L. E. Modesitt Jr




Lord of Telaryn


Wife of Bhayar


Rex of Bovaria


Autarch of Antiago


Princeps of Tilbor and friend of Bhayar


Wife of Quaeryt and youngest sister of Bhayar


Governor of the Province of Tilbor


Marshal of Telaryn


Commander, First Tilboran Regiment


Commander, Second Tilboran Regiment


Commander, Third Tilboran Regiment


Major, Third Battalion, Third Tilboran Regiment


Major, Fourth Battalion, Third Tilboran Regiment


Post Commander, Extela


Chorister of the Nameless


Chorister apprentice, former undercaptain




Quaeryt peered out from underneath the thick-and warm-comforter toward the nearest bedchamber window, its inner shutters fastened tightly. Even so, he could see frost on parts of the polished goldenwood. Supposedly, winter was waning, with spring some three weeks away, except that winter lasted into spring in Tilbor, even in Tilbora, the southernmost city in the province. The harbor in far-north Noira would not ice-out until the end of Maris, most likely.

A lithe figure wrapped her arms around him. “You don’t have to get up yet.”

“I do. It’s Lundi, and I am princeps, you might recall…”

“Dearest … do you have to?” The excessively pleading tone told Quaeryt that Vaelora knew he needed to rise, but that …

He turned over and embraced her wholeheartedly, finding her lips on his.

All too soon, he released her, wishing that he did not have to leave their bed. But then, it had been her desire to remind him of that.

Bhayar had been right. Quaeryt and Vaelora were enjoying being married, even if he’d never seen it coming. Vaelora had protested that she hadn’t either, that her brother had insisted she join him on his ride to Tilbora to keep her from the trouble she might have gotten into in his absence. Quaeryt had his doubts about her purported ignorance, but if that was the way she wished to portray matters, he’d certainly respect it. Then … it could have been that way. She hadn’t brought anything with her but riding clothes, and women who planned on being married usually thought about what they’d wear … unless she’d wanted to be able to insist she hadn’t known. And that was also very possible. He’d gone over all those possibilities for weeks, and probably always would … and he suspected she had planned that, as well.

He smiled.

“What is that smile for?” she asked, again in Bovarian, the language in which they conversed when alone-or in dealing with Bhayar.

“I was just thinking about the depths behind those seemingly guileless brown eyes.”

“I cannot believe you are interested solely in those depths.” Her slightly husky voice was both warm and slightly sardonic.

Quaeryt found himself blushing.

“You see?”

“Enough, lovely woman,” he declared with mock gruffness. “Your brother did say that we were to keep each other warm.”

“How, dearest, can I do that if you insist on getting out of this warm coverlet in this chilly bedchamber?”

Eventually, Quaeryt did leave the bed, as did Vaelora, and they washed and dressed quickly. Quaeryt was more than grateful for the warm water waiting in the bath chamber. Just the thought of the cold water in the officers’ quarters made him shiver.

Although Governor Straesyr, when he had been princeps, had lived with his wife and family in one of the row houses along the north wall of the Telaryn Palace, Bhayar had declared that such quarters were not suited to his sister. Quaeryt had suggested that the apartments on the upper east end of the palace proper-those that had been occupied by Tyrena, the daughter of the last Khanar of Tilbor before its conquest by Bhayar’s father-were most suitable for a princeps and that it would be most incongruous-not to mention grossly unfair-for the newly wed princeps to occupy the larger apartments of the former Khanar when his superior was the governor. That arrangement had been accepted by Bhayar and Vaelora and had certainly obviated possible tensions between Governor Straesyr and Quaeryt.

As Quaeryt began to pull on the fine browns of a scholar that Vaelora had insisted that he have tailored- because a princeps needed to look the position, as well as carry it out-he glanced at his left arm. It was still thinner than his right, while the skin was paler, not that his skin, ever so slightly darker than the pale honeyed shade of his wife’s complexion, would ever approximate the near bluish white of the Bovarian High Holders and royal family. Given the beating his body had taken in the battles against the rebel hill holders, he was glad that none of the injuries had been permanent, unlike his left leg, shorter than his right, presumably since birth, since he didn’t recall it ever being other than that.

Quaeryt waited until Vaelora was dressed-in light brown trousers, a cream blouse, and a woolen jacket that matched her trousers-before walking with her down the short corridor to the small cherry-paneled private dining

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