Good morning everyone and thanks for stopping by to read Chapter Thirty-Six of The Cursed King. I have had a busy couple of weeks – mainly because I turned 30 just after posting my last chapter and I have a wonderful group of friends and family who kept me very busy. It is times like this when I am glad I am ahead with the book, because it means that in weeks where I don’t have the time to write as much, I can still post when I say I’m going to. I’m currently writing Chapter Forty-Five, and so I am still about ten chapters ahead of you guys and around seven-ish chapters from the end of the book. It’s exciting times, but writing the crescendo – the most intense and action-packed part of the book, takes a lot of energy.
In today’s chapter, we are back with Nadir as he navigates the cold winter of Silver City after his encounter with Sir Eiruc in Betrayal. Nadir does not know who to trust, but an unexpected saviour seeks him out to offer him refuge, which leads to Nadir finally deciding who he can trust in this world of chancers and opportunists. Thanks for reading, and I will post Chapter Thirty-Seven on July 31st.
Nadir’s heartbeat slowed as the noisy streets quietened beneath him. He pulled his pocket out only to find crumbs, and so he lay on his back and stared up at the stars. It was the height of winter, and the sky was clear of clouds which allowed him to look up at the stars shine as the Great Galla began to form in the sky. A knuckle tapped Ellen’s window gently and she opened it as cautiously as she could. In her hands, the Blacksmith’s daughter held an apple and she handed it to Nadir. He had never been greedy, but the energy that his body used up from shaking made him exceptionally hungry. As soon as she bared her palm, he snatched the apple from her hand and began to devour it.
“You cannot stay out here, Nadir. The chill is not so bad at the moment, but you will freeze out here one of these nights.”
“I know,” he said through a mouthful of apple.
“Is there no way they will take you back to the castle?”
“I cannot go back there. I have told you. I need to leave and search for my mother. No one here is going to help me. The city is blockaded. I cannot get out of any gates. I need to try and sneak out when I am able.”
“It is awfully dangerous out there.”
It is dangerous everywhere, Nadir thought. “You are right, but I have no choice.”
“If you really need to go,” Ellen said, “would night time not be the best time?”
“Perhaps so,” Nadir said.
Nadir could tell from Ellen’s persistence that she was worried about him sleeping just outside her window. Nadir was small and quiet, but one wrong move and he could be caught easily. Once all of the torches and candles around the city had started to fade, Nadir decided to make his way to the gate to see if there was a way he could get out. The streets were deafly quiet. It had struck Nadir that there had been no commotion around the missing guard. It was all he could do not to think of the Garrison Guard that he had murdered, and even more not to think of what happened after. He pushed it from his mind and slinked in and out of alleyways, stepping over drunks and quickly tiptoeing beyond the gaze of guards and prostitutes. He did not want to be seen by anyone.
Before long, Nadir was at the Western Gate of the city. It was manned, albeit lightly, but the walls were thick, difficult to scale and with very few week points. Nadir had started to think that his quickest way out of the city would be by boat, but that would cost coin, something that he did not have. In the forest, Nadir had to be sneaky, but animals were largely predictable and there were very few people to get in his way. In the city, there was always someone, always a person lurking in the shadows ready to grab him.
“Hello again,” a voice came from behind him. Nadir yelped, but a wrinkly hand blocked the sound from coming out of his mouth. He was spun around by the figure who shone a candle up to their chin. It was Joan. The lady whom he’d bathed in the priory. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you, kid.”
“Joan,” Nadir sighed, relieved. “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve got myself held up in an abandoned house just down the way. I was watching the people go by and saw you darting in and out of streets like a lost puppy. Thought I’d better check on you.” Joan looked up at the gate. “Planning your escape, I see.”
“What? No…I’m…how did you…”
Joan giggled quietly. “I am just joshing with you, lad. Come on, let’s get you inside. I can’t imagine you’re out here all alone by choice. I bet you could murder a cup of tea.”
Nadir peered out of the window at the flames in the lanterns that danced in the breeze. Joan’s home was dark, which suited Nadir. The less attention, the better, he thought. After some time, a group of guards walked past her home, which was not far from the brothels and the taverns. The guards spoke loudly, but they were not laughing and bawdy like they were usually. Their tone was serious, almost furious. Nadir was frozen still until they passed Joan’s house and their voices faded.
