The War Within
by Nicola C. Matthews
~~ 1 ~~ :
The Warring Kingdoms
This novel is being posted without any edits or rewrites. The final product will most likely deviate slightly from the words and storyline on this website.
“Sire, are you sure you want to do this? If this plan backfires then both Naferia and Shondross could come after us, rather than fighting each other.”
King Alexander Argent of the Aziza realm glanced over at the head of his guards, Victor, the man he had known since he was a toddler and trusted above all others. The older man was standing a few feet away, his aging and slightly wrinkled face looking haggard and drawn. Alexander’s dark brown eyes flickered to the small, writhing figure on the ground, trussed up by the hands and feet, a canvas bag over her head and a gag wrapped securely around her mouth. She was thrashing madly about on straw covered floor, her screams muffled by the wadded piece of rag stuffed into her mouth.
“I fully understand what it is I’m doing, old friend,” Alexander said. “I accepted King Antiguiss’ rejections of the extended treaty between Aziza and Naferia with the utmost of grace. I sent him gifts in thanks for meeting with me as is the custom. As far as he is concerned, I still do not know he bargained off his own daughter to Prince Monduro of Shondross in order to seal the alliance between their realms. It will look like Antiguiss has changed his mind about the arranged marriage, nothing more. It’s a clear slap to the face of Monduro and his family. It will be viewed as such, and it is enough to bring friction between the two kingdoms. And with the two of them at each other’s throats, I will finally have the upper hand.”
The small figure on the floor began thrashing around again, screaming around her gag, no doubt trying to cast some type of spell which would render all of them into slimy toads. The guard standing directly behind the young fairy kicked her hard in the back with the toe of his boot. The fairy let out a stifled moan of pain before growing still.
“Take her to the tower,” Alexander said as he turned to leave the stables. “Make certain her hands are always kept bound behind her, in iron. Never let your guard down around her, understand? The last thing you want is to allow her to cast a spell upon your person. We have more than enough garden slugs as it is.”
The two guards bowed to him as he passed, giving a curt, “Yes, Sire!” as they did so. Alexander quickly left the stables, intent upon getting some food into his stomach before his health levels reached critical levels.
He pulled out his magic scroll, checking the stats of his kingdom. Their food stores were holding steady at nearly 100%, the treasury at one million cren, the army closer to 85%. It was cause for concern. He would need to consult with the Drucynd Council soon to see if the Transcenders would favor him on his quest. He was sure there must be some way to trade out the food stores or cren to strengthen and expand his slowly dwindling army.
He nearly stumbled into one of his valets as he entered his quarters, the man hastily getting out of his way before bowing and apologizing. Alexander paid him no attention as he studied the scroll. With winter coming up, he would need to send more workers to the fields to increase their food stores, especially if he were able to come to some sort of agreement with the Transcenders to extend and grow his army.
“Sire, would you like us to prepare a hot bath before you dine?” Henry, his personal valet, asked him as he sat upon a nearby chair. Alexander merely nodded as he lifted his leg, his eyes still glued to his scroll as Henry removed the king’s heavy boots.
Alexander mumbled a half-hearted thanks to the maid who brought in a tray heavily laden with meats, cheeses, fruit, and a pitcher of wine. He continued to study his scroll, mentally going through all the calculations and steps required to bring his kingdom back to 100% across the board.
He reached out mindlessly and speared a piece of fruit, chewing it slowly as he studied. Within a few short minutes he had consumed everything on the tray, feeling his own strength and vitality immediately restored. Feeling much better, he placed his scroll back into his desk before moving to the bathing room, a bronze tub of steaming hot water awaiting him. His mind was a flurry of activity as he went over his plan, step-by-step, going over every possible scenario to find weaknesses in his plot and fix them before his enemies had a chance to exploit it for their own gain.