A Silent Game of Spies

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This. This just received from Corstarorden. If he had to guess, it was another damnable tariff on incoming goods from Tortoreen. Almeric didn’t even want to read the parchment. It smelled of something – something afoul. Ever since he married off Theldry, tariffs and excises had been leveled, higher prices had been charged… and all out of Corstarorden. The S’hendalow economy had remained stable. Corsta money was slipping between his fingers and he wanted to know why. And how. Almeric was tired of it.

His eyes narrowed. Ever since he’d married off Theldry. That was it then, wasn’t it? Almeric sighed. If only the assassin had succeeded. She knew too much. Why those fools had allowed her to sit in on Cabinet meetings…. Politically speaking, a first-born child was allowed to do so, and so he had not sent her from the room, but the girl was too canny for her own good, unraveling plots and all but making bold accusations there at the table on three separate occasions. They’d finally told Almeric to stop the nonsense.

Tort law allowed women in Cabinet meetings… and even to take the throne if no other familial male descendant was left, but Almeric would die rather than let a daughter assume the throne of Tortoreen.

In S’hendalow, A’dair had taken the throne, and Nureen had been near rabid about marrying Theldry off to him, so that she might be a Queen, as she was a princess already, but with all the girl knew, Almeric just did not trust a new king with the possible knowledge that Theldry could hand him. If only she had stayed out of the way….

He hadn’t relished the idea of killing off his only daughter, for daughters carried the bloodline truest, and Nureen was likely past childbearing age, should something happen to Bronn at nine. Almeric had only visited her ladies-in-waiting these last few years, which was quite fine with him, for after Bronn, Nureen had thickened about the middle and Almeric preferred his women slender. He wondered upon the odd occasion how often a lady-in-waiting got with a child of his and took wormwort. A bastard of his would be better to have than just the two children. Why, the Delsynth king, it was said, had nine children. Nine, and all legitimate, even if the first five were daughters. Almeric shook himself then. Imagine how horrible that would be. Five Theldries. Awful.

Even more awful if his Theldry knew of Lord Scollard and Prince Rilstrom. He’d offered for Prince Rilstrom to stay in Tortoreen, but the ride had been too long. Imagine… an Eastern prince, in Tortoreen. Almeric smiled. And eventually all of his ships were helping not this little cast-aside Prince Varley, but the Ormon Queen, to attack Hardewold over in the Eastern Alliance, as they had been resupplying ships with Stordish troops in months past. For his troubles, Almeric would be getting the lower RiverLands, south of Romeny, so Tortoreen could expand east to the Singing River. The Ormon Queen – Queen she may be, and brazen, but she was smart. Almeric just had to pass the time and allow that wiggler Prince Varley to think he was getting what he wanted. Fool.

Yes. This whole raise in tariffs in Corstarorden he would warrant had to do with Theldry. Almeric had betrothed her to the wealthy Duke of Mendellion, who lived as far away as possible. Unfortunately, to certain Cabinet members’ chagrin, she had survived the betrothal. What good was knowing an assassin if the assassin was unsuccessful? Lord Scollard had returned the fee and written him that the security surrounding the girl was too thick for another attempt, perhaps in the future.

Well, mused Almeric as he considered the seven new tariffs and four new price hikes imposed upon Tortoreen by Corstarorden, that future was beginning to loom before him. Perhaps he would send a communication to Shaw and see if Lord Scollard was available again, for his daughter had become intolerable. Again.

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