Odd were the circumstances behind this mission. Gadon had worked at the palace in Shimeron for some years. He’d been an officer in charge of a legion, but over time his sympathies changed. He slacked in his work and drank to excess. Eventually, his superiors demoted him. So, when seeking a scapegoat for his troubles, he fixed his resentment on the Select. He reasoned that they sought to rule the lives of all men, whereas people just wanted to do as they pleased.
One day while on duty in the palace gardens, he saw a woman, a beauty beyond compare. She had porcelain smooth skin. Her silken hair hung over her shoulders. Her lips, painted scarlet, nearly matched her blood red satin dress. Her scarves played in the breeze sending about her, the high, thick, sweet, overpowering scent of rose and lily.
The woman approached Gadon much as a snake might slither upon its dinner. Cocking her head, she looked at him from the outside corner of her eye, then ran a fingernail down his chest.
“Hmmmm,” she purred. “What have we here? A big, strong soldier.” Eyelashes went closed, paused, then opened again, as she graced him with the slightest of smiles. And so began the seduction of Gadon.
Over the next months he became more involved with the woman, and less concerned about any consequences. The two met regularly in a hidden alcove in the palace gardens where they sought their delight in one another. Over time the woman gained greater and greater control over him, his desires, and his thoughts.
After some time, Gadon’s ladylove recruited him to keep his eye on a certain Select. “She’ll be the ruin of us all if left to her own devices,” she cooed. “I need you to watch her for me. Can you do that?” She moved in closer, her lips just inches from his.
He couldn’t tear his eyes from the fullness, the promise of that mouth. He could feel her, smell her, taste her with each breath she exhaled.
“That child simply must be destroyed,” she whispered. “If not, Rowena will stop at nothing to bring it to power one day.”
He simply nodded. He would agree to anything. The woman had bewitched him, and he cared not.
“Rowena has heard rumors that she’s in danger here. She’s growing ever more fearful. She plans to leave the palace tonight. I need you to follow her and to make sure that the child she carries never sees the light of day. Don’t come back until you’ve accomplished that.”
After leaving their trysting place, a gentleman overtook him. Tall and slim of build, the man had melded into the shadows. “I have something for you,” he said as he grabbed Gadon’s shirt, slammed him up against the courtyard wall, and then held a knife to his throat. “If you say anything, I’ll kill you,” he snarled.
True to form, Gadon simply nodded. Independent thought had become foreign to him.
The man sheathed his knife, then reached into a bag tied to the waistband of his black wool pants. He pulled something out, then handed the object to Gadon.
“Take this. It’s a call for the grut. Only use it when you know you’re very near Rowena. We don’t want undue attention drawn to this mission now, do we?” He chuckled. “But whatever you do, destroy her before she bears her child. Do not fail,” he added as he released Gadon with a shove, then disappeared into the night.
Immediately, Gadon recruited a group of men who’d run into difficulties with their palace duties. Once done, he and his recruits left the palace grounds. Now, months later, their search continued.
Turning his attention back to the present, he fumbled at the grut whistle in his pocket. Always so close—she was always so close—but she was never close enough.
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