The room was dim, as most rooms in the estate were. Shutters were drawn against the harsh heat of the day, and inside, the shadows lent much needed respite. Soft footsteps crossed the hard-packed floor, and the black-eyed man sat on the side of the simple bed tucked into the corner of the room. He smiled as he reached out and brushed back dark hair from a sweaty brow.
"It's all right, Asif," he murmured. "You have fulfilled your duty, and I release you into the arms of the Savior."
Asif gazed up at the man who had been his responsibility for the last thirty years of his life. A life he had devoted to the duty of his line. "He awaits," he choked out, his vision darkening.
The man smiled, the expression tender, almost loving. "He always waits."
An hour later, the man stood before a semi-opened shutter, the heat wafting into the sickroom. Asif was gone. Forty years, and he was alone once more. He sighed, shaking his head. Asif's brother had died two years before, but he knew there was a child from Iyas' second marriage, and that lone child's wife had just given birth to twin sons.
Which meant the first son could now be called upon.