DargonZine 2, Issue 5

Trial by Fire Part 3: Damsel in Distress

Sy 24, 1013 - Sy 27, 1013

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Trial by Fire

Myrande sat in her hot, little office and stared at the stones in the wall. She put her hand to her lips, remembering Luthias’ kiss.


“Are you all right about what happened between you and Luthias last night?” Lauren had asked her that morning, almost a week ago when Clifton and Luthias had left for Magnus, when neither the Duchess nor the seneschal could eat breakfast.


Suprise had jolted Sable, then some slight resentment crept in. She could never manage to keep anything she felt strongly about a secret from Lauren–and this time it bothered her. “What do you mean?” Myrande hedged.


“You know what I mean,” Lauren replied calmly.


“Nothing happened. He was drunk. He didn’t know what he was doing,” Myrande replied sullenly, toying with a sausage.


Lauren smiled. “What makes you think that?”


“He was drunk,” she repeated. “He doesn’t want me when he’s sober. If only–” Myrande tried to finish, but there was nothing left to say. “He was so hurt,” she confided to the Duchess, who leaned forward sympathetically. “I haven’t seen him like that since Roisart died…” Sable could feel Luthias’ pain, a hard, cold, burning lump of stone in her heart. “But he was drunk, and I pushed him away. I don’t know how, I don’t know if I should have, I don’t even know why, but I pushed him away.”


Despair washed over her then, as it had consumed the Baron of Connall the night before. “Perhaps you shouldn’t have rejected him,” the Duchess said coldly. Myrande stared at her, confused and hurt. “Perhaps you should have let him continue. Luthias is a man of great honor, young as he is. He would have married you–”


Furious, Myrande leapt to her feet, and her chair flew toward the stone wall of the keep, crashed, and tumbled noisily onto the cool floor. “I would never do such a thing!” she cried, enraged. “I would never compromise Luthias’ honor to–” The Duchess of Dargon looked at her calmly and compassionately. Sable compressed her lips angrily, reached behind her for the chair, righted it, and sat. “You knew better,” she accused tightly. “You know better. Why did you say that?”


“So *you* would know why you pushed him away,” Lauren explained gently.


And Myrande did understand. She had wondered whether or not she had scornfully rejected the only opportunity she would ever have to feel Luthias’ touch, to be anything like a wife to him, to have his love. Tired, sorrowful, her head lowered.


The Duchess touched Myrande’s hand. “It will be all right. I know.”


Myrande didn’t question her; there were some things that the Duchess of Dargon, daughter of the High Mage, just knew. She was magical, the Duchess of Dargon was.


“Do you know what this trial will bring?” Myrande finally inquired.


“Only that Luthias will gain great honor by it,” Lauren sighed. “Perhaps when he returns, he’ll make you Duchess of Dargon.”


“Don’t say that; it’s ill luck,” Myrande hushed her swiftly. “Luthias doesn’t want to convict Clifton or Michiya. No more does he want to be a Duke. I don’t wish to be Duchess. The only thing I want is Luthias’ love.” Which I shall never have, she reminded herself sternly. “What does your father think of all this?”


“He’s consulted his crystal for days,” Lauren revealed. The Duchess stared at the wall. “And he sees war and blood.”


War and blood. Sir Edward Sothos had told Luthias that he thought war was coming. And so the seneschal this day, a week after the Baron of Connall left her to try his cousin for treason, sent for Macdougalls, who sauntered into her office and her reverie.


“Hi,” said the assistant Castellan casually, seating himself without permission. He had know Myrande all her life and had been assistant Castellan under her father; he saw no reason to stand on ceremony, and Myrande knew it. “What can I do for ye, lassie?”


Myrande smiled slightly at Macdougalls. He was a short, dark man, perpetually wearing a quiver of arrows and a saucy grin. “You can send to Dargon for masons and carpenters, since you won’t let me out of the castle without a guard,” she bantered, only half-playfully. The fact that Macdougalls did not permit her to go anywhere alone irritated her, as did the fact that Luthias had ordered it so. “In case there is a war, I want this castle ready. Besides, we’re due for the maintenance.”


“Aye, lassie,” Macdougalls agreed. His grin expanded. “These yer orders, or the lad’s?”


“Both, I think.” But she didn’t want to think of Luthias. “And when they arrive, I want you to oversee the repairs. I’m sure you know, as well as I, what needs attention.”


