The Orphan's Tale (trilogy)
Paris in the 1830s.
Echoes of Napoleon's France
Light, dark, splendor...
All blend in the stories of The Orphan's Tale
The Road Taken
Malet sat back and watched the play of light in his wine. "It was nothing so deep as that," he said. He raised his eyes and saw Perrier's expression.
"You must understand," he said. "I grew up listening. I heard old Cheat-Death telling me his plans for me. Where to go, who to double-cross. He spoke of taking people for all they had, wringing their last copper from them. Through intelligence, through force, through fear… And he spoke of amassing that wealth and influence, and maintaining it for oneself. All that others had was rightfully yours, if you were strong enough to take it."
He smiled at his glass. "I began to consider," he said at last. "And I concluded that Cheat-Death was wrong. Perhaps it would be grand to be the conqueror of all, to hold all the wealth of others and keep it for yourself. Gratifying, certainly, to know you had that power. But..."
He set his glass down. "I found my thoughts turning in a direction that might have startled him. Why should I gloat over power at the expense of others? What if I chose not to be a lord above others, but to be, instead, one who served them willingly? A guardian, a protector, an ally. A shepherd, if you will. A champion for them, stepping willingly between them and harm. What then?
“I didn't expect thanks. That was not why I made my choice. I had some strength, I knew how to fight. I had some intelligence… And I thought it would be far better to be a guardian than to be one they guard against. I have not looked back"