The next day, I was awoken by Karnax’s entrance. I managed to rise to my feet by the time he had reached me.
“Good day, Sivva,” he said, nodding his head towards me.
“Hardly,” I said briefly, my tone as sharp as broken glass.
“As always, the same vicious temper. It’s a wonder you managed to obscure that from the Council, that or your merits overrode your flaws.
“No one is flawless. In each person is a flaw, no matter how small, no matter how hard to notice. But it’s there.”
“Spoken like a true scholar and a trained speaker,” Karnax nodded. “Tell me, have you considered my proposal at all in the time I have given you?”
I hesitated. If I responded instantly, he would suspect something. I had to appear reluctant.
“Barely,” I said simply.
Karnax shook his head. “You’d do best to consider it more rapidly. I will not wait forever - you cannot hope to stall me”
“You might as well give up any attempts to disrupt me,” he growled. “You should be aware by now that it is hopeless. You will not stop me, no matter what you try. It will be simpler if you come to terms with this and agree to aid me. Your reward is great- you could prevent a war. Remember that the next time you turn me down so roughly and dismiss the alternative I have offered so brusquely.”
He turned on his heel and stormed out.
I smiled slightly, watching him go. Things were different now. Now I had a plan to undermine him and the war that he was working so hard to cause. I was no longer the helpless prisoner, waiting to see what his next move would be. I would strike him down and prevent the war from even beginning..
Karnax cursed under his breath as he strode away from the Sivva’s cell. He burned with anger. How he despised her, with her contempt and casual dismissal of his words. As if she would even have a choice in the end!
He took a breath, clenching his fists. It didn’t matter now. She would surrender to him in due time. He had seen the look in her eyes when he had suggested an alternative to a war.
Not that any such option truly existed. Karnax wanted war. He intended to raze Shivax to the ground, and Zila along with it. The capital city of Simar would not be standing for long, not once the Sivva agreed to speak the words of surrender to the Sivva Council. Then everything would play straight into his hands- where it belonged.
From the ashes of Zila, he would raise a new capitol, one of glorious proportions and undisputed power. He would be the single ruling force, and all the Sivvas would bow to his rule, not some foolish council. He would mandate tracking spells on all Sivvas at all times to monitor the comings and goings of the various Sivvas. He would control them all, and nothing, not a single rebellion, would be initialized under his rule. Those accused of treason would not be given a trial- they would be put to death immediately. Those speaking of rebellion would be treated in a similar manner, or imprisoned. Karnax cared not, as long as they were out of the way.
He continued walking, devising his plans for the future. Anyone that stood down and allowed him to take over would be rewarded. Anyone that resisted or rebelled would be killed. Immediately. Karnax nodded to himself. He liked the idea of that. His total and unquestioned rule. Lord Karnax. Lord of all Sivvas. The single unquestioned king, who would rule with an iron fist.
His first orders of business would be to make sure that the Sivva he had now was put to death. He would not have her getting in the way of his new empire when it happened. Killing her would be effortless- almost ridiculously so. Once he had the power of a ruler, no one would dare protest against her death. Ideally, the Sivva Council would remove her for him, but she was stubborn, and a clever survivor. If she made it past them, it would matter not- she would not make it past him. Either way, she would not come out of the other side unscathed- or even alive, for that matter.
Karnax smiled. Everything was as he wished it to be. It was perfectly arranged, ready to fall into his hands. The last step was to get the Sivva to comply, but it was only a matter of time, really, until she gave in, and agreed to speak to the Sivva Council of surrendering. Then he would have his victory. Finally, he would be the one in control. As it was meant to me. As it had always been meant to be.
He snapped his fingers, summoning the Hâfléng child to him. She appeared at his side instantly, dropping into her traditional deep curtsy.
“You must find a way to drug the Sivva,” he instructed. “She will not suspect you- you are just a child. Perhaps you can convince her to eat, and render her unconscious her that way. Either way, it is extremely necessary. Understand?”
The child nodded eagerly. “As you wish, my lord. I’ll do my best, but she’s really suspicious.”
“Then find a way to work around it,” Karnax said dismissively. “Now go and do as I say, understand?”
She curtsied again. “Immediately, my lord!”
She vanished as quickly as she had come. Karnax briefly wondered how many secret passages there were that she knew of, to slip between places so quickly. But he dismissed it; it was inconsequential to him. However, it was a useful trait in a servant - to quickly be where they needed to be.
He considered offering the Sivva another chance to surrender, but the thought of dealing with her at the moment made him angry again. In the end, he decided that it wasn’t worth it, continuing on his way to brief the Hâfléngs about the upcoming mission they would be given.
My door opened quietly, and I rose, seeing the Hâfléng girl slip into my room. She glanced around furtively, quickly and quietly shutting the door behind her. She carried food with her and set it down. I raised my eyebrows.
“You’re lucky I brought you this,” she said quietly. “Karnax was ready to refuse you food completely since you weren’t eating it.”
“I won’t fall for any tricks he sends.”
“This isn’t a trick,” she said earnestly. “Please, just eat it. I don’t know when I’ll be able to bring you food next.”
I hesitated, looking down at it. Admittedly, I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten much and the thought of food was tempting.
I dared to sample it. It was good- better than I had expected. I finished it, and nodded my thanks to the girl. But she drew back, a smile growing on her face.
That was when the world began to dip and spin. My eyes widened with alarm and I looked to the girl.
“Lord Karnax will reward me,” she said with an eager giggle. “You really aren’t as clever as he says you are.”
“Demonspawn,” I hissed. But the drug had a hold of me, and it was all I could do to remain upright.
“No, I’m just doing what I was told,” she shrugged. “You’d do the same if your council ordered you to.”
That made me hesitate, but I didn’t have time to truly grasp her words, because a warm numbness was spreading through me.
I heard the main door open, but the world was hazy now. I couldn’t see who it was, but I knew it was Karnax.
“Well done,” he murmured. “And you, Sivva, have disappointed me. I expected more. But what does it matter? Sleep, and when you wake we will talk.”
I couldn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t let myself. But this drug was powerful- my mind dimly registered it as Somnia, derived from the nectar of pearly white flowers that grew wild in Simar. The drug was powerful, a few drops were sufficient to knock someone out for ten minutes- more would last anywhere from minutes to a full day. The amount I’d been administered must have been strong for me to feel the effects so early on.
The drug attacked in full force, and I slumped, dimly feeling myself hit the floor. Then it was dark as night, and I knew nothing more.