The Most Important Trip is Meeting People Halfway

Clatan 18, 1015

“And here we are, mein Prince! Takemizu!”

“… Walter?”

“Yes, my lord?”

“I know for a fact that you’ve never been here before.” Kay turned to Walter with a raised eyebrow. “So … where do you get off acting like the tour guide?”

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Gonna Try with a Little Help from My Friends

Clatan 4, 1015

Of course Freddy would be here first.

Rob managed a small smile as he crossed the worn flagstones that made up the floor of the Dragon’s Teeth. He wished he could be in a more cheerful mood tonight. He was having a guys’ night out, wasn’t he? Far from being annoyed or put out by that, Dannie had practically chase him out the door with a broom, hadn’t she? Business was going well, the children were happy and healthy, Elena was blessedly between teeth at the moment.

But he could never manage to be as happy as he ought to have been at their impromptu fraternity reunions. Not because of the men who came without fail. But because of the one man who couldn’t come any more.

Lamorak.

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Welcome to the Family

Darid 30, 1015

“We should have a fire in here,” Gino muttered, jumping from his seat on the sofa. The tinderbox was always kept on the mantel, and the servants were good about leaving a fire laid and ready to light now that the weather was cooling. So it wouldn’t take Gino very long to get the fire going.

But that didn’t matter. Sometimes, a man took all the distractions he could get. Like when his wife was in the next room, laboring to give birth to his child.

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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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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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Contingency Planning

Endskel 18, 1014

It could have been a wonderful evening. No — it should have been a wonderful evening. It should have started with Kay meeting Dilys in the courtyard, complimenting her for her good looks. He should have then teased her through dinner about all the fun she was having at university, without him. She should have blushed and insisted that it wasn’t as much fun as it would have been with him. Then they should have gone into the drawing room to watch the sunset. Then Kay would have poured some wine and stoked the fire. After a drink, they could have sat and stared into the flames for hours, and if Kay was very lucky, they could have put the sofa to good use.

That was how it should have gone. But Kay had flubbed up the first play, and now the rest of the game was looking very, very bad.

The trouble was — it was stupid, but at least Kay could identify it — that he had not been picturing Dilys in her black gown. Black was not her color: it made her look older, wearier, paler and sicker. Sadder but no wiser. Blue was a much better color on her. Or green. Or the teal-and-gold gown she’d been favoring lately.

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