Path to the Throne (Part VI)

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Along the way, Abigail and Rudolph kept trying to have another heir, or two or three, just in case. They didn't have any luck, and I know why. Henry had finally obtained the necessary ingredients for Martha: a lock of Abigail's hair and a handkerchief with Rudolph's blood and snot. How did he manage this? No idea. But I do suspect that it was via the maids. Women loved Henry and were willing to do anything just to get another look from his stunning blue eyes—even Martha, although they never became more than friends. She loved him as a younger brother, Rick and his wife Mirabelle, as their loving parents, and his children and myself, as her own kids, her kin. That said, she loved me a bit more.

Each time we got a letter inquiring about my health and asking them to deliver me to the capital, my nanny started hissing, as if she were a rabid cat, and cursing them, with strong and targeted curses, all powered by her hate for Rudolph and love for my mother.

She went through both pouches with fragments of her enemies and hissed furiously, "Ye want my child, ye scum? Ye'll never have any more of yours!"

A good hex, one that would never let you have children, no matter how hard you tried. You wouldn't conceive, wouldn't carry to term, or if you actually did, it would be such a monster, you'd choke it with a pillow yourself.

Abigail just couldn't conceive. She never got pregnant, simple as that. As an added bonus, only a necromancer could identify such a hex. And necromancers were killed, thanks to the tireless efforts of thralls and servitors of the Bright Saint. They got burned, crucified, drowned in holy water... And not just necromancers, but their entire families. After hearing about that, Martha cursed foul Rudolph and crooked Abigail. She wished them the same thing again—infertility.

Her wish came to life from a necromancer, via a dead fragment of a live body, to the person. No life or mind mage could detect this. And it worked, like a needle, a long sharp needle, which could pierce the rings of chainmail and sink into your throat. Could such a needle kill? Everything could if you wanted it to. Uncle was protected, of course, buried under a mountain of amulets, but a needle could penetrate any armor. That's what needles were for.

Of course, were they to invite a necromancer, he would easily tell them they were victims of malicious intent, but necromancers were the product of the Dark Tempter and had no business being around the court. As for the others, casting a hex was always easier than dispelling it.

Rudolph and Abigail had two children left, Prince Andre and Princess Ruthina. The prince was four years older than me, the princess, two. Both took after their parents, or, more precisely, after their father in looks, after their mother in smartsboth fair-haired, with the same set of features and the same rat-like cunning.

Upon their birth, they had been granted lands, and the generous king had promised that his kids would never want for anything. He kept his word. They never did. They ate from golden plates, wore gowns embroidered with diamonds, and got everything they wanted at first request. And they were slowly but surely turning into scumbags who were completely sure the sun shone out of their behinds.

The king showered his toadies and sycophants with gifts, at the taxpayers' expense, naturally. The lowest thrall of the Bright Saint got a gilded robe and a silk undergarment, while people starved. The king, meanwhile, was getting blessings in all the temples. They collected a tithe, too! Soon, it grew twice as big. And the fee for the simplest rituals, like name-giving, was thrice as big!

They never thought about me, fortunately. Everyone promptly forgot about Torrin and three of its owners—Rick, Henry, and Martha. We didn't produce any income, yet we thrived. But one story at a time.

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