Al-Siden Raz was in his antechamber, one of the few places he could be alone. But he wasn't alone, not right now. Right now, he was with his advisor, the one person he could truly trust. More so than his wife. Far more so. In fact, his wife was the current subject of their discussion.
"Your Majesty, the queen was not in her quarters early this morning. In fact, she was seen returning to the palace in the wee hours before dawn. I am sad to report I do not know where she visited, or what was the purpose of that visit. Would you perhaps inform me why you have my men keeping watch?"
The king of Maradesh removed his heavy crown and laid it on his desk. "Faruq. I am sure you realize my marriage is, as most royal unions are, not exactly for love."
The king's advisor nodded slowly, wondering if the king was about to answer long unasked questions many had had. "Yes, Your Majesty."
"Then I am sure you also realize that, while she was relatively high-born, few alliances were made and few benefits gained our kingdom by or marriage."
Faruq nodded again, this time slower, considering. Yes. He'd realized that. He among many had wondered what gain the king would have from choosing this wife over the many higher-born ladies who could be at his beck and call. She was beautiful, that wasn't to be denied, and at first, the king's subject wondered if it was attraction that held his interest.
But after they married, it became clear love hadn't quite entered the equation. They'd had a son, produced one heir for the throne, and then seemed as though they rarely touched each other again. The queen was cold, the smiles on her lips never ever reaching those icy eyes. The only person she seemed to care for at all was her son.
The king could easily have put her away, had her killed, anything he wanted to get rid of her. He could have kept their child, raised him to rule. But something, some force he didn't understand stayed his hand, kept him from taking those actions. Faruq wasn't the only one who wondered what. "Your majesty?" he prodded.
The king's voice lowered. "She has a great power, Faruq. One I am not certain of, nor am I comfortable with. She has...certain connections I am slowly becoming aware of, and I am concerned as to how things will proceed from here.
Faruq's heavy brows knitted so tight they seemed to form on. "Your Majesty, what started all this? What exactly is going on?"
"I worry for my son."
"Is there something concerning Prince Darius, I should be aware of, sire?"
"No, Faruq, not the prince. My other son. My first son. It's time I told you something."