Lord Lisandro Reyez de Vallena rested his chin on his hand and looked glumly at the little dais where Sehzad, court poet to King Lupe of Ilores, was presenting his latest work, an epic poem called ‘Lord Juan the Bastard’.
” A Queen of royal blood the crown did wear;
But a daughter only did she bear.
Not so the rest; for several mothers bore
To Ellorn’s god-like king, several sons, and more.
But since like slaves his bed they did ascend,
No true succession could their seed attend.
Of these the false Lord Juan was worst:
A name to all succeeding ages curst.”
In spite of himself, Lisandro got lost admiring the Savasko poet’s glossy black curls, which were tamed by a gold circlet that brought out the flecks of amber in his heavy-lashed brown eyes. Sehzad held himself confidently, one hand on his chest as the other gestured to emphasise the highs and lows in his recitation. Sehzad was only in his late twenties, but already he had a deep, melodic voice with a slight Savasko accent in the vowels that wrapped around Lisandro and made him warm and shivery.
“Juan was fine of form and fair of face,
An adornment to the King of his race,
But possessed a fiery soul, which working out its way,
O’erleaped the boundaries of its clay.”
“Forgive me for noticing,” said someone at his elbow, and Lisandro turned around, brushing his chin-length black hair out of his eyes to see the speaker. Lord Valentin sat down beside him and continued, “But it seems to me that Lord Juan bears a startling resemblance to your honoured self.”
“Do you think anyone else has realised?”
“Oh, without doubt,” said Valentin. He tilted his chin towards the dais. “Lovers’ tiff?”
“We’re not lovers.” Lisandro sighed. “And don’t say that so loudly. We’re not in Jovan.”