17-Change of Plans

The fighting was over when we walked into camp, but they were still quelling the fire. Quill and Eliah entered the orange light with the horses and their unconscious captive. I slipped into camp from the other direction. The leanyodi knew I wasn’t one of them, but the guards and servants might not. Should not, if at all possible. My claim to the horses would just have to go unmade.

I went straight to the leanyodi tent, which was empty, and stripped off my bloodstained and stream-soaked clothes. As soon as I found a fresh pair of breeches and a shirt I went back out, leaving Shiharr and Azzad, my best knives, on my bed hidden under my soiled clothes. Outside, a tight cluster of servants and leanyodi stood between the tents and the campfires. Guards were moving the dead to the edge of the camp, and I saw a few people tending wounded by one of the fires. Druskin and Quill were standing over three bound and kneeling prisoners.

Druskin had found a shirt for his chest, but his sword was still naked and in his hand. He thrummed the rage. Quill stood beside him; arms crossed, feet apart, a rock in a stormy sea.

I slipped up the edge of the group, still barefoot because my boots and socks were on the stream bank. Mercifully, almost everyone in the crowd was half-dressed or clutching a robe. I didn’t stand out.

As I got closer, I could hear Druskin snarling, “You traitorous, sniveling worms. How dare you raise a hand against your liege lady!”

“She’s whoring—” the man didn’t get to finish the sentence. Druskin backhanded him so hard he fell to the ground.

“I would be within my right to kill you right here.” It was the Countess’s voice.

The men flinched as Druskin raised his sword. I flinched, too. Everyone turned to stare at the Countess, who had donned long black robe over her nightgown. Her long black hair was hanging loose down her back and her face was pale in the firelight, but every trace of her earlier trauma was gone. Galo was at her elbow, looking imperious and unimpressed.

The prisoners shifted, I could just a sliver of fear niggling into the hate and disgust on their faces.

“Who sent you?” asked the Countess.

“No one sent us,” said the man in the middle, “We are Wuhn. We are defending the honor of our clan.”

“She is the honor of your clan,” barked Druskin, sword still high.

“You whore us to our enemies!”

“You disgrace Angareth with your treachery,” replied the Countess coolly.

“It was his idea,” one of the men jerked his chin at the man in the middle.

The man’s lip curled. “Coward.”

The Countess lifted her eyes to Druskin and tilted her head just a breath.

Druskin’s sword fell and some of the women screamed. The Countess didn’t flinch as the man in the middle tumbled face first into the ground, unconscious.

The Countess’s voice rang out in clear order, “Bind them and tie them to the remaining carriages.” She turned on her heel and strode back into her tent as her men leapt to obey.


In the churning activity that followed, I tried to slip away to grab my boots from the stream but Druskin saw me and stopped me just on the edge of the firelight, “I want you to stay in the Countess’s tent tonight.”

I blinked at him. “I told you, I’m not a bodyguard.”

“No, but you’re a good person. You killed for her. She needs protection. I’ll have men at the four corners of her tent, but…” he looked away. “I would feel better if you were inside.”

I wanted to say no, mostly because I wanted to sleep and was irritated that he couldn’t just put a guard inside the tent. “How do you know I’m a good person?”

“Maybe I’m wrong about your motives.” He dragged his eyes to mine, “I don’t know how you got to her so quickly, or why, but I know she is still alive because of you.” He knew how close a thing it’d been, and it terrified him. It was none of his doing that the Countess was still alive. He had failed.

I crossed my arms. “Yes, where were you? And what were you doing without a shirt on? With Galo right on your heels with her clothes all askew.” Druskin turned red, as I’d expected, but I wasn’t done. “Are you sleeping with Galo?”

If possible, Druskin got redder, staring down at me with his eyes wide and his mouth open.

“Oh,” I said, surprised, “You are sleeping with Galo.” I’d wondered, given their looks and whispers, but it had been a leap. A leap I’d made mostly just to get under Druskin’s skin.

“Not so loud!” hissed Druskin, glancing around to see if anyone had been close enough to hear. There was a smoldering carriage, prisoners, and wounded men moaning as they were treated. No one in the camp was paying attention to us.

No wonder he’d told Galo immediately about being in my room. And no wonder she’d been so touchy about it. I grinned at him. “Can the leanyodi marry?”

“Yes, they can, but they take a yearlong sabbatical to do so,” he stopped, irritation filling his face, “That’s not important—” Druskin’s jaw clenched as he looked away again. When he spoke again, his voice was pained, “Please stay with the Countess. She is strong, but she has had a terrible fright, and I know your presence would comfort her.”

“Alright. Fine,” I said, “I’ll stay in the Countess’s tent. But I think that you should make it a priority to find and train female guards for your female nobles in the future.”

“It’s been awhile since the Wuhn had need for elite female guards.” Druskin looked relieved, “I didn’t have any who were skilled enough and…” he hadn’t thought he needed them.

I sighed. “I’ll get my knives.”


In the morning, the Countess summoned Druskin, Pontikel and the mercenaries before she had even finished dressing. Brell and Hadella were bustling around the tent packing and Galo had just finished brushing out the Countess’s hair when they all arrived. I was, of course, already there, having spent the night dozing on the ground between the Countess’s cushions and the tent entrance. By the sandy look to everyone’s eyes, no one had really slept the rest of the night, least of all the Countess, who had startled awake frequently.

Druskin looked about as sunny as usual when he walked in, his eyes skipping over the room to inspect the Countess and Galo. The gray bearded Pontikel was so grave he didn’t bother giving me a disapproving look. I’d only just finished dressing in the clothes Galo had brought me from the leanyodi’s tent, and was sitting on a cushion drinking tea. I still didn’t have my boots. Quill and Eliah arrived looking better rested than anyone else. It was not their world which had been upended by violence.

The Countess began, “I will not bring prisoners to Gar Morwen in my wedding train.”

Everyone nodded.

“I will not,” she continued, “waste their execution on an empty moor. Nor will I mark my wedding week with blood. It is to be a time of celebration, and executions in the square will not help with tensions. Druskin, you will send as many men as you must to safely transport them back to Wuhnravinwel. Send a messenger ahead for relief forces, so your men can return to the retinue as soon as possible.”

“But, my lady, this will leave us ill equipped to protect you from another attack,” said Druskin.

Eliah spoke up, “I kept close to the prisoners all night, they spoke of other…dissidents…who might harass the caravan.”


