The Thin Executioner (ასაკი 10)
The high maid Debbat Alg was watering flowers in one of her father’s gardens. Although Wadi rarely saw rain in summer, it was situated on the sea front, at the mouth of both the great river as-Sudat, and the as-Surout, so water was never scarce. This was why it had flourished as the capital of Abu Aineh, and as one of the great cities of the world. It was ideally placed for trade and the launching of war ships. The as-Sudat linked the city with most of Abu Aineh, as well as Abu Judayda, Abu Nekhele and Abu Saga. By sea they could sail to Abu Safafaha (not that anyone ever bothered!), Abu Saga, Abu Rashrasha and Abu Kheshabah, as well as several of the countries to the far south and north. Wadi was located in the geographical south-east of Abu Aineh, but it was the country’s commercial and cultural centre.
[these paragraphs describe a bit more about the High Lord of Wadi and how he came by his position]
The palace of the high lord and lady of Wadi was hundreds of years old, although many new buildings had been added to it during that time. It was a haphazard mix of old and new, carefully preserved show rooms filled with antiques, sleeping quarters, kitchens, slave cellars, dining rooms, dance halls, music auditoriums, several armoury rooms, a library, many offices where official business was conducted, and more. There was representative architecture from every era, and portraits of all the high lords and ladies hung on walls across the palace. No high lord or lady could remove any of the portraits, but they could move them around, so the etchings of more recent family members generally took pride of place, while older portraits were stuck away somewhere out of sight and out of mind.
The current high family had been in control of Wadi for five generations. While the high lordship was usually passed on to the eldest male heir when a high lord died, the incumbent high lord had to be approved by a majority of the true families. After four years in office, the true families all voted. If eighty percent approved of the new high lord, his position was confirmed. But if seventy-nine percent or less approved, he was executed and the true families fought each other for the right of succession.
The Algs were skilled politicians, and none of the Alg high lords had been objected to by more than eight percent of the true families of Wadi since they came to power. It was a time of great stability for the city. Some thought it would be this way forever, with the Algs in control and the true families obedient to each new high lord. But others knew that nothing in the universe lasts – except the gods – and this era would eventually pass. But it probably wouldn’t be in their lifetime, so very few worried about it — the distant future was the concern of Khor Al Ajram, the great snake god of time, not of mankind.