Deroes kan Ingan, the stubborn and strong-willed Margrave of Arcanis, has eluded all attempts to get him to marry, and never intends to fall in love, but then he meets...
Spoiled, beautiful and accustomed to getting her way with men, Elizabeth professes love for and weds Deroes, privately calculating the benefits of marrying the ruler of a galaxy. Unexpected obstacles derail her plan - most significantly, Deroes' nephew (and former heir), Aric.
Taken from his mother at age twelve and raised as the heir to the Arcanian throne, Aric bitterly rebuffs Elizabeth's overtures of friendship. Events take an unexpected turn when he falls in love with his uncle's wife.
While Aric and Elizabeth begin a passionate affair, other forces in the kingdom are plotting rebellion and murder...
...using Aric as a less-than-innocent pawn.
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Double Dragon Publishing
January 04, 2012
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Excerpt from Sinner by Toni V Sweeney
The Arcanian policy regarding the Solar System was one of isolationism. The reasoning behind it was such common knowledge that even the most inattentive schoolboy could readily recite the story. In stark contrast to this political openness, the events leading to the revocation of that policy, and the betrayal that followed, were carried out in the strictest secrecy.
Arcania had once sent a delegation to the only planet (unnamed in the star system X97B) that showed evidence of sustaining life. Expecting to find angelic inhabitants in the green paradise's lushness, they instead were assaulted by a band of naked apelike creatures who clubbed two of their members to death and proceeded to devour them.
Being on a peaceful mission, the Arcadian crew's only defenses were in the form of personal weapons. Although they killed several of the beings in retaliation, the grief-stricken ruler agreed not to further risk the lives of the remaining men... the two men killed were his son, the Crown Prince and his nephew.
From his headquarters in the Arcanian capital city of Aljansur, the Margrave decreed that no one from the Emeraunt Galaxy would again endanger his own life by returning to the planet. They would instead wait until the creatures reached a stage of development in which they could receive alien visitors in an intelligent and peaceful manner.
This took longer than they expected...
Two millennia and several hundred Margraves later, when the present ruler decided to again attempt to contact the third planet from the sun X97B, (now known by it's evolved inhabitants as 'Terra'), the Council of Elders called a secret meeting.
They had little hope of changing his mind.
Deroes III had been king since he was eight years old, when his father (who had never been inclined to venture outside their home planet) died as quietly as he had lived.
As was customary, the Elders stepped in, declared themselves the young monarch's guardians and made the boy a figurehead. On the eve of his thirteenth birthday, Deroes called a meeting where he emancipated himself from the elders' authority over him, relegating them to their original advisory role.
The Margrave and his advisors were at odds from that day forward, as he seemed determined to prove that his given name (meaning 'He who is easily lead' in Arcanian) was a misnomer.
Now, in a long, narrow room overlooking the road to Aljansur City, the elders sat, attempting to construct an argument against the lastest manifestation of the Margrave's need to prove his independence. Several days earlier, Deroes had announced he was to lead a mission to the planet Terra, breaking a two thousand year policy of isolationism.
"I suppose there's no way to dissuade him.." one offered, hopelessly.
"Perhaps we should encourage him to go," another suggested.
"Reverse psychology?," asked head elder Kozlu Lowen. "Tell him we approve of his going and he won't want to?" Adding sarcastically, "Do you really think that would work?"
"No, I say we let him go to Terra," the speaker clarified. "If he gets this wanderlust out of his system, perhaps he'll settle down as we want him to."
"Since when has Deroes ever done anything we wanted him to?" grumbled Malik Azura.
"Exactly," Kozlu agreed. "As for settling down, do you honestly believe that travelling to one distant planet will kill the adventure in his blood? After all, he is a kan Ingan."
"Perhaps it's for the best," Arim Tam hesitantly added. "You know it was his grandfather's dream to open trade with the Terrans." As he spoke, Arim, the newest member of the Council, brightened hopefully. "Perhaps after the Margrave has accomplished that, he'll return home and be ready to accept a more sedentary. life."
"Yes," Malik agreed. "Perhaps this journey will cool his adventurous blood... "
"... and then we can persuade him to marry," Tam finished, voicing the hope in everyone's mind.
The advisors had presented Deroes' with numerous noblewomen, and his refusal to select a bride had been a bone of contention between them.