“Aye,” Macdougalls agreed, “and I would say ye’re on top of my list.” Myrande rolled her eyes in dismissal, but the archer only laughed. “Ye’ve been workin’ too hard, lassie. Why don’t ye just go shootin’?”


“Will you let me go alone?”


“Nay. Lad’s orders,” he reminded her.


“Then I’m not going,” Myrande decided. “I refuse to give up my privacy. If I’m going to be surrounded, I might as well stay where I am.” She paused. “Were you telling me the truth when you said that I shoot better than half the archers of the Barony?”


“Aye, of course, lass,” he confirmed confidently. “I wouldn’t lie to ye.”


Myrande grimaced. “If that’s so, you’d better institute a mandatory daily archery practice for all the soldiers in the castle.”


Macdougalls laughed loudly and irreverently. “Ye don’t have to be so accurate when you fire into a whole troop, lassie!”


There was a discreet knock on her door. “Come,” Myrande instructed. Mika, her pretty, young assistant, crept into the office. “My lady,” the girl announced, “the lord of Shipbrook is here to see you.”


“My cousin, Lord Warin Shipbrook?” Myrande asked.


“No, my lady. It is your uncle, the Baron himself.”


“Oh, damn,” Myrande breathed. Louder, she ordered, “Seat him in the solar, and convey my regrets that I cannot join him immediately. Assure him I shall attend him shortly.” Mika nodded to the seneschal and the assistant Castellan and timidly crept away.


“What would the Baron of Shipbrook want of ye?” Macdougalls wondered aloud. “He knows the lad ain’t here.”


Sable’s lips twitched with displeasure. “Yes, he knows.” Myrande knew exactly what Shipbrook wanted. “He came here because the Baron is absent, Macdougalls.”


“I’ll set a guard in there,” the archer decided.


“No,” Myrande countermanded the order. “I don’t want him to think I fear him.” She rose to leave her office. “But keep an eye sharp, Macdougalls. I don’t trust him.”


“Me neither,” Macdougalls agreed as she left the room.


Myrande sped upstairs to her chambers, threw off the stained muslin overdress and slipped into a semi-formal gown of light blue silk. She could not look the seneschal for company, and her pride would not permit her to look overworked to her uncle. She quickly unbraided her hair, brushed it, and wound it behind her head. Hastily, she reached for the two Bichanese hair ornaments Michiya had bought her. She smiled; they were beautiful–and deadly. Although topped by exquisite Bichanese artwork, the ivory sticks were tipped with a sharp silver point. Michiya had told her that often these chop sticks were used as weapons for a final defense.


She finally slipped them into her ebony hair and checked her appearance in the mirror.


As usual, she was dissatisfied; she was short, dark of skin, eye, and hair, and looked capable rather than ornamental. Her face was well-formed, but not striking. She glanced at her body and wished her figure were not so pronounced.


Oh, to look as the Duchess of Dargon did, tall, willowy, and beautiful, with creamy skin and blue-green eyes…to be educated and magical, as Lauren was…then, perhaps, Luthias might have loved her, if she were beautiful and enchanting.


But she was small and dark and practical, a seneschal and not an enchantress. She sighed and hurried from her room; no matter what she felt about her uncle, she would not shame Luthias’ house.


The Baron of Shipbrook, a tall, heavy-set, dark-haired man, stood as his neice entered. “You are looking well, my dear,” he greeted her with a bow Myrande found artificial rather than courteous. “How are you?”


“Well, thank you, your lordship,” Myrande addressed him formally. Somewhat gracefully, she offered a curtsey. “And you, sir?”


“I thank you, well,” the Baron of Shipbrook said. He sat without invitation. “I came to inform you that I have arranged your marriage for the twenty-fourth of Seber.”


“I am not marrying,” Myrande told him. Did the man really find it necessary to go through this again?


“But, my child,” Shipbrook protested in a gentle, wheedling tone full of a feigned concern, “you must marry.”


“The Baron of Connall says I needn’t; he is my guardian, sir, not you.”


Shipbrook’s eyes narrowed angrily. “Girl, you have no conception of the shame you bring on your family, and on yourself, by remaining unmarried. Half the Duchy thinks you Connall’s whore–”


All the blood drained from Myrande’s face as rage exploded at the comment, but she somehow kept silent. How dare he! Whore? It was true that most of the Duchy thought her Luthias’ bride –Fionn Connall, Luthias’ father, had started that rumor years ago–but whore?! How dare he! When Luthias returned–


But he wasn’t here now. Her words were slow, careful, and formal; she must be careful and keep her rage in check. “I am the seneschal of Connall, sir, nothing else, and you know it. My guardian, the Lord Baron, has refused permission for my marriage, has he not? When I asked him about it, he forbade me to enter into such a marriage.” Remembering his absolute refusal made Sable smile.


