This is the chapter when I introduce Faziel’s nemesis: Jebeyan Iksmadorn. I did enjoy writing him because he’s some kind of crazy, but when I re-read the book again some months ago, I found a few inconsistencies I had to fix, particularly his history with Faziel. I wanted to show the emotions between the two from the get go. I hope I fixed it okay in this scene.
And I changed Jebeyan to human instead of a demi-God like Faziel, because I just figured it wouldn’t make sense for human parents to give birth to a demi-God. Yeah, silly things we find while editing, haha.
CHAPTER 13: JEBEYAN IKSMADORN
Jebeyan’s camp glowed like a ludicrous circus. Multicoloured tents of various styles mottled the desert amidst tall palm trees. A medium-sized lagoon graced the centre, surrounded by patches of greens lush enough to pass as a miniature jungle.
The bandits hauled me off the horse. It took a moment to find my feet, of course my bound arms did not help. I tried to remember the scouts’ survival tips I’d learned back in the Academy, but no chance I could break this complicated knot.
At least I was walking. The bandits had to drag Faziel into the camp. He seemed on edge, from his miserable injuries or the heat fever, I couldn’t tell.
I staggered up to him. “Faziel…”
He was busy studying the surroundings, still wearing his battle face. It made me nervous. I remembered his bright grin when we’d arrived on Umbishka.
None of that now.
The heat dissipated as soon as we entered the camp, replaced by a cool autumn breeze. The atmosphere turned tavern-like jovial, complete with mild whiffs of beer, grilled meat, and boisterous gambling. Bandits, in skin tones from fair to dark brown, chattered merrily in a cacophony of languages. They paused to watch as Jebeyan’s entourage cut through.
Our captors shoved us to the ground. Jebeyan strolled to stand before Faziel, waiting patiently as Faziel struggled to find his most comfortable kneeling position. I must admit Jebeyan Iksmadorn was a striking sort, with a commanding air that imparted instant charisma. Traces of his regal heritage manifested loudly in him. He carried himself with that graceful confidence of one used to have thousands following him. His dark olive skin glistened in the sun; lean-muscled arms and solid poise suggested years of combat experience. He bore all that with casual pride.
“I wish our reunion weren’t so dramatic, Faz.” His voice carried that honey-laced thunder like Faziel’s. “But you left me no choice. You killed five of my best men and must answer to it.”
“I suppose self-defence wouldn’t settle well with this audience,” Faziel replied. “You have our gold and all other possessions you care to distribute amongst yourselves. Best you call that fair and let us continue our journey.”
“You heading to Dreamland?”
Faziel shifted on his knees, his crooked right wing refused to fold. His eyes were fixed on Jebeyan with a kind of energy I was not yet able to decipher. “What are you doing here exactly?”
Jebeyan replied with a smile. “My business isn’t your concern unless you wish to resume our prior engagement?” A deeper meaning loaded that question, I could sense it in the words unspoken. “There is something you can offer here, Faz.”
“My pledge at the time was to the Queen’s General. From what I gathered, you’re no longer him.” Faziel’s gaze darted through the men–there were hundreds, all armed with various weapons. I remembered Yasmeena’s warning: Monster find you. You run. I did not think escape was an option in this condition.
“I won’t waste my service to a spoilt-brat, if that’s what you’re asking.” Jebeyan shrugged. “My people agree with me.”
My people? I snorted.
Jebeyan ignored me, moving closer towards Faziel till he loomed over him. “It’s wise to join me, Faz. You and I will alter history once more.” He walked forward and lifted Faziel’s chin up with one finger. The air charged between them. “That’s my offer: your resumed service for your patron’s life.”
The muscles in Faziel’s jaw danced. “I’m bound to my patron by oath. Her life means mine.”
“What’s your quest, Logikan?” Jebeyan asked without looking at me.
“What’s yours?” I threw it back at him.
Jebeyan’s smirk widened. “Ha. You always do attract the most impossible patrons, my friend. I tell you what. I’ll give you two a moment to consider my offer for old time sakes. After that, we play by my rules. Understood?”
Faziel nodded once. The bandits dragged us to a tent and chained us to two wooden posts.
At least, they had the grace to leave us alone.
Thank you for watching, all.
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