“These are mobs, not assassins,” said Eliah, “They are angry and unpredictable, and if we had time, we could look for the rabble-rousers and contain them.”

“And without time?”

“An overwhelming show of force might be the only way to dissuade night attacks,” said Quill, quietly.

“It’s a little late for that,” snorted Pontikel, “They have already attacked our caravan fully outfitted.”

“And lost soundly,” put in Druskin.

“True, but we don’t want to fight our way to Gar Morwen if we can avoid it.”

“Do you have a specific suggestion, Quilleran?” asked the Countess.

“I propose that we split up the caravan and travel separately. Everyone leaves their ceremonial clothes packed and wears the least distinctive things they can, to look like simple travelers heading to Gar Morwen for the festivities. The caravan can reconvene on the outskirts of Gar Morwen to make a grand entrance, but not before then. This has the added benefit of confusing any real assassins who might seek to murder the Countess on the road.”

A moment of silence met Quill’s proposal. By their faces, everyone hated the idea. But no one offered a better one.

“One of the carriages is badly burnt,” said Druskin. “It will take some time to get it cleaned out.”

“We’ll have to cover crests on the carriages anyway,” added Pontikel.

“It is decided,” declared the Countess, “Focus efforts on one carriage at time. Carriages may leave as they are ready.”


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I arrived at Curry’s Catch at seven. The long building was a glorified shack sitting right on the dock, and it reeked of bait, fish, and fried food. I could hear voices and the occasional laugh inside. A handful of horses loitered at the hitching rail, and his bay, Brimborren, was among them. I noted a crossbow and sword nestled among the saddlebags. Dismounting, I flipped Hook’s reins over the rail, and gave both horses a scratch as they greeted one another. It’d been awhile.

I touched my knives, scanning the docks as I approached the open door. Ayglos was somewhere nearby, wandering the docks and keeping a weather eye. One could never be too careful when your invitation had come on a wanted poster. Even if—especially if—it was from an old friend.

As I stepped into the dim interior, my nose wrinkled as the scent of fried food and bait became overwhelming. I found him immediately; he was standing at a long counter to the right talking to the large woman behind it. And he was already looking at me, a smile teasing at his lips, as if he’d sensed my approach. Eloi, he looked good. His hair and skin had been burnished by weeks in the southern sun. He wore traveling clothes in mostly worn browns, tall boots coated with road dust, not a few knives tucked here and there. In the cool of the morning he wore a leather jerkin, but it hung open over his open collar shirt. He looked fresh off the road and fresh off success. I hadn’t seen him since he’d left on that job on the southern tip of the continent last fall, and my whole soul warmed to see Quilleran Rhydderick alive and well.

Quill stepped away from the counter carrying a platter. He jerked his chin for me to follow him to a spot removed from the other patrons. There were a goodly number of patrons—all of whom I’d glazed over entirely when I’d seen Quill. Bad form. I scanned the room quickly, they were hairy fishermen mostly, a few cattle hands mixed in, and they didn’t care at all about us. I strolled after Quill, turning my attention back to him, looking him over for injuries or anything out of place. He moved easily, strong and light on his feet.

He picked a spot where we could both keep an eye on the door. “You’re early,” he set the platter down and slid onto the bench.

I dropped onto the bench across from him and slapped the folded paper containing my likeness onto the table between us.

His smile broadened into a roguish grin, his eyes bright, “Did you like my note?”

I frowned at him, but it took an effort. “You’d better hope the servants didn’t see it; some people would turn their mothers in for less.”

“Please. You eat assassins for breakfast.” He picked up the paper and flicked it open, making a show of admiring my likeness. “I thought you’d appreciate seeing the latest price.”

I did, in fact. “Where did you get it?”

“At the border crossing between Magadar and the Empire.”

I smirked. Maybe hitting that caravan this past winter had been a little much, but it had been very satisfying. “Any for Ayglos?”

“No,” his grin quirked, “There was one with a description of a handsome dark-haired companion, but no picture. So vague as to be useless. Almost as if no one spent hours gazing at his face before giving a description.”

My eyes rolled. One mistake. One time. “Really? You, too?”

He folded the paper and slipped into a pocket inside his jerkin. “Have you had breakfast?”

I shook my head, turning my attention to the platter for the first time. Fried fish, biscuits and…some sort of white paste…it smelled good. Once I sorted the smell of the platter from all the other smells in the room. Quill handed me a fork. “Lucky for you, I knew you’d be early. I got enough for two. Though, Ayglos will have to fend for himself out there.”

I took the offered fork and twirled it through my fingers. “Why the note? Why not join us at the inn last night?”

“Ayglos was making a killing, you were reading.” He shrugged. Then, seeing my look, he added, “I felt my visit would make far too great an impression on the other guests. Word travels.”

I thought of the fancy merchants but decided to leave it for now and speared the fish with my fork. Internally, I blessed the food, adding a prayer for Eloi to preserve me from harm. Just in case. Eloi must’ve heard, because the first bite melted in my mouth just the way fish should, and I nearly moaned from pleasure. Inspired, I dipped my fork in the paste and tried it. Holy heaven. Butter and spices and a faint burn sizzled through my mouth. I smeared some paste on the fish and tried them together. Blessed harmony. I caught amusement in Quill’s eyes as I scraped extra paste onto another bite of fish. As if he’d drag me from the second most expensive inn in Tanglewood Springs to a dumpy fish shack for bad food. I arched a shoulder at him. Point.

We ate listening to the hum of fishermen discussing the morning’s catch, and our meal was mostly gone before I asked, “Why are you here, Quill?”

“Because I was told this place,” he waved his fork at the unremarkable shack surrounding us, “was the best breakfast in Tanglewood Springs.”

Very funny. “Why are you in Tanglewood Springs?”

“Looking for you.”

“Really?” I was surprised. “Why?”

Quill finished his half of the fish before replying. “I’ve got a job for you, if you want it.”

My brows went up. “What kind of job?”

“A job that requires a woman’s touch.”

I stared at him.

Quill set down his fork and stared back, one brow raised.

“What in Serrifis kind of job is that?”

His grin returned, slow and enthralling, “You’ll love it.”

“I’m less sure about that.”

“Three words,” he held up three fingers and ticked them down as he spoke, “Private. Hot. Baths.”

I leaned back. “You do know the way to a girl’s heart.” Also, how to find me in any city anywhere in the world. “How long?”