“They have been keeping a tight watch around here. Between you and I, a Knight was found murdered on the other side of the square a week or so ago,” Joan told him, sipping at her tea.
“Oh, really?” Nadir said with his cup to his lips.
“Mmhm. You should be more careful. Wandering the streets at night. Lots of dangerous people around in this city. They think there are enemies hanging around.”
Joan nodded. “Enemies of the crown. I hear that King Aron believes that men from The Blacklands have snuck into his city posing as refugees. He thinks they are being delivered shipments of weapons and poisons to take the city from the inside.”
“Where did you hear that?”
“Oh, the usual places. The taverns, the markets, the docks. I like talking to people around the city. You find out a lot of interesting things.”
“Do you think that it’s true?”
“Well, I am a refugee I suppose, but I am not here to fight. I am just surviving. I was lucky enough to find this home abandoned.”
“Who would leave their home abandoned when there are people sleeping on the streets?”
“Who knows? Perhaps there are ghosts here.”
Nadir did not know if there were ghosts in the house or if Joan was just teasing him, but he knew that he would rather be inside with the ghosts than outside with the guards. He was frightened and alone, and worse – he was low-born and unimportant, which would make him easy to hang if they were convinced that he did kill Eiruc. Nadir felt a strange ache behind his eyes, He was not sure if it was stress or guilt. He tried not to think of it. If he thought of it, then that would lead him to what happened after Eiruc died. The flash of light. The terrifying woman who gripped him by the throat. All of it came flooding back. He gulped his burning hot tea to distract him from the thoughts.
Suddenly, there was a bang on the door. Nadir immediately sprinted towards the fireplace and away from the window. Joan took a step forward and instinctively put her hand across Nadir. “Hide in there,” Joan told Nadir, pointing to a small cupboard. “Hurry, go on.” Nadir did not waste another moment and hurried into the cupboard which had a few cobwebs among some pots and pans. Nadir heard the door to the house open. He peeked out of the gap and watched as a guard stood before Joan. Nadir had seen him before, but he could not remember where from.
“Who are you?” The man asked bluntly.
“My name is Joan,” the old lady replied equally as blunt.
“Does anyone else live here?”
“Oh no…just me. Alone.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“All my life, my dear. Why do you ask?” Joan replied in a voice as sweet as honey, but with a croakiness that made her seem frailer than she was.
“There has been a murder on the other side of the square.”
“There are always murders here,” Joan lamented and shook her head.
“This man was a guard, a high-ranking Knight of the realm. He was stabbed through the heart. You’ve lived her a long time…have you seen any new faces recently? Anyone you do not recognise.”
“More and more everyday dear. It’s not like it was when I grew up. Why don’t you come in and I’ll tell you about all of the people that I’ve seen around town? I’d be glad for the company. It’s been so long since I’ve had a friend to talk to, I think I could talk for hours!”
Nadir froze. Why was she inviting him in? He thought, but the Guard looked around him and smiled politely. “I…erm…it would be my pleasure, but I am afraid we are very busy. Perhaps another time. You be careful now…there’s a killer on the loose.”
“Oh, I will, my love. I hope you find him soon.” The guard walked away and Joan closed the door behind her and scoffed. Once he was out of sight, Joan opened the cupboard door. “Nothing more terrifying for a youngster than to sit and listen to an old woman talk for hours on end.”
Nadir smiled, and appreciated Joan’s cunning. It made him think of Enid from Bankwater. He had not thought about her for months. His mother had occupied all his thoughts in that time. It was harder to remember his village now. The simple days, the simple work, and the fun that he had with Anton and the villagers. All of them separated, most of them dead, and his mother…well…that remained to be seen. “You were brilliant,” Nadir told Joan. “Thank you.”
Then, without warning, the door to the house was kicked down. The guard was standing there, and then Nadir realised where he had seen the man before. It was the tall bandit who Nadir left to the wolves in the woods. He remembered his eyes; they were bloodshot and cold and his hair was dark and straggly. The guard stood over them and looked directly at Nadir. He put his hand on his sword. “Now why on earth would you lie about being here alone?” The man said. “I remember you, lad. You left my friend and I to die. Left us to the wolves. Did you kill someone else, eh? One of your monk buddies do it? You’re coming with me. I’m taking you to Lord Hardwick.”
