Around 3 in the morning, as I was preparing for bed, these lines came to mind, and played out as if they were a movie. I don’t know what will become of the rest of this tale, but what I see beyond what is written below could possibly be a full length novel. The characters and their “character” must first shed a bit more light before I can really move forward. Until then, here is what I imagined.
* * *
“His name is Lucien. He is of the Carnastrier Circle.” Urtha’s lips formed a grim line, the tone of his voice grave.
“Yes, Ma’am. I know this is not what was expected, but he was the only male.”
Her eyes stared at the man, Lucien, before connecting again with the one to whom she spoke. “No, no he being a of Carnastrian blood, is-is better than expected, much better.” She bobbed her head, saying the words as if they were meant to convince herself more than her attendant. Really she was feeling suddenly more terrified of her circumstance than before.
Carnastrians where a vicious lot. Only fools played at war or offense with them. Ardice had now desire for war…with anyone especially not this man.
Urtha touched her arm, his brow creased with worry. “Are you sure about this, absolutely sure? It may be best I dispatch him now while he sleeps. His kind are dangerous.” He studied Ardice’s eyes, probing them as if he could see through their dark depths, hoping to uncover any inkling of doubt within her. He found none.
“What other choice do we have, Urtha?” Urhta’s brow creased deeper at her question. That was not the response he wanted. “Yes I am sure.” Ardice finally said, much too sharply, nearly wakening her slumbering prisoner, the man called Lucien, the one she had purchased at a hefty price.
“The seller, you took...care of him didn’t you? He won’t be able to claim our purchase of this man?” She hated to think that Urtha had killed the slave trader. She hoped that payment was enough to keep things hush. But slaver’s, especially from Estivall were not to be trusted. Just as they bought and sold humans, so to could their lips be bought and sold.
Urtha removed his hand from his mistress’s arm. “I purchased him out of Dureth, far from this system. The seller was blind, mostly deaf. He only dealt in the sale of female slaves, but had come across this man. His other slaves had found his ship. It was completely destroyed. They all thought he was dead, none could tell that he was breathing. He didn’t even know he was Carnastrian.”
Ardice swallowed the dryness in her throat. “So how did you acquire him if they believed he was dead?”
“The Carnastrier ship wreckage, I purchased it. As part of the deal I had to take the body, or in this case your groom-to-be.” He shook his head and handed Ardice the purse still brimming with coin. “In case you did not know, the people of Dureth are very superstitious when it comes to the dead. He almost paid me to take the ship just to be rid of his ghost and the bad omen attached to him.” He cocked an eyebrow. The implications he was making about Lucien being a bad omen went without direct words.
Ardice scowled and turned to walk away. There was no other way around this. She needed a King to stand at her side when the Yidives came to negotiate their terms. They would not negotiate any peace with a woman. No king would mean surrendered to them, and Ardice would not surrender. She would secure her empire at all cost, even if that meant using a decoy as her groom, even if the decoy was Carnastrian.
Her head began to pound. Danger on every side! She thought. “Get him cleaned up and secured,”
Urtha cut into her path. “There is no guarantee this will work. It is not likely he will comply. It is more likely we will have a nasty fight on our hands, a war of one. He is Carnastrian-”
“All the better that he is Carnastrian! They are much feared and greatly respected. All the better…” Was it all the better? The more Urtha mentioned the slumbering man’s origins, the more chill flushed through Ardice’s blood and bones.
“But what if he-”
“Just tend to him, Urtha! Find out what you can from his ship logs, and leave the politics to me. Maybe we can bribe him with whatever you find. This will work…it has to.” She prayed it would work.
* * *
So that is it! A desperate queen, willing to do anything to secure her lands from the misogynistic Yidives, ends up holding a very dangerous man at her side. We shall have to see what happens when Lucien awakes, when we find out more about the man he is, what is so terrifying about his people, and what exactly will his presence mean for negotiations with Ardice’s enemies?…assuming he will help her at all. Oh, the Purchase won’t be the title either.