He considered. “By midsummer we will either be successful…or not.”



My brother and I had planned to spend the summer working our way southeast through Villaba toward the coastal city of Cartahayna, a glittering bed of silversmiths and tall ships. Angareth was southwest. Completely the other direction “What’s the job?”

“It involves twenty thousand gold, saving a woman’s life, and hopefully stopping a war before it starts.”

“That’s all?” my scoff was entirely ironic. I tapped the table as I considered. Or, pretended to consider. Fact was that I could never resist when Quill had a job. He had this gift for impossible things which I found utterly thrilling. “I’m interested,” I leaned forward, “Come to my suite and we’ll discuss the details over tea.”


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Share Zare with your friends and we will be a merry company.

100 – The Road Ahead

At dusk, we laid the King of Dalyn to rest in an over grown walled garden beside the ruined house. The knights had slowly gathered stone rubble on their patrols throughout the day, and now we all helped raise a cairn over Tarr Kegan’s body. We had nothing to bury with him to indicate rank or honor besides the thin circlet he’d worn in the ballroom. We had no flowers. No tapestries. Not even a sword we could spare. Just broken stone. Hess watched us work from nearby, Tarryn in her arms and Naran clutching her skirt. The other four children clustered around her, watching solemnly as the cairn rose higher. I wondered if any of them had met the man assumed their sire. The man whose generosity and craftiness had backfired on them and torn them from their mothers. Would they hate him if they did understand?

Rock after misshapen rock passed from one calloused hand to another until Tarr’s form was entirely protected by the shattered pieces of Rhydderhall. Nothing but starlight and the glow from the rising moon illuminated Trinh as he climbed up our little mound and set a white piece of marble at the pinnacle. The marble was part of a carved frieze, but all that remained was a ship with three masts riding a wave. Trinh stepped back down and stood facing the cairn, his hands hanging at his sides. For a moment, I could almost see his thoughts: They swirled around him, condemning ghosts crushing him with the enormity of his defeat. It was as if he finally believed, for the first time, that his family had died six years ago and his beloved had not been seen or heard from since. He finally believed, and it would tear him apart.

Hesperide approached the cairn and sank to her knees, putting one hand on the stones. Naran, still at her side, did the same, bowing his little head. Her presence calmed the chaos radiating from Trinh with a leaden blanket of sorrow.

No one said anything.

After several long moments, Trinh put his hand on Hess’s shoulder. She looked up at him, then accepted his help up. Time to mourn was another thing we didn’t have to give Tarr.

We had miles to go tonight, to get as far as we could in different directions and fade into trade routes from different cities. Eventually, we’d all flee west. West, to bright Magadar. To lick our wounds, and to hide Tarr’s heirs. And for my brothers and me, to find our court.

Trinh led Hess back into the ruin where our carefully portioned packs and supplies waited. The rest followed one by one; knights, children, and my brothers each laying a hand on the cairn in farewell before filing back into the desolate villa. I heard one knight mutter, “May the immortal Breath bear you swiftly to Eloi in paradise.” Traditional words.

When it was only Quill and I left in the walled garden. I approached the cairn, stopping at the base and staring at it while I fingered my gold pendant with the sailing ships. How could this cold white pile of rocks contain the red tipped hair and burning blue eyes of that mad, brave, king?

I felt Quill stop beside me. The few hours we’d both been up had been busy dividing the supplies and the money from Tarr’s gifts between the four traveling groups. We’d talked just enough for me to learn that he had barely a scratch after last night’s battles, and that he and the doctor’s son were going with Hess and her children tonight. The children were divided among Trinh’s knights. The Galhirim would be entirely on our own for the first time in our lives. Strange to think we’d made it this far without experiencing that.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you we were staying to face the Huntsmen,” I said, eyes on the cairn, “I wanted to thank you for coming back for us.”

Quill nodded, “It’s what we do, come back for each other.”

I looked at him, then. The moon touched the angles of his face, and I found myself wanting to do the same as he gave me a small smile. I didn’t, but my answering smile felt like a promise. Even as I said, “You still owe me.”

He scoffed, “I don’t think the doctoring counts as many times as you think it does.” He plucked my sleeve right above my stiches. “And stop using your arm to block blades.”

My lips quirked. “I learned from the best.” I tugged his sleeve where he’d taken a sword in Gillenwater, so long ago.

His eyes sparked. Then he asked, “Which of you killed Khattmali?”

I drew a breath and let it out, “I did.”

A pause as satisfaction painted itself across every line of his face.

I continued, “She said she was the foremost of the Queen’s Huntsmen. That she had been rewarded the position in Dalyn to woo Tarr.”

“Huntsmen,” repeated Quill. “Ayglos mentioned them. Said they hunt without hounds.”

I thought of the golden woman who’d helped both Ayglos and I; who had undoubtedly been the one to keep Ayglos from being hit squarely in the spine when the Huntsmen first caught up with us. “I think they hunt,” I hesitated, “…by magic. And I don’t think we killed them all.”

Quill looked thoughtful. “I will find out more about them. Once Hess is safe.” He looked over his shoulder at the villa.

“You’re coming back?” I asked. No one had discussed coming back yet, and I feared he would say no. That he’d stay with Hess, wherever she holed up, and leave this fight for good. For me, the only road away from Dalyn curved right back to it.

Our eyes locked, the moon brightening his gaze with white fire. He was angry. I realized with some surprise that I’d never seen his anger before. Not like this. Quilleran Rhydderick was angry. Not at me, but at Narya Magnifique. Perhaps at himself, too. His voice was low, “We still have to be the ones to write the history.” To tell the real story of Tarr Kegan.

Something in me unfurled, like someone breathed on kindling at just the right moment to give life to fire, and I nodded. Then, crouching, I placed my hand on the stones. My fingers curling around a jagged edge as if I were holding Tarr’s hand. “We’re not done here,” I said half to Quill, half to the silent cairn and the man underneath. “We will be the ghosts who haunt the Nether Queen. The ones she could not catch. Could not kill. The light she could not smother.”


This is the end of The River Rebellion. Zare Caspian will return.

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A figure loomed above me, black against the lamplight. I stiffened, then I recognized Ayglos and bleated in relief. I went limp as he grasped Khattmali’s shoulders with bloodied hands and pulled her off me. He crouched by my side, “Are you alright?”

“I don’t know,” I groaned. Since I wasn’t dead, I decided to try pushing my arms under me and sitting up. My right arm protested, and my chest seized a little…but I sat up.

