© 2016 A. Jane
Potters Cottage upon Lonely Hill
Issin Sound, Artezan
“A letter from your father just arrived.” Cal held out said letter with the king’s seal upon it.
Sari looked up from the book she was studying and stretched her arms above her head, pleased for the distraction. She had been reading for the last hour and her muscles were feeling it.
So was her stomach.
She reached for a butter biscuit only to discover that she had finished the plate of snacks Cal placed on the table earlier knowing she liked to nibble as she studied. Even the crumbs were gone. Fuck! She was hungry.
To take the dance class she attended Votive Collegiate for—she might no longer be in Mistress fym Boja’s class, she still attended a class or two upon abstract dance—she needed to also attend at least one academic course each session. This session she was immersed in Nautical History: The Great Pirate Clash. The session previous she took one that studied the Jewel Age of Piracy, and before that was the study of the Dark Age of Piracy.
She knew it made her father nervous, her interest in such things, though she knew not exactly why. What did it matter if she studied the history of pirates on the sea? They were such a huge and fascinating part of their world. Granted she knew these courses never truly scratched the surface of pirate culture and life, they were mostly historical accountings of various nautical times and actions, but still she found them fascinating.
And this session had kept her from once more having to attend the Forty Days. First day of class had coincided with the very first of the Forty Days. To miss this one had been a boon as it had coincided with the tenth anniversary of Easal’s death. It also happened to be the one to see Morhg removed from this world making her heir to the throne.
She sighed. Fucking Golden Boots.
She started to reach for the letter, not surprised by the thickness of it—her father was an enthusiastic letter writer, most oft able to put with a letter the thoughts he could not voice—but dropped her hand.
What if… “Suppose do you he is calling me home?”
“Did the last letter call you home?”
“No. But with his marriage to Mamé now over… ‘Tis possible he would need me to take up her responsibilities, and many did she have.”
“The only way to know is to read the letter, but doubts I hold that he is. The letter, ‘tis awfully thick for such a command.” He waved the packet at her.
Accepting the letter from Cal, she broke the seal and began to read:
Good news I have to share with you. Know I do I should have shared it sooner, but much has been keeping me from my writing desk and most nights I fall into bed exhausted. I grow ever more annoyed with the Ministers. Or should I say with one Minister in particular? Constantly is fon Haut badgering me about the situation regarding Golden Boots. I keep telling him that naught will be done to the pirate, that he has, in fact, done Artezan a great service. And if he badgers me not about Golden Boots, he badgers me regarding your return. Even when I offer threats, and I have offered many, he is unrelenting.
I need find a way of removing him despite his declaration that a lifetime appointment he holds. Serious doubts do I hold that such a claim is lawful. Mayhap I should find way to carry out my threats, then I would need not deal with him. Were I a cold man, this would not be an issue and already would he be dealt with. Mayhap I could have him detained for acts against the crown? Then—
To The Firebreath! Apologies, my girl. My trouble with the Ministers is not the point of this letter, and you need not hear my complaints. Or feel worry that I wish your return. Return you will when ‘tis the right time for you to return and not a moment before.
So onto the good news, and there is much of it.
I know not if you have heard, but Vyr returned safe to our shores nigh a month past, no worse physically for the adventure. ‘Tis the truth, he does seem changed as a man, though I know not to what extent. ‘Twould be a rare individual who changed not after being kidnapped and taken to an island inhabited solely by pirates as Argos is purported to be. All we can do is wait. Time, always does she reveal all and so we shall see if ‘tis for the better or for the worse this change.
As of this moment, he is back upon his estate harvesting, I think, palliers. Though I could be mistaken. ‘Tis possible that ‘tis the palliers he just finished the harvest of. Know you how extensive the Vyr Estate is regarding such things and it seems a rare day when Vyr is not in the midst of some harvest. ‘Tis rumored he attempts to grow black wineberries. If such a thing proves true, I look most forward to his endeavors; a way he has with the delicate and the obscure. The fine nayas he harvested in the spring attest to this. They were most delicious both raw and baked, their sweet and delicate flavor just bursting on the tongue. There are also to be tantaun nuts this winter. A feat no one thought possible in this region, as tantaun nuts are known to only grow in the Western and Far Western Seas. I look most forward to such a pie for the Winter Festival at year’s end. Can you not already taste it served with churned sweet cream?
