The figure in the shadows would not move into the light. He spoke with a hushed voice and used a false name. Proditus he called himself. His cloaked form never gave any clue to his true identity.
Despite his lingering curiosity, Icharus preferred it this way. When the Imperial Guard questioned him about the disappearance of young Balan, he gave the false name of a dark stranger – a dark stranger to set the blame upon. He slipped into an alley between two merchants’ shops. He hid his identity for these meetings as well – at least from those who might notice him.
Icharus dressed in black Ecretian silk robes, a heavy black cloak, and Ecretian silk slippers. Sandals were loud against the cobbled streets of Emoria. Slippers allowed him to move quietly through the night without drawing attention.
He grumbled, having stepped into a puddle. “Why must we always meet here?” He glanced at the figure that stood no less than ten feet away.
“Would you rather I come to your home so that all may know of your schemes?” Proditus asked in a low tone. His voice was rough and husky.
Icharus sighed, ignoring the rhetorical question. “You sent a message saying you had news for me.”
Proditus shifted. A glimmer of something shiny beneath his cloak caught Lora’s pale light for just a moment. “All goes according to plan. Balan is deep in Dorean territory and General Demetrius seeks him.”
He grinned to himself in the darkness. “Excellent. What of the emperor? Have you settled on a plan for him?” Icharus’ skin tingled, a pleasant sensation that washed over him in waves. With each passing milestone, he wished he could reach his goal sooner. The pressing urge to rush head-first into the future made him fidget where he stood. His muscles drew tight.
“It is known that Emperor Loukas is a man with a taste for beautiful young men.”
Loukas is, indeed, such a man. He clenched his jaw against the sour taste in his mouth as his thoughts lingered on a half-remembered event from his childhood. Yet he laughed as well, reveling in the beautiful simplicity of it all. They could easily take down the half-wit.
“I would not celebrate so quickly, Icharus.” Proditus stepped closer but remained hidden by shadows. “Rumors spread that the empress is with child.”
A growl rumbled in Icharus’ chest. “How is this possible? I thought we had taken steps to hinder his seed.” Futuen idiots. He clenched his jaw again.
“I am convinced the emperor is not the child’s father.” Proditus turned and started to leave. “I will find the proof we need,” he added.
Icharus watched as Proditus sank deeper into the shadows and disappeared. A sneer lingered. Soon, all of his years of planning would lead him to the thing he most desired: power. First we must prove Empress Antonia’s infidelity. In a flash, the potential obstacle changed. The possibility of shaming the entire family was even better than the plan before.
With the rush of his pulse buzzing in his ears, he heard Iratus Puer whisper to him from within. “Would you release me this night? All of this excitement has made me thirsty.”
Icharus’ grin grew wider. “Yes, Iratus Puer.”
His head swam with a rush of vertigo. As Iratus Puer emerged, Icharus fell back, deep into the quiet place in his mind.
Copyright © 2015 by Sophie Giroir