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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    VVesley
  • Author
  • 2,999 Words
  • 1,562 Views
  • 8 Comments

The Truce - 1. Chapter 1

Warning: This is the third in a series! This series has graphic content.

Kade Hawkins was many things, but a “pestilence” was not one of them. He grumbled internally about having been referred to in such a way, by his own father no less. The annoyance of the insult festered within him, until he could no longer focus on the project before him. He was working on the soles of a pair of bejeweled slippers that some noble or other had dropped off, but was so distracted that he had accidentally nailed through the toe of one of the shoes before him. This popped a piece of silver décor out of the leather lining, which made him groan in frustration. That’s going to take forever to fix.

He threw the shoe onto his work bench in anger, and sat back in his chair dejectedly. For the thousandth time, he mentally declared that the life of a cobbler was absolutely not meant for him. I only stole a tenth of what she had in her purse, he thought of the woman who had just come in to scream at his parents. She was claiming that the store had either overcharged or robbed her, which Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins fervently denied. And I would never steal from someone in the store. I’m not that stupid… she just happened to guess lucky. Kade twiddled his thumbs, frowning at the image of the noblewoman screaming in his parents faces.

I mean, I suppose I was the one who stole from her, but it was over three days ago, in the marketplace. He thought back on the noblewoman who had come into the store demanding her funds, and his poor mother having to defend herself against the tirade that had been rained down upon her. She truthfully didn’t know anything about the missing money, because she had no idea that Kade was stealing. Kade thought his parents probably suspected that he was up to no good, but they had no way of verifying that. The cash that he brought in on the side could be from any number of activities, and it was helping them to live a better life.

My father might pretend that the extra income that I bring in is just a nice bonus, but I know that we need it. And that bitch had plenty to give too. Kade thought about how that particular woman had absurd wealth at her disposal, and by contrast his own father was dying of some unknown plague. Kade was helping to keep him comfortable and alive, and yet he was berated and referred to as a pestilence by the man. He sighed, propping one elbow on the table and resting his head in his hand.

I know that it isn’t right to steal, but the country we live in literally glorifies it. And is it really right for some people to have all of the money in the world, and others to have nothing? Kade’s family was one of the very rare middle class families that was neither rich nor lived in abject poverty, but he still couldn’t help but feel the great injustice of it all. The Nabian academies didn’t teach redistribution of wealth, but they gave me the tools I needed, and they’re sanctioned by the government. How can I be expected to be taught exactly how to steal and smuggle but not to ever use it? And for that matter, why would thievery be part of the most elite training program for Nabian citizens if it was against the law? Kade knew that master thieves lived a high risk lifestyle. They were welcomed among the elite for having climbed their way to power, but executed if they targeted the wrong people or were caught.

The rich deserve to be targeted, though. This world is unfair. Kade remembered a time when he had brought these sentiments to his mother before. She only responded that that was probably the reason that he had gotten kicked out of the academy, but Kade knew that that wasn’t true. The day he had been kicked out had been a shameful one for both him and his parents, especially considering most people either got through the academy training, or died trying. His case was unique and still a mystery to him, though he had some clues.

Kade had stolen a letter to the headmaster of the academy that detailed that he should be removed from the academy immediately, which he had felt was a great injustice. Despite being the top of his class in stealth and intelligence gathering, he had been let go. He knew that the instruction came from someone in the Di Coteau household based on the seal on his letter, but he couldn’t fathom why.

I know it wasn’t Alexandre Di Coteau’s household – his seal has been plastered everywhere since the rebellion, and its not a match. That left Damien, Devan, or Ysabel as the reigning Di Coteau family members during that time… though I guess it could have been a distant cousin or one of the children or anyone with the appropriate bloodline to use that family seal. He supposed he had angered someone that had the right connections, one of his classmates perhaps. But regardless, he was now stuck working in his parents shop instead of pursuing a better life. The world sucks. It’s so unfair.

“The world is just changing so much, it’s amazing! Nabius is becoming such a righteous place!” said a voice within the shop. Kade looked up annoyed, wondering if he had spoken his last words out loud by mistake. He looked around, noticing that two women had walked into the shop and were chatting amongst themselves. He was glad that he hadn’t said his complaints aloud, but was annoyed that these women were speaking in direct opposition to his current stream of thoughts. Really? he thought. I don’t want to hear this optimism right now.

“Welcome to the store ladies, can I help you find anything today?”

“No, no,” said one of the girls with a shooing motion. “We’re fine.” Kade returned to his work, still listening in on their conversation.

