They Call Me Shisa
The long-anticipated vote that was supposed to bring Imlia Praxien's rising star into the senate has ended-- in mayhem and murder. Morning finds the city of Pasillas caught in an deadly stalemate. On one side is Cyrien Sagar, who seeks retribution for the wrongs done her family, and whose eventual aim is to bring Pasillas back under the rule of kings. Her bid for power is directly opposed by the remnants of the militia, led by a one-eyed man named Rendon Tain.
Both leaders are fired by powerful convictions. Neither one of them is willing to back down. But whether they realize it or not, their fates may rest on someone else's shoulders.
Once indentured to a pleasure-house where he was known as Lirio, Shah Sagar has finally won back his freedom and his original identity, but at a terrible price. Now he faces the unthinkable choice of whether to support Cyrien, his vengeful and unstable older sister-- or Rendon, who means to destroy her. Either choice plunges the city into war, and time is running out.
Seth made a face. “You want information and access, you’re going to have to give some up, too.”
“It was never like that before.”
“Things have changed, in case you did not notice.”
Cindras frowned. “I thought we were on the same side, Captain.”
“I’m not a captain any longer,” Seth pointed out. “And as for sides, just what side *are* you on?”
“Yours!” Cindras sputtered. “Imlia’s. The senate’s.”
“Those are three separate things.”
“Like hell they are. Imlia and I have been helping the remaining senators escape from Pasillas with their families. So that Cyrien and her people can’t kill them. So that we might have something to come back to after this all blows over. We are trying to save the bedamned republic. Since when was that not the whole point?”
“Control your tone, Savea.”
“Control my *tone?”*
Seth grabbed him by the collar and shoved him up against the nearest wall. Which was constructed of heavy sandstone blocks. The air burst from Cindras’ chest, left him gasping but unable to draw a breath. Cindras had reached for his sword but it was trapped behind him, pinned between him and the wall-- and Seth’s hand was already there, gripping the hilt while he crushed Cindras’ solar plexus with the knuckles of his other hand.
“I don’t give a damn about the senate,” Seth said coldly. “It’s gone. If you and Imlia Praxien are just trying to put the broken pieces back together-- if you are really, truly just trying to save the republic-- then no, we are not on the same side. Not anymore.”
He eased off suddenly, let go of Cindras and backed away to let the younger man curl forward and gag on his first breath. Cindras nearly went down on his knees. He only just managed to keep his feet. *“Fuck,”* he gasped. “What the *fuck?”*
“You want information, you may trade for it,” Seth told him. “But you should know that I do not serve the same master that you do. I will not bow to any senate-- or the idea of a senate, since as far as I can tell, that’s all that’s left of it, now.”
Cindras backed a step. He was shaking-- and it might have been no more than adrenaline, but it felt like the ground was sliding out from under him. It hurt. He stared at Seth and saw no remorse-- no anger, either. His gaze was remote. Dark. Just looking at him.
“Why?” Cindras swallowed painfully. “Did Cyrien--?”
“Cyrien received the same news that you are about to,” Seth remarked. “And it left her none too pleased, if I am any judge.”