glacial_queen: (Sidra)
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"So this is Riada," Karla said, looking around at the village Lucivar had chosen to call his own. "It looks happy. Prosperous. Familiar, too, but I can't figure out why."

"Agio's not far from here," Jaenelle said, lacing her fingers through Karla's own. "It was a Rihlander village, just like this one. Only landen, rather than Blood."

Karla nodded, looking out the window again. Perhaps she'd pick up a few more things while she was here, bring them home to Cora. The memory might hurt a bit, but she thought her adopted daughter would be pleased, too, to have something of her home from so long ago. "I'm surprised Lucivar decided to settle here," she said softly. "We were all too happy to kick the dust of Agio off our feet."

Dust hadn't been the only thing caked to the soles of their shoes. Not after Jaenelle had finished with the Jhinka.

"He didn't have much choice," Jaenelle said, a sad smile on her face. Her own thoughts mirroring Karla's, no doubt. "The valley that belongs to the Keep, Ebon Rih, isn't that big. Just a few scattered Blood and landen villages, and Doun, the largest city in the valley. But you can imagine how Lucivar felt about living in any city, I'm sure."

Karla snorted; a most undignified noise. "Considering his mother doesn't live all that far from here and yet he chooses to stay, it says a lot." She gave Jaenelle a sharp look. "How long has Marian been staying with her?" She didn't ask, Has Luthvian been completely horrible yet? which just went to prove that Karla was putting Mallory's diplomacy practice to work.

Jaenelle made a face. "I haven't heard anything to suggest anything other than Marian's settling in and healing up nicely."

"Then we're visiting because...?"

"Because just because I haven't heard anything to the contrary doesn't mean it's true."

"Aww, and here I thought you wanted to see Luthvian have to act like a gracious hostess to me."

"Well, there's always that, too," Jaenelle said, giving Karla a smile though her heart wasn't in it. "Who knows? Maybe we're worrying over nothing."

[Continuing the canon catchup for "Prince of Ebon Rih" by Anne Bishop, Chapter 6]

Date: 2015-07-01 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As she set the brass bucket next to the woodpile, Marian felt her back muscles and threaten to seize up. Again. Studying the woodpile, she raised one hand and used Craft to lift the pieces of wood and set them in the basket.

Luthvian would criticize and sneer, saying--again--that it was laziness to use Craft for simple things, but Marian didn't care. Using Craft instead of straining muscles wasn't laziness, it was practical--especially since her back had already seized up once today while she was scrubbing the kitchen floor.

Odd how gentle Luthvian had been when she'd come into the kitchen and found Marian on the floor, unable to get up. At that moment, she'd been all Healer, skilled and efficient. But the quiet words she'd said as she eased the pain were the same ones she'd been saying--the useless wings were causing the back pain. Removing them was the only way Marian would fully heal.

Since she wouldn't let Luthvian remove her wings, she couldn't say anything about the chores that made her back hurt. Lady Angelline had been very insistent that she take things easy for a fortnight and not overwork muscles that still needed time to heal. But every time she mentioned feeling strain in her back or legs, Luthvian dismissed the concern and implied--when she didn't say it outright--that Marian was just trying to get out of earning her keep. The criticism stung. Since arriving at Luthvian's, she'd done nothing but wash, scrub, polish, and mend. And everything she did was adequate but not good enough that she should ever dream of looking for a position in another household. Luthvian was letting her stay as a favor to Jaenelle.

It didn't matter, she told herself, feeling despair rise up before she choked it down again. She was alive, and she was living in Kaeleer, the Shadow Realm most people had thought was a myth until a few years ago. She didn't have to go back to Terrille, didn't have to trust her life to the whims of a male's temper.

Not as much, anyway. Luthvian had also made it clear that anything that displeased her would also displease her son, the Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih. Marian understood the threat. She was safe so long as she remained under Luthvian's protection. And considering she could still close her eyes and mentally trace every knife slash the Warlords had inflicted, that safety was not to be dismissed lightly, no matter how much she longed for a life different from Luthvian's second-rate drudge.

Gritting her teeth, Marian reached for the handle of the brass basket.

Date: 2015-07-01 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The basket vanished before Marian could touch it, reappearing a moment later, waist high and just out of reach. Then it fell to the ground with a heavy thunk.

"Perhaps I wasn't clear enough when I told you to take it easy for a few days." The voice didn't bother hiding the ripple of anger beneath the mildly spoken words.

Date: 2015-07-03 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Marian turned; standing near her were Jaenelle and another witch who seemed oddly familiar but whom she couldn't place.

"Lady Angelline." Marian swallowed hard, unable to look away those sapphire eyes. She felt as if fingertips were passing over her body, just above her skin.