Shipbrook’s lips compressed into thin, pink lines. “He wishes that you be a spinster, to be mocked by the Duchy.”


“That is not true,” Myrande argued, wondering at the serenity of her voice. How cool and placid she sounded! “The Baron of Connall is doing his best to see I am happy.” Within her, something warm lit when she remembered the arguement she and Luthias had had in Dargon before the Sy tourney. He had put his arms around her and said then that he wanted her to be happy.


“Don’t you want to marry Baron Oleran?” Shipbrook continued. Somehow, he had subdued his anger and was again employing a wheedling tone. “He is a handsome man; he’s rich and owns a great deal of land in the Duchy of Northfield. Granted, he is older than you–”


“I do not wish to marry,” Myrande informed firmly. Her calm was wearing thin.


“Oleran has only seen you once, at a distance, and he is already in love with you.”


Myrande supressed a desire to laugh. True, she had never met Oleran and that she was judging him by the rumors, but she could not conceive of a man of Oleran’s evil reputation falling in love with anyone, let alone a dark seneschal. “I do not love him,” Sable replied flatly. “And I shall not marry him. I shall not marry at all–ever!”


“You must marry!” Shipbrook demanded, rising. He was tall and ominous now, his dark, surly eyes wicked. “If you refuse–”


“What will you do?” Myrande challenged him. “You have no authority over me. Luthias has forbidden the match–yet you take advantage of his absence to try to convince me to disobey him. I will not marry, your lordship. And if you think you can convince me, try, but I warn you that a hundred guards will protect me if I so much as call.”


Shipbrook grimaced and turned away. “I suppose you will turn me out, then.”


“I would not think of shaming the hospitality of Lord Connall,” Sable assured her uncle haughtily. “You are welcome to stay for dinner.”




Myrande woke slowly, woozily. In confusion, she stared at the ceiling. It was not the low, beamed ceiling in her chamber at Connall. Where was she? This was not any room in Connall Keep or Connall Castle; she would have recognized it.


Perhaps she was ill. Yes, at dinner with her uncle, she remembered feeling dizzy and sick. That was the last thing she recalled. Where was she now? What had happened?


“You dispatched men to intercept the Castellan’s messenger?” she heard her uncle’s voice say.


“Yes, my lord. The man was stopped.”


“Good. I don’t want the Baron of Connall knowing of this. Make sure of it. You may go.”


“Thank you, your lordship.” Myrande heard a door close a moment later.


“She is rather lovely, in a dark way,” Myrande heard an urbane voice appraise her cooly. “Like a fairy child. She will do.”


Where was she?!


“And the bridal price?” she heard her uncle ask. “I grant it is more usual to receive a dowry–”


“One thousand, as we agreed,” Oleran returned politely. “You are taking a good deal of trouble to get me my bride; I am willing to pay a good deal for her. Besides, as I told you, I need a bride to rescue my reputation.”


The door–where was the door? Myrande could not turn her head to see–opened and shut rapidly. “Father, what is this?” Myrande heard her cousin, Warin, demand. “How did you get Myrande here? Does Luthias know of this?”


“Of course not, and he won’t,” Shipbrook said firmly. “Lord Oleran, I believe you know my son, Warin.”


“Sir,” Warin acknowledged the other noble quickly. For a moment, Warin’s eyes stared at Myrande’s. “My God, Father, she looks like death. What did you do to her?”


“I gave her a little callin. It calmed her enough to be more cooperative.”


“Callin?!” Warin squeaked. Inside, Myrande felt like screaming. That–! He had drugged her and taken her from her home. Myrande knew of drugs; part of her duties as seneschal involved healing. Callin was used to calm people too agitated to relax alone. But its side effects included euphoria and susceptibility to suggestion. Her uncle, that–!, had probably used this power of suggestion to assure their escape from Connall, to convince Macdougalls that all was well.


But would Macdougalls allow her to get away? No…they had said something about a messenger. Which her uncle had done stopped.


“You drugged her?” Warin continued, outraged. “Father, she doesn’t want to marry!”