“Anyway, apparently the victory was rather grand. General Alexandre and Prince Carlisle stood atop the wallfort with Ysabel Clarion after their victory. It’s been proclaimed a Di Coteau territory now, and they say that General Orr fled south. Supposedly, his armies were absolutely ravaged.” She put emphasis on the last word, making it sound as if the deaths of so many men were the latest bit of a juicy piece of gossip. Kade rolled his eyes while the other girl squealed in delight, oohing and awing at her companion’s story. “I just can’t believe that someone so progressive is actually winning right now.”

“I know, that’s pretty remarkable if you think about it… maybe the world is changing. Who knows, by this time next year, we might be able to visit the Tomacian marketplace and palace. I’ve heard that it’s pretty amazing.”

“I’ve heard that Tomacian men are pretty amazing,” said the other girl with a wink. The two giggled, and Kade stopped eavesdropping as he returned to his thoughts.

Such worthless conversation… but I guess maybe things will be different if General Di Coteau gets his way. Though, he’s still a Di Coteau, and I don’t really trust that family. But maybe life wouldn’t be so bad if someone that pushes for equality amongst citizens rises to power. Time will tell. Kade went back and forth in his mind about what to think of the rebellion, wondering if it could ever affect him or open up a new opportunity in his life. Doubt it.

***

Alex reviewed the latest battle arrangements, frowning at the division of his squadrons. He had picked leaders from amongst his armies by hand, but not all of them were of the quality that he truly wished for. After the wallfort fell, he had restructured his army to reach maximum optimization of the skills of his soldiers. A few commanders hadn’t made it through the brief training process that Alex had devised, and thus they had to be substituted with others who had. One particular commander had either fled or disappeared, much to Alexandre’s annoyance.

He had thought that the blonde Ironian that stood by his side on the battlefield at the wallfort would have made a great leader or advisor by his side. I guess I must have intimidated him when we were dining. He seemed to have such resolve for this fight, but I guess I can’t read everyone right. He mulled over the list one more time, supposing it was the best that he could do. Whatever, it’s of no consequence. I can’t get everything I want.

Alex knew that despite all of the leaders of his units not being absolutely perfect choices, he had a solid formation and was well prepared to move his fight to the west and to the south. With Carl’s and his mother’s armies in addition to the armies of the allied generals of Nabius, there was a decent chance that the civil war he had started would work out in his favor. But it’s only a chance, and I’ve still got so much more work to do. Alex sighed, and rubbed his temples.

Orr and the rest of his armies have fled south. That leaves him, Marie Lafeye, Fran La Croix, Pitor Davora, and my uncle alive as the opposing generals. Giovanni Nandra is also officially sided against my rebellion, but he made the declaration that he won’t use force against us after the wallfort fell… and his sister Laura has assured me that he takes no issue with our movement. He just wants to avoid bloodshed at all cost. If I could convince the Ironian armies that border him to back off, maybe he would have a change of heart and decide to help…

Alex liked that option, but came to the conclusion that it probably wasn’t feasible. I don’t have that kind of relationship with the Ironian leadership. He thought about the Coyne and Monciet families, both of whom probably wanted him dead. I’m sure if I called for a meeting or saw one of them face to face, they’d kill me at the first chance they got. He looked down at the numbers that his analysts and commanders had helped to prepare, and sighed.

That leaves us with a slight advantage in numbers, not including Uncle Yago’s armies. But will he fight? And if he does… we have no idea how many people he has at his disposal. It could be none, but it could be thousands. Part of Yago Clarion’s territory was built into the mountains, in which there were tunnels that could hold entire towns. Historically, the general that held that territory always kept his armies stationed there so as not to give any other general indication of the power that he had at his disposal. Yago was no different, and Alex detested that he had no way to guess what kind of opposition he might face.

“Saints please help me,” he said aloud with a groan. He felt hands on his hips from behind, and Carl’s pelvis press into his backside.

“I don’t know about them, but I could certainly help take your mind off of things,” Carl whispered into his ears from behind. Alex grew stiff at this, and pushed back on the taller man’s crotch.

“That sounds nice,” he said seductively. “… but later. I need to come up with a strategy for our next moves.”

“No you don’t,” said Carl with a light nibble on the back of Alexandre’s neck. This made the small hairs on his body rise, and a small pulse of energy traveled through the skin all over his body. He could feel the bulge in Carl’s pants straining against the cloth of his pants, and he put one hand on it to stroke it from the outside. “We’ll have the others take care of any remaining duties.”

