Princil's Magic : Ch.12 : Guthelm's Weakness (Part 2)
After a few months Remzain felt she had settled in at the court of Charlerion in Cromilil, and was more confident of the King’s ear. Sometimes he talked about matters of state in her presence, although he kept his own counsel most of the time, and settled matters of governance and war with his nobles and generals. The King was complaining about his ally King Guthelm again.
“He has wasted his sorcerors on pointless acts of terror in Bricas. He nearly emptied your city Cromilil of all its people and workers. He unleashed his Goblin allies upon other towns along the coast. There will be nothing left to rule in this once fair land!”
“As an ex citizen of Shalirion I can only agree my lord,” she agreed easily.
“And now I hear a merchant’s son has defeated a Grumandrian army a long way to the south, up the Cromil valley.”
Remzain was pleased to hear this news although she tried not to show her natural feelings to her master the King, to whom it was not good news. As a woman of Shalirion she felt elated that things were not going well for the invaders, and the cruel barbarian Guthelm in particular. Remzain wondered which of Shalirion’s citizens might have successfully fought the barbarians. “Who has done this?”
“A Shalirionite army! We know little of who they were. Guthelm’s people do not know. Perhaps refugees from Cromilil? Perhaps fresh armies from south and west.”
Remzain thought of Alos, her halfbrother. Had he got away safely? Had he been able to find ways of resisting the invader. And what of her brother Princil?
Charlerion had become used to his new concubine and valued her greatly for the pleasures he received from her. He had begun to show her off to his friends and courtiers, in scenes and orgies of great depravity and much intense fun, but only amongst an inner circle he could trust. They were a youngish adult crowd who all promised to create no scandals. The King made sure they understood there could be extreme penalties for those who spoke of these activities in the wrong circles. She had been encouraged to very lascivious behaviour which she had enjoyed very much. She could behave somewhat like a Shalirionite again.
Remzain began to see Charlerion with a bit less awe because she could see the young lustful playboy in him, but he was serious about his growing empire. That was something she naturally had misgivings about, but she was keen to destroy Guthelm’s Empire of evil. In ridding the world of him many lives would be saved, and many lives would be made better.
Their lovemaking was soft and pleasing to her. He was a beautiful man. But he was driven by many compulsions, and she was only one of them. She knew that and she did not mind, for she was too. If he had been merely a beast, motivated by merely sexual drives he would not have been such an interesting man. He would not have motivated the lust, and she now believed the love, which she was feeling for him. His desire for conquest was part of a desire to rule and create. She could see the admirable side to his ambition, despite her worries about the damage such ambition could do to her land, and possibly other lands also.
He spent himself inside of her, selfishly this time, for usually he attended to her needs as well as to his own and took pleasure in hers. There would be times when this must be inevitable. She could not blame him, for he had much upon his shoulders and she should be grateful to have found a life so privileged and loved, when all around was cruelty and destruction. To be fed and alive should be privilege enough in these hard times.
“Are you alright?” she asked, wishing to comfort him.
“Yes thankyou Remzain. As you see I am distracted. You were lovely as ever.”
“May I ask what is troubling you, my lord?”
“Matters of state. Just matters of state.” She did not think he would tell her more. It was not her place to know.
“You knew Guthelm the King, did you not?”
“Of course. If you remember,” she joked a little, “He gave me to you.”
“What did you see of him?”
“We have spoken of this before. He did not show great interest in me. I think he had had his fill of concubines. I was just another.”
“Yes I have asked you before about this.”
“I hardly knew him in person. He bedded me once, that is all.”
“Yes and he fell asleep from his drink! That is the Guthelm I know. He seems to give less than sufficient attention to most of his affairs, the bed as much as to his affairs of state or his battle plans. There was a time when he was keener you know, when he tried to control everything, and he stayed awake for all his women too, I should imagine. At one time he tried to conquer Pelancir, you know.”
“That would not surprise me from what I have heard. How did you resist him?” she asked.
“My father was still alive and on our throne at that time, but I fought to defend our crown from Guthelm then.”
“Did you? I did not know.”
“We built up our armies and we defended ourselves. We stung him badly. He knew that if he continued upon that path we would sorely wound him. We sent our terms to him and he realised he would do better to accept alliance, to share mutual conquests than to fight and destroy each other. We have been allies ever since, although I would say never close.”
“Do you still have anger for what he did to you at that time?”
“We do. We of Pelancir will not forget his invasion. There is no love lost between us. We fear him, but while ever he is useful to us we will work with him.”
“It seems he is not so useful to you now,” said Remzain. “He makes enemies of all Shalirionites so they will fight against him and Pelancir. He kills useful men and women, ruining the chances of creating wealth from conquered territories. You inherit wastelands and cities destitute of people. He attacks targets like Bricas hundreds of miles away from where your campaigns are fought, wasting your powers of conquering territory. I fail to see what use he is to you now, if conquest and occupation remain your goal. You would be better without such an ally.”
Charlerion’s face showed the closest resemblance to anger she had seen in him yet. She did not have to dig too deep to find the well of his anger. And yet he managed to repress his irritation and remain a polite control. His control was a measure of his respect for her and his interest in her. But she had found a sensitive place in his perfect visage.
“Remzain you cannot say that! Would Pelancir have been able to conquer Cromilil without Guthelm, his wizards and his soldiers, and his allies the goblins and dwarves, and the dark elves? Of course we could not have done this alone. The truth is Remzain, we need Guthelm and the power of Grumandria.” He admitted this to her, a citizen of the conquered city, this weakness of Pelancir, and his reliance on an ally who was not much liked by his own people.
Almost flippantly she suggested, “Well if you need Grumandria and its soldiers and sorcerors why don’t you remove the inept and uncouth leader from its throne. Find a Grumandrian King to respect, or perhaps you should try to take its leadership yourself. I am sure you would make a better King than Guthelm for his people.” She saw immediately that her flippant words had made an impact. The way he looked at her, and delayed in any response. It was as if these ideas had come to him for the first time and he immediately recognised something he had been missing in them. When she saw his confusion and growing comprehension of what she had just said she began to wonder if she had been sensible to suggest such thoughts. She could not then know the effect of her words, but she could see the change in his thoughts thereafter. She was attracted by the ambition she saw there, but saw that it might just possibly consume him and all those who depended upon him. She had not been entirely serious when she said these words but once said their wisdom could no longer be ignored. Grumandria needed a new King. Anyone must be better than the current occupier of that throne.