“I’ll convince her otherwise,” Myrande heard the urbane voice promise. She felt some of her hair move, then felt the point of the chop stick on her scalp. But Myrande couldn’t adjust her position; she was still too drowsy.


“If not, I still have plenty of callin,” Shipbrook reassured Baron Oleran. “You’ll have a wife yet.”


“You–” Warin began, but did not finish. “Father, you can’t just kidnap Myrande and marry her off. Luthias–”


“Is two weeks away in Magnus, attending the business of the King,” Shipbrook reminded his son cooly. “Now, have you something useful to say, son, or am I to take away your birthright.”


There was silence for a moment, then Warin said, “I did actually come to tell you something ‘useful.’ There is a ship our harbor. An ambassador from the Beinison Empire, one Count Tyago, has arrived and asks hospitality.”


Shipbrook suddenly sounded interested in his son’s words. “An ambassador from the Beinison Emperor? Where is he?”


“In the great hall.”


Myrande heard her uncle rise. “Come, Oleran, we must greet the man civilly. An ambassador from Beinison in my house!” he concluded joyfully. “We must hold a ball in his honor. Warin, send a message to the Duchess of the ambassador’s arrival, and see that you don’t mention your cousin.”


The room went dark as the men left it, and Myrande slipped back into sleep.




Myrande Shipbrook, Seneschal of Connall, woke seething when the maid came in to tend her. She rose silently, glared at girl, then regretted it. It wasn’t her fault, after all. Myrande smiled sadly and allowed the maid to dress her (dress her? She was no noble lady like Lauren. Sable didn’t need or want a maid to dress her). Her sky blue gown had been wrinkled by sleep, but the maid provided another of peach silk. Myrande gazed at herself in the mirror in disdain. The garment’s color made her skin appear dirty.


The maid brought breakfast then, but Myrande shook her head. The maid seem confused and left, but she left the tray behind. Myrande gazed at it, took a deep breath, and made a decision. Ignoring the food, Sable went to the window and gazed out. She was high in a tower, the highest tower in Shipbrook’s keep. She smiled. She could see the towers of Connall.




“You must eat!” her uncle raged at her a day later.


“No,” Myrande refused firmly. Although as furious as her relative, she refused to raise her voice and lower herself.


“You’ll starve yourself.”


“If I am kept captive.”


“Eat!” Shipbrook commanded.


“I will not,” Sable repeated. She smiled. Luthias had always called her stubborn and prideful; thank God she was. She would not allow this toad to win.


“Oleran will not have a starved bride!”


“Baron Oleran will have no bride at all,” Myrande corrected him. “I refuse to marry him, sir. In the ceremony, I am asked to accept the bridegroom. It is my choice. You cannot make me marry.”


“I pursuaded you to leave Connall, my girl,” Shipbrook threatened. “I can use my pursuasion again.”


“Not if I neither eat nor drink,” Sable reminded him, smiling triumphantly. “How will you drug me again?”


Her uncle looked shocked at the words.


A knock sounded. “What?” her uncle shouted angrily. Myrande’s cousin Tylane opened the door slightly. “Father, the Count of Tyago is ready for the ball. Is Myrande coming?”


“No,” the Baron of Shipbrook said flatly. He turned to Myrande. “I will not let you out of this room until you agree to marry the Baron Oleran.” Myrande only smiled at him, and Shipbrook turned back to Tylane. “Where is your brother?”


“Getting ready. He’ll meet us downstairs.”


“Very well. I shall also join you there.” Tylane nodded, cast one sympathetic, helpless look at his cousin, and disappeared behind the heavy door. Myrande stared at the door. She heard the bolt slide into place every time Shipbrook left, and she knew that there were two guards outside it. Shipbrook turned to his neice again. “You shall change your mind,” he promised. He whirled and left the room.


A ball tonight. Perhaps she could escape. Lauren would be invited; if only she could get a message to her. No; the servants, though sympathetic, couldn’t risk it. Tylane wouldn’t. Warin–perhaps he would help. But she could depend on no one but herself.


As night fell, Sable went to the window again and looked out. She smiled as she saw the towers of Connall again, then she examined her own tower.