His hands went to my arm, gleaming with blood, and then he gingerly touched the gash in my breastplate and whistled. “That blow would have felled a boar.”

Craning my head down, I could see the ravaged leather. And beneath…shining silver links caught the lamplight. The links were damaged, but not sundered. I touched the gash. I’d gotten used to the weight of my chain link armor and had forgotten about it. I drew a deep breath. Dear Heaven, breathing hurt. But it wasn’t the same sort of pain as the pain from my broken ribs. It was more radiating than stabbing. I turned to him. “What about you?”

He grimaced. “That fight was a long time coming. I’m fine.”

I looked him over; in the lamplight, I could see the blood slicking his shoulder, and over his armor. It didn’t appear to all be his—couldn’t all be his. “You look terrifying.”


I looked over at Khattmali, tumbled where Ayglos had left her. “Is she dead?”

Ayglos crawled forward and put his fingers to her neck. After a moment he said, “Yes,” and crawled back to me. The Ambassador who’d killed and imprisoned the nymphs of the Bandui was dead. The irrational, slinking, terror that had filled the passages was gone, leaving nothing but quiet in its wake.

We scooted to lean our backs against the wall, the space so narrow Ayglos’s knees bent to fit, and his feet propped against the opposite wall.

“I don’t like Huntsmen,” I said after a moment.

Ayglos coughed a laugh. “I’m sure they don’t like you either.”

In silence we took inventory of our bruises. It was a small victory. But it was a victory. I waited for pain, or joy, or perhaps sorrow…now that the deed was done, and the lightning had ebbed from my body. Instead of emotion, I became acutely aware that we were still in the palace and needed to get out. Now.

I grunted, “We should go,” and shifted to crawl across the passage and pick up Shiharr and Azzad from where they’d fallen. I wiped them clean before sheathing them on my back.

Ayglos was also moving carefully as he gathered his feet under him and walked to retrieve the lamp. When he reached the lamp, he froze, head cocked and one hand raised to signal a halt.

I was on my knees still but obeyed, holding my breath to listen. There were footsteps running toward us…from the direction our friends had gone. Ayglos doused the lamp and I bit back a curse as total darkness enveloped us. The footsteps slowed to a cautious pace and got very, very quiet.

Aching, I got to my feet. There was no light at all in these tunnels. I drew a knife from my thigh and edged along the wall, wincing when I came to the Huntsman’s corpse, his sword still wedged in the wall right at head height. I ducked under the sword, right at the crossroads, with Ayglos only steps away.

“Zare?”  The voice was right beside me.

I jumped straight up, and narrowly stopped my hand mid-strike. “Quill!”

“You’re alive!” his voice had the gasp of relief.

“You gave me a heart attack,” I replied, sheathing the knife. “Why are you back here?”

He snorted. “Needful heroism aside, Namal would kill me if I left you two behind. Even if you did try to get left behind.” The last few words had a bite that made me blink.

“Are you…angry with me?” I asked.

“Even if you were obvious about trying to sneak off, you should have said something.”

“Wouldn’t you have just tried to stop us?”

A match fizzed to life as Ayglos re-lit the lamp.

Golden light again illuminated our pale faces, Quill looking straight at me, eyes burning with fury. He’d certainly processed his relief quickly. “Holy heaven, no! I know what needed to be done. But you don’t leave without saying something. Even if–especially if–you think you’ll die.”

“You would have let us go?” I asked again, sharply. “You wouldn’t have argued or tried to go in my place?”

The fire in his eyes flickered, but he growled. “You don’t leave your unit ignorant they’ve lost their rear guard, you don’t leave your friends wondering what happened to you.”

Ayglos broke in, “You’re right, we’re sorry.” He looked between us, his expression firm. “I’m glad you came to get us.”

Then I noticed that Quill’s clothes were spattered with blood, and he was holding a long talon shaped knife that was dripping red.  “What happened?” I demanded, cold fear shooting through me.

“Met some soldiers on my way back to get you.”

Ayglos whistled. “That could have been more exciting than I would have liked. Again, thank you.”

Quill had the good grace to tip his head in acknowledgement before looking us over critically. He noted the jagged hole in my breastplate, and then looked at the corpses past us. “Is that…a woman?” he asked.

I glanced back, “Khattmali.”

Quill paused, obviously collecting all the questions he wanted to ask and putting them somewhere safe to bring out later. “We should go.” He turned to leave, offering his free hand to me. “You can douse the lamp again, I know the way and I would rather not broadcast our presence.”

I took Quill’s hand and offered my other to Ayglos. My brother again killed the light, finding my hand in the darkness as we already started to move. I could still feel Quill’s anger simmering off him as we moved through the tunnels. I wanted to talk to him, to explain, to justify, to argue. Then I thought of the blood covering all of us, and instead squeezed his hand in silent apology. His fingers tightened in response.

Quill led us quickly, and silently, stopping only once or twice to listen. The only noise we made was when we tripped over the bodies of the men he’d killed. I had no notion of where we were in the palace, and thought ruefully that Ayglos and I would never have found our way if Quill hadn’t come back for us. Eventually, Quill stopped and let go of my hand. I heard a clank and the sound of a heavy door swinging. Quill’s fingers closed around mine again and we stepped through the door, he turned back to close the door and I heard the grind of a lock. This passage was colder than the other and felt damp. Our breaths bounced off the walls and echoed back at us. Here, everything was stone. The floor dropped in a smooth, steep descent, that had us shuffling our feet for fear of slipping before it leveled off. I heard water dripping somewhere. The sounds bouncing around us changed, and I guessed that the passage had widened into a proper cavern. I couldn’t sense the walls close beside us any longer, and Quill moved more slowly.

Pausing, Quill crouched and tapped his knife on the rocks, the same little knocking pattern that opened the King’s secret door. I fully expected the rumble of moving rock, but instead there was an answering tap from somewhere ahead and to the left. Quill adjusted his course and I stumbled as my foot caught on the uneven floor. The tap sounded again, much closer this time. The walls were getting close, not because the cavern was shrinking but because we were heading into a small corner of it.

“Stop!” a voice hissed from the darkness ahead.

I froze, sensing Ayglos go rigid behind me, and Quill said, “Lord Rakov?”

“Quilleran, you return. Were you successful?”

“I have them.”

“Good, come ahead—careful, it’s narrow.”

