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A squad of Halogai stood outside the mint. The imperial guardsmen swung up their axes in salute as Krispos emerged. The imperial stables held many finer animals; Anthimos had fancied good horseflesh. But Progress had belonged to Krispos before he became Emperor, and that made the beast special. Way for the Avtokrator of the Videssians! That was an imperial perquisite Krispos enjoyed. Without it, he might have spent most of an hour getting to the other side of the plaza—he had, often enough. Half the people in the world, he sometimes thought, used the plaza of Palamas to try to sell things to the other half.

Though the presence of the Emperor—and the cold-eyed Halogai—inhibited hucksters and hagglers, the din was still dreadful. He rubbed an ear in relief as it faded behind him. The Videssians loved spectacle. They stopped and stared and pointed and made rude remarks, as if Krispos could not see or hear them. He and his guards turned north toward the High Temple, the grandest shrine to Phos in all the Empire.

When it came into view, Krispos braced himself for another encounter with Gnatios. The meeting began smoothly. The patriarch sprang from his chair, then went to his knees and then to his belly in full proskynesis—so full, indeed, that Krispos wondered, as he often did with Gnatios, if he was being subtly mocked. Though his shaven pate and bushy beard marked him as a cleric, they did not rob the patriarch of his individuality, as often happened with priests. Krispos always thought of him as foxlike, for he was clever, elegant, and devious, all at the same time. Had he been an ally, he would have been a mighty one.

He was not an ally; Anthimos had been a cousin of his.

Harry Turtledove

Krispos waited for Gnatios to rise from his prostration, then settled into a chair across the desk from the patriarch. He motioned Gnatios to sit and plunged in without preamble.

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Not only is her widowhood from his late Majesty the Avtokrator Anthimos extremely recent, but there is also the matter of your involvement in Anthimos, death. I have sworn that again and again by the lord of the great and good mind, and sworn it truthfully. Thus my continued evaluation of your degree of responsibility for it, as measured against the strictures of canon law. When I have made my determination, I assure you I shall inform you immediately.

Do you understand? I will not sit still for that.

I told you the night you crowned me that I was going to be Emperor of all Videssos, including the temples. If you stand in my way, I will replace you. He gestured once more to the stacks of volumes on his desk.

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After you hear it, you may do with me as you will. Such is the privilege of Avtokrators. I trust you to use them wisely. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. Other books in this series. Harry Turtledove. The Tale of Krispos.

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Other books by this author. Alpha and Omega. Bombs Away. Joe Steele. Supervolcano: Things Fall Apart. Supervolcano: All Fall Down. Videssos Cycle: Volume Two. Videssos Cycle: Volume One. Supervolcano: Eruption. Atlantis and Other Places. Liberating Atlantis. The United States of Atlantis.

The Tale of Krispos: Krispos of Videssos Bk. 2 by Harry Turtledove (1991, Paperback)

The Man with the Iron Heart. Opening Atlantis. Every Inch a King. Harry Turtledove.

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  • Against all expectations, Krispos had won the crown of Videssos. But how long could he hope to keep head and crown together? For trouble was brewing in every, quarter.

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    • Civil war erupted under Petronas, the late Emperor's uncle. A brilliant general and a canny politician, Petronas had a very personal score to settle against the upstart Krispos. And even as rebel troops took the field against the untried Emperor, outland raiders swept down from the northlands in a tide of carnage. The power stemmed from foulest sorcery, and Videssos' wizards could not counter its evil curse. Krispos reign showed every sign of being brief -- and very bloody