The sins of an empire do not always go unpunished.
This tale was originally recounted by Horatio Sward at the 22nd Conclave of Bards. Subsequently, the Imperial Court officially disavowed any knowledge of the existence of Perdita or the disappearance of Antonio Stave.
The strangest thing was that the babe had not cried out.
Not a whimper. Not even a burble of fear as Antonio Stave laid her on the ground. She barely squirmed as he swaddled her with silk and damask, carefully placing gold and gems within the folds of fabric wound tight about her fragile body. She had been colicky the entire long voyage to these distant shores on the far side of the Mede Sea, but something about this forest — tall, dense, black — and the harsh crags of rock surrounding this clearing by the shoreline seemed to quiet her.
Antonio shifted uncomfortably as he scanned the treeline for signs of life. His soaked boots chafed. His face felt tight from too much sun, salt, and damp. His chapped lips snagged on his tongue as he moistened them.
Enough of this. Enough.
The whole business was damnable. And yet here he was, committing a mortal sin despite his best intentions, his complaints, his pleas for sanity — or at least leniency. No, neither Antonio’s sword nor his sea-bedraggled finery could disabuse what he now knew about himself: He was a terrible person, willing to commit terrible deeds to maintain his place at court. And the Emperor had been a friend once, had he not?
If he finished the deed today, death would be too good a punishment for Antonio. But he was too much of a coward to stand his ground at court. Too much a coward to exile himself from the comforts of Amalcross. Too much a coward to stand up to the Emperor when the life of a child hung in the balance. And now it was far too late to turn back.
So, here he was abandoning a sweet babe to the harsh elements, like an unwanted kitten left in a field to die.
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