Joan turned to him. “Looks like you better run,” she flicked her head towards the open door and then threw herself onto the guard. Nadir ran towards the door and escaped, but realised he could not leave Joan there. He turned back and looked through the door, but it was too late. Joan had been arrested by the guard. “Run child! Jivana be with you,” she said. Nadir did not waste another moment inside the house, he ran into the street. He had not needed to run since he fled from his burning village, not like this, not for his life. It was not long until he heard pursuers. He heard a stampede of footsteps behind him.
Nadir saw the alleys as trees and so he darted in and out of them. He turned left, and right at random, hoping to lose his pursuers. He was quick, but his strides were shorter, and these guards were determined to close him down. Nadir found himself running towards the river, and so he kept going and going. Finally, he managed slide down the side of the riverbank and found solid ground beneath his feet. He heard his captors run across the bridge above him as he sat underneath it, his knees tucked up underneath his chin. Nadir sat in the mud, his fingers and toes freezing in the icy air. He allowed his body to shiver as it was the only thing that kept him warm. He did not dare move though, he was not sure if his hunters were still looking for him, and even if he did move, he had nowhere to go. Before long though, Nadir realised that he needed to keep moving. It would soon be first light, and he would need to find somewhere else to shelter that would allow him to remain concealed. He would not be able to get out of the city until nightfall.
As Nadir pushed himself up from the ground, a shadow loomed over him. The man stood there in a hooded cloak, his face covered in shadow, darker than the night’s sky. Nadir stepped back, but the figure removed its hood to reveal a familiar face. “Stillius,” Nadir whispered.
“Hello Nadir,” Stillius replied, and pulled off a scarf that was wrapped securely around him. “You are going to freeze to death out here. Put this on.” Nadir wanted to refuse, but he was so cold that the thought did not cross his mind for more than a moment. He took the scarf and wrapped it around his neck, it was so long that he was also able to wrap each end around his hands. “We have to go. They will find you here eventually. It is not safe.”
“It is not safe anywhere…how did you know someone was looking for me?”
Stillius smiled. “There is much I know. Come with me, they will be looking for a boy on his own.”
Nadir did not want to trust Stillius, but he knew that the old man was right. Once they walked into the lantern light of the city, Nadir looked up at Stillius and noticed that he looked a lot leaner than he had done in the weeks before. His face was flushed with colour, as if he had never been more alive. “Where are we going?” Nadir asked him.
“Nowhere!” A voice came from behind them.
Nadir and Stillius spun around to see Elden Hardwick of the City Guard standing before them. He was alone, but he held his sword out menacingly. “Let the boy free.”
Stillius shot Hardwick a face of bemusement. “The boy is not my hostage. He walks with me willingly.”
“This boy belongs to the Church…to the Arkgodson Jerimeh. He is an oblate to Harthelm and you will release him.”
The words stuck in his mind. Oblate. Belong. Nadir had been property since the day he was born. Owned by a lord to owned by an Arkgodson. All of the talk of freedom. Aedvard. Jerimeh. Stillius. None of them wanted him to be free. He knew he needed to be rid of the city. The only way he was ever going to be free would be with his mother.
“It was my understanding that the boy belongs to Lord Tigos of Bankwater. As far as I am aware, Lord Tigos is alive and well. If that is the case, then it seems that this boy is stolen property.” Stillius turned away and knelt down in front of Nadir and whispered. “You cannot stay here. You must come with me, else be trapped in a sieged city. The Blacklands armies are on their way. It is only a matter of time before they take the city. We can keep you safe, get you out of here and search for your mother.”
Nadir watched the fear in Stillius’ eyes. It only made Nadir more suspicious of him. The desperation that the man had to take him away made him angry. “If it is so unsafe, then perhaps you should speak to your uncle and get him to safety. I am going to search for my mother, and I am going to get out of here, but I am not going with you.”
Nadir walked past Stillius and over to Hardwick. “I was kidnapped, Lord Hardwick, but not by this man. He was going to take me back to Harthelm anyway. I am ready to go back.”
“Let us get you somewhere warm, lad. There is a killer on the loose out here.”
“You’ve had Effei worried, you know?” Hardwick told Nadir as he held his cup of water and lay in bed. He struggled to keep his eyes open.
“And Jerimeh?” He asked with his eyes now firmly shut.
“He has not long been back in Silver City; I doubt he would have even known that you were missing…get some sleep. We will talk more tomorrow.”