Her room was over four hundred feet high (can’t climb down, she decided; not enough bed covers to make a rope); the roof of the tower, which was a flat stone floor with crenolations, was only forty feet above her. Myrande pulled her head back into the room and examined the ceiling. Yes, she could see the trap door, and there were stairs along the walls leading to it. Reaching the roof wasn’t a problem. She looked back out. The top of the tower was accessible from the castle walls; she had an escape route. But the walls were patrolled by Shipbrook’s men and Oleran’s; she would never get out alone. If she could get a guard’s uniform, that might be one thing. She might be able to trick the guards and send one away, but she couldn’t subdue the other one unless she chose to kill him with her Bichanese weapons. No; she would not kill.


Myrande jolted as she heard the bolt slip back from the door. Perhaps Oleran had come to beat her, or Shipbrook to try to convince her to marry. Her mouth set; she would not let them win.


A slim figure slipped rapidly into the dim tower room and closed the door. “Myrande!” it rasped.


Myrande smiled slightly and came forward. “Warin! What is it?”


Warin took her hands firmly, but the grip was also frantic and frightened. “Why aren’t you eating?” her cousin demanded. “Do you know what you’re doing?”


“I know exactly what I’m doing,” Myrande assured him. “I’m preventing your father from drugging me again. He drugged my food before; he isn’t going to trick me into marrying Oleran the way he tricked me into leaving Connall.”


“Myrande, you must eat something,” Warin reminded her, holding her hands so tightly that it hurt. “If you don’t, you’ll die.”


“I’m so glad you went to the University, Warin,” Sable teased playfully. “I would never know these things if you didn’t tell me.”


“I’m serious!” the frustrated Warin cried out, jerking her hands. “Myrande, you could die! Do you want to die?”


“No,” Myrande spat angrily, “of course I don’t! Do you think I want to give up on life? But I’d rather die honorably than be tricked into a marriage and beaten by Oleran. Luthias would rather–” She stopped.


Warin sighed and, defeated, he released her hands. “You’re right,” he conceded, sounding tired. “Luthias would rather you died like this than married to Oleran. So would I,” he revealed heavily. “But I wish there were some other way.”


“Get me out of here,” Myrande suggested. “Send someone for Luthias. Get me a guard’s uniform. Anything.”


“I can’t get you a uniform or take you from here. My father has the soldiers watching for tricks,” Warin told her, collapsing onto her feather bed. “And as for messengers–Father’s already killed Luthias’ man that your archer castellan sent out.” Young Lord Shipbrook sighed, was silent, then sat up quickly. “Myrande–if I bring you the food, will you eat it? I understand why you don’t trust my father, but–”


“I’ll eat it,” Myrande agreed. Perhaps there was a way after all! “At the ball…can you talk to the Duchess?”


“My father’s after me like a hawk.”


“He’ll disinherit you if he finds out about the food.”


Warin smiled weakly. “I’d rather be right than rich, if it comes down to your life, Myrande.” He was silent again. Myrande sat down beside him. Warin looked up at her, his hazel eyes cloudy in the dimness. “We could get married.”


“No,” Myrande said softly, but quickly.


“Why?” Myrande looked away. “Is it that man Luthias told me of, the one you’re in love with?” Myrande was still, then she nodded. “Who is he? Maybe–if he knows you love him–he’ll help us.”


Myrande laughed and turned toward her cousin. “I wouldn’t doubt it!” She sobered quickly. “But it wouldn’t do us any good. He’s in Magnus–”


“Good God!” Warin cried out, caught between laughter and shout. “You love Luthias.”


“Yes,” Myrande admitted, sighing. “I love Luthias.”


“He doesn’t know? You didn’t tell him?”


“I couldn’t.”


“He would marry you, Myrande, if–”


“For the wrong reasons,” she argued. “I don’t want him marrying me because he feels he should. And I don’t want him pitying me, either. Let it alone, Warin.”


For a long while, young Lord Shipbrook didn’t speak. Finally, he stood. “We’ll find some way, Myrande,” he promised.


“Thank you,” Myrande said, and Warin knocked on the bolted door to be let out.


He turned back. “I’ll bring something before dawn.”


Myrande assented, understanding. Her cousin disappeared when the door opened. She took the chop sticks from her hair, slipped them beneath her pillow, then undressed and went to sleep.




Warin slipped into the ball room once the music started. His father snagged his tunic angrily. “Where were you?” the Baron of Shipbrook demanded of his elder son. “Why are you late?”


“I was talking to Myrande,” Warin explained defiantly. “Do you object?”


“She will marry Oleran,” Shipbrook insisted. “I will see to it.”


“I told her that,” Warin lied. “She’s stubborn, Father, like her mother.”


