Poul & Karen Anderson by The King of Ys (epub)

Poul & Karen Anderson by The King of Ys (epub)

Author:The King of Ys (epub)
Format: epub
Published: 2022-10-04T00:00:00+00:00

~ 3 ~

In the event it was Soren whom he first saw, the two men by themselves in the private room of the palace.

“Nay,” Gratillonius declared, “I will not call another Council.”

“Why not?” Soren fairly snarled. They stood within fist range of each other and glared. Evening made dim the chamber, which brought forth the whiteness of Soren’s eyeballs, streaks in his beard, bald pate. “Dare you not go before us?”

“I’ll do that regardless later this month, at equinox. By then we’ll know better what’s to come of this, and we’ll have been thinking. I hope you and your kind will have been thinking. If we gathered earlier, ’twould be a shouting match, not only futile but dangerous.”

“You speak of danger, you who’d bring the curse of the Gods down on Ys?”

“Ah, do you sit among Them, that you are sure what They will do—what They can do? Have the Turones fallen to famine or plague since Bishop Martinus tore down their old halidoms and made Christians of them? Here I am, a mortal man; and I go daily out beneath the sky. Let the Gods strike at me if They choose. My business is with my fellow men.”

“Those may well become the instruments of the Gods, lest the whole nation suffer.”

Gratillonius shook his head and smiled without merriment. “Beware, Soren Cartagi. You think of the worst sacrilege, the murder of the blood-anointed King. I do not believe any Ysan would raise hand against me. That would destroy the very thing you’d fain preserve. Nay, I expect instead the people will rally behind me once they’ve heard my case and thought on it. For I am their leader, and I am their mediator with Taranis.”

“I’ve something else in mind,” Soren rasped.

Gratillonius nodded. “Aye. Another sequence of challenges from outside. Sooner or later I must fall. ’Tis been done in the past, when a King grew intolerable. But you will not do it; you will seek out your colleagues and make them refrain too, as the Gallicenae have already decided to refrain.”

Soren folded arms across his massive chest and compressed his lips before he said, “Explain why.”

“You know why, if you’ll stop to think. Ys is in peril from worse than Gods. I cannot provoke Governor Glabrio further by accusing him of connivance at the Frankish invasion, but there is no doubt. When I sent him a complaint against them, the reply was days late in coming, surly in tone, and dictated by Procurator Bacca—a studied insult. It berated me for attacking and killing subjects of the Emperor, rather than negotiating any differences between us. It said my ‘murderous blunder’ is being reported to the vicarius in Lugdunum, together with a list of my other malfeasances.”

Soren stood quiet while dusk deepened, until he said low: “Aye, we know somewhat of this.”

“You’d have seen the letter for yourselves as soon as my Watch in the Wood was up.”

“What do you propose to do?”

“Send a letter of my own to Lugdunum, by the fastest courier Ys can supply.


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