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“Once he and his army are destroyed, I won’t make my other mistake of invading Maisir. No, I’ll let them fall into utter chaos for a generation, perhaps two, while they’re casting envious looks north at our peace, our contentment, our prosperity. Then they’ll beg to be allowed into my hegemony.” Again my memory flickered, remembering how Tenedos had told me peace must never be allowed to reign in Numantia, for a nation not fighting for its life, for its soul, falls into decay and ruin. But what Tenedos said brought a more important question. “Your Majesty,” and I confess the words still came easily. “You just said something strange, something I don’t understand. You said a generation or two must pass before the Maisirians want to serve you” “Your mind is still as agile as always,” ghd pure Tenedos said.. “This is another secret I’m on the verge of discovering, a way to extend our lives double or double again normal, perhaps even longer. “This I find ironic, ghd flat iron for as Saionji’s greatest servant, per?haps she’s going to permit me to remain free of the Wheel for a longer time as a reward, me and those I decide are worthy of this ultimate privilege.” I looked hard into those dangerously gleaming eyes I’d been held and commanded by for most of my life. I couldn’t tell if he was telling the truth ghd pure , was raving, or was. trying to entice me, as if a promise of more years in this hardly pleasant life was much of a lure. “I know you haven’t forgotten the oath you took to me, even though some might say you broke it when you struck me down.” I’d spent many hours puzzling about how much grief that arrogant motto, We Hold True, must’ve brought my family over the generations. “One thing, sir, I must settle now,” I went on. “I refuse to admit I broke my oath when I prevented you from bringing chaos to Numantia. For isn’t it the duty of an offi?cer to keep his superior from breaking his oath? And you took one to your people, in front of me and the Great Gods Umar, Irisu, Saionji, to never treat your subjects with cruelty or disdain. Didn’t you?” The emperor’s face ghd mk4 reddened, and his fist clenched on his glass. I waited for ghd hair dryer it to shatter, but he forced calm, put a smile on his lips, and laughed sharply, falsely. “I suppose,” he said slowly, “that’s .why friends are so damnably uncomfortable. They keep reminding you of things that are… hard to accept. Very well, Damastes, my … my friend. We’ll call the matter of oaths and their breaking even. “Now I ask you once more. Will you revive your oath, your pride, Numantia’s pride, and serve me again? “Help us regain our rightful place in front of the gods, as the fairest, most favored nation on this world. Help me make Numantia even greater, so other worlds look on us with helpless envy. “Help me destroy Numantia’s enemies… before they unutterably destroy us!” I felt his words shake me, shake my world, barely kept from falling to my knees. “If I do, sir,” I managed, “what about my present predicament?” Tenedos smiled, the smile Cheap ghd uk I’d seen often when he won a hard point, defeated a stubborn foe. Again he stretched his arm into nothingness, came back with what looked like a coin cheap ghd straighteners or an amulet. “Here,” he said, and cast it toward me. If I doubted I wasn’t dreaming, the clink of the coin on the floor gave final proof. I reluctantly picked it up. It was warm, rapidly grew cold. “Rub it, think of me, and I’ll send magic to assist you in whatever escape you deem feasible,” he ordered. “Once you’re free, point it until it grows warm, and follow in that direction until you find me.” He stood. “Remember the good times,” he said. “Remember what it was like, knowing we were the center of the world, and everyone listened to us? Obeyed us? Obeyed us gladly, for Cheap ghd sale we were the shining light of the uni?verse, tearing away the dull darkness of the past. Now it’s time to return to those days. You and me, the way it was, the way it shall be. “Welcome back, Damastes,” he said softly. “Welcome back, my friend.” And I was alone, looking at the far wall of my chamber. I stared long at the amulet, worked in strange figures not of this world’s geometry, and carved with what I guessed were letters in an equally strange language. So the Emperor Tenedos assumed I would return to his side, while the Grand Council dallied and I stalled them. Slowly the thought