“But what about the armaments? And the money? We’re running out of funds, Carl. What your parents sent only covers the rest of this month. I can’t just not pay may soldiers,” Alex replied. Carl had begun taking both of their clothes off, eager for release.

“You’ve got two new territories now,” Carl shrugged. “I’m sure there’s things we can sell here. And Jezebel’s mines are probably worth the plunder.” Alex was feeling annoyed as he stumbled because Carl had pulled his pants down to below his knees, but couldn’t help but emit a small sound of pleasure when he felt spit covered fingers make small circles around his hole.

“That’s…” he mumbled with distraction as he felt the tips of two fingers slowly slide into him “... that’s actually not a bad idea.”

“Exactly,” said Carl, fumbling with his own pants, one handed. “Now stop thinking and let me fill you.” Alex gave a nod yes, and felt all of his husband’s girth slide begin to work its way into him.

***

“An order?” Jezebel said aloud, incredulously. “Are you fucking kidding me?” The newest general of Nabius set the letter she had just received down, anger slowly beginning to settle in. She had almost found a small hint of contentedness before this, and now was appalled by the insult.

Who does he think he is? I am a general of Nabius now, not my cousin’s fucking lapdog. Alex is going to pay for this. How dare he treat me with such little respect? Jezebel thought to how she had almost succeeded in killing Alexandre once, but he had gotten away via the distraction of her accidentally killing his father Darion instead. He had apparently survived assassination by Marion’s plant as well, and Jezebel found solace in the thought that her cousin’s luck would have to run out soon.

I’m not going to give him a shred of what we make from Du Vance’s mines. And his “envoy?” I honestly ought to slaughter him… she paused at that, thinking of what the letter had said. Alexandre is sending Mikhail to my territory to start the new forge and mines. He’s helped to run his father’s in the northernmost territory for a while now, and knows what he’s doing… I guess I could use the help. She pushed hair out of her face, still angry at the thought of one general sending an order to another. I don’t have to do anything that he says. I took this territory on my own, it belongs to me. Mikhail will be a big help, but still…

She thought of the tall smith’s son, who she had seen grow up alongside herself, Alex, and Talia. He’s cute at least, she mused. I guess after he gets my money moving, we’ll see where his loyalties lie. And he’ll either be getting laid after that, or be unable to ever get laid again. She wondered what he looked like naked, or if he had any experience with women. She knew that he had the ability to navigate Nabians socially, as he had survived growing up with the Di Coteau children without too much injury. So he should be aware of the fact that he needs to show me respect. She shrugged. His choice.

Jezebel held Alexandre’s letter over the open flame of a candle, and watched it burn up on her desk. All things considered, she had actually been enjoying her new role and post. There weren’t very many soldiers to manage, and she had them training each other. No work for me. Jezebel was enjoying the foods and views from the late Jack Du Vance’s mountain fort, and had found that the staff there was actually decent. Only one servant had needed to be punished so far, and Jezebel had taken care of that swiftly.

I’m so good with management. Another reason why I absolutely should not be being managed by another general. Especially not the one who rebelled against the nation just to fuck a Tomacian… I don’t see why he couldn’t just visit some of the brothels in town. They have plenty of Tomacian prisoners of war, if that’s his thing. She frowned at the small burnt husk of parchment that now sat on her desk, figuring that she would certainly find some way to get revenge on Alex for his latest crime. I’ll figure it out later. She returned to her new stack of mail. As she read through it, she became increasingly annoyed that she had not received welcome letters from the other generals to the Thirteen.

I suppose they’re waiting to see which way the war goes… spineless, the lot of them. I’ll remember this. She flicked through her pile, not taking interest in much of what she had gotten this day. A couple of merchants sent me congratulations… sycophants. And my latest trading ledgers… I can’t believe Du Vance did so little business. She frowned at the idea of not turning much profit from her new land. I guess it’s good Mikhail’s going to set up the mines anyway. Jezebel continued to flip through her mail, growing more and more annoyed that its contents were so mundane. She hadn't expected full extravagance and fanfare, but it felt like her taking over this new territory had sparked little interest elsewhere, as if it had no consequence.

Maybe that's why Alex thinks he can order me around... it doesn't matter. I'll show him that I do indeed matter, one way another. And once I get the feel for the other generals, we'll see which ones are willing to help me. She turned over the next letter, and a smile lit up her face. Her green eyes sparkled, and she undid the wax seal on the parchment in her hands with slow, deliberate joyfulness.

