Read Interregnum Online

Authors: S. J. A. Turney

Tags: #Historical, #Fiction, #Rome, #Fantasy, #Generals

Interregnum (81 page)

BOOK: Interregnum
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A few years ago he’d had a long avenue cut through the western orchard so that the view from his window was unobstructed. For some reason it gave him great comfort to see the graveyard down there where so many friends lay buried. All the former marshals of the Empire lay there now, alongside his father, the great general Caerdin, whose body had been removed from the wrecked villa all that time ago. Marshals Tythias and Athas had both gone less than a decade into the new Emperor’s reign, within a month of each other, amidst memorial ceremonies that had taken place across the length and breadth of the Empire. They’d both been popular with both the army and the people. That had been a hard year for Darius; harder than Sithis going six years later, though Sithis went out the way he’d always intended, leading a charge against a small barbarian army that had crossed the northern border. The hardest of all had been Sabian last year. After that autumn morning when Darius had strode out into the grassy courtyard to see the marshal face down on the grass, surrounded by concerned guards and servants, he’d suddenly realised that he was the last person alive who could remember all those men who’d been instrumental in rebuilding a shattered empire. Mercurias had dropped dead from a heart attack while administering a lecture to the palace doctors in the Peacock Palace years ago, Marco had died from his wounds only a year after Kiva, and Balo less than two months later from an overdose of mare’s mead, since when its use had been outlawed Empire-wide. Even the younger ones were gone. Cialo had died in a riding accident a decade hence, leaving a huge family that seemed to swarm around Isera every summer when they visited. Sathina had seemed to just waste away after her husband had been taken and one morning just never woke up, discovered in her bed with a sad smile on her face by their eldest. All gone except him.

Still, he chided himself, there was no call for such maudlin thoughts. People went and that was the way of things. Soon he’d be able to see them all again in paradise. The high priests had assured him that his father would have been admitted to paradise for he’d redeemed his actions. Darius had laughed about that and made sure that it was made public knowledge empire-wide that he was their Emperor, but by no means divine. When he died, he would just go where all the ordinary folk went and enjoy their company.

And, of course, for every one of them that had died, there was their legacy. Titus Tythianus was already a prefect in the army, rising rapidly and, being a good friend of both the Imperial heirs, he would likely be a marshal before long. He reminded Darius so much of his father. He’d lost a finger in his sword training even as a boy and already ached when the winter snows came on. The aging Emperor chuckled to himself. Then there was young Sabianus, who was currently engaged in writing a history of the civil wars and took every opportunity he could to bother Darius and make him strain to remember the smallest details.

There were others. He couldn’t really remember them all. His memory wasn’t what it once was and the court seemed so full of young people rushing around these days. Thank the Gods young Kiva was there to organise him.

Where was Kiva this morning? Surely he should be here by now with his lists of foreign dignitaries waiting for audiences and the appointments with members of the senate seeking his approval of new laws and amendments and so on. Perhaps young Ashar would be here today. He’d been in the city for a month now, so he might drop in again. The current Parishid King was unlike his father, more involved in mercantilism than politics or war, but had stood firmly behind his father’s position on the alliance with the empire. Pelasia and the Empire enjoyed a free border these days with no trade restrictions and no taxes. The citizens of both states were commonly seen in the cities of the other.

Darius smiled and looked down the avenue of trees toward the graveyard. Some days, even with the bad sight that had crept up on him since his sixtieth birthday, he fancied he could actually make out his father’s gravestone. He’d stopped visiting it a couple of years ago when such long walks had become too much of a strain for his tired frame and he refused to be carried in a litter like a fat old autocrat.

Strange somehow that he’d spent the first twenty years of his life imprisoned on this island and feeling trapped and inhibited by it and after only a year or two in the outside world, he’d longed to be back there. Oh he’d travelled all over the empire in the next four decades, even to visit Brendan and his family in their villa up near Vengen where they owned a considerable vineyard, but he always came back here. Isera was home.

He smiled and leaned his chin on his steepled hands, gazing out across the western side of the island and that was how, less than an hour later, the Emperor Kiva the Golden found his father, the last of the architects of Interregnum.


And, insofar as these things ever really have an end, this is it.







































































































BOOK: Interregnum
13.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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