“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities.”
Frank Herbert, Dune Chronicles
“Are you certain Marius? This seems too sinister, more so than any threat we’ve ever faced.” Cezar glared at his coat of arms above the fireplace. The sentinel wolves of Cezar’s heritage emblazoned on the upper right quadrant of the ancient shield glared back at him with ominous accusation. Cezar’s hands clenched in rage as his noble blood struggled to maintain his regal composure.
“It is as true as I can determine, My Lord. The DNA from the sniper led us down this trail as we searched through the chain of events and people connected to the shooter’s support network. We uncovered his command and control cell as the implications grew wider. It wasn’t long after we talked to a few soft targets. They were pleased to share everything they knew for a painless end to the meetings.” Marius replied.
“The World Bank was established for altruistic reasons; to fight poverty, sickness, and to elevate education. They have over 360 member countries. Surely, they are not our enemy,” Cezar said, his throat constricted by the enormity of what Marius told him.
“The perfect cover, My Lord. Who would suspect them? I do not think all member nations seek our ruin. I do think there are a few at the top who would seek to elevate their power at any price. China, India, and Russia are their most thirsty recipients of the bank’s monetary funds. Their people suffer as their armies grow in capability, flush with cash from the bank.
Don’t forget, Korea borrowed billions from the bank and repaid their debt before it was due, Marius continued. No country has ever done that. Now, a Korean is the president of the World Bank. I see a purpose in that move.” Marius paused his explanation of his suspicions to study his Viscount. Cezar’s concern distorted his face as if Marius had thrust a dagger into Cezar’s stomach.
Cezar continued to look at his battle shield, now his armorial bearing from eons ago. “The Americans really run the show. We host them in our lands as allies to keep the Russians honest and to respect our borders.”
“Again, Sir, What better ruse than to appear an ally while plotting your overthrow by coercion or outright attack. We know this tactic, My Lord, it has been the source of many a battle for our freedom.” Marius held the gaze of his Viscount to show his concern.
“What do you suggest we do?” Cezar asked.
“We need allies of our own. Before we can enlist our natural benefactors to stand with us, we must unite our people with the Duchess and let her rally all of Romania in a popular nationalism. In a position of strength and power, we can begin to recruit aid in our goal to remain homogenous. Even our historical enemies, like Hungary and the Turks, could see it beneficial to unite with us in a common front against the democratic socialists that act like drug dealers with their cash. They enslave people with debts sold on the promise of a better life, before using this leverage to bend every country’s will. They speak of global unity and government under socialism and liberal freedoms, yet their true goal is world domination. The Romans have returned, My Lord.”
“I see it clearly now, Cezar said. I must ready Alexandra to be at my side again. This will allow her to cede the title of Duke to me and together we will convince the people to join our campaign and gather our allies as planned.
“Good, Sir. Alexandra is fully awake now. Her bandages are removed and physical therapy will help her regain her strength and agility. Dari reports that Alexandra is smitten with you and she should be ready to reclaim her past with you. She only needs to find her past connection to you.
Agreed. And what of Dari? Has she accepted your terms to be the Wolfmaster?
Dari is more than ready to be the Wolfmaster. She is the spiritual link for us all.” Marius saw the Viscount’s face soften as he thought of Alexandra. marius was sure Cezar loved her yet, he showed so little of his true emotions in front of the Duchess. Ah, but his deep feelings cannot be stifled, Marius mused to himself. Love will conquer them both while Dari and I seize the reigns of revolution for Dacia.
✽ ✽ ✽
Cezar rang the buzzer to Alexandra’s suite and waited. Dari soon opened the door. Cezar saw her eyes sparkle with recognition and a welcoming smile. He found his worries lifted in this bright moment between them.
“Welcome, My Lord. The Duchess is out on the balcony enjoying tea. Can I bring you something to drink?”
“Yes, please, Dari. I’ll take a tea with the Duchess.”
“She is moody, sir. When she heard of your visit, her spirits lifted. Be kind, sir.” Dari’s countenance was docile yet her eyes were a warning to her Viscount.
She protects her Duchess like the wolves she trains, thought Cezar.
Cezar walked to the French door and peered through the glass at the covered legs under a blanket draped over Alexandra’s shoulders and folded across her body as she sat in the wicker chair next to a small table. A mist rose like a twisting ghost of a ballerina from the cup next to her. She stared across the meadow, her eyes fixed in a trance. What visions of us does she see, Cezar wondered?
The click of the handle to the door and the groan of hinges as it opened caused no change in Alexandra’s visage. She was as still and pale as an alabaster statue. Cezar came up to her side and attempted to look out across the castle grounds to see if there was something there that captivated her attention. There was nothing to see except the beauty of the Carpathians. Cezar accepted that was enough to hold one captive in thought.
Fingers slid deftly through Alexandra’s thick hair on the uninjured side and found their way to the back of her head. She turned and looked up into Cezar’s face and smiled with faint recognition. Cezar felt the tremors in her body as he sought to still the palsy by tightening his grip on her. Water formed in the crevice of her eyelids and ran down her cheeks making way for more. The reflection of light in her eyes amplified uncertainty, fear, and a subliminal cry for help. The sight of her, vulnerable and weak, wracked Cezar to an overwhelming passion to comfort her.
He kissed her with soft intent. Alexandra’s hands went to his cheeks and stroked his beard before urging him to stay for more. Their eyes met before closing and Cezar saw a great distance in her eyes. She was kissing a long-dead ghost with the love they shared across many lives and centuries. He fell into the well of times past with her as passion grew and the tempest winds of a life lived in another time and another place howled in his ears.