Quill led us forward. He grunted in pain, “You aren’t kidding.”

“Sorry,” Rakov’s voice floated ahead of us, “The door is very heavy, we didn’t open it far.”

“Watch your feet,” muttered Quill. I felt him swivel ahead of me and I copied his movement best I could. I sensed stone at my back and leaned into it, shuffling gingerly until my boots bumped the threshold and I could step up and wiggle through the narrow opening. I would have been more graceful if my hands weren’t monopolized holding onto Quill and Ayglos. Once Ayglos cleared the door I heard Rakov say, “Watch yourselves.” Then a slow grind rumbled behind us and the distinct sound of a lock thunking into place. This space was significantly smaller than the cavern on the other side of the door. The air was colder and more fresh.

Rakov moved around us, I felt him brush against my shoulder in the cramped space. “The others are this way, a little closer to the cave mouth.”

Ten more steps, then we stopped again, and I noticed new smells: dirt, straw, and possibly animal scat.

“They’re back,” said Rakov.

Movement, shifting clothes and the faint clink of armor. Trinh’s voice came from the left, and low, “Good. We should get moving. Only a few hours before dawn.”

89-Into Darkness


We left as soon as the men could move. By some mercy we had not been descended upon by hordes of black clad soldiers, though we’d taken the time to thoroughly ransack the villa for supplies. There had only been a handful of horses in the stable, but Namal and most of the knights took them and blazed a trail leading away from the city. Something for the Queen’s soldiers to follow. When they were done being decoys, they’d send the horses on their way, meet up with Trinh’s marksmen, and circle around to the ruins of Rhydderhall to await our return.

I crouched under the bridge to the city between Quill and Trinh. One of Trinh’s knights, a black-haired man named Rakov, was crouched on Trinh’s other side.  Ayglos had gone ahead to steal us a little boat, and there was nothing to do while we waited.  My pack scraped against the stone behind us. It was a miracle we’d gotten this far, picking our way along the stone banks of the river, doing our best to not disturb the snow. The bridge above our heads was lit with so many torches it was one thin strip of day slashed across the river. It had taken a great deal of patience and timing to cross the patch of barren shoreline close to the bridge without being seen. Guards patrolled the road, and we’d heard two mounted companies pass overhead since we’d been here. At least the light above us made the darkness deeper where we hid.

I stared at the dark water of the Bandui, thinking of Tarr’s body, wrapped tightly in stolen sheets. He was strapped to the back of a horse, surrounded by bundles of damp clothes, and unable to enjoy participating in the adventure. So much had happened so quickly. Tarr would be entombed at Rhydderhall. For now, it was the best we could offer him. There hadn’t been time to mourn—or time to rejoice and find out how Ayglos had managed to show up at the right moment. I grimaced. There had been words tossed around while ransacking a winterized villa making frantic new plans, that was all. I’d had no trouble outfitting myself with warm clothes from the combined dressers of all the female servants. The men, though, had had a harder time of it, being as there were a lot more of them. I hugged the bundle of Ayglos’s clothes to my chest. We didn’t have spares, so Ayglos had left his clothes behind on his pirating mission.

The waves on the Bandui sloshed, evidence that boats were moving around somewhere nearby. The river would be busy tonight, especially by the palace. There were waters to search, bodies to dredge, shores to patrol…With my free hand, I caressed the water with my fingertips.

“Zare, are you alright?” Quill’s voice was low.

I looked back at him, not that I could see him in the darkness. “Are you?”

I heard the grimace as he said, “Fair point.”

“What happened in there?” I asked, “How did you get separated?”

The river filled the silence before Quill replied, “When we arrived at the anterooms,” his voice was so heavy, “She said she wanted to speak with him alone.”

Of course, it was that easy. She was the High Queen.

“I came as soon as I heard they’d entered the ballroom without summoning us. When I walked in she already had the knife.” The weight of his failure was tangible in every word, and I felt it gathering in my chest.

I shifted closer to him, cautiously reaching out to find his hand. “There wasn’t anything you could have done. She drew the knife pretty much immediately.”

Quill closed his hand around mine, and I felt myself growing warmer at the strength in his touch.  After a moment he said, “Thank you for coming for me. I probably wouldn’t have survived if you hadn’t come charging over like you did.”

My mind immediately painted a vision of Quill lying dead in the ballroom. I shuddered, closing my eyes to shut out the image behind them. But to Quill I said, “You owe me again.”

“Owe you? I think that makes us even.”

“How’s that?”

He tapped his fingers on my arm to count, “You saved me in Gillenwater, I saved you at the Cymerie, then I saved you again after our little jailbreak, and now you’ve saved me here.”

I wrinkled my nose. “I’m not sure about the jailbreak.”

“Do you think your criminals would have brought you back to the palace where you could recover in style, in character, and with a proper doctor?”

“What about how I kept your wounds from rotting?” I replied, “You were not an easy patient.”

Quill scoffed, “I would have been fine.”

“Something’s coming,” Trinh interrupted.

I put my hand back in the river. He was right. A tiny boat crept along the city’s bank. We held our breath as it crossed the torchlit waters until it finally passed into the shadow of the bridge and disappeared. My spirit was lighter as I drew myself into a crouch and listened to the faint slap of the waves against the boat as it came directly across the river’s current. Moments later, the dark form of a rowboat nosed up to the bank, then Ayglos—a mere black shape himself—surfaced and propped his elbows on the stones. “Need a ride?” I didn’t need to see him to know the satisfied grin on his face.

“Did you have any trouble?” asked Trinh quietly.

“No,” replied Ayglos, “the wharfs are too extensive for them to have a strong net yet. But you’d better get in, the sooner we go, the better.”

We obeyed. Trinh and Rakov, first, then Quill and myself. The men lay down, feet to shoulders, in the bottom, squished together uncomfortably. I spread a blanket over them, and half over myself, curled up in a ball at the stern. If any eyes saw us, hopefully this dark mass would only be a shadow in the night. As soon as we were situated, Ayglos disappeared under the water and towed us into the current. The Bandui did most of the rest, carrying the boat swiftly away from the bridge and its light. I watched the city pass by; the faint glow of celebratory bonfires mingled with the lamplight from windows and carriages. I wondered how many were still celebrating, and how quickly word of the events at the palace would spread through the city.

