This is a serialized story, Part 1 can be found here
Although the City of Legend is vast and intricate beyond compare, it is but a mantle for the Palace of The Emperor, and all things in their time make their way back to the watchful gaze of The Steward. And so it was with a fragment of the disassembled jeweled necklace of the rarest and most precious of women of the Western Isles. Burnished and scratched, the symbol of the Treasury of His Imperial Majesty was still visible, so it came once again into the possession of the elder brother of The Emperor, The Steward. Fragmented as it was, The Steward still knew with painful recognition who it had belonged to and what purpose it had served. For ever since the moment she was presented to The Emperor before his court and his Imperial Family The Steward had loved the women of the Western Isles with an all-consuming longing; he himself had delegated the necklace to her, under the guise of his duties as Steward. He could not name her as its rightful owner now, knowing the punishment that awaited any who aided the escape of two tributes. In his weakness for her he told the Imperial guard the necklace was once a gift to the woman with a broad laughing smile and agile wit from the plains of the South. As she was carted away to her doom, protesting in pitiable cries, the woman from the Western Isles divined the workings of the Housecarl of The Emperor and knew at once what lived in his heart for her. But by this falsehood her heart was forever frozen toward him; she lived, and knew of his love for her, but would never love him in return. Laughter was stolen from the women of the garden by the selfish love of The Steward, and they began to change.