Didrika sat with her knees to her chest, leaning against the cavern wall. Only glowing embers remained of the fire she had started. She had sat there for hours, just thinking, considering her next move. This was no game, not this time. It wasn’t simple meddling or even complex sabotage. Her influence would affect an entire kingdom… hopefully, eventually all of Ilarian. If everything went according to plan, Zepkon would be restored to its previous grandeur, back before the Great War. It would become one of the most influential kingdoms in the world, as it should be. After all, next to man, goblins were strongest in number, populating more of the Eastland than any other race. It would be only fitting for a goblin to take power, after the mess Kyrael became. Men were weak. One day, there wouldn’t be a soul untouched by goblin blood. Demons had tried years ago to purge the world of pure humanity, to befoul the gene thread… but they failed in the conquest. Men were still strong in numbers. If Didrika was careful and planned every step correctly, she could gain allegiance for Stabber from humans.
Stabber sat across from her. He stared at her, impatience and wonder in his eyes. She smiled. She couldn’t reveal her ambitions yet, Stabber would resist, pull away. Everything depended on his trust in her. Even now, he was guarded… unwilling to allow a stranger to influence his decisions. Didrika knew it; she could see it in the way he behaved. That’s why she was careful in what she said.
“I’m sorry.” Didrika whispered, her eyes sparkling.
“For what?” Stabber asked.
She chuckled. “For a lot of things.” She looked at her fingers for a brief moment, popped her knuckles and then looked back at the prince. “I felt this was the best way. I know many would not agree,”
Stabber rolled his eyes.
She smiled. “I realize what I ask of you is difficult, and you don’t agree with my methods—”
“Difficult? Try impossible!”
Didrika sighed. “That’s why I’m curious if you have any suggestions on how to proceed.”
Stabber’s eyes widened. “What?”
She stared intently at him. “How do you suggest we take back Zepkon?” Her jaw was set and her eyes unblinking.
Stabber looked away. He felt he couldn’t meet Didrika’s expectations and now that she asked for his, he didn’t quite know what to say. She waited. He could feel her hot gaze boring into him. Though he tried to think of a solution other than taking the crown, he couldn’t. And it frustrated him. He was smarter than this; he was a skilled tact commander, trained since childhood to think critically. But now, for some reason unbeknownst to him, he could not think clearly… as if a haze shrouded his vision. All he could think about was Didrika. He pinched himself. This was a time of war; it was childish for him to fantasize about women—a woman. A woman who wanted him to betray his father. Then again, Stabber thought, isn’t that a typical goblin desire?
Darge didn’t behave like a typical goblin.
“Let me return to my father.” Stabber finally met her frightful gaze. “I’ll try it my way first and if that fails… I’ll do as you say.”
Didrika’s lips split, revealing a smile so full of mirth that Stabber couldn’t help but to smile in return.