Kougyoku sniffed. Royals had as many wives and concubines as they wanted. Her father certainly had. Balbadd’s insistence on just one was kind of insulting.
“But the really interesting thing is, Sabhmad and General Barkakk went out of their way to not mention him, until I turned up a rumor or two,” the magi went on. “They think he’s a legal heir. And given how much spine Sabhmad scraped together to not tell me more than he thought he could get away with… he might be a lot more than that.”
Erk. “You mean – Abhmad’s not the eldest son?” Kougyoku stammered.
“That… might not matter, Princess,” Ka Kobun said thoughtfully, squinting into memory.
She was not going to start like a jumpy little girl. She was a princess of the Kou Empire and the Djinn Warrior who was going to take Balbadd. She’d be calm. Even if all their plans had gone suddenly tilt. “Ka Kobun?”
“I researched what the Imperial Archives had before we left the Empire, my lady,” her assistant informed her. “Balbadd hasn’t maintained twenty-three generations of unbroken descent just by handing the kingship over to the eldest heir. They’re a merchant kingdom. Where other countries use swords, they use coins. They’d no more hand over rule of Balbadd to someone who can’t trade than the Empire would hand over the whole army to Princess Hakuei….” He trailed off, looking distinctly green.
“But that’s what they did, if Abhmad is the king now,” Kougyoku said slowly.