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My King's Seraglio Ann T. Ryan CHAPTER 1 Tobey watched the crowd with disdain and wondered again why he had agreed to come for the celebration of the new High King. Yet another attempt by his father to get him married off to someone influential so their family might rise up in ranks. Politics in Naverya. It made Tobey's skin crawl. The things some people would do to attain power; even compromising their own principles. He stayed in the back as others tried to get as close to the royal families as possible. There were five in Naverya; Radcliffe, Rowan, Dillon, Kelleigh, and Tanner, and five kings, each ruling their own kingdom. But the Radcliffes held the most power. Thus the eldest son for every new generation held the position of High King, making the family the most fawned over. Tobey's lips curled in derision. "Tobey! Tobey!" his father hissed, trying to get him to go over to where the royal families congregated. As usual, he stood by King Rowan's side, being the chamberlain of the Rowan royal family. Tobey shook his head slightly and noted with pleasure that his father frowned at him. A small part of him had always loved to rebel. It would have to be good enough 6 .
My King's Seraglio Ann T. Ryan that he came. A little later, a nearby conversation caught his wandering attention. "Word has it that King Radcliffe's seraglio has only men." "Are you serious?!" "Yes. Apparently, he has a preference for that particular gender." "So, no heir then?" "Well, there is still a chance of getting an heir." "Only a small one." "And even then… to carry the child to full term… well…" Tobey listened in on the two courtiers' conversation as they hovered near him before walking away. So, the current High King preferred men. Tobey wondered whether it would fall to another member of the family to produce an heir. Although possible for men to get pregnant in Naverya, the chance of it happening was a minute one. Consummation between two men rarely produced offspring and the act of giving birth often endangered the male carrying the child. More often than not, the biology of a Naveryan male was such that during labour, he might suffer from complications resulting in severe blood loss. That was 7 .
My King's Seraglio Ann T. Ryan the reason why many male couples preferred to adopt, instead. But to inherit the kingdom, one must be of royal blood. Tobey guessed adopting would not be an option for his royal Majesty. Things seemed to be winding up. Tobey heaved a sigh of relief. With the Radcliffe family leaving, everyone else would disperse soon. His father had not managed to introduce him to any prospective in-laws and for that he was grateful. He still had his freedom. Tobey started to move towards his father, smiling to himself. * * * * A celebration held in his honour with his favourite concubine by his side; Adam considered himself a lucky man indeed. Fortunate enough to be born into the Radcliffe family, power had always been in his grasp. But his brother William drew the luckier lot, no matter what others might think. Will had the freedom to choose, being the second son. Whereas, as first-born, Adam had to take over the position of High King of Naverya. "Does anyone interest you, your Majesty?" his concubine, Zachary, asked. "Should they, when I have you by my side?" Adam winked at him. Zachary laughed. "Aah. But, your Majesty, you are required to add more, even if you are not interested, for 8 .
My King's Seraglio Ann T. Ryan political advantage perhaps?" "Yes, I know," Adam said simply. "The seraglio will not be happy, though." "The seraglio will never be happy, your Majesty, unless you favour them." "But they cannot all be jewels like you, my fair Zachary." Adam smiled. "No, they cannot." Zachary agreed teasingly as yet another noble approached with a son in tow. "Your Majesty." "Lord Irwin." "This is my son, Joshua." "Good morrow, your Majesty." "Good morrow, Joshua," Adam replied as he admired Joshua's glossy chestnut brown hair and deep set blue eyes. Beside him, Zachary coughed. Adam nodded slightly as Zachary added Joshua's name to the list of potential men to be added to the seraglio. He viewed the room in general and saw many courtiers dressed to the nines, especially the men. He was amused at the thought that, apparently, they knew of his sexual preference and had dressed accordingly. "All here to impress you, your Majesty," Zachary said. "I know. It amuses me. But we still must keep the 9 .
My King's Seraglio Ann T. Ryan good relations. How is the list so far?" "Not too bad. There are ten names so far, all varying in their kingdom of origin. How many do you plan to narrow it down to?" "Less than five, if possible. I do not want to cause more strife within the seraglio than necessary. How my father managed to control his fifty when I can barely manage ten, I do not know." "Aah, but that is because of your prowess as a lover, your Majesty," Zachary said, touching Adam's thigh lightly. "We get jealous easily when you favour someone else and they are summoned to your bed." "You have no reason to be jealous, though, Zachary." "Not now. Not yet." "Wait!" Adam held up his hand. His royal entourage stopped walking as their king turned to speak to his chamberlain. "Jeff, who is that?" Adam asked. "Your Majesty?" Jeff frowned slightly in confusion. "The blond man over there, walking towards Chamberlain Rowan." "Did someone catch your eye after all?" Zachary snickered. "That is his son, your Majesty," Jeff answered. "I see. Call him." Adam ordered. To Zachary, he 10 .