A letter from General Yago Clarion, addressed to General Jezebel Di Coteau. I wonder what he has to say?

Copyright © 2018 VVesley; All Rights Reserved.
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So Jared left with his business unfinished? But the plotting against Alex is still ongoing. Lots of loose threads needed to be stitched in to get the rebellion to end in his favour. 

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It is an interesting beginning. Kade is mad at the Di Coteau's and has no idea he is of the wealthy and privileged family himself. I can imagine the letter from his now secret father was intended to protect him from harm and not be a hidden cruelty. If the war works out, his life may change drastically. This young Di Coteau heir's life has staggered from one tragedy to another.  Hiding the boy with the cobbler might have seemed like a good idea and it has kept him safe, but he isn't very happy with his ersatz father's ungrateful attitude.  Only in Nabius would a school teach how to steal. It is one of the backward ideals which will have to be changed.

 

Jezebel continues to prove why she deserves the least and so little respect. She expects everything and to offer nothing in return. She is a glowing example of the product produced by the Nabian academy and of the worst traits of her family line. I don't envy Mikhail coming into her clutches. Given her history, there should be a full complement of spies watching her. Now Yago, the Clarion with the full time demon, is contacting her. I'm already dreading this turn.  Yago is a cunning and adept strategist. He isn't a Jack du Vance. He is so careful to keep his strength or , very possibly, his great weakness hidden. If he had sent troops to the war which were few in number, it would have telegraphed he had little to send and encouraged direct attacks. By sending no troops, he risks nothing at all and can sit back and enjoy the outcome no matter which way it goes. In this respect, he is like Spain's General Franco, who avoided being involved in World War II. He was the only European dictator of the era to die of old age.

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After thinking more on the breadth of the story, it occurred to me Alex has two Ironian assets he is not really fully aware of. One is Jared, who chose to withdraw rather than murder him. The other is Luca. Luca is pure Ironian treasure. He is smart, kind, brave, and noble of spirit. It is a curious and intriguing combination from such an unlikely source. We know virtually nothing about his life before he was captured and enslaved. The only thoughts I recall him having were of his room being small and homey and his siblings being dead. There has always been more to him than there seems on the surface. It's all I'm going to say.

Edited by drpaladin
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I'm pleased to see Alex is still with us, obviously wouldn't be much of a story without him. Looking forward to seeing what prompted Jared not to go through with the assassination.

Sending poor Mikhail into the lair of that vicious witch Jezebel....how mean. Would be fun though, I'm sure he wouldn't put up with any of her nonsense. The biggest concern is what does Yago want. 

We finally get to meet Kade. I'm still leaning toward him being a promising prospect for Adrian. 

drpaladin touched on a really good point about us not knowing much about Lucas' background. Could he be the lost child of some important Ironian family? The story continues to intrigue and delight. Looking forward to the further adventures of the Di Coteau family and friends.

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16 hours ago, Goodie said:

I'm pleased to see Alex is still with us, obviously wouldn't be much of a story without him. Looking forward to seeing what prompted Jared not to go through with the assassination.

Sending poor Mikhail into the lair of that vicious witch Jezebel....how mean. Would be fun though, I'm sure he wouldn't put up with any of her nonsense. The biggest concern is what does Yago want. 

We finally get to meet Kade. I'm still leaning toward him being a promising prospect for Adrian. 

drpaladin touched on a really good point about us not knowing much about Lucas' background. Could he be the lost child of some important Ironian family? The story continues to intrigue and delight. Looking forward to the further adventures of the Di Coteau family and friends.

I'm glad you're a fan of the cast of characters! Thank you!

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Franco was not the only dictator of WWII to escape intact, there was also the Emperor of Japan. He even ended up still in charge under MacArthur.

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13 minutes ago, Will Hawkins said:

Franco was not the only dictator of WWII to escape intact, there was also the Emperor of Japan. He even ended up still in charge under MacArthur.

Hirohito wasn't a dictator. The position ofJapanese emperor was as a constitutional monarch. Under the Meiji Constitution the emperor was head of state but the prime minister was the head of government.

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Thanks for your correction. My recall of WWII is hazy at best. And the organization of other nations rule is more complex than my brain can assimilate – hell, I don't even understand the organization of my own. The Electoral College (Is that the correct name?) was a necessity, perhaps when the US was first created, but it seems to have exceeded its 'pull date'.

Edited by Will Hawkins
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