This is another one that is far too ambitious. I thought it would be simpler when I started writing, and then added a strong subplot to make it work, and the subplot took over. . . . Another fantasy story.
Makos woke with moonlight shining pale but bright through his window. In the stark shadows thus created, someone stood over him.
Reflexes honed by a year on the battlefield took over, and he had a knife in his hand and was rolling away to put the bed between him and whoever it was before he could think.
“My lord, it’s just Indeza,” came a silky, purring voice.
His mind, shocked into awareness by the battle urgency pouring through his blood, could scarcely comprehend this. Indeza had come to his bedchamber? Not to Feren, or Dezak? Or had she already visited them. . . .
He remembered he should be drugged, and said muzzily, “Indeza? Did you bring me more of the pain medication?”
“Not this time,” she said. “This time I’d like to talk to you, Makos.” She sat down in the chair near his bed, moonlight turning her to an ink painting, ivory and ebony. It was the first time, he thought, that she had called him by name.
“What?” he said, putting a bit of sleepy petulance into his voice. “I’m tired. Come back tomorrow.”
“I think you will want to hear what I have to say,” she said, leaning forward. “Hear me out.”
He pulled the covers over his legs, but sat up on the bed. His knife, still unsheathed, lay beneath the coverlet near his hand. “What?” he said again.
“Makos, youngest son of Lord Feren of Ergajo Manor.” She chanted the words, as if she sang his name. Again, she said, “Makos, youngest son of Lord Feren of Ergajo Manor.”
He said nothing, waiting for her.
“Makos, do not think that your exploits have gone unnoticed. Though your father and brother may belittle them, others have remarked your deeds. Though your king may ignore you, and the nobles in his court snub you, others have been watching.”
Makos, still in the grip of battle haze, had a hard time believing what he heard. So she wasn’t in his bedchamber to ingratiate herself sexually; no, she offered him something else.
“What do you mean?” he asked, still in a thick, sleepy tone.
“Makos, you brought your little contingent through battle after battle with no loss, few injuries–why, you and your men profited from the battle. Did you not come home with better weapons and armor than when you left Ugar village?”
“I had to protect my men. Better weapons and armor–”
“You see? You were placed at the very forefront of battle, yet you survived. Survived and prospered. How many others prospered as did you?”
“I . . . don’t . . . know,” he said very slowly. “I tried to keep Ugar’s men separate from the others, that they wouldn’t take to drink and whoring as some of the others did. I knew their families wouldn’t be happy with that.” As he said it, it struck him that it was different from what most of the other gentry and their village troops had done. But he had been there for one reason only–the King commanded that Ergajo Manor fulfill its obligation and send armed men to fight his war. These men were farmers, mostly. Once their year was up, those who survived would go back to their fields. He had assured that it would happen, that Ugar would not have more widows and orphans because of the King’s wars.
“You fought well. You brought your men home alive. Yet your father who has never fought tells you all that you did wrong, and your brother sneers at you.”
Her words struck uncomfortably close to his own feelings. Had he perhaps babbled something, when he was fevered and had taken her first potion?
“Makos, Makos, why waste your leadership talent here, as a second son who is not valued? Come away with me. There are those who value your talent and will reward it as it deserves.”