Excerpt From Episode 4:
She was smiling at him again. Damnit! At least, he was prepared for this one. The bastards wouldn’t recruit him. It was too dangerous for the Outlanders. He knew what he had to do. They would remember his sacrifice. A bird flew over as he reached for the poison. A blood-curling high pitched cry, a rustle of wings, the swift movement of a treacherous dagger and blood. Lots of blood.
To read episode 4: CLICK HERE
They both slowly sipped the cinnamon tea without a word. From across the table, the Emperor, Megaleio Hegemon stared fixedly at the person who sat at the opposite end of the long dining table. Person. He did not know how else to describe it. It was a masterpiece. That finish. To the ordinary eye, it might have seemed a counter move that got lucky but his were no ordinary eyes. With an uncanny knack for registering little details, he had observed the final match keenly. It was a good thing he had the best seat in the arena, perks of being on the throne. It was a good thing he had laid more women than all the men in his service combined. Immediately the garb parted, he saw what was unmistakably the petal of a budding flower. It took him less than a split second to process what had seen, but he had. It intrigued him.
He had suspected that the contestant from the Outlands was the mole and it had not been a wrong assumption. That was the only explanation for his suicide. It would have been too risky for him to have been conscripted into the Army. Somehow, somewhat, he would have been investigated and his cover would have blown up in bits. Pity! Hegemon longed for a reason to wipe out those treacherous outlanders for good.
What he did not anticipate nor suspect was that there had been two moles. He knew the girl was not from the Outlanders. They never operated in groups. Greater and Lesser Yorkshire hadn’t the sense to have drummed up such a brilliant scheme. If the girl was a mole, it had to be a personal vendetta. That would surprise him. He had made himself quite a number of enemies since his reign had begun. Someone might have decided to be a hero. Well, he was on to them.
But, he thought, was it possible that he was over-thinking? She had disguised to enter the Tournament in truth, but wasn’t there the possibility that she was a mere good opportunist? He frowned slightly as he considered this thought. Perhaps his dreams were beginning to make him paranoid. No. The moment he began to question his own judgment, he would abdicate the throne. He would find out for himself. She, no matter how witty she might appear to be would reveal her true self under his interrogation. He was sure of it.
Fixing a faint smile on his face, he looked over the table again at the girl who had neither spoken nor raised her head since he had invited her to share a congratulatory cup of tea with him, apparently appraising the situation as he was. He finally cleared his throat loudly. As she raised her face, he got a more intense look at her at her and curiously found that she had almost exactly his eyes. Something about that face nudged his memory. He would consider it later. Here was the moment of truth.
“It is my hope that you found the tea pleasant. It was specially brewed for the occasion,” he said not taking his eyes off her face. The face looked vaguely familiar.
“Thank you, my Liege.”
Without a note of flourish, he started, “I have an utmost trust in my inner circle to which you’re about to become a part of. There are only two rules, as a matter of speaking. The first is that you shall pledge allegiance to me. I shall be your Lord and Commander. On no account shall this allegiance be broken even on the pain of death.”
“With my life do I pledge allegiance to you, My Liege.”
“That is good. The second is, you shall answer to no man but me and you shall obey every single directive I give you. Whether it appeals to your better judgment or not, whether it appears reasonable or otherwise. If I command you to run, run you must. If I command you to jump, you must jump as high as the heavens. If I ask you to save, you must rise and save like the gods. If I command you to kill, you must destroy like a plague. Do you agree to these terms?” If she was shocked, she didn’t show it as she replied, “to the best of my abilities, Great Hegemon, Emperor of the Allied Kingdoms, will I adhere strictly to your requirements even on the pain of death.”
He smiled. It was confirmed then. This was no skilled opportunist. This right here, was a skilled, deadly force of vendetta with a grudge running deeper than the oceans. What else could explain the change in moral fiber, from a fair, timid warrior boy who won the Tournament based on a lot of perceived luck to this cold-blooded killer who was ready to strike at a moment’s notice in front of him?
He smiled some more, “I do thank you for your allegiance. It is because of the skill of extraordinary youths such as yourself that the fragile threads of peace in the Allied Kingdoms hold together and strengthen with each passing moment. I’d request that you be included in my personal guard corps. Take the rest of the week of and resume on the first day of the next. I expect great things from you, Pete.” He paused and then continued, “very great things. You are dismissed.”
She bowed out of the dining room as the Emperor continued smiling fixedly at her. For the first time since she began her mission, Ekdikisi felt uneasy.
Read episode 6: CLICK HERE
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