“If it pleases My Lord,” he said in response.
Mandrean turned to one of the concubines and said, “Number Nine, go bring me the Blue Sapphire.”
She bowed her head and answered, “Whatever you ask, My Lord.” Though still in her childbearing years, Number Nine was far older than the young concubines Betrimpia verbally abused three days before. Nevertheless, her unclothed body was an exquisite site to behold as it stepped out of the bath and strode confidently over to the bench holding the stone. Fendri bowed his head as if in her honor but the truth of the matter was he did not trust his eyes not to fixate on her mesmerizing attributes.
When Number Nine reached the bench, she casually reached for the gem her master requested. The moment she touched it, the Blue Sapphire released a bolt of lightning in the form of Blue Magic that shot her across the room like a catapult. She impacted the far wall and then fell to the ground. Fendri set down his tray and quickly rushed to her aid. He placed his fingers on her neck but could feel no pulse. He hung his head in sadness over her charred body.
Silence in the room was broken by laughter from Mandrean. He could not contain his enjoyment. “Did you see that, Fendri? She struck that wall like an insect being swatted. How is that for a trick?”
Fendri stood tall, pulled himself together and turned to look at his Emperor. “That was an impressive trick, My Lord. Am I to understand anyone touching the Blue Sapphire beside you will receive a similar fate?”
Mandrean beamed like a child with a new toy. “I haven’t tried it on everyone,” he laughed. “I think it’s safe to say it will only serve me.”
“Well then,” Fendri began. “I will have one of these trays removed.”
“Do no such thing,” Mandrean ordered. He began to emerge from the water. With a snap of his fingers the second concubine raced to fetch his full length white bathing robe. He stood on the marble with his arms held parallel to his shoulders. She dried him first with a towel and then wrapped the robe around his body. Once he was secure, she retrieved her own robe and dressed herself.
“I told you I had quite an appetite this morning,” Mandrean told Fendri. “I will now have two breakfasts.”
“If you desired more food, Master,” Fendri said as he picked up his tray. “I could easily have had the staff prepare any additional amount you would want. There was no need to sacrifice one of your concubines.”
“Where is the fun in that?” Mandrean asked as he placed the Blue Sapphire in a pocket of his robe. “Besides, Nine had become a little too old for my taste. Now bring the trays to the main floor where Fifty-Six and I will eat.”
Fendri and the slaves followed Mandrean up the stairs and placed the serving trays on tables by the pillowed furniture. Mandrean leapt onto a cushion and uncovered two of the trays. He brought all the plates onto one tray and began to eat. Once he’d begun, Fifty-Six reluctantly started to eat as well.
Mandrean ravenously attacked his meal. As he chewed, he beheld Fendri. The Master of his House dispatched the slaves and stood at attention in a corner. “What news from court?” Mandrean asked before a loud belch.
“Your court will be assembled by midday,” Fendri answered. “Though I am not informed of their actions, it is my understanding they have updates for you.”
“They had better have more than that.” Mandrean barked. “What of Necromancer? Has he completed his work?”
“I sent a servant to request an update on his progress. Necromancer nearly incinerated him but he reported your Court Magician would have something for you when your Council convenes.”
“At least one of my servants is doing as he is told,” Mandrean commented as he took a piece of crisp bacon in his hand. “I knew he would not fail me.”
Fendri’s gaze fell to the side for a moment as he silently added his own thoughts to the statement. Then he decided it would be better to let the matter lie and continued with his agenda. “Your tailors and their servants will arrive shortly to prepare your attire for your journey. I assume you are still intent on personally taking part in the hunt for the outlaw Grithinshield?”
“Your assumptions are correct,” Mandrean stated as he cut a steak on his plate. “I will deal him the final blow with my own hand.”