Not Really the Prisoner of Zenda by Joel Rosenberg EPUB & PDF – eBook Details Online
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- Author: Joel Rosenberg
- Language: English
- Genre: Fantasy
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THE WIDOW’S WALK
Put three nobles in a room for lunch, and before the
appetizers are served, you’ll have four conspiracies. At
— Walter Slovotsky
THE WIND HAD begun to howl, threatening still more rain, but the
Dowager Empress neither quickened nor slowed her already sodden pace.
Beralyn Furnael simply refused to be affected; it was no more and no
less than that.
It wouldn’t have been accurate to say that threats meant nothing to
her — in fact, the truth was entirely the opposite — but she was far too old,
and had far too long been far too stubborn, to let anything as unimportant as
the wind move her mind or her feet from any path she had set them on, even
if that path was something as familiar and trivial as that of her nightly walk
around the ramparts of Biemestren Castle.
Yes, there was some truth in what she said: that she needed her exercise,
and that the moment that she permitted her traitor body to deny her that
need, it would be time to have servants dig a deep grave, next to her
husband’s, on the hilltop behind the castle that had been theirs, and lie down
beside him for all of eternity.
Beralyn didn’t mind lying, but she didn’t believe in doing so
It was also true — at least when Parliament was in session, or when
there were other visiting nobles, which was more common — that her
nightly walks gave her son the opportunity to spend some private time with
one or more of the lords’ and barons’ daughters who, through no
coincidence, always seemed to be accompanying their fathers to Biemestren
None of them had any use for a useless old woman, after all. She would
just be in the way.
There was always talk, of course, about how the visits were inspired by
the cultural life in the capital, about how theater and music and generally
better craftsmanship could be found here than out in the baronies, and such.
All that was, of course, true enough, and perhaps more than a tiny
proportion of the apparently empty-headed young twits really had that as a
main reason for coming to Biemestren, unlikely as that seemed.
Their fathers, she was sure, invariably had other goals in mind. There
were always commercial bargains to be made, and political ones, as well,
besides the obvious hope: the grand prize. Her son. The Emperor.
An unmarried emperor was an obvious prize, as well as both an obvious
and subtle threat, and the easiest way for any of the barons to
simultaneously gain that prize and neutralize that threat was to have him
marry into the baron’s family.
She wished one of them would succeed. Any one; it didn’t much matter
to her, as long as the girl was fertile — and Beralyn would have the
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