During all of the excitement of Vyr’s kidnapping and return, ‘twas learned that a younger brother is mine, one not much older than yourself. My mother, finally did she explain the reason for her departure from Court so many years past and ‘tis a sad tale. Mourning she was in and suffering great depression, believing my brother dead not long after his birth. Never did I know that she had been pregnant for I would have mourned with her. We since have discovered that he was taken from her, raised unknowing of his true bloodline. Upon learning the truth, he made his presence known to her and ‘tis amazing the already close bond they share. His name is Kino and is convalescing upon Ganos with our mother your grandmother and her new husband, regaining his strength from a wound nigh mortal.
I know not if you recall a man by the name of Davo san Vah. He was exiled from Court many years past for crimes against the crown, so you may not. In learning of Kino’s existence, ‘twas also discovered that Davo was the father of Morhg, and ‘twas Davo who attempted to murder Kino in some odd notion of avenging the death of his son. Methinks he believed me to be Kino’s father. Assured I have been by Vyr (though I am uncertain as to the exact happenings for he has been close-lipped about the details) that not only does Davo join Morhg in death, he joins him deep in the belly of The Firebreath.
And yes, I did write that your grandmother has married. ‘Tis Kino’s father she now calls husband, a seafaring man she met upon her travels to Ganos shortly after the death of my own father. ‘Tis a bit shocking the news when over three decades has it been since last they had seen each other. I recall meeting him then, Ahar having sent me to Ganos to find my rebellious mother, and the Captain seemed a warm and caring man, one who loved his children well and adored your grandmother. My impression of him has not changed. Only can I guess that the heart forgets not a love that is true, for ‘twas upon seeing her again that he married her. As a sea captain he has the authority to perform a marriage not only for himself, but for others as well. Never have I seen your grandmother this happy and so have offered my blessings, welcoming the captain into our small family. Also have I granted him the complementary usage of Yanu Fyrwyn. He found it rather humorous that he now holds Title.
When next you have a break in schedule, certain I am your grandmother would enjoy a visit with you. Methinks we have all been remiss over the years in doing so. Do you wish it, inform me and I will have one of the royal vessels carry you and Cal to your destination.
Your loving Papa
“He writes of anticipating a black wine and tantaun nuts from Vyr, but naught of the separation from Mamé. Or…” She tossed the letter onto the table with a sound of frustration, and watched as the pages scattered, two of them falling to the floor.
At least he was not ready to call her home. She held no desire to return to the Royal Valley. She liked Issin Sound. She liked her little cottage. It was hers. She could be herself here. She could entertain a lover. Jayd could sneak…
She quickly pushed away thoughts of Jayd. No matter how much she missed the ass. And she missed him greatly.
Her parents had originally wanted her to stay in one of the campus apartments set aside for royal families, but she had cared not for the other occupants, finding them…well, repulsive. Arrogant, entitled shits, all of them, only caring about the latest fashion, the latest scandal, the latest various popularities of others, and who was fucking—or not fucking—whom.
Or worse: if or not she was on the verge of madness. She wished she could find who started that rumor.
“Is aught wrong, Your Highness?”
She looked up at her old guard. Very well, he was not old, but a fit man of forty and four, but she feared the day that Cal would decide to retire and start a family. He was not just her guard, he was her friend and companion, and ‘twas rare he allowed her to take herself too seriously. She would miss him terribly when that time came; he had been with her since she was ten and he knew all of her secrets.
There would be no replacing him in her life.
Another reason she hated her contemporaries at Votive: there was a pool amongst them regarding if or not she and Cal were fucking and how long before they ran off together. Never had she or Cal held any romantic or lustful thoughts towards one another. He was more brother or uncle to her than not. It also proved how stupid the fools were, for did she and Cal hold such feelings for each other, they would need not run away to be together.
“Yes…no… I know not. The letter previous, Papa wrote—though I already knew most of it from Gillam—that not only had Vyr been kidnapped, but the pirate who took Vyr killed Morhg; that not only was Morhg not Papa’s issue, Morhg was a vile cur—something all but Papa knew because apparently Papa was under some enchantment—that Morhg was residing in the deepest Tier of The Firebreath; and Mamé and Papa had ended their fucking marriage. The only good thing I could see in that last letter was he called the latest Forty Days to a close. Not that the latter affected me as I was here.”
“What was in this letter that upset you so?”
“Only did he write that Vyr has returned home—which, again, I already knew from Gillam—and once again doing what Vyr does best, working his estate. Learned Papa has of a long lost brother thought to have died at birth—which I knew not.” She snapped her book shut and leaned back in her chair. “And apparently Grandmé has married, but he wrote naught of the exact who, only that this man is his brother’s father and that she now lives upon the Island of Ganos with them both.”
“It all sounds rather exciting.”