Nadir slept until after noon the next day. He woke up with the sun beaming in through the window. As he sat up, the son was blocked out by a figure sitting at the end of his bed. He rubbed his eyes and saw the old Arkgodson sat with a slight smile on his face.
“Good morning, Nadir,” Jerimeh said.
Nadir took a moment to take him in. It was the healthiest Jerimeh had looked since Nadir had met him. The Arkgodson was finely dressed in a blue silk gown over the top of his tunic and hosen, and his eyes were bright in the light of the sun. “Your worship,” Nadir said blankly.
“I am glad you are safe and well. Hardwick told me that you were kidnapped. What can you tell me about when you were taken? Was it someone within Harthelm?”
“No…I can’t remember,” he lied.
“Hardwick tells me he found you with a man, but that you said the man did not kidnap you?”
“I was with Stillius.”
“Stillius?” Jerimeh said, shocked.
“Aye…Stillius. Your nephew.”
In all of the time that Nadir had known Jerimeh, he had never seen the look that flashed across the Arkgodson’s face. It was at once anger, shock and terror. Jerimeh moved uncomfortably at the end of the bed, but soon remembered his look of empathy and placed a hand on Nadir’s shoulder.
“Who on earth told you that?”
“It doesn’t matter. I know. I know about the Ravens and I know about your connection to them through Stillius. There is something going on. Something you know about that you are not telling me. I don’t care what it is. I don’t care about the stupid games that adults play with each other. I just want to go home. I want to leave and find my mother. No one is helping me. No one cares. I just want to go,” Nadir growled.
“If I tell you the truth when you ask me a question…will you do me the same courtesy when I ask you?” Nadir sighed, but nodded, exhausted from his anger. “Go ahead.”
“Is Sir Bethan really looking for my mother?”
Jerimeh nodded, but winced. “He was…he still is technically, but King Aron has pulled all of his men back into the Royal Army. What I should say is no, right now, he is not searching and he will not be able to resume until the war is over.”
Nadir was angry, but he understood why Jerimeh was worried to tell him that. “I would have understood…but you promised.”
“I did, and I am sorry that I broke a promise to you. Now…my turn. Were you kidnapped from Harthlem?”
“No,” Nadir told him, “I left to try and escape the city, but I couldn’t because the guards aren’t letting anyone in or out, and I knew I would not be let back into Harthelm and did not want anyone to ask where I’d been if they had to call for you or Effei. My turn,” Nadir began before waiting for Jerimeh’s response. “What is your connection to the Ravens?”
Jerimeh smiled slightly at Nadir’s line of questioning. “Stillius and I are very close. Something happened a long time ago…something terrible. The long and short of it is that Stillius is the only family that I have left. Stillius helps me with information, and I do what I can for him. We look out for one another, but as far as my connection with the Ravens goes, I do not know about their business, nor do they mine. It is safer that way. Now my question…my last question. Nadir, I need you to tell me truthfully. Did you murder Sir Eiruc Garrison?”
Nadir could not help his face flushing white. He could only imagine how terrified he looked. All Nadir could think of was that eight months ago he was sat setting rabbit traps in the forest, and now he was being questioned about a murder he’d committed by the Arkgodson of The Hartlands. “I…I…don’t know who that is,” Nadir told him. “Why would you think that I murdered him?”
“Because Eiruc Garrison was one of the knights who attacked and burned down the village of Bankwater. He took your friends and your mother, and he sold them as slaves.”
Nadir had heard from Eiruc’s own mouth that he had let them go. Nadir did not know what to trust less, Jerimeh or a dying man’s last confession. “The man who took my family was in the city…and you did not tell me?” Nadir said, trying to change the subject.
“I do not often speak to Lord Hardwick. It turns out that we have a lot of information to share after all. You know Sir Robert Talford. You travelled with him to Harthelm. I believe you have spent some time with him and his wife, Mallory. Well, Sir Robert told Lord Hardwick about what Eiruc had done. He said that the man drunkenly confessed to seeing your mother in his dreams. That she haunted him. The boy kept drinking and drinking. It looks as though someone found him drunk in an alley and stabbed him before putting the knife through his heart.”
“Do you think I killed him?” Nadir asked.
“I hope that you did not.”
