Book 5 - With Mercy Toward None

Book 5 - With Mercy Toward None by Glen Cook Read Free Book Online

Book: Book 5 - With Mercy Toward None by Glen Cook Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glen Cook
Tags: Fiction, Science-Fiction, Fantasy
succeed her uncle too.
    The wave of the idealist had crested, but had not begun to recede. People still worried honestly about goals and doctrinal purity. The inevitable, post-revolutionary wave of the bureaucrat had not begun to gather.
    Yasmid would not be challenged till professional administrators supplanted professional revolutionaries.
    Nassef dumped the pacification of Hammad al Nakir onto el-Kader. He made a crony named el Nadim his satrap on the east coast and Throyen marches. He and Karim focused their attentions west of the Sahel, on lands El Murid was determined to restore to Imperial dominion. They spent month after month in the careful reinterpretation and reiteration of plans Nassef had nurtured for years.
    Occasionally accompanied by his son, El Murid sat in on some of their staff meetings. He had his mission and his children, and nothing more. The pain in his limbs was unrelenting. He could no longer pretend, even to himself, that he was not dependent upon Esmat's drugs.
    Despite a close watch, he could not resolve his increasingly ambiguous feelings toward Nassef. His brother-in-law was a chimera. Perhaps even he did not know where he stood.
    Nassef's headquarters became cluttered with artwork. Years earlier he had employed several skilled artists to travel the west. He had called in their work: detailed maps, drawings and specifications of fortifications, sketches of prominent westerners with outlines of their personal strengths and weaknesses. He adjusted his master plan as information came in.
    "The base plan is this," he told El Murid. "An explosion out of the Sahel, apparently without direction. Then one strong force materializing and heading toward Hellin Daimiel. When they think we're committed, we wheel and overrun Simballawein to clear our rear against our push north."
    "Ipopotam... "
    "Eager to please, my agents say. They'll stay neutral till it's too late. With Simballawein taken, we turn on Hellin Daimiel. But when they withdraw behind their walls we bypass them again. We push to the Scarlotti. We seize the fords and ferries so help can't get across from the north. All this time raiders will be roaming the Lesser Kingdoms, keeping them too busy to threaten our flank. In fact, after I've got everybody's attention, el Nadim will cross Throyen territory and attack Kavelin through the Savernake Gap. If he breaks through we'll have the Lesser Kingdoms in a vice. They'll collapse. If everything goes right, we'll overrun every kingdom south of the Scarlotti before summer's end."
    El Murid examined the maps. "That's a lot of territory, Nassef."
    "I know. It's chancy. It depends on the speed of our horses and confusion of our enemies. We can't fight them on their terms. Wadi el Kuf proved that. We have to make them fight our way."
    "You're the general, Nassef. You don't have to justify to me."
    "As long as I'm winning."
    El Murid frowned, unsure what he meant.
    Later that day he called for Mowaffak Hali, a senior officer of the Invincibles, who had been conducting an investigation for him. "Well, Mowaffak? It's getting close to the hosting. Am I in the hands of bandits?"
    Hali was a fanatic, but he tried to be honest. He did not create answers in hopes they were what his master wanted to hear.
    "Nothing damning, Lord. They've given up plundering their own people. I suppose that's a good sign. In private, they're excited about plundering the infidel. I couldn't trace most of the specie that went west. Some apparently went to pay spies. Some apparently bought arms. Some remains in the banks at Hellin Daimiel. And a lot has disappeared. So what can I say?"
    "What's your feeling, Mowaffak?"
    "I'm baffled, Lord. I lean one way one day, the other the next. I try to leave my personal feelings out."
    El Murid smiled. "I've reached this point a dozen times, Mowaffak. And every time I end up doing the same thing. I let it go because Nassef is so useful. I let it go, and hope he'll eventually reveal the real Nassef.

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