“’Twould be more exciting did I hold more information. Hate I do being left dangling with only partial clues. I would try to gain what I could from the letter, but never does Papa seem to leave aught of his thoughts upon the parchment. Mamé leaves plenty of thoughts, but her letters have always been quite spare. All she wrote in her last letter, which was all of one page, was that she and Papa were no longer married and she was returning to Tartyn, please visit if I felt the desire. I wrote to Caryk asking what he knew, but he knows no more than I as he was in Mylo at the time and Mamé has been rather mute on the matter since his return. And Glyn, that bastard, was less than forthcoming. Smugness, dripped it did from his letter that he knew more than I about the situation.”
“All I could glean was that Mamé had an adventure of some sort. I wrote to Mamé asking her, but yet have I to receive a reply. Mayhap I should write to Tressa, surely she would tell me.”
“And enjoyment you would gain from Glyn’s annoyance at your circumventing him by speaking to his wife.”
“Well, there is that. I know not what his issue is about that. A right I have to exchange letters with my sister-by-marriage; friends we were before he married her.”
“Indeed you do and indeed you were. ‘Tis that he no longer is the one with the upper hand.”
“And knows better he does than to yell at Tressa.” She shook her head. “’Tis all foolishness this and it distracts me from my studies. Speaking of distractions, is not the mid-session break soon?”
“It begins at next week’s end.”
“Papa thought Grandmé and my new uncle might enjoy a visit. ‘Tis that or travel to Tartyn and spend my break amongst the Titled with Mamé.” She rubbed her hands over her face. Just the thought of being amongst the Titledfolk was almost enough to turn off her appetite. Those of Tartyn were just as bad as the Titled from Artezan, mayhap worse, as they were rather blatant about their stares and whispers.
“Mentioned you did the night previous, that a treatise you have due once class resumes—one detailing the impact The Great Pirate Clash had upon the lives of seafarers and how it changed the sea. Did you not say your grandmother was on Ganos now?”
Sari perked up as she recalled something she read in her father’s letter. She grabbed the remaining pages on the table, running her eyes over them for what she sought. With no luck, she dropped to the floor and picked up the scattered pages, one far beneath the table, and quickly read.
“Aha!” Whomp! “Fuck! Owowowowow…”
Cal sighed and crouched down in front of Sari. “Forget did you that the table was above you, poppet?”
She glowered at him as she rubbed the top of her head. She had indeed forgotten in her excitement. She stuck her tongue out at him before crawling from under the table and sat back in her chair, still rubbing a hand over the growing lump.
Shaking his head, Cal placed a cold spell on a thickly folded cloth he summoned from the kitchen. Lifting Sari’s hand, he placed the cloth on her head, then replaced her hand to keep it in place. “So what did you find?”
“A sea captain is Grandmé’s new husband. Mayhap he might be willing to speak with me about it. ‘Twould gain me those extra points the professor offered for witness experiences. I could use them greatly for he seems to hold a dislike for my point of view.”
“Am I to assume we travel to Ganos?”
“You may indeed assume.” She grabbed several pieces of stationery and wrote to her father letting him know she was most interested in sailing to Ganos. She also included her thoughts upon the situation with the Ministers, though far were they from new thoughts. Mayhap ‘twas a lifetime appointment they held, but whose lifetime did it count against? That fon Haut had been appointed by Ahar and Ahar was long dead, had he not then served a lifetime? She thought her father might enjoy that bit of logic. She also suggested he read through the third volume—at least she thought it was the third volume—of the Laws Pertaining to Monarchy that the Assembly of Titled recently released.
With a grunt, she asked her father who was taking care of the responsibilities that had belonged to her mother. With her mother no longer queen and no longer residing within Artezan, surely they were forgotten. She could only say she felt a sense of obligation to ask, even if it brought her home.
Yeryl and Zasara, she was a fool.
She then wrote a letter to her grandmother to inform her of the visit.
* * *
‘Chari, are you done with your studying?’ Gillam mangled his granddaughter’s name as he always did. He stood in The Inbetween, his arms crossed.
Granted, better Gillam was than most of Artezan’s Titled in the pronunciation. He at least tried to make the S in his granddaughter’s name a Sh, but for some reason it came out as a Ch. Though he did get the A right, pronouncing it ah instead of ey as some were want to do. Most Titled outside of Tartyn—where her mother was from—seemed unable to grasp that some words did not always sound as they were spelled, considering she was called anything from Sorri to Sheri.
“Hmmm?” She kept from smiling hearing the spirit grumble. She was in the midst of raiding the kitchen’s cold storage bin and was too intent on filling her stomach to answer proper. But she knew Gillam well and he would not take her non-answer as answer. A most persistent spirit he was.
‘Chari, surely what you do now requires not so much of your attention.’ The spirit narrowed his eyes and began tapping his foot. ‘Or do you torment me when you know how much I miss eating?’
