carved fireplace. A fire

burned brightly, giving the tomblike room light and warmth. Long pillows lined the redcarpeted floor. There were no windows in the old section of the castle, not even a little

slit. As young boys, they had made the room their private fort. Now that they were older,

they still convened there to relax and talk in private. The air was stuffy and unmoving, but

the four Princes were too preoccupied to notice such things.

Falke, the Commander of the Guards, sat to Kirill's left. His stiff body was unmoving in its

rigid discipline. Falke commanded the warriors at the castle and was in charge of the

military. After a half century of command, he'd become hard and unforgiving.

Falke's counterpart and their younger brother, Reid, was Commander of the Outlands.

Reid spent his days away from the palace, watching over the northern borders. Reid had a

twin brother, Jarek, whom they hadn't heard from in some time. Jarek was off gallivanting

around the galaxies. The twins were the only Princes with the same mother.

On the floor lounged Quinn, the youngest and sleekest of the Princes. His smaller stature

had come in handy on many occasions. As boys, they'd fit him into tight spaces, making

him the lookout or spy, depending on what mischief they were about.

"At least let us convene the old houses and vote!" Falke continued in his forbidding tone,

breaking into Kirill's contemplation. Kirill took a deep breath. He couldn't blame Falke for

his anger. The Commander had seen many battles with the Draig warriors and thus had

seen the most Var deaths.

"And you, Quinn?" Kirill asked.

"I see the merit of both war and peace," Quinn answered in his quiet voice.

"Some ambassador you are," Reid laughed, throwing the cushion from behind his back to

where Quinn lay on the floor. Quinn grinned and tucked the cushion behind his head to

replace his folded arms.

Falke directed a frown to Kirill at the banter, his eyes begging for order. "I'll send more

guards to the Outlands. We should make sure the borders are well guarded. If there is to

be a battle, let it be away from our city."

Reid nodded. His smile faded slightly from his tanned features. "That would be wise.

There has been no trouble in the shadowed marshes, not since father tried to kidnap Prince

Yusef's bride."

At the mention to King Attor, the Princes grew silent. Their father had no love of the

Draig and each knew he'd been the main cause of war in the past. Solemn eyes turned to

the fire, as each Prince remembered watching their father's body burn at the burial rite.

Attor had not been a loving man, but he was still their father. They were royalty and

royalty had no time for love or weaknesses. As the late King was fond of saying,

Kingdoms are only as strong as their rulers. The Draig are weak. The Var Empire will rise


"Have you contacted Jarek and told him?" Kirill asked Reid.

"No, but I have sent messages through secure lines. It's hard to tell where he has gone off

to. Last I heard he was on Tragon, but that was about six months ago." Reid shrugged.

Then, to break the somber mood, he teased, "So brother, when you're crowned King, will

you be keeping the lovely women in the harem for yourself?"

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