A Perfect Sunset

- A Serialized Novel -

A reluctant queen becomes involved in intrigue in a kingdom ruled by a tyrant and on the verge of revolution.

Author’s Note: Just a bit more of the fantasy one, since I have a certain point in this story that I’d like to reach, even if I’m not sure if it’s a serial that’s staying on the site or not yet.

The overhaul and release will be later than anticipated, but if people are enjoying these stories, that means they’ll get more of them before that whole thing happens.

Decision Made

“The queen is an ally.”

Anokii frowned, not sure she had heard her husband right. She could not have. This decision was made too soon. They had not seen enough of what the queen was doing, and Anokii knew that she had not recommended such a course. She was the one closest to the other woman, and if she had her doubts, then everyone else should hold them as well. “When was this determined? You—they—know she was with Malzhi during the nitage. She has not proved trustworthy. Why would you decide that?”

This time it was Gekin who frowned. “Why would you say that it was my decision? That is not my place, and you know it. I have told them what you observed, no more and no less. There has been a shift of late, one that makes me think that the leaders are either desperate or… reckless. I do not know that I have ever seen them taking so many risks or doing so much at once. We harass the fortifications in the south, we slip refugees east, and we have others that are occupied in the north, disrupting the king’s troops as they train. We spy in the castle. We do too much, I fear.”

She did not know that anything could be considered too much, not in the face of what they were up against. If the king managed to conquer the queen’s homeland, then all was lost. They could not afford to let that happen. “Perhaps. I worry for you.”

Gekin smiled, his hand caressing her cheek. “No more than I worry for you.”

“Do you think we can trust the queen?”

“You know her better than I.”

Anokii did, and she knew how conflicted she was about the other woman. She knew that the queen was not what she seemed. She had secrets, and she had moments where Anokii swore she feared that woman more than the king or any of his ministers, even Malzhi. That side of the queen was dangerous. That was not something they could control or predict. That meant that they could not trust her. “She asked me if I knew what an esibani was.”

“That mean something in her language? It seems familiar to me, but I don’t know why. I might have heard it near her borders, but what it means to her, that is not known to me. I can ask one of the others with a better memory. They would know what I have forgotten.”

Gekin’s memory could not fail. He needed it for the hidden paths and the secrets he must always conceal. “Do not say you are becoming forgetful.”

“It is possible. If I could remember why I know that word…”

“She seemed bothered by it, but I don’t know why. She slept during the day today, which should not have been possible, but perhaps she was ill after that time in the heat. Most of us were. I do not understand why Malzhi bothered letting us proceed with the nitage.”

“He wanted to see us suffer through it.”

“I hate him.”

“The king would have denied us it. He would have known the one that most were thinking of during our remembrance was Agache, and he would not want us to do that. He does not want his cousin a martyr for our cause, though that is what he made him.”

“Malzhi is a fool.”

“A fool distracted by the queen.”

“Is that why they call her an ally? She will be killed if the king thinks that Malzhi was able to seduce her. If she is compromised in any way, it will mean her death and war with her people.”

“I do not know what made them choose that. I only know that it has been decided.” Gekin wrapped his arms around Anokii, his head leaning against hers, breath on her neck. “I think these are the most uncertain times we have ever faced. They have always been hard, but now that Agache is dead, there is this… rush to everything. As if it comes to an end.”

“Some ends can be good. If it is the end of the king’s tyranny, that is for the best.”

“He will not die easily.”

She nodded. His line stretched back to those said to have defeated dragons, to have taken their lifeblood to extend their own existence, to use their flames to curse the sky into a second sun. She had never believed those legends, but she did know there was a cruelty to his bloodline that needed to end. He was the last, let that hatred die with him. “Still, even he is mortal.”

“Yes. His end will come.”

“Did they have orders or a task for the queen? Am I to tell her anything?”

Gekin shook his head. “No. They did not give me anything to relay to her. I think, while they want to use her, they do not know how. They are waiting. Some things they rush, but she cannot be one of them. We are not ready for open war.”

“No one is ever ready for war.”

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