Eventually, the lights thinned, and we reached the dark, low buildings of the warehouse district. Ayglos guided us in from the center of the river, choosing a smaller wharf full of fishing boats. I wondered if they all belonged to the Valredes family. As soon as we were close enough, I stood and hopped onto the dock, catching the side of the boat and pulling it in. The three men were quick to follow. In a moment Ayglos, too, was standing on the dock dripping puddles everywhere while he untied the rope from his waist that connected him to the boat.

I handed my brother a towel from my pack. He accepted and hurriedly dried off before dressing again with the clothes I handed him. The puddles were turning to ice when we left the docks and faded into the black of the desolate warehouses.

88-Cold as Ice


My dress immediately became deadweight as we sank into the black water. For the moment, I didn’t mind, as I watched the light from the palace obscured by the figures chasing us. I was still holding onto Quill, pulling him into the depths with me. Quill didn’t fight me but shifted behind me to wrap his arms around my waist, freeing my arms.

We needed to get away from here, before Namal and the others started jumping in on top of us. I began to work at the laces on my dress, they were fat with water and resisted. In the darkness, I drew my stiletto and awkwardly pried at the laces. I plucked them into tatters until finally the bodice peeled away. I sheathed the stiletto and wiggled out of the heavy skirts, glad of the forethought which left me with breeches and a shirt under the dress.

Quill had to be running out of breath. I swiveled in his arms, pinched his nose, and before I could think or see the shock in his eyes, put my mouth over his. It took a second for him to open his mouth and accept the air I pushed into him, and another for him to close his mouth so I could pull back. Quill still looked stunned when I released him and started swimming.

I kicked away from the palace, angling toward the surface with Quill in tow. We had to get into the city, so I swam with the current, toward the docks. We hadn’t gotten very far before a dull roar came from the palace and the orange blur of fire radiated above and behind us.

Then bodies started hitting the water.

We broke the surface—Quill with gasp—and turned back to look. The ballroom was burning. Orange flames spread quickly through the tapestries and draperies until the guard boats on the river were bathed in light. I’d forgotten about those boats.

The people in the water appeared to be alive and swimming. For now, anyway. Armored figures crowded on the balcony, silhouetted by the flames, and aiming crossbows at the river. One dropped with a cry, an arrow in his shoulder. Then another fell from view. That marksman of Trinh’s was doing what he could, but quarrels were already flying into the river from the soldiers on the boats.

Only Namal was likely to dive far or fast enough to be safe from that hail of spikes. We needed to do something about those boats. Before I could say anything to Quill, a figure rose like a specter on the nearest boat and dispatched of one of the crossbowmen. The figure tossed the body at the other guards on the boat before falling on them with long knives. In another second he was diving off the now unmanned boat. I knew that dive. I gasped. “Ayglos!”

“They need help,” said Quill.

I needed no encouragement. We dove as one. I reached out to the Bandui. The current did not hinder us as we swam, and in seconds we reached one of the boats. The boat rocked violently, the rail coming low enough for me to grasp as I burst from the water. I vaulted onto the boat, Shiharr and Azzad singing from my back. Quill followed behind me and drew the fighting knives strapped to my thighs.

I didn’t hear the shouting, the roar of the fire, or the turmoil of the water. I just poured my fury into my knives. We were fast, we were silent, we were nothing but vengeful ghosts. They didn’t stand a chance against Quill and me. In moments, we were diving off the boat and swimming for the next, repeating our performance like seasoned dancers.

At the third boat I realized that the hands next to mine on the railing were striped with blue tendrils and I looked over to see Ayglos giving me a grim smile.

Beyond him, toward the prow, was Namal.

The three of us were together and alive. Some part of me noted that this was a cause of great joy.

Namal pointed down, then dropped back into the water instead of climbing aboard. We followed. When Namal laid his shoulder against the hull and began to push, we joined in. I felt the Bandui casually suck away from the far side. The boat groaned, then capsized in a wave of air bubbles, dumping its men into the icy water. I dove, prepared for the Nether Queen’s soldiers to learn just how terrible it was to fight a nymph in water, but Ayglos grabbed my shoulder.  He looked at me fiercely and gestured that it was time to go.

I blinked at him, for a moment confused by the change in purpose. Then I obeyed, swimming with the current again, toward our allies. They were headed to the far bank, and they were only making progress because of the goodwill of the river. Panic slammed into me as I realized I didn’t know where Quill was. I swam faster, get in among the retreating men before surfacing and hissing, “Quill? Are you here?”


I swung left, recoiling at the sight of a body floating in the river. Then I saw heads on either side of the corpse and realized that the body was Tarr…guided by Trinh and Quill. I swam beside them, and when we reached the far shore I climbed out first and helped them lift Tarr’s body over the stone bank onto the snow-covered shore.

Trinh hauled himself out of the water and immediately pulled Tarr into his arms. Laying his forehead against Tarr’s, the orange glow from the palace painting his face in agonized strokes. Quill hoisted himself onto the bank and sat watching the burning palace, his legs dangling over the edge. I didn’t know where to look or how to feel. Trinh’s eight knights were all here, scattered around the snow in various poses like toy soldiers discarded by a child. Namal and Ayglos were standing nearby. I really hadn’t expected to be here again, watching another life burn to the ground. Three lives in less than a year. How had this happened?

And Tarr…my friend…I reached out to the dead king, my fingertips brushing his clothes, which were already turning to ice.


I recoiled and looked around. They were all going to freeze to death if we didn’t find them someplace warm and dry.

My brothers had the same realization. “Zare, get them up—Ayglos, with me!” Namal was already jogging away from the shore. “We’ll clear the way.”

Standing, I put my hand on Quill’s shoulder. “We have to go.”

He blinked, tearing his eyes off the palace to look at me.

“Quill,” my voice firm. “We have to go.”

Quill nodded, his shoulders sagged a little and I realized that he’d been watching the palace to see if anyone else escaped by the balcony. We didn’t know what had become of the King’s Guard. He got to his feet and turned to Trinh. “Your Majesty.”

I left Quill to deal with the kings while I rounded up Trinh’s knights. It was a sad procession that struggled up the hill rising from the river. A lawn, I realized. Probably belonging to the summer villa of whoever was richest in this court.

The villa wasn’t far from the river, and it was deserted, all the windows dark. Any servants who kept the place in winter were likely in the city celebrating. My brothers had broken into the kitchen and already had the fires going in both the kitchen’s fireplaces. Trinh’s knights filed inside. After a moment’s hesitation Quill and Trinh laid Tarr in the garden, folding his hands on his chest as if he were sleeping.

