The Traitor Prince - C. J. Redwine

MAP

DEDICATION

For Clint, who was once the Javan to my Sajda.

Thank you for being the kind of man who doesn’t leave.

CONTENTS

Map

Dedication

Once Upon a Time . . .

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Three

Twenty-Four

Twenty-Five

Twenty-Six

Twenty-Seven

Twenty-Eight

Twenty-Nine

Thirty

Thirty-One

Thirty-Two

Thirty-Three

Thirty-Four

Thirty-Five

Thirty-Six

Thirty-Seven

Thirty-Eight

Thirty-Nine

Forty

Forty-One

Forty-Two

Forty-Three

Forty-Four

Forty-Five

Forty-Six

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Back Ads

About the Author

Books by C. J. Redwine

Credits

About the Publisher

ONCE UPON A TIME . . .

A BRISK WIND scoured the packed dirt streets of the peasant quarter in Makan Almalik, tossing grit into the night air and clawing at the robes of the young man who walked briskly down a side road, his cowl pulled over his head to guard his face against the onslaught.

The streets were deserted at this time of night. The lanterns hanging in their metal cages every quarter block illuminated rickety wooden shops with their shutters closed and goat hair tents with their flaps tied shut. Only a fool would venture out at midnight to face the tumultuous moods of Eb’ Rezr. The god of wind and rain was a capricious master—one the aristocrats of Akram had stopped serving over a century ago, after Yl’ Haliq, the all-powerful, had vanquished the lesser gods—but the peasants didn’t have the luxury of betting their survival on a single god.

Rahim buried his face in the coarse wool of his cowl as another gust of desert wind tore at him. The moods of Eb’ Rezr were useful to the FaSaa’il, the rebellious faction of aristocrats who sought to use Rahim as their puppet. The wind kept people inside—their prying eyes far from the faction and its activities—as they mumbled prayers and set aside tiny offerings from their already meager supplies to gods who couldn’t or wouldn’t help them.

Pathetic.

Rahim didn’t pinch mouthfuls of food from his meals to toss to the ground for Mal’ Enish, the goddess of animals, or cut strips of cloth from his robes for the priests’ collection barrels in honor of Sa’ Loham, the god of the poor. He needed no god, and neither did the superstitious peasants who clung to the belief that their offerings would somehow bring them rescue.

The fact that he’d been forced to spend seventeen years in a tent just like them, surrounded by poverty and desperation, was a bitterness that poisoned him with every breath. He should have been raised in the palace in Makan Almalik, claimed by his father, his every whim catered to. Instead, he’d been raised in his mother’s tent in a small desert town far from the palace. He’d toiled in heat and misery—by day learning the trade of a tailor and by night dreaming of the destiny that should have been his.

A destiny that could still be his if the FaSaa’il’s plan was successful.

Grim determination lent strength to his body and sharpened his thoughts as he passed a tiny mercantile shop, its walls shaking beneath Eb’ Rezr’s onslaught, and entered an alley that stank of camel dung and trash.

Two shadows detached from the wall as he approached, cowls pulled over their heads so that all he could see of the figures were their eyes—sharp and hungry.

Rahim’s eyes were sharp and hungry too, but there the likeness ended. His skin was a darker shade of bronze, his cheekbones set slightly higher, his chin a bit more pointed—all gifts from the royal blood that ran through his veins. He was the spitting image of a Kadar, and the resemblance was going to change his future.

“Yl’ Haliq meet you and keep you safe,” the taller man said.

Rahim’s heart thudded angrily, and it took all of his restraint to keep the sneer from his face. Instead, he answered, “Yl’ Haliq be praised.”

The man drew back, and his companion opened a narrow door in the side of the