The gods of Nevre: The Coward – Before

Prince Rajendra knelt on the edge of his father’s bed. Tears spilled from his eyes as he watched the life drain from his father’s face. “Father, don’t leave me. I don’t know what to do without you.”

“End the wars, Rajendra. That’s what you do.” The king smiled slightly. “If anyone can do it you-” the king stopped speaking. The half-smile frozen on his face.

The healer looked at Rajendra. “The king is dead, long live the king.”

– – –

Rajendra woke up in a cold sweat. He hadn’t had that dream in a long time. The last time it was just before a short skirmish at the border. He carefully got out of bed, not wishing to wake the queen, and hurried to the commander. On the way, he saw his four-year-old son, Amir, toddling through the halls, his nanny close behind. Amir faced him, his eyes closed.

The king knelt down and picked his son up, waking him. “Amir, you did it again.”

“Did what papa?”

“Nothing important. Just go with Joanne back to your room now.”

Joanne nodded and took the prince by the hand. “Sorry, m’lord. I was told not to wake him if he did it again.”

“That’s right. If anyone other than me wakes him he screams.”

“Can I help you with anything, m’lord?”

“No, just deal with the prince. I’m heading to commander Wend to check on something.”

A knowing look came to Joanne’s eye. “Have that dream again?”


“Then hurry on your way.”

Rajendra chuckled. “You’re my son’s nanny now, not mine.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

“Yes, yes. Look, I’m going.”

– – –

King Rajendra turned toward his chief advisor, Emyr. “Well, it happened again. I had the dream of my father’s last words and there’s a skirmish. This time it was a few days later, but it seems to work.”

“Yes, but you still keep the border well defended as I suggested. Doesn’t hurt to be prepared.” Emyr sighed. “You know I still recommend an offensive stance as opposed to a defensive one, but your reign was built upon keeping the peace, so it’s your call.”

“It would be anyway, but I understand the sentiment. We will be talking with Aliaz next month. Remember the people there are sylvan, but they aren’t animals. They are humans after all.”

Emyr frowned. “I don’t hold the belief that they are savages m’lord, just that there’s nothing we can gain from them.”

There was a knock on the door. “Prince Amir to see you, my king. Says you promised to practice soldiering in the yard today.”

The king smiled. “I presume we are done here, Emyr?”

The frown on Emyr’s face disappeared, replaced by a smile. “Of course. There’s nothing urgent, and the boy does love playing with his father.”

“Let him in.”

The door swung open and Amir ran into the room, a muscular pre-teen now. “Well, father, are you able to come with me?”

The king grabbed four practice swords from the wall. “Emyr, do you mind joining us today? I invited Stigr to join us as well.”

“Stigr? Does he even know how to hold a sword? That boy is always reading books on prophecy and time.”

“I’m teaching him. Father says it’s the zenith of learning, being able to teach others what you know.” Amir took two of the practice swords from his father. “We could work on dual wielding if he ever gets the hang of holding a sword with only one hand.”

Emyr laughed. “So, he doesn’t know how to hold a sword.”

“No, he doesn’t.” Rajendra joined in the laughter.

– – –

The king had three stones in front of him. According to his chief scholar, Irfan, there were only two pieces left. He had started this search because of his wife’s illness. There was no known magic strong enough to heal her, and he hoped that the so-called Gem of Nevre would contain the power. He didn’t know if he was right, but she only had a few days to live, and the other two pieces hadn’t been found yet. He turned and started towards the library’s exit.

“M’lord.” Simisola, the king’s chief physician and queen’s personal nurse, approached the king. “I can extend her life by a few days without adverse effects. She responded well to the honey extract, but I’ve been told that won’t be enough.”

“No, the other two pieces will take weeks if not months to find.”

“I’m sorry. I wish I could do more for you.”

“You’re doing your best. That’s all I can ask.”

Simisola bowed her head. “I actually came to speak to Irfan, is he in?”

There was a thud from the back of the library and a coughing fit. “Sounds like it. What do you have to talk to him about?”

“He’s researching some ancient medicines for me. Maybe he can find something.”

“Yes, maybe.” The king straightened as he turned to leave, then he had a strange look on his face. “Oh, my son’s jester was looking forward to speaking with you before he leaves. If you have time maybe you can do so after speaking with Irfan? I’m sure you left my wife in capable hands.”

Simisola smiled slightly. “He’s a very sweet man, but I hope he doesn’t expect more than friendship. My apprentice is watching over the queen. She’s in very capable hands.”

– – –

The king mounted his horse and started in the direction of his son’s castle. The rest of the court followed behind, ready for the journey. They were uncertain why he wanted to combine the stone at his son’s castle, but they were sure he had some reason.

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