Trinh lingered over the body, his arms hanging helplessly at his sides.

I stepped close, “I’ll stay with him for a little while.”

He raised his eyes to me, “Thank you,” his voice was a rasp. With a final look at his brother, he turned away and entered the kitchen.

Quill stood a moment longer before reaching out tentative fingers to brush my arm. I looked at him and saw wonder in his face. My eyes dropped to my arm, where my blue nymph stripes still spread from fingertip to shoulder. I blushed.

As if the blush made noise, his eyes flicked to mine and he managed a faint smile. “They’re beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

“Will you be alright out here? In the cold?”

I nodded. “Yes. For a while. It’s not comfortable or anything, but I’ll be fine.”

Quill nodded, he almost looked like he would say more, but he turned and went inside.

I knelt in the snow beside Tarr’s body. The river had washed most of the blood from his shirt. Now it looked as though he’d rubbed mud on his shirt, given it a cursory rinse, then put it back on soaking wet. He looked like at any moment his chest would rise and fall, then his eyes would open. He’d wink at me and make a joke about both of us sitting outside in the cold.

But he didn’t. His skin was cold. His chest motionless.

I straightened his collar—that rakishly unbuttoned collar—and combed his hair as best I could. Then I sat back and drew my knees up to my chin, my fingers twisted in the hem of his shirt. Tears blended with river water, and then crackled into ice.

I don’t know how long I sat before Ayglos came out to get me. I was quite cold and didn’t argue when he practically lifted me to my feet and guided me into the kitchen.



“What did she do to him?” I hissed.

Bel didn’t answer.

“Good evening, lords, ladies, and honored guests,” the Queen’s voice filled the room, she was standing in front of her throne now, her gown pooled at her feet. “I would like to say that I’m pleased to honor you with my presence at the Midwinter Festival. But I do not like to lie to my subjects.” Her voice was resonant, but sweet, giving unsettling dissonance to her words, “I’m here because of the reprehensible behavior of some of your citizens, killing my soldiers and impeding my justice—and the incompetence of your king in rooting out those who commit such senseless crimes against us.” The faintest edge crept into her voice, and she looked at Tarr.

Tarr looked back at her, rolling his head on his neck indolently. He didn’t look the least bit afraid of her, despite the blood on his lip.

“It’s partly my fault,” she continued, her voice silky again, “I gave you this king, and I did not train him as I should have. But,” she lifted her hand to beckon to Tarr, he stepped up to her side, “Your King has been productive in other ways. And I shall make it up to you.” She raised her other hand and it took a heartbeat to see that the thing flashing in the light was a knife.

Time stretched thin as she plunged the blade into Tarr’s chest. The air swept from my lungs. Swept from the room.

Color drained from Tarr’s face and spread across the front of his shirt. Crimson. Bright against his white shirt. He looked down, surprised, as his legs buckled beneath him and he slumped to his knees.

“Tarr Kegan,” the Queen was still speaking, “your service is ended. Your insolence is ended. It is time for one of your many heirs to take your place. I will raise them as my own, as I should have raised you. You should be pleased that your bloodline is permitted to continue.”

Tarr’s eyes lifted from the hilt sticking out of his chest and roamed the crowd until they found mine.


I saw his order plainly, but I couldn’t move. My mouth opened as I choked on his blood as if it were my own.  I will. I willed him to understand. I will save Naran.

A blade flashed through the air and struck the Nether Queen as she stood over Tarr. She roared in pain, rearing away from the King, the knife protruding from her shoulder.

Quill was running from the direction of the entrance. The crowd recoiled from his passage, another knife was already in hand, his sword in the other. The Queen’s guards charged. Half converged around the Queen, pulling her back the way they’d entered, the rest ran to meet Quill.

Time thinned again, and then steel shattered the silence as the Captain of the King’s Guard carved a blue gore into the tide of soldiers. I stared, trying to make sense of the madness: At the perimeter, blue and black uniforms tore into one another. The crowd of revelers began to churn in a panicked effort to flee. Namal was running for the dais, and I thought I recognized Trinh doing the same. Some nobles were also attacking the Queen’s guards. Trinh’s knights, perhaps.

I became aware of Bel trying to drag me away with the rest of the people, and I turned on him. “You knew!” I snarled.

Bel stopped, taken aback by my anger.

“You knew she would kill him!” I was yelling now. Sweet Analie long gone.

“I tried to keep you away!” he snapped in frustration, “I didn’t want you to have to see it.”

“You should have stopped it!” I had never been this angry.

Still holding my arm, Bel raised his other hand placatingly, though his face showed he was starting to get angry himself. “Analie, listen to me—”

“Let go of me, traitor,” I rotated my arm and wrenched it out of his grasp. Bel stared, stunned, as I drew Shiharr and Azzad from my back, and spat, “I am Zare Caspian of Galhara,” and turning away I ran for Quill.

Quill was surrounded by a dark swarm of soldiers, more than should have been in the room.  I came at their backs, dropping three before they knew I was there. Someone grabbed my shoulder, I spun like lightning, whipping my arm under the soldier’s elbow and breaking it in one fluid motion. He cried out and I dropped his arm and moved on. Another tried to grab my neck, I ducked and flipped him over my head, ripping a swath in my skirts. The air whooshed out of his lungs and never returned as Shiharr sank into his neck. I yanked the knife out and kept going. The dress was like camouflage, they rarely saw me until I was upon them.

And I was nearly to Quill’s side.

I glanced to the dais. Tarr was all alone, slumped in front of the throne. For a heartbeat, our eyes locked again. The young King dipped his chin, his lips tipped up even as life pooled out of him. His expression was a benediction, shining with pride and…hope…Not for himself, but for us.

I gasped for breath, as if I could breathe for him. But the light in his eyes guttered.


I tucked my tears deep and shanked a soldier who was going for Quill’s back.

Then I made it to Quill. I sheathed Azzad, and reached for him, “Quill!”

He didn’t respond, but he didn’t kill me either. He plunged his sword into a soldier.

“Naran and Hess!”

Quill spared me a glance, then. He knew. His eyes were hard, his soul locked behind yards of stone, but I saw it anyway. I put a hand onto his back, moving with him as he spun and ducked. I pressed him toward the balcony, using Shiharr to block blows as we moved. Kicking out knees and stomping on feet that came too close to us.