"I doubt it," interrupted Arim's older brother Jared. " He hasn't shown any prior inclination to do so. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder... "
"Wonder what?" Kozlu snapped. He fixed Jared Tam with a steely gaze. "You're not questioning our sovereign's sexuality, are you?" When his fellow Counselor didn't answer, he continued. "Everyone knows of his trips to the Pleasure Dome and the woman he keeps there." He waved a hand in the building's general direction, visible in the distance from the Assembly Room window. "Why, I took him there myself when he was thirteen."
"No, Kozlu, of course not," Jared back-peddaled. " It's just that he manages to find something wrong with every girl we've introduced him to. One's too tall, one's too short, one talks too much... "
"Well," Malik pointed out, "being married to a woman who chatters like a magpie can truly be Hell."
That brought a roll of laugher from all, as Malik's wife was a notorious chatterbox. He'd often joked that it still astonished him that he'd managed to get her to shut up long enough for him to propose.
Landrum Kohl, who had remained silent, now spoke up; "I say we don't oppose him. Let him go with our blessing - he's going to anyway."
"We're straying from the subject," put in another Elder, "which is the effect this will have on our planet."
"That's right," Arim Tam leaned forward earnestly. "Terrans are centuries behind our own galaxy in space travel. They still put their passengers into stasis and they continually try to convert other planets to their own religion. Think about it... Terran missionaries attempting to convince our people there's only one god!?" He lowered his voice as if imparting a secret. "They obviously have no sense of ancestral pride, either. Anyone may marry whomever he chooses! The mixture of their races is evidence of that... They don't even have a caste system!"
The horror in his 'pure-bred' Arcanian voice was obvious. "Terrans have a reputation for being the most sexually indiscriminate species in their galaxy. Do we really want our people - or our leader - exposed to such motley, promiscuous creatures?"
"For the gods' sakes, Deroes is just going to open trade negotiations, not sleep with them!" The other Advisors stared at Kozlu. Realizing how his burst of anger surprised them, he continued a little more mildly. "Granted, they've only just begun spatial exploration. I understand their reception of His Majesty's message caused a bit of an uproar since they had no idea our galaxy existed."
"You're defending them?" His brother Willem spoke up.
The Elder Advisor ignored him. "If I might play the god of Hell's advocate for a moment; Perhaps we can help them advance technologically, and their, uh, 'biological diversity' may provide an interesting study. As for religion, Arim, I believe what you're suggesting only happens when there's an aggression and a planet's occupied, and that will never happen here."
Effectively silenced, Arim Tam sat back, but his expression revealed that he still had severe doubts.
Kozlu continued. "Are we in agreement, then? We'll notify His Majesty we disapprove of his plan and strongly suggest that he... "
Behind them, the door slid open.
"... that I what, Kozlu?"
The men at the table hastily left their chairs, dropping to their knees as their sovereign entered the room.
"Your Majesty... " Kozlu turned, trying unsucessfully to not look guilty. "We...I... That is... "
Under the steady gaze of those amber eyes, as unnerving as the stare of an attacking hawk, he gave up and bowed. He might once have been Deroes' tutor and was the closest thing to a good friend the Margrave had, but he knew that wouldn't save him from His Majesty's anger.
Deroes came into the room and stopped directly in front of his old friend. "That I should give up my plan to go to Terra?"
"Sire, I... " Kozlu bowed his head.
"No prevarications, Kozlu, please." Deroes' voice was quiet, holding a hint of exasperation. "I know why you're all here." He looked past the old man to the others. "You're trying to think of a way to convince me not to go to Terra. Just as you did with my grandfather, and my great-grandfather and his father before him." He made an impatient gesture with one hand. "Oh, get up already!"
With great difficulty and a few groans, the twelve men staggered to their feet.
"They're still a violent, unpredictable people, Sire," Kozlu protested.
"So are we, for that matter." Deroes placed a gentle hand on the old man's shoulder but Kozlu felt fingers that wanted to tighten into a bone-crushing grip. "Sorry to disappoint you, my faithful counselors, but I am going to Terra." His hand fell from Kozlu's shoulder and Deroes turned, stalking through the still-open door, saying over his shoulder, "... in two days." He disappeared down the corridor, leaving his old teacher staring after him.
When the sound of their sovereign's footsteps had died away, Kozlu turned back to the others.
"Gentleman," His voice was filled with the long-accepted sound of defeat; "You heard His Majesty. I believe we've been dismissed."