“Well, I didn’t,” Nadir lied again. This lie felt necessary. Nadir’s only focus was on leaving the city. They have no proof that I killed him, Nadir thought. “I have been trying to leave the city every single night. I want to go and find my mother. I did not even know this man’s name, let alone that he was in the city. If he did burn down my village, then I am glad he’s dead. He can answer to Natos for what he has done. But I did not murder anyone,” Nadir said, defiant.
“I believe you,” Jerimeh sighed. “I just wanted you to know…even if you did, that I understand. I understand that hate that must consume your heart, that ache for vengeance to appease your suffering. I am glad it was not you, Nadir. It would be such an awful thing to carry with you for the rest of your days. The guilt would eat away at you for eternity. You would never truly forgive yourself. To take someone’s life, to rob them of their opportunity for paradise is a grievous sin. This is why we punish murderers so totally, the only payment for it is death itself.”
“Unless you kill an enemy,” Nadir said. “Then it is just politics.”
Jerimeh was about to respond, but then paused for a moment. “You are smart, you know? Do not let people know that. It is better to be underestimated.”
“I do not want anyone to know anything about me. Jerimeh, I want to leave. I am tired of this place. Everyone here is just using me as a pawn in their games. I just want to go and find my mother. If I have to do that on my own then I will.”
“No one is coming in or out of the city, Nadir. King Aron has ordered it directly. Not even I could persuade him to let you out.”
Nadir sighed. “And so, I am a prisoner here. For a long time, I did not think I was…but I was taken from my home, taken here, and now I will die for serving the enemy of my King.”
“Whatever happens, Nadir. You will be protected. Whatever it takes, I will make sure that you are safe.”
“You cannot promise me that, Jerimeh. You have promised me many things, and you have not succeeded in a single one, but none of those are important. There was only one I cared about, and at that one, you have failed.”
Hardwick and Jerimeh looked stern as Nadir finally emerged from the chamber that had been set up for him. They sat at a table in the City Guard leader’s kitchen. Hardwick’s thick eyebrows twitched as he eyed Nadir suspiciously. Hardwick ran his fingers through his greasy, long hair whilst Jerimeh sipped at a cup of tea. When Jerimeh saw him, he told him to sit and pulled out a chair for him. Nadir did as he was told, more than aware that he was no more now than their prisoner, and it would not serve him to try and defy them. He was allowed to sleep for as long as he wanted, and Nadir had not felt so refreshed in months. The bed in the chamber was clearly made for someone much more high-born than him. The mattress was not straw, but full of feathers, as was his pillow. He had never been quite so comfortable. Despite the comfiness of the bed though, he still dreamed of the woman who would grip him by the throat and scream at him to find her. At first, he thought it might be his mother, but the face was too distorted, the voice too angry. His mother was kind and soft-spoken, even when she was angry with Nadir, she could not sound so violent.
“Do you dream, Nadir?” Jerimeh asked, almost as if he read his mind.
“Sometimes,” Nadir confessed cautiously. “Why?”
“Before he died, Eiruc confessed to me that he had been having visions. Sir Robert Talford confided in me that Eiruc had been having troubling dreams, and so I spoke to him about it. He told me that…he told me that he had dreamed of your mother. He told me that she gripped him around the throat and told him to find her. He was always in the same place. It was always the same dream, so he told it. Deep in a desert, surrounded by sand, a wailing woman screaming at him. He recognised the woman as a woman he had taken from Bankwater. We believe it was your mother.”
Nadir was startled. Had he seen Eiruc’s dreams when the flash of light shot up from the knight’s mouth? Had they infected his own dreams? Was his mother somehow trying to contact him? There were too many questions swirling around his head. Nadir tried not to seem shocked by the revelation, and did not want to reveal to either of them the nature of his own troubling dreams. “So? He was clearly guilty about what he had done. I am glad he had nightmares about it before he died. Why are you telling me this?”
“Because he is not the only one,” Jerimeh told him. “I have also had these dreams. I dare say that this spreads farther than just myself and Eiruc. I bet there are many more. I think you are having these dreams too. You see, Nadir. There are people of this world who can…communicate over large distances. You see all life on earth is connected by what we call a string. It is a string of light that connects all of our souls. Our bodies, as you know, are just vessels for the soul. There are some people who are in tune with their souls more than the average person. There are those who can channel that energy and use that string to send messages into the consciousness. Most of us can only receive the message…it takes years and years of practice even with this gift to be able to send a message out. Even those who can, do so crudely, and cannot make their messages take shape in the way that they want them to. They are often distorted and broken, and so most keep them short…keep them simple. One or two words, a phrase…something like “find me,” Jerimeh told him.
