Emperor Tarshaddus Vohrkskrain stared at the gilded monument in the late afternoon sunlight, marvelling again at how well the sculptors had captured his son Woldmont. The monument stood in the middle of the royal complex, raised over the place that had once been one of the guest rooms for visiting Garagrans… before it burned down with his son inside.
Of course, it hadn’t been the building that killed Woldmont.
He had the slut Princess, Rehksskarri, to thank for that.
Mercy to an enemy is folly.
How had his son not learned that? And why had he listened to his son’s foolish plan?
He unsheathed his claws, just touched the white stone of the courtyard, then made himself re-sheathe them. Carving up the pavement was for those with no self control.
He would find something more practical to do.
“And you are certain that Rehkskarri is married to the Salshiran prince now?”
The female Garagran standing at attention next to him went even stiffer.
“I saw it with my own eyes, Most High. I even saw them go to bed together that night. It is no political marriage.”
Tarshaddus wrinkled the scales on his nose at the thought of a Garagran Princess becoming wife to a human. Even one he hated.
But this Garagran…
“That’s quite an accomplishment to spy out so much,” he said.
She dropped her head and stared at the ground.
“I am a failure, Most High. I fled from the battle and let my commander die. Spying in the aftermath was nothing.”
Mercy to an underling may save your life.
“There was wisdom in fleeing. Only a foolish Garagran fights an Alleji directly.”
“But the Elder Gods…”
“You are a priestess, correct?”
“Yes Most High.”
“You should know this, but I will instruct you. The Elder Gods battle best indirectly. And so do we. Open battle is only for the moment of victory or a last resort.”
“Yes, Most High.”
He studied the statue of his son one last time.
Such a waste.
“This war is only beginning.” He turned away to head back to his throne room. A quick motion with one wing signalled the female to walk with him. “We will win it, but there are many preparations we will have to make first.”
The female followed at his side, head high again. Tarshaddus smiled.
“For now, General Selkran, I want you to take over the remnants of Ankrylus’ forces. He spoke highly of you, and I am certain you will be capable.”
She twitched at the new rank, but her hesitation was only the brief moment of surprise, not fear. Good.
“Yes, Most High. I am honored by your confidence.”
“Indeed. Your orders are simple. Rebuild his army, then make certain that my Empire doesn’t fall apart while we recover from our losses. Whatever resources you need will be yours.”
“As you wish, Most High.”
“Good. Begin your work tomorrow. Tonight, however… enjoy the city. There is still no finer in all the world.”
With a flick of his wing he dismissed her.
In the silent, solitary stroll that followed, he thought of the wondrous land the scout had described once again.
This war was only, just, beginning.
This ends book 1 of the Salshira Waking Trilogy. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment. If you think others should read it, feel free to share a link to the first page wherever you like. No matter what, thank you for reading, and God bless.