Stim looked very cautious; he turned his eyes away from Quadera and said, “Look, I saw the King last night. It seems unhappy with our stay here. Clearly, he’s still pissed that you lost Castle Black.”

“I told him that Izak had conspired with the Helerantis in the attack on the Castle. He didn’t believe it at first… or maybe he did, but wouldn’t face up to it. When he told me he would break my neck if I’d lied him, I wondered if he would break the neck of that traitor as well.”

Stim snorted. “Well, what king has ever killed his only son?”

“Lavlas did. After arranging a glorious dinner party in which all the guests enjoyed the meal, he told them that the meal had been prepared from the flesh of his heir, as prelude to his announcement  that he would become immortal. Queen Seriya thought at first that the King must be joking; but when the boy’s head was brought to the table, they were all astonished, and she was horrified and furious.

“They knew well that Queen Seriya wouldn’t let him go unpunished. and would avenge her son’s murder. In order to prove that immortality was a myth, she personally assassinated Lavlas three days after that event. She cut his belly open, ripped out his liver, and chewed it raw in front of his entire court, as a lesson to all those who rejoiced at the assassination of the only heir to their King.”

Stim replied, “Eh, the Lavlas Dynasty are a bunch of criminal cannibals, you know that. The queen’s grandfather used to say that since there wasn’t enough space in the harem for all his wives, Lavlas ordered the less attractive women beheaded—and added that if all ugly wives were killed by their families and their bodies sent to him, they would be rewarded with hundred gold coins. After the breaking of this news, the smell of blood, murder, and massacre lingered in the city, and families would knife even the beautiful women in the face to deprive them of their beauty… and after killing them, they would own King’s hundred coins. The massacre lasted for so long that it bankrupted Lavlas, and on the pretext that Great Darkness would curse them, he issued an order to stop it.”…