Gillam had been the first spirit she ever brought forward, unaware at the time of exactly who he was only that he was a nyn Dor. Later, she had attempted to speak with her father about him, not that she brought Gillam’s spirit forward, but wishing to know about her grandfather. Never could it have been called a pleasant conversation. Her father hated the man, called him a drunkard, a philanderer, and a coward—a man who did naught but stand there when Ahar whipped his son.
It had been difficult reconciling the spirit she knew and the man her father had known. As a spirit, he had always been kind, attentive, a fine example of a man who loved his family, and a right proper grandfather. It was he who helped her gain control of her words: sitting with her, encouraging her as she practiced. ‘Twas he who taught her to use the nyn Dor abilities, the Watcher magik she had inherited, too afraid to approach her father knowing how much he hated the Watchers. Gillam had also aided her with her sword technique, encouraged her to continue dancing despite growing too tall to dance professionally, and helped her not be afraid of horses. And when she discovered that teleporting made her nauseous, he had been most sympathetic instead of teasing her as most did for he too had suffered the same sickness.
She finally looked over her shoulder where her grandfather waited and raised her brows. “My cottage is always open to you, well you know this. As ‘tis, your strength is such that you need not my spellwork were the way shut.”
‘True.’ Gillam, without her aid, became corporeal as he stepped from The Inbetween and brushed his hands over his coat though there was not a speck of lint on his spiritly-self. “But never does it hurt to ask first; I wish not to wear out my welcome. If you recall, you were somewhat put out with me last eve.”
She shook her head, grinning—so proper—and returned to her search for something to fill her empty stomach. He could never wear out his welcome and he knew it. “I was, but am no longer. Though do you mention that fool, Rodrik, again, I may once more be put out with you.”
“Well he does seem a nice young man, I see not why you would turn down having tea with him. Granted he is not your pirate, but…” He stopped seeing Sari peer around the door of the cold storage bin and glare. “Right, very well, I shall confine Rodrik to the deep with Jayd.”
“Rodrik is a fine man, but he is not one who holds my interest.” She sighed knowing it was truly ridiculous, but she was still enamored with Jayd. “What might I do for you?”
“You go to visit your grandmother?”
“Mind would you if I tagged along?”
“Never have I known you not to be with me.” She pulled out a hunk of cheese and a pallier from the bin. Carrying them to the counter, she grabbed a knife and started fixing her snack, slicing the pallier and cheese into thin sections.
“Manners dictate I ask, my girl.”
“Since when?” She snorted at his trouble-making grin. “Is there a reason you wish to join me on this journey? Not that I ever mind your company, but I am curious.”
He did what he could to ignore her preparation of her meal, but envy still dug at him. To eat, even just a bite of cheese and pallier, would be divine. “Know I do ‘tis not the most convenient of times, considering you were but six when last you saw her, but…”
“She noticed.” She stared at her unfinished plate of neatly arranged pallier slices, memories of the past clouding her vision. “Grandmé noticed that yet had I to speak, that… You were there that day—as you were each time Papa took me to see Grandmé—trying to keep me from crying because my words refused to come. She saw that I stared at you, though she knew not at what I stared, just that I stared elsewhere, always elsewhere.”
“Apologies do I owe everyone it seems. Long had it been since I could communicate with another and I…”
“I understand, and had I been you, I would have done the same. But,” she took in a quick breath, “I heard her whisper to Papa, wondering if all was right with me, if mayhap my mind worked not properly, that mayhap I possessed a mental defect. Know I do she meant no ill. ‘Twas concern she felt, wishing all to be well with her son’s youngest child and ever possible heir.”
“More difficult it became for you to speak and less inclined were you to visit.”
“Less inclined I was for much of aught except dancing where I needed not worry over my words.” Sari shook her head and finished arranging her plate, alternating slices of cheese and pallier. “All is well. Now I can speak and ‘tis rare when I fail to form words. This journey, it should prove interesting.” She gasped suddenly remembering. “I could meet Ilora! Only have we ever written back and forth, but ‘tis upon Ganos she resides. I need write her this eve, see if she might be about.”
“Another member of the Guild you might meet. Yes, most interesting should this journey prove.” And if the right moment presented itself, he might finally apologize to his wife.
Princess Sari is off upon another adventure, this time visiting her grandmother and newly discovered Uncle Kino on the Isle of Ganos. An island long ago settled by pirates. Could it be more perfect?
Jay Lightning, with his son at his side, finds himself, despite himself, following his seamaid across the sea. Yeryl and Zasara! Why does she have to cause him such trouble?
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