I was vaguely aware of Trinh, Namal and the others, gaining the dais—but the Queen was already gone. They picked up Tarr’s body and, like us, started fighting for the balcony.

There shouldn’t be this many of the Queen’s guard here. Had they all been hidden in the ballroom?

Quill’s sword caught in someone’s armor—he abandoned it—and in that moment, I grabbed him around the waist and lunged at the balcony.

An arrow pierced the throat of the soldier who followed us into the night, and we leapt over the railing and into the icy river below.


While Quill was gone, I changed into a billowy pair of pajama trousers and one of Tarr’s night shirts. I picked the softest and thickest robe from the dressing room, not caring which of us it belonged to, and pulled all the pins from my hair and pulled at the braids until it tumbled around my shoulders in a frenzy. Hesperide procured me a tray of cheese, bread, and dried fruit, which I took to the chairs by the fire in the sitting room.

Reluctant to leave me alone, Hess nestled on the couch with Naran tucked under an arm. She settled into reading; the boy fell sound asleep. I wondered if she had spent many hours like that when I’d been injured. Naran acted as if the room was familiar and unremarkable, though I had only ever seen him in the gardens. I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised. Tarr would have found some way to see his son. I wondered if the boy knew who his father was. Or who I was.

I lost myself in my own thoughts while I slowly ate the food from Hess. I was very hungry but didn’t dare rush the meal for fear of spooking my stomach into a panic. The food helped my headache—which was a relief. Hess had offered to find me a painkiller, but I wasn’t in the mood to take tonics. By the time Quill returned I had mostly cleaned the plate and was staring at the fire, sipping wine and feeling fairly well, if tired.

“You look much better,” Quill said, sitting in the wing chair opposite.

“Thank you, so do you.”

He rolled his eyes and unbuttoned the first few buttons of his blue captain’s uniform. I tried not to notice. “I’m suitably relieved to have not lost a princess today. Especially on the heels of yesterday’s disappointments.”

“Two armies in as many days would be rather crushing,” I smirked. It was a terrible joke in so many ways. Only half true. Not remotely funny.

But he laughed, poured himself some wine, and said, “Tell me what happened.”

I related my story in hushed tones, just in case Naran wasn’t as asleep as he looked—and again left out the voice that had awoken me.

Quill listened quietly, tension evident in his jaw and shoulders. When I finished, he said, “I should hang Bel Valredes from the wall by his toes.”


“He deserves it.”

“Maybe. At least he has more class than Khattmali—if barely.” I leaned my head against the chair, “It turned out alright.” I looked at him sideways, “And I’m counting on you to help me keep Namal from exacting revenge in a reckless manner.”

Quill’s eyes sparked with mischief. “Namal is never reckless.”

No. I was the reckless one. I shook my head and turned away with an exasperated sigh.

After a moment Quill asked, “What was in the note you left him?”

“I said I was sorry to leave him while he was sleeping, but I needed to get back before the king wondered where I was.”

“Clever. Do you think he’ll believe it?”

“I hope so. I wanted him to think he had a chance with me. It’s certainly in his best interest to believe he does. Khattmali’s revenge is probably more frightening than the King’s.” I tucked my feet under me in the chair. “If I’d had more time I might have added a line about how much I enjoyed his kisses…”

Quill stiffened.

“…but I wasn’t sure that would be wise. All sorts of ramifications from that I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to.” I arched a brow at Quill, whose face had grown dark, then I added, “There were no kisses, Quill.”

He grunted and took another drink of his wine. “Hopefully we can keep Khattmali and her wolves at bay with that chance.”

“Maybe…” I stole a glance at Hesperide reading on the couch, “It might be time for Tarr to show a little more interest in the Ambassador…”

“With you living here?”

“It might be time for me to move out, too.” I set down the glass, “You brought me here to keep me safe, giving Tarr a distraction was an extra benefit. And now the safety is over. Maybe the distraction has run its course, too.”

Quill grimaced. “You’ll probably have to leave the palace entirely if you move out of these chambers.”

“Yes, I agree. It wouldn’t make sense for us to stay, and Namal and I are a liability inside the palace.” I took a deep breath, “Originally we were only here to treat directly with the King about an alliance, and I think we’re rather past that now. Obviously, we’re all committed to this thing—the purging of the nymphs made that decision for us. Outside the palace we can be helpful; Namal can keep after the underground, and I’ve got my men and criminals to look after.”

“It will make coordination harder.”

“But I’d be much less interesting to everyone here.”

Quill was silent for a long time. He was watching the reflection of the fire in his wine glass—and he was thinking. I waited, content to study the way the firelight fell across his face and lit his eyes. Melancholy rested on him, deepening with each breath. I felt it spreading over me, also, as I realized that if we left the palace, then I would no longer see Quill. Or Tarr, or Hess, or Naran. Probably not Jemin or Vaudrin either. They were not just my friends, they weren’t even my subjects. They would stay with their King and I would miss them. Even as my heart thrilled to think of doing something other than trying to be underestimated.

At last Quill spoke, “I don’t like especially like it, but you may be right. Besides putting you in a better place to build the rebellion, the Nether Queen is due to arrive three days before the Midwinter Ball. If she took any interest at all in you, as Khattmali has, we’d have a whole lot of trouble on our hands.” He put down the wine glass and looked at me. “The King could still invite you to the ball so you wouldn’t have to sneak in on the big night. And should we fail, there is a chance, however slim, that it won’t come back on him.”

I nodded. “It’s worth considering, at least.” If we failed, I doubted anyone would survive whatever tortures awaited, much less have one of us escape entirely. Though, perhaps with the underground refusing to help with the assassination, they would be hidden enough to help us vanish if we needed to. If they were so inclined. “I wish,” my voice was a whisper, “They had found Trinh’s speech more compelling.”

“More compelling than vanished cities, hell fire, and lost time?” Quill’s voice was wry. “I suppose it was a fool’s hope. They’ll come alive when she’s gone.”

We fell quiet again. I curled up in the chair and pulled the blue robe close around me. Quill undid another button on his uniform, the white of his shirt peeking through, and finished what was left of the dried fruit on my plate. We were comfortable. It was strange to think that this might be the last time that we would sit together like this. Even if we defeated the Nether Queen at the Midwinter Ball, raised an army and defeated any remaining of her minions…Quill was Tarr’s Captain of the Guard, and a noble holding lands in Dalyn if all were put right. This camaraderie would not be repeated.