Chapter 24: Chapter 2
There was nothing Lord Balrus could say regarding Artemiss choice to wed Aurora, he for sure confronted Aurora and she confirmed it that she will sit on the Sweet Waters throne alongside Artemis – this was fate and no one could change it.
But while Artemis was busy with council meetings and preparing to propose to Aurora, princess Aeryn was on her own mission and look out. She invited Selma, the head slave to her chambers one day for a bath. However, this wasnt just a casual bath but more of an interrogation.
Princess Aeryn asked about Jordy, her fathers concubine who was seen regularly inside the palace when they were young, until they were fully grown. King Arteides told Aeryn that Jordy was like any other slave who was doing the bidding for her master. Aeryn believed him, but that was then and she was young. Now she was fully grown and she had a brother on the throne to take care of.
It never occurred to Aeryn than Artemis was a great king, or if he could protect himself. Artemis didnt even know what it was to be a king “He thinks its just sitting on the throne all day and give out orders” she would complain. Aeryn wanted her brother to be safe, even if it meant she had to do the work herself.
Hence after an altercation with Selma, she ordered her to take her down to the mines – to a place where Jordy and her son Aprophil lived. The mines was like a nightmare, not a place for a human to live thats why it was created for slaves and those in debts and criminals.
In Maldonia a rapist, murderer and anyone who committed a crime was never hanged or locked inside a dungeon. They were all sentenced to the mines to dig out the gold and diamonds for the king. The journey from the palace to the mines took seven days on fast horses with rest in between, it was very far from civilization and peoples homes. It was just a crater bowl like place and not that huge, however the hell it provided made days look like weeks.
“The mines!” That was Artemiss reaction when Aeryn explained to him that she was about to make a journey to the mines. They were walking out in the open within the gardens of the palace. The fresh cool breeze of the evening made the walk pleasant enough and it had been long ever since they catch up.
“Why I mean...” Artemis paused and scoffed “Out of all places sister, why choose the mines”
“I want to find out about this bastard that father had” she said.
Artemis was startled “A bastard” and believe me you hes never heard about Aprophil or any rumor regarding his fathers bastard. “Father had a bastard”
“You never knew”
“No, and youve known this for how long How could you keep something like this from me sister”
Aeryn sighed, then she sat down on top of a log and urged Artemis to sit beside her. From there Artemis learned everything about his fathers discreet affairs with a slave named Jordy. The relationship was more than a slave – master relationship but more.
“They were in love” added Aeryn. “Our father would do anything for her, Selma told me he built a small castle in Honora for her and... the bastard. They never worked in the mines it was all a lie, she lived in the castle with slave servants and raised the bastard all these years, his name is Aprophil”
This was all too much for Artemis to digest. All this time he thought he knew his father and his endeavors, it turns out he didnt know him at all “Aprophil Thats his name” he asked.
“He is three years older than you”
So they talked that day for another twenty minutes, Artemis was anxious about leaving the palace alone while he goes to visit the houses. Hence he pleaded his sister to remember their fathers words “An Arteides must sit on Sweet Waters throne when the other departs, thats how we will protect our familys legacy” and with that princess Aeryn agreed to stay until her brother comes back from his travels.
Outside of the palace life was marvelous, alive and the newcomers were flocking to the capital, Blackmount. Some were foreigners and some were Maldonians who lived far and they came to the capital for some fun or simply business adventures. The market square which was at the center of the capital was crowded with merchants selling their goods, and buyers looking for things to buy.
The major means of production was batter trade, exchange of goods by goods. The ones outside the capital usually brought in grains, tomatoes, fruits and several earthed products because most of them were farmers. Hence they exchanged those with caskets of rum, clothes and anything of value which they didnt have in their villages.
It was only possible that Princess Sansa was out in the market that day, she was going to meet the woman who sold her daily dosage of the portions which will give her a son without a clue that Lord Balrus was following her.
The princess noticed it when lord Balrus entered inside the shop and they collided. “Lord Balrus” Princess Sansas eyes widened with amazement and fear at the same time “What a surprise!”
“It isnt a surprise my lady this is my usual place to pick up herbs” he said with a smile.
“Oh, me too...”
“What herbs do you take”
Princess Sansa stuttered “I... the usual...”
“Do you mind if we go outside my lady I have a matter I wish to put before you”
“Me” Princess Sansa was scared.
“Yes, my lady. I shall wait outside for you”
The moment Lord Balrus was outside Princess Sansa wished for the place to swallow her whole, or to magically disappear from there. She was so nervous and so scared of Lord Balrus, not because he was an eunuch but because he was the spymaster of Maldonia.
Even though they hadnt been in the palace for long, Lord Balon had told her that Lord Balrus is said to find even the darkest and discreet things which you may think he doesnt know, but somehow he does.
Sacred and still nervous Princess Sansa walked outside of the shop with a headscarf falling down on her face, as if to obscure herself all the while Lord Balrus has already seen her. “My lord” she inquired. Then lifted off her veil and faced Lord Balrus.
Without asking much questions or beating around the bush, Lord Balrus went straight to the point and puled out the letter which Princess Sansa thought was already taken to Lazica, to her father.
“I believe this belongs to you, my lady...” Lord Balrus handed the letter to Princess Sansa. “It somehow found itself to me, like how all things do” he added with a smile.
Since Lord Balrus was a tall man Princess Sansa looked like a small piece of problem to him, she may mean harm to the kingdom but one thing with Lord Balrus is he likes challenges and he takes pleasure in seeing how far will people go before they destroy themselves. Or he tends to give people chances to redeem themselves before he makes actions.
“My husband told me you are the master of spies, the seeker of the truth and the one who rules Maldonia without a crown. I guess now I believe him”
“Thats good my lady if you do believe your husband, now you know there is no secret that you can put past me. This letter you were to send to your father explaining the situation of Prince Lucian Mithandir... does he have an army”
“Yes, he does”
“How many men”
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“Close to thirty thousand, our kingdom is not that huge. Are you here to arrest me for treason”
“I didnt say that you committed treason my lady”
“I aspired against the king, I know what I did” said princess Sansa.
“You lied in your letter, its full of impunity and more lies... Maldonia hasnt declared any formal agreement with Lucian Mithandir and we are not going to fight against Prophis to put him on a throne” Lord Balrus paused and stared at Princess Sansa. “However, I will allow you to send this letter to your father king of Lazica”
“Yes my lady, under one condition”
Now there it was, Lord Balrus being himself and actually showing out that he was in charge. Even though she was glad to see that Lord Balrus didnt charge her with treason, but still the conditions which she was about to be given scared the hell out of her and she wished she never met Lord Balrus there, then perhaps she wouldnt be in a situation to be given conditions.
Lord Balrus held her hand “Not here, too many faces... follow me” he said and led princess Sansa away from the crowd. They walked from the market square and to Lord Balruss house.