Friday, April 6, 2018



Her disguise as an innkeeper and healer brought the world to Athrar/Thrarin. People knew who he was, knew he was there, and yet ignored him when he was underfoot, running errands, listening to stories. From Kaldar and Ector and the soldiers and sailors and tradesmen who frequented the inn, Lycen and Thrarin learned about the world, about warfare and danger, about swordplay and the tricks of the wind and weather, tracking and wounds, treachery and heroism, through the stories the men told on long, cold or rainy evenings. When Lycen wanted to learn to handle sword and bow and to ride something more spirited than the carthorse that hauled the inn's supplies, Ector snuck him into the garrison for lessons on the sly. And of course, where Lycen went, Thrarin was his shadow.

By the time their life of simplicity and safe anonymity ended, Lycen and Thrarin were toughened by short trips along the coast with trustworthy men like Kaldar, and hours of swordplay and helping tend the horses of the garrison. They were restless, eager to spread their wings and explore the world beyond the streets of Quenlaque and the harbor and the garrison.

What am I to do? Meghianna complained to Mrillis that morning when prophecy and destiny caught up with them. She sat in her inn in Quenlaque while he rode through a midnight forest in Moerta. My little boys are growing up. Does every mother feel this way?

Every parent, Mrillis told her. I know we planned to wait until Athrar was seventeen, but the boy is good with weapons, alert, agile--and he has his brother constantly watching over him. The Estall blessed us when he put Lycen into your care. Most older brothers would consider their little brothers a burden and punish them for it daily. He doesn't make Thrarin chafe against his leadership, either.

Hmm, yes, that's true. I keep forgetting my boys are a little unusual, Meghianna responded, earning laughter from the enchanter.

Such talk depressed her. She didn't look forward to the day her boys were too big for snuggling together on the big, broken-legged, lumpy couch in the front room of their quarters, telling stories and laughing together. Truthfully, her boys had outgrown the need to cuddle with their mother, but she hadn't outgrown that need to cuddle them, to smooth their hair out of their faces and tug their clothes straight and hug them, pretending that was all she needed to do to protect them from the bumps and scrapes of life.

Not even her power and authority as Queen of Snows would be enough to protect her boys when they took their destined places in front of the world and prophecy swept them up in its current.

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