Fury and Diplomacy, from Zbinka's Musings

First of all, taking nothing away from Tironik's Commentary, he conveniently neglected to mention the shameful display of vindictiveness perpetrated upon Taisia by the recently empowered King and Queen of Kanabulan. Because of his underlying devotion to his mistress one cannot expect him to be impartial observer or recorder of the events as they truly occurred. Nor is my insistence in capturing such an unpleasant and controversial chain of events appreciated for truth's sake alone. Yet is is for perpetuity that I am compelled to write that which most would just as soon be allowed to fade into oblivion. No, not even for the greater good of diplomacy can I ignore the pain and betrayal of one. For if atrocities are measured only by the scores and suffering of the individual made most miniscule then we have indeed lost the most basic soul of humanity - our capacity for compassion and understanding. The consequence of lies of omission of truth will mar our existence more than any act of man, nature or imponderables.

Rad'en's troops, driven by fury rallied against the Houseborne who had joined forces with the enemy at Gelassi. I knew it would be a matter of time before he took Gelassi and that as a captive of Paynor my influence was severely limited. Fortunately, a brilliant opportunity came to mind and I was able to gain the support of Paynor himself. It seemed that the intended for Roarke's son D'Hir had recently grown impatient of waiting and became mistress to the King of Belaurii, which even as temporary employment can prove fatal. It would be good for Paynor to have Eyre Nalev's page Misha sent to Belaurii to act as her guard.

He looked perplexed and somewhat annoyed as he asked why he should care.

"Because, as you are probably already well aware," I answered calmly, "Misha is threat to you whether alive or dead. Only in removing him from the other Houseborne until after the war will you be free of his influence."

Just as there were many rumors that swirled around my involvement with the radical groups that organized the kidnappings of the Houseborne, it had been rumored that Paynor and Queen Dophe were lovers many years back and still kept close ties. I was willing to bet not only my life but Misha's as well that those rumors and implications were true.

With every new day I felt a powerful outside presence at work in the Court of Cznorh and doubted very much that my cousin had anything to do with the decisions he was forced to make. Yet I dared not speak to him about all that I had on my mind for it seemed that were so infrequently alone. On those occasions when we were alone I feared what I saw in his eyes, or rather what I did not. There was so little life left in those distant eyes. My father had those same hollow eyes and there was only one end to his years of anguish. I swore to myself that the same fate would not await Roarke, but I knew only time would tell.

Rad'en' was not pleased that his new orders were so specific. He was to capture Misha and personally escort him into Belaurii where he would wait out the remainder of the war under the watchful eye of Queen Dophe and King Neopar. As a dutiful officer Rad'en' did as he was told in regard to Misha. His troops did take the liberty to kill at least two hundred and thirty of the Houseborne traitors.

Eyre Tironik, really more at ease with mending the wounded than dashing the enemy to shreds had managed to capture a good number of the Eltesnian Royal Army which he intended to use as a bargaining tool. Queen Naeri had adamantly insisted that the king's lover be marched, naked and without possession of any kind, out of the country. Tironik arranged a trade with Rad'en'. Kanabulan would release all of its prisoners taken at Gelassi in exchange for Rad'en' agreeing to escort Lady Taisia to the Court at Belaurii where she would reside with her daughter Fen. That journey across Eltesnia would prove Rad'en's capacity both for love and for hate.

"Is this necessary?" Misha asked from the chair to which he was tied then spit out a mouthful of blood onto the ground. He had taken a quite beating from Rad'en'.

"Where is your Eyre, traitor?"

"The rules of our engagement in the holy war were set three hundred years ago. The Houseborne have fought, bled and died for a war that has ended, not for a country that disavows our humanity."

"The king has not ordered an end to the war!" Rad'en' shouted.

"Our mandate is through the House. The Lane has been freed and no just cause remains for war against Kanabulan."

"Done being a fighter, so you'll turn philosopher? The king says fight so we fight! Where is my father?"

"Ask your king," Misha replied coldly.

"Damn your insolence. I could have you killed!"

"We both know you missed your opportunity to strike me down in battle."

"You should be hung for treason and desertion."

"Where is your father, Rad'en'?" Misha looked him squarely in the eyes. "Did he flee into the mountains to regroup what remains of the dreaded deserters? Is that what you think happened? I tell you, Rad'en', Eyre Nalev returned to the court of Cznorh to formally disband the Houseborne before the King and accept his position in the Royal Army. He had a country, we did not. You know what I say is true."


"Excuse me, Eyre Rad'en'," said a tentative voice in the entry way of the tent.

"What is it?" Rad'en' snapped.

"A message from Eyre Tironik," Ussati said as he held out a letter.

"Well, Misha, looks as though your new country would like to have you back. Usatti, reply back that we will accept our men and transport the girl but we have other plans for Misha."

Two days later Rad'en', accompanied by one third of his troops on horseback, heard boisterous laughter and jeering even before the soldiers of Kanabulan were sighted. Soon they say the entourage from Kanabulan, first those on horseback riding through the clearing, with Taisia, naked and barefoot, stumbling in front of them. They were followed by a good number of ground troops which surrounded the Eltesnian prisoners. Rad'en' felt sick to his stomach at the sight. He approached Taisia and wrapped a blanket around her bruised and bloodied body. Obviously she had been pelted by whatever the people of Kanabulan could find as she was forced to parade before them and probably was treated with even more disdain by the soldiers once they were out of the towns. He looked at the men on horseback.

"Release my men and our meeting is over," Rad'en exclaimed.

As his men marched back toward their camp his attention returned to Taisia.

"Lady Taisia, I am Eyre Rad'en'. I have agreed to lending you safe passage to Belaurii. You have my personal assurance that no further harm will come to you."

Once back at the camp Rad'en' had Ussati make their guest as comfortable as possible while he went to where he was keeping Misha. Misha was still tied up inside a well-guarded tent. Rad'en walked inside.

"Is it that time already?" Misha asked dryly.

"Get up," Rad'en' demanded. Aching and anticipating more interrogation, Misha struggled to his feet. Rad'en' took out a knife and cut the ropes on his wrists.

"Clean yourself, we have a guest and I'm not taking my eyes off either one of you until we get to Belaurii. Don't try anything, Misha. I don't disobey orders, but give me one reason to kill you and I swear it will be worth whatever punishment the king has for me."

"You're too kind," replied Misha smugly.

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