“You’re saying my mother is sending a message out to the world? This is why Eiruc dreamed of her? And now you’re dreaming of her too? Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“My dreams only started recently, whilst I was away. The thing is, Nadir. I only know of one other person who has the gift of contacting souls in this way. That man is Stillius. I believe Stillius can help you find your mother. I think he is trying to contact her, but it can take some time, and some practice to contact an individual in this way.”
“How did my mother learn this gift? She is a serf like me.”
“Of that I could not tell you. Perhaps Stillius could, but your mother has had a long life. I do not know her like you do, but we are certain that this is your mother.”
“So what now? I go with Stillius to find my mother?”
“No…Nadir. I want to offer you a deal. I want you to confess to Eiruc’s murder. I want you to tell us…and only us…that you did it. We just need closure on this. I have agreed with Hardwick that no ill shall come to you. You will not even stand trial. We just need to know. You will have to leave of course, but we will make sure that you are well looked after with Stillius who will help you find your mother. When the war is over, you will be free to go.”
Nadir considered them with a look of innocence, but behind his eyes, he was furious. How dare they ask me that? How dare they think that I am so stupid that I would not know their game? Still, now, they think that I will fall for this charade. But before Nadir could respond, before he let his anger and his fear spit out a lie that would withhold his secret, there was a knock at the door. Jerimeh and Nadir sat still, but Hardwick went to open it. Standing at the door was a member of the City Guard, a young man whose face was pale and solemn.
“What is it?” Hardwick asked.
“My Lord…we have found Sir Eiruc’s murderer.”
Hardwick’s eyes darted back to Nadir briefly before returning to the guard. “And? Who did it?”
“A refugee, my lord. A woman by the name of Joan. She was arrested last night and she confessed almost immediately. We hanged her in the square this morning!”
Nadir had to hold himself back from shouting. He held back his shouts and his tears. The kind woman had been hanged for his crime. An innocent bystander punished for his vengeance. The thought made him sick, but he held Jerimeh’s gaze.
“Well, at least that it is put to bed. We will get to work with Lord Garrison on a funeral. War or no war, this lad will have a send-off befitting his rank.”
“Yes, Lord,” the guard said before turning away. Hardwick closed the door behind him.
Nadir turned his gaze to Hardwick, a look of anger and spite gripping the muscles around his mouth. Hardwick’s face soon turned to a scowl himself. “Do not look at me like that you lowborn whelp. Do not think that I won’t have you hanged beside her. You are lucky to even be in our presence right now, do you hear me? You could have been sold off to a slaver or to many men who do far worse to boys like you than anyone in this city. Do not look at me like we have done you wrong when you sit in fine silks and sleep-in beds that high born men would envy. You are a liar. I do not believe a word of it. I believe that you are involved in this. I believe that you killed a fine young warrior to avenge your mother. Let me tell you something…you are nothing more than property. Nothing more than a pair of hands that’s only use is to lift carts and carry shit and work. That is your purpose. Eiruc’s purpose was to lead armies and win battles and bring glory to our Kingdom. I would kill your mother in front of you a thousand times to keep him alive for another day. Rest-assured, boy. You are nothing. Worthless. If I catch you outside of Harthelm, outside the view of Jerimeh or Effei or anyone else who maintains guardianship of you, then I will find your mother myself and slay her where she stands to end this nonsense. Jerimeh, I want Sir Bethan back and I want this boy put in his place or thrown into the ocean, whichever will get him out of my sight sooner.”
Hardwick stormed into another room. Jerimeh rose to his feet. Nadir did not say a word. He accepted the tirade without changing his expression, but he was no longer angry. It is what he needed to hear. Though he already knew it in his heart, it was Lord Hardwick who had just confirmed it for him. There was acceptance now. He understood what people like Joan and him meant to people like Lord Hardwick and Jerimeh. They were nothing to them. Expendable. In a way, it was all he needed to know, and Nadir had finally decided what he needed to do. If he was to be locked away in Harthelm, then that is where he would stay, and where he would wait, until it was time for him to act.