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: Another part of the story that I was really looking forward to, so much so that I actually wrote it ahead of time. 😛

More Revelations

“No. Wait. We couldn’t be having this conversation if you were. You… you’re not dead.”

Her words made him laugh, and she thought it was a strange sound, one that suited him somehow despite everything, as did that half-smile of his. “No, I am not.”

She put a hand to her head, feeling foolish, but then at the same time, what about this would make her feel in balance or control? She had not expected to see him, and even before then, she’d been shaken by the sudden appearance of someone in her bedchamber. She had thought it was Malzhi, trying to come take what she had been trying to avoid giving him, and that had her tense long before she’d almost fought with the man in the cloak and confirmed his identity.

“I did not think anyone ever survived the king’s wrath. From all I have heard, you should not have done so,” she said, trying to recover some of her dignity. She let out a breath. “Unless, of course, you are in collusion with him and—”

“I am not,” he said, his words bordering on angry, taking offense to the suggestion. She was glad to hear it. The last thing she wanted to do now was learn that he was, in fact, the king’s spy and had been all along. She could not let him leave the room alive if that were the case, and yet she doubted that she could harm him.

He gestured to the curtain blocking the window. “I will not go into detail about all that happened after my… arrest, but I can tell you some of it, the important part. You see, it has long been believed that if my people stay in the light of the double sun for long enough, we burn with no trace at all. I exploited that myth and made a rather painful escape—it did burn, but I did not die—and I took up a position that was truly mine in the first place.”

“The leader of the resistance?”

He smiled at her, and she thought she’d perhaps impressed him a little by that observation. She sat down across from him. “It was not hard to guess. The activity has increased since your death, and while one could blame that on your martyrdom, your ‘death’ made it possible for you to do what you had not dared before when you were being watched.”

“Yes. You are quite correct. Then again, I had the sense that you had been underestimated when we traveled together. I do believe that I have figured you out at last—you have already confirmed what I suspected.”

“Have you? And did I? How is that?”

“You are esibani, aren’t you? That is your people’s name for the bodyguards of the royal house, isn’t it? You were raised to defend the princesses, even taking their place at times when the risk was too great. That was one of your duties. I do believe the king is indeed your father, but you are not the queen’s daughter.”

She did not know that she could say anything to refute his claim. She could deny it, but what was the point of such a lie? “You learned much when you were in my land.”

“As much as I could, combined with what our people have learned since we starting sending those we could across the border into your land.”

“Your people are in our land? Since—I have heard nothing of this.”

“I doubt you would have. We are quite capable of avoiding notice, even looking the way we do when we are not covered in cloaks. We do not sleep at night as your people do. Do you know why we were all exiled here to this place of terrible sunlight? Because at night, the moonlight and darkness gives us incomparable strength and stamina. We could become like monsters, free to prey upon those we will. The only way to conquer us was to force daylight upon us. Here, in constant daylight, we wither away. If we were not trapped here…”

She wasn’t sure she wanted to know what would happen then. Still, his people had the right to their freedom as well. “Then you should take all your people far from here.”

“We are not the only subjects of this land. Would you suggest abandoning them to the king and men like Malzhi?”


“I believe it is time we worked together. Your position is precarious, and having held something like it in the past, I do not envy you it,” he said, and she grimaced. He would know the sort of discomfort this role was, living one misstep from execution—he’d fallen and suffered for it. “I know why you are here. You are supposed to stop the king. That is, you are supposed to kill him.”

She winced. “I am, but I do not think I can kill him. I was always trained for defense. Being sent in as an assassin—”

“I am not asking you to kill the king. Were it that simple, one of us would have done it a long time ago. Malzhi and others like him would tear this kingdom apart in order to have the power the king had and more. The king is cruel, but he cannot rule the way he does without help. There are those loyal to him or in competition with him or just as cruel as he is. They are all in collusion, whether they know it or not. The king thinks he is all powerful. He isn’t.”

She looked at Agache, studying him. “Then what is it you want from me?”

“I want you to do what you are already doing. Malzhi has already shown himself weak to you, and you can use him.”

She shook her head. “I’m not going to seduce him or let him think he can have me.”

“That would be a foolish thing to ask you to do. The king may not have exercised his rights to you, but you are his. Do not mistake his indifference for permission. If you are unfaithful to him, he will kill you. It is that simple.”

She closed her eyes. “I am not his.”

“I am not surprised to hear you say that, but remember that you must consider how he thinks if you are to survive. You are in a dangerous position. The court is the least safe area there is.”

“You would know.”

“I do,” he said, and she opened her eyes to see him standing close to her. “You are more than I’d hoped for, Esibani.”


“That is your name? The real one?”

She nodded, uncertain why she had told him that. She had not used it, not even before she became queen. “What about yours?”

He grinned, lifting up the hood and covering his face. He turned toward the balcony, and she could only watch as the cloak disappeared from view. She could not help the smile that twisted her lips as she leaned over the edge. He was gone, but for the first time since she’d come here, she had hope.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *