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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 67)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(67) by Anne Bishop
  • *Are you busy?*

    *That depends on what you want.*

    She heard the amusement in his voice and rolled her eyes. Maybe it was better if he felt amused. *I’d like you to find out what you can about Falonar’s bloodlines.*

    Cold now shivered along that psychic thread.

    *Why?* he asked too softly.

    *I have a suspicion that one of the things that bothers him the most about Lucivar—and now me—is the realization that we come from families that are far more aristo than his, and I’m curious why that matters so much.*

    *If you want this to stay between the two of us, it will take a couple of days. You know what Lucivar is like when he has to deal with paperwork, and I think this particular deluge is going to test his self-control. Besides, Father and I promised to work up a rough draft of a contract for serving the Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih.*

    Yes, she knew what Lucivar was like. A tiger with a sore paw was more agreeable than Yaslana confronted with a stack of paperwork. *It can wait.*

    She broke the link and went back to preparing The Tavern for business. A few minutes later, Rainier tapped on the door. He had two loaves of sweet-and-spice bread to serve with the soup, along with some pastries just for her.

    Pushing Falonar to the back of her mind, she spent the rest of the day listening to gossip and working with a man whose company she enjoyed.

    SIX

    It was late afternoon on the following day when Falonar walked into Kohlvar’s workshop to have a private meeting with the men he considered the core group of Eyrien males living around Riada. They nodded a greeting, but no one shifted to attention, ready to take an assignment from him.

    Had they already heard he’d been stripped of his position as second-in-command?

    “We need to talk about what we want for ourselves and the Eyrien people before Yaslana makes any other decisions for us,” Falonar said.

    “Already know what I want,” Hallevar replied. “That’s why I gave him my hand yesterday.”

    “We all did,” Rothvar said, tipping his head to indicate the men present.

    “You signed a contract with him?” Falonar said, made too off balance by that news to hide his anger.

    “Don’t have the paper yet, but we will,” Hallevar said. “We can change our minds if we don’t like the final terms, but from what he said, we’ll still have the eyries we’ve made our homes and a quarterly wage drawn from Lucivar’s share of the tithes, and work that suits us.”

    “The way Yaslana rules this valley,” Zaranar said, studying Falonar. “Why does it chew your ass?”

    “Because we weren’t born to be tame!” Falonar shouted. “He expects us to be content with training exercises instead of meeting an enemy. By the time he’s through gutting the heart out of what we are, we’ll be nothing but Dhemlans with wings. Look what he’s doing to Endar. A teacher?”

    Kohlvar wiped the knife he’d been sharpening on the whetstone and picked up the next one. “Why not? It’s the work Endar wants to do, and here there’s no shame in being a teacher at his age. You’re aristo, and aristos get more schooling than the rest of us. If Lucivar is willing to let all Eyrien youngsters have more schooling than we got, let them have it—especially if it’s something all the other children in this Realm are getting.”

    But it belongs to the aristos, Falonar thought. It’s the difference between a good leader on a battlefield and a ruler.

    Rothvar fanned his wings, then closed them. “I’ve spilled my share of blood on plenty of killing fields. I’ve been in fights where I’ve killed friends who were on the other side of a line just because some bitch Queen needed the sight of slaughter in order to come. There was no honor in that bloodshed. I’m not against fighting or killing. I was trained to do both, and I’ve done both. But I won’t feel cheated if most days I hone my skills against another man for the fun of it and don’t have to spill blood for someone else’s pleasure.”

    Falonar stared at the Warlord guard. Rothvar couldn’t mean that. “You’re willing to accept that?”

    Rothvar shrugged. “I guess it’s different for you, not having any court intrigues to deal with. But for us, this life isn’t so different from what we left.”

    “Except it’s better,” Zaranar said.

    Hallevar nodded in agreement. “I’d like to have a few more youngsters to train. Hell’s fire, I’d even give another try at training a few of the women.”

    “I don’t have to wonder if following Lucivar’s orders will soil my honor, and I sleep easier knowing that,” Zaranar said.

    “And with Lucivar, you don’t have to wonder whether the person giving you an order will deny it later—especially if there was something dirty about the job—and leave you to be the one to take the punishment.” Rothvar’s expression made it clear that he’d known men who weren’t whole afterward, even if they survived the punishment.

    “Lucivar says what he means and means what he says,” Hallevar said. “Straight words, straight work.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire