Chapter 30


Tamerad saw Haajiyo standing in the birthing room’s doorway, as if she were a fine lady in that fancy dress of hers. Where did she get such a dress? The rest of the maids didn’t dress like that. Why did she? Did she have some special relationship with the king? Yes, that was it. She was his chambermaid and his lover. Well good. When I sit at his side, he can sleep in her bed and leave me alone.

How long had Haajiyo been standing there with her face crunched up? She held her skirts up as if entering would soil her crisp blue dress. Tamerad used her shirt to wipe her bloody hands clean. How long had she been watching as if she were a royal spy?

Ah, but the girl was too slow for such deviousness. No use being angry. She was too dull witted to understand her offence.

“What do you want?” Tamerad asked wearily. So much magic at one time was tiring. She could do with a long relaxing nap to replenish her strength.

“An old woman asks for you,” Haajiyo said. “She says you should come at once.”

“Who is she that she speaks as if I am hers to summon?” Tamerad did not wish to see anyone just now. This kind of magic was extremely precise and needed high concentration. She needed rest to replenish.

“She did not give a name. Only that I was to fetch you. Karth brought her.” Haajiyo spoke the name as if he was important.

“Who is Karth? Your lover?” Tamerad asked, in disgust. How many lovers does this one have? It was bad enough she slept with the king, but to bed every man who smiled at her? Revolting. Men were good for one thing only, breeding.

“No. He is a thief.” Haajiyo blushed as she spoke. There was something about him that impressed the girl.

“Do not lie to me, and do not lie with him, or you will end up like her with a child and no husband,” Tamerad said, indicating the sleeping mother.

Haajiyo stepped farther into the room to see who slept in the bed. “She has a husband. His name is Drurie. He is the captain of the King’s Men.”

“And where is he? Why is he not here with her and his newborn son?” Tamerad demanded.

“You sent him to the mountains in search of King Samard.”

“Call him back. He should be here not riding in the mountains.”

“Yes, right away,” Haajiyo turned to leave.

“Where is the old woman?” Tamerad asked.

“She is downstairs in the east dayroom.”

“Dayroom?” Tamerad looked around the birthing room. There were many windows in the dayroom and two doors, one leading into the castle, the other to the gardens.

“Yes, the old woman adamantly requested privacy and no one uses that room any more,” Haajiyo continued. “So I thought to put her there. Is there a problem?”

She dropped her head in fear of Tamerad’s reproach, but Tamerad didn’t have the energy.

“I want everything in this room, that is not of value, burned,” Tamerad commanded.

The midwife let out a despairing squeal.

“Move everything that is of value to the dayroom. Then have this room whitewashed. Put two – no, four beds – in the dayroom. Have two guards gently carry this mother on a stretcher to the room and place her on one of the beds.” Tamerad turned to the midwife and said, “You are to live in the east dayroom from now on. There is a small chamber room to the side. It will be for your private use.”

“My lady.” The midwife stared in grateful disbelief.

Tamerad almost smiled. “What is your name, midwife?”


“Lalerine, I will not have women giving birth treated like this. From now on, they will be treated with respect.” Then to Haajiyo she said, “But first send word to Cook Biddle. Have something sent up for the midwife to eat, some broth for the mother, and a pitcher of water and two mugs.”

Haajiyo stared at her as if she didn’t believe what she’d heard.

What does she think? That I have no compassion or pity? Tamerad ignored both women as she angrily pushed past Haajiyo. “I will clean up. Then I shall see what this old woman wants.”

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 28

Something’s Brewing

After a month of searching, he’d not seen any signs of rocks scarred by sharp claws, rock slides caused by a mightily tail, piles of dung the size of a house, or bits of un-chewed animal carcass carelessly discarded. Not because there wasn’t a dragon, but because the creature was too new to the area and had not yet made its mark. The mountains were vast and there was a lot of ground to cover. In time, Karth would find the monster. (more…)

Published in: on September 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 27


It took two days by horse, three and a half by wagon, five to walk from her home in the mountains to the prairie castle. But Sidrea was far too old, and frail as a dried leaf, for such a journey. After nine days, she was close enough that she thought she saw the town and castle in the distance. It looked like a large black smear. She thought she was more than a few hours by wagon from town, probably more than a day’s walk for her. (more…)

Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chapter 26

Samard is Missing

“What do you mean he is missing?” Tamerad hazel eyes flared. Her face flushed with anger. She spoke each word with harsh intensity.

Haajiyo worried she’d ruined Tamerad’s immediate plans for the king. “I’ve looked everywhere.” Haajiyo hoped her voice didn’t sound too whiny. She didn’t dare not kneel or beg forgiveness. Such demeaning of herself infuriated Tamerad. If she became too angry, the witch might dismiss her. She would never learn more magic. (more…)

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chapter 25

Karth’s Opportunity

Karth was an assassin and thief for hire. His reputation was. Requests for his skills came from over the mountains and beyond the ocean, from places he knew nothing of. He carefully considered each request before accepting. First to make sure it was not a trap set for him. And second, to make sure the victim deserved to be stolen from or killed. But he was also a man of opportunity. (more…)

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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