Warin watched his father’s face; it did not move, but he saw the flinch behind his eyes. Yes, that still hurt his ego, that his brother, who had no title, no wealth, and at the time, not even Knighthood, should have been preferred to him by the loveliest woman in the Duchy of her generation. Like her mother, Myrande was immobile when she loved another.


“You are trying to trick me,” Shipbrook accused his son in low tones. Smiling, the Baron bowed to a passing noble.


“Not at all. I don’t want to see Myrande caged. It would be better for her if she gave in,” Warin stated, lying again. A brief thought cascaded across his brain; if Myrande conceded, would he be able to smuggle her out of the keep?


His father looked him over cooly. “It is good to see you have come to your senses,” his father finally told him. “Come. You must meet the Beinsison ambassador.”


The Baron of Shipbrook led his elder son toward his younger son, Tylane, and Tylane’s betrothed, Danza Coranabo. With them was a young man who looked to be about Danza’s age: fifteen. To this young man, the Baron of Shipbrook bowed. “Count Tyago,” he announced himself. The young man, blond and boyish, nodded respectfully. “This is my eldest son, Warin. Warin, Count Tyago.”


“How do you do, sir,” Warin said politely, bowing.


“How do you do,” replied the Count in an accent pronounced enough to be noticed but slight enough not to interfere with understanding. He held out his hand to Warin. “A pleasure to meet you.”


“And you, your–” What was the proper term of respect for a Count of the Beinison Empire? It was “excellency” here… “And you, Count.” Warin smiled at the young man. “What brings you here to Baranur?”


“The business of the Emperor,” Count Tyago replied. “I am going to Magnus as an emissary from his Imperial Majesty to your King.” Tyago glanced at Warin’s brother. “Your father has offered to me the companionship of Lord Tylane.”


“You’re going to Magnus?” Warin asked his brother. Tylane nodded, almost shyly. “And leaving your bride?” Warin teased. His brother blushed, as did Danza.


“I would not want your son to leave his betrothed,” Tyago protested. “Please stay.”


“I’ll go in his place, Father,” Warin volenteered, then cursed himself. Who would bring food to Myrande? She’d die for certain!


“No,” Baron Shipbrook refused with finality. “Tylane will go.” Danza appeared dejected, Tylane sad. “I have given my word.” The Baron looked over his shoulder and saw the entrance and announcement of the Duchess of Dargon. He grimaced. “I must attend to my other guests, sir,” he said to the young Count. “Pray excuse me.”


Tyago bowed to him as he left, then bowed to Danza as the music started. “Would you like to dance, my lady?” Danza blushed again. “With your permission, Lord Tylane?” Tylane smiled and nodded, then whisked Danza gracefully away.


Warin grabbed his brother’s sleeve. “You’re going to Magnus?”


“Don’t get any ideas,” Tylane warned him in a hiss. “Father’s like a falcon; he’s watching every move I make. If he–”


“Take a message to Luthias,” Warin breathed. “Tell him what’s happening. Tell him to get the hell back here before Father marries Myrande off to Oleran, before she gets beaten or raped or killed!”


“I can’t,” Tylane swore. “If Father suspects, he’ll refuse to accept Danza for me.”


“Would you rather have Myrande’s blood on your hands?”


“I won’t give up Danza!” Tylane vowed angrily. He smiled as the Duchess of Dargon passed him. “Not for you, not for Myrande, and not for Luthias.”


“You’d better,” Warin threatened, snagging his brother’s sleeve. “You *owe* Luthias. You told me yourself that if Luthias hadn’t chosen to listen to Danza when she said she loved you and not him, she’d be married to him now and you’d have no hope!”

“I won’t risk losing the woman I love!”


“And you are willing to risk Myrande’s losing the man she loves?”


“She loves no one,” Tylane stated petulantly. “If she had, Fionn Connall would have married her off years ago.”


“She loves Luthias,” Warin hissed. “Is it any wonder the late Baron held off?” Tylane looked at his brother, then looked away. “It isn’t hard, Tylane,” Warin cajoled. “Just tell him.” Tylane looked up again, then shifted his gaze. “You owe Luthias.”


“Yes,” breathed Tylane reluctantly, “I owe Luthias.”


“You’ll do it?”


“I’ll tell him,” Tylane promised, sighing. “I can’t promise anything else, Warin.”


“It’s enough,” Warin assured him, and he went to dance with Pecora Winthrop.

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