came—I didn’t want either of them, nor did I want to be a warrior any longer. Maybe after some time had passed I’d be willing to return to my call?ing, but not now. Not in this confusion. “Remember the good times,” the emperor had said. But I couldn’t. I remembered battlefields strewn Cheap ghd with bodies, cities aflame, demons rending warriors whose bravery was nothing against their fangs and talons. I rem?embered Amiel Kalvedon, dying with an arrow wound in her side, dying full of hope for the morrow, dying carry?ing my child. I remembered Alegria, wanting to make love in the frozen nightmare of the road north of Jarrah, then dying quietly, a trickle of blood runneling from her lips. No, not good times, but gore-drenched nightmares. All I wanted was to escape to somewhere completely peaceful, where no one would bother me and I would raise a hand against no one. I thought wistfully of the quiet, peaceful jungles of Cimabue, where I’d been but seldom since childhood, and now wished I’d never left Of course there was no way I would ever see them again, so I tried to put the thought from me. At least, I consoled myself, there was a possibility I could escape the Council’s vengeance if I told them no. Tenedos’s magic would help. Then I’d only have to get away from the revenge of the world’s most ghd limited edition powerful wizard. And did I really believe that Tenedos, the wizard who never forgot nor forgave an enemy, except so long as he needed him, would truly forget that blow I struck before Cambiaso? Did I believe if I helped him regain the throne, he wouldn’t turn on me and wreak the most ghastly revenge for what I’d done at Cambiaso that a ghd hair straightener price devils-haunted mind could devise? Gloom fell, and I forced it away by going back to my dreams of Cimabue, the embracing jungle, gentle rain falling, a pool with mossy rocks growing out of it, being a boy curled under a leaf twice his size, a tiny fire glowing under my pot of rice and the fruit I’d gathered. I remem?bered the bark of a sambur, the cough of a distant tiger, and contentment in the moment, not fearing the morrow but looking forward to its promise. I found my lips moving in a prayer, a prayer to small gods, to Vachan, the monkey god of Cimabue, and to Tanis, my family’s private godling. I must’ve slept, for the next thing I remember is Dubats calling to me and bright sunlight blazing in my windows. I had visitors. “Send him… or her up,” I called, feeling unwarrantedly cheerful. My callers were Guardian of the Peace Heme and his aide, a bemuscled, scar-faced hearty named Salop. I didn’t know if the Councilors knew Heme loathed me for many reasons, the most recent my discovery of c pink ghd ar?riages of his private luxuries when we were fleeing Jarrah, while his soldiers were lucky if they had a frozen chunk of long-dead horsemeat every two days as they stumbled bare?foot through the snow. I’d ordered these delicacies given out to the troops and told Heme if he disobeyed my order I’d have him stripped of his command and reduced to the ranks—a death sentence. Both men were armed with sword and dagger and wore the gray-red of the Guardians, except properly tarted up with gold filigree here and there, as befitted men for whom position meant everything and honor nothing. Heme had a package which he put on a table. “My man Catalca informed me you’d been brought to Nicias,” Heme said coldly. “Our Grand Councilors are the fools they’ve always been to think they could use my Gu ghd products ardians and I wouldn’t find out about it.” “I had no idea you weren’t privy to their decision,” I said. “Don’t expect me to be a fool,” Heme said. “I knew they’d already discussed bringing you back and ordering the lapdog to lunge at his former master.” “One whose lips are firmly wrapped around a foreign king’s cock has little reason to call another a lapdog,” I snapped back. Salop growled, started forward. Heme held out his hand. “No,” he said. “That isn’t our way.” Salop grunted, stepped to the side, glaring. “Yes,” Heme went on, “not only bring you back, but let you steal my glory, let you take over my Guardians. Those arrogant shits!” “Perhaps they sensed you couldn’t lead a horse out of a burning building,” I said, not giving a damn what Heme thought, able for the first time to kick back at those who’d put the boot into me for such a long time. “Not that I’m agreeing with your

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