Date: 2015-07-03 07:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Marian!" Luthvian's voice lashed out through the open kitchen windows. "Are you going to dawdle all night over a few pieces of wood? You have chores to finish."

Date: 2015-07-03 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"No." Jaenelle's voice was a whipcrack, a hint of the Abyss seeping in at the edges. "I will. Marian, pack your things. You're leaving. Karla, accompany Marian upstairs."

"But--" Marian's protest was immediately cut off.


Date: 2015-07-03 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Marian took off like a jackrabbit--as much as she could, anyway, moving on obviously stiff legs. Not that her visible soreness mollified Luthvian's temper any as she stepped out of the kitchen door.

"Hell's fire, girl!" she snapped. "Where's the wood? Can't you do anything--" She froze, the two strong psychic scents in her yard belatedly informing her of her 'guests' that'd she'd overlooked in the waning light and her frustration with Marian. "Good evening, Jaenelle," she said, attempting to mask her newfound wariness with a pleasant smile. "...Karla."

Date: 2015-07-03 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Good evening, Luthvian." Jaenelle glided forward with unnatural grace until she stood next to Marian. A half footstep later, Karla stood on Marian's other side, a display of power and support that Luthvian couldn't ignore. "Marian is leaving. Her skills are required elsewhere."

Date: 2015-07-03 08:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Luthvian barely pressed her palms to Karla's before she was snatching her hands away, balling them into fists at her side.

"We need to discuss this," she said to Jaenelle, ignoring Marian and Karla completely.

Date: 2015-07-03 08:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Fine," Jaenelle replied. "We'll discuss it while Karla helps Marian pack her things."

Date: 2015-07-03 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*I told you what you were to do,* Jaenelle said. Her psychic thread practically hummed with fury. *Don't argue with me about this, Karla. Take Marian and go inside. Help her pack. Be quick about it.*


For a moment Jaenelle's grip on her temper faltered. *Damn it all, someone will obey me when I say something!* And just as quickly, it was leashed and tucked away. When her voice came again, it was weary and apologetic. *Please, Karla? Just do this. I know you'd LOVE the opportunity to go up one side of Luthvian and down the other, but this was my mistake. I will fix it. Just help Marian get away from here as soon as possible. Okay?*

Date: 2015-07-03 08:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I don't know what you expect to do with her," Luthvian sniffed, folding her arms over her chest. "She's adequate, but anyone who pays wages for her work will be disappointed."

Date: 2015-07-03 08:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"She's been working for me for two weeks now and I've seen the extent of her talents," Luthvian said, too stubborn or stupid to see the trap for what it was. "And I was not impressed, either by her work ethic or her ability."

Date: 2015-07-03 08:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Karla took a single step forward, but Jaenelle's hand grasped her wrist. "Marian requires your assistance packing," she said. "I don't want her bending over or carrying anything heavier than a pillow right now."

Date: 2015-07-03 08:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Marian stepped backwards and then swung wide of the group, not willing to walk between Jaenelle and Luthvian. "This way, Lady--Lady Karla, was it?"

She didn't wait for a reply, slowly scurrying into the kitchen and up to the small second-floor room Luthvian had given her. There, she began vanishing the few possessions she had; she knew Lady Angelline had told Lady Karla to help her pack, but there wasn't much to help with. When she'd been brought to Luthvian's cottage, she'd had only the trousers, tunic, and underthings she'd been given at the Keep since her own clothes had been destroyed in the attack. Luthvian had given her a skirt and two tunics the Healer had no longer wanted and had grudgingly purchased two sets of underthings for her.

Her only other possessions were the things that, through Craft, she always carried with her--her moontime supplies, the hairbrush and hair ornaments her sisters hadn't permanently 'borrowed', the book she'd asked for last Winsol and had actually gotten as a gift from her mother, and the small loom and cloth bag of yarn.

A rather pathetic display, all huddled together on the bed.

Date: 2015-07-03 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It's my fault," Marian said quickly. "If I'd done a better job of arranging them, I would have have more room, but--"

Date: 2015-07-03 09:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"She wasn't expecting Lady Angelline to show up on her doorstep with a patient," Marian protested feebly. She vanished her belongings since she had no other way to carry them. "As busy as she is, I'm lucky she agreed to take me--whoa!"

Thunder shook the cottage. Her heart pounded as she rested a hand against the wall to steady herself. There had been no sign of a storm when they'd all been outside a few minutes ago. Where had the--

A different kind of thunder.

A chill went through her. Her heart pounded harder.

The kind of thunder that happened when a witch revealed enough of her temper to be a warning to those around her. But, at even the most angry, those were thunder claps, all noise. This had been palpable, enough to be felt throughout the house. "She's angry," Marian whispered.

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