“You must understand,” Tharlmund said slowly. “I never intended to employ the necromancers. When my brother realized my ambitions, he brought every alchemist into his court and locked away all of the wise women.”
“Was my brother a changeling?” Eilyn looked crazed.
“No,” Tharlmund waved away her question and continued his tale. “By then I had already stolen his virility. It was only a matter of taking his life and the throne would be mine.”
“Why?” Eilyn blinked as if blinded by a bright light. “If you stifled his manhood, time would have passed the crown to our house.”
“Too much time,” Tharlmund felt cold. “I might have been king a year or five. Assuming I outlived him. When he marched on the palace with an army reinforced by the alchemists, only the necromancers were available to defend us.”
“What did you do, father?” Eilyn asked, desperately. “What did you bring down on us?”
“The demons at our door,” he laughed. “Old entities from the darkest reaches of Byzantium. I wanted my name to live on forever. They gave me the truest form of my wish.”
“What of the rest of us?” Eilyn asked. “How did we get swept into this hell?”
“The necromancers took gold for the binding spells. The demons wanted blood for their protection.”
“A palace full of sacrificial lambs?” Eilyn looked disgusted.
“I am sorry, my child,” Tharlmund said as he pushed aside the tapestry. “But now you will be free.”
Tharlmund took a deep breath and stepped out of the alcove.