Rat King

Across the sea

ora hadn noticed him since she found Forlis only son repulsive. Yakub supposedly had the same wolf-kin form that his father possessed, but shed never seen it.

”Yakub, speak more gently to the girl youll be marrying. ” Forli offered Isadora a friendly smile. ”Well step out for a few minutes if she is feeling shy. ”

Isadora tightened her throat to keep the bile from rising up. Shed throw herself from her balcony rather than wed such an awful person.

If Duscanti was angry, it didn show on his face. Instead, he waited until Forli and his son left before motioning for Yun to close the door. ”Do you wish Yun to leave also? ”

Isadora nodded. She felt a pang of guilt at the surprise on her bodyguards face, but she ignored it. People were killed to keep secrets; she had no clue how her father would react. She waited until the door closed again before speaking. ”My vision was of my birth. ”

Duscanti crossed his arms in front of him, scowling at his daughter. It was a reminder that despite his carnal nature, he managed to sire one child and that was a daughter. ”What about it? ”

”A Magi-Midwife delivered me from a Rat-woman named Ember. ” Isadora had to focus on keeping emotions out of her voice. Before last night, she hadn known her mothers name.

Duscanti uncrossed his arms and grabbed a silver goblet that sat precariously on the chairs arms. Hed forgotten both the Magi and the Rat woman, but the name sounded familiar. ”Continue, ” there was a flicker of interest in his eyes.

”After my birth, you struck the Magi and returned to your ship. ”

Duscanti nodded. ”I should have killed her for lying to me. ”

Isadora shook her head. ”An hour or so later, Ember gave birth to a second child. This one was a boy. ”

The silver goblet flattened in his overly large hands. Duscanti leaped to his feet; his eyes brightened like they did before he changed into his beast form. ”What? ” The words weren shouted but instead whispered.

”Last night, he underwent a blood rite ritual with one of the Nomadic tribes in the Four Kingdoms. ” Isadora calmed her breathing. The memory of it made her heart pound. ”Hes there. I can feel him even now. ”

Duscanti had doubted his daughters visions before, going so far as to beat her before finding out that she saved his life. He had never spoken of the Magi-Midwife, nor named the Rat-woman that birthed her. A son… Could it be? His ship left almost immediately after he returned. For the first time in his life, he felt anger at himself. Without a son, his position in the Empire was weakening. Other Dukes were eyeing his territory. ”You can feel him? Could you find him? ”

Isadora nodded. ”Even if he was hiding in a crowded city, I could point him out. ” She continued confidently. ”Although untrained, hes fierce. Recently he was injured badly while fighting a band of elite hunters. ”

”Injured? Will he recover? ” Duscanti dropped the flattened goblet on the marble floor; his eyes burrowed hers.

”Yes, this was earlier in the summer. I saw three visions of his memories while he was undergoing the blood rite. ”

Duscanti cursed under his breath. He couldn send military forces to the Four Kingdoms. The King required his presence in the campaign against the Khomane.

”Send me, Father. I will find him and bring him back. ” Isadora held her breath after she spoke, he rarely changed his mind once he made a decision.

Duscanti considered his options before nodding. ”I can go with you, but I will send Forlis son, Yakub. ”

”Is that wise? ” She kept her tone neutral. She hated the lecherous Yakub, but he would cause her plans to change.

”Whats that mean? You and he will marry one day. ”

”He believes that marrying me will make him your heir. ” Isadora chose her words carefully. ”Sending him on a mission to retrieve your son seems a bit… tempting. What is it that you always say? ”

”That temptation is a bitch. ” Duscanti was close with Forli, but in this instance, Isadora had a point. ”Who can we trust? ”

”Yun. She can gather a few of her fellow monks and accompany me. ” Isadora watched her fathers eyes as he considered the possibilities. ”I won tell her about Demitri. I will say my vision concerns locating my mother and bringing her back with me. ”

”Demitri? ” Duscanti grinned suddenly, perhaps his first real joy in more than a decade. ”Thats his name? ”

”It is. ”

”Push forward with this plan. Talk to Yun and well discuss logistics before dinner. ” The possibility of him having an heir was too important to put off, nor would he share it with Forli.

Isadora bowed deeply. ”As you wish, Father. ”

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