Who Does Not Desire? Who Wishes to See More?

Clatan 14, 1015

Another day, another … what?

Some might say another copper. Some might say another task accomplished, another check to mark on the great list of life. Some might even point to all the things they had enjoyed, all the little bright spots that shone like stars in a darkened sky.

Delyth was not one of those people.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day …

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Free Advice, Worth Exactly What You Paid for It

Darid 16, 1015

Joshua took a deep breath, slow and even. This was the time of day he liked. It was early enough that the bank was technically open, but few customers had bothered to show up. Best of all, the ones that were present were the — to put it bluntly — less-important clients, the ones Humphrey Kennedy and the rest of the clerks could see to without Joshua’s interference. The whole day stretched out before him, and Joshua could delude himself that this would be the day that he finally got everything done he’d planned.

And he was in such a better mood than he’d been in this time yesterday! When he’d married Cressida, he’d seen nothing but advantages to the fact that her birthday, their anniversary, and St. Romeo and St. Juliet’s day were combined. He just needed to find one (very special) present, and he was set for the whole year until Robertmas. Well, unless you counted the weekly bouquet of flowers, but they were routine for Joshua by now, so he didn’t count them.

Unfortunately what he hadn’t realized is that while Darid 14th of every year from now until death they did part would be very, very good, the morning of Darid 15th would be very, very bad. He’d discovered he needed at least five cups of coffee to be passably human, and this year he’d fallen asleep on the couch as soon as dinner was over. Cressida thought it hilarious and had given the kids some of mixture she used to darken her eyelashes and had encouraged them to draw cat-whiskers on his face while he slept.

He was still trying to think of a suitable revenge for that.

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But What’s Puzzlin’ You is the Nature of My Game

Darid 11, 1015

“And even Sir William says you have to go along with it? My Lord, Aglovale. What’s he going to say next — that perhaps Dindrane should have inherited the estate and everything, simply because she’s older?” asked Elyan.

Aglovale had was about to stab that stupid dummy to the heart, but he had to pause. The idea of Dindrane having the estate … well, it meant it wouldn’t be his problem anymore, and best of all, he wouldn’t have to deal with Garnet on a weekly basis. Was he a horrible person to find the idea strangely attractive?

Not that it mattered. Aglovale stabbed at the dummy like — like it was the person who had murdered Lamorak. The robbers or what-have-you. If he ever got that bastard or bastards on the business end of his blade —

But Elyan needed an answer, so he gave it. “Sir William only interpreted the contract. I don’t think he’s about to advocate for revolution.”

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The Business of Dyfedshire is Business

Darid 7, 1015

Aglovale wished that the sight of his childhood home didn’t fill him with dread. But ever since Lamorak’s death, the four tall towers and squat gray keep of the Gwynedd family seat had not meant laughter and happiness and good memories, but rather stress, anger, and worry. He was here once a week these days, sometimes more than that. And instead of being able to enjoy time with his family, he was holed up with Garnet and Master Carey in the library, going over accounts, checking the progress of the various crops, and inevitably fighting over the next steps to take.

And while Garnet was technically family, and he knew that some families saw their stewards as practically one of the family …

The Gwynedds were not that kind of family, and Master Carey certainly wasn’t that kind of steward — no matter how much Garnet liked him.

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I Set a Course for Winds of Fortune

Imsdyn 19, 1015

“So,” said Tom. “A King, two princes, and a baron walk into a bar. Everybody else leaves.”

His three companions were silent. Finally a throat cleared to Kay’s right. His father. “And …?” asked Arthur. “The punch line?”

“Oh, there isn’t a punch line,” replied Tom.

“Unless it’s the realization that our lives are a joke,” sighed Kay.

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A Minor Form of Despair, Disguised as a Virtue

Imsdyn 6, 1015

Patience is a virtue. It was a hackneyed line, a perfect cliche. It was something that Tamsin had heard from her mother’s mouth a thousand times — usually growled at one of her siblings, showing just how close Lady Lilias was to running out of her own virtue, that is to say, patience. Relatively speaking, Tamsin was not often at the receiving end of that sentence. But she could still hear that growl as clearly as if her mother was sitting by her side.

She wondered if her mother would have been growling it now.

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Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

Endskel 30, 1014

Eilwen hesitated, her hand on the door leading from the music room to the library. The metal leached the heat from her fingertips, leaving only a cold ache behind.

This year had left only a cold ache behind.

Eilwen sighed, her head coming to rest against the door with a thunk. Why had she invited all the children here? At the time it had seemed a good, almost joyous thing. Maybe Pellinore and Lamorak would come to visit if they were all together. Maybe it would do them good to see the family managing to pick themselves up and cope in their absence. Maybe …

“Mama? Is that you?” came Dilys’s voice from inside.

Maybe Eilwen had best stop woolgathering, pull herself together, and be strong for her family, as she had been for the past year.

She pulled the door open and passed through to the lighted library. “Yes, dear, it’s me.”

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