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"He will send for Kellin, he says, when the time is right."
For a long moment there was silence. Then the
Queen of Homana muttered an oath more appro-
priate to a soldier. "And when will it be right?
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When his son is a grown man, seated upon the
Lion Throne Aidan himself should hold?"
The Mujhar answered merely, with great weari-
ness, "I do not know."
Tension filled the silence. Then Kellin heard a long, breathy sigh cut off
"Aileen, no "
"Why not?" The voice was thick, but fierce. "He is my son, Brennan I'm
permitted, I'm thinking, to cry if I wish to cry."
"Aileen "
"I miss him," she said. "Gods, but I miss him!
So many years "
"Shansu, meijhana "
"There is no peace!" she cried. "I bore him in my body. You're not knowing
what it is."
"I am bonded in my own way "
"With a cat1." she said. " 'Tisn't the same, Bren-
nan. And even if it were, you have Sleeta here. 1
have nothing. Nothing but memories of the child
I bore, and the boy I raised. .. ." Her voice thick-
ened again. " 'Tisn't fair to any of us. Not to you, to me; and certainly not
to Kellin." Her voice paused. "Is there no way to make him come? To compel
"No," Brennan said. "He is more than our son, more than a jehan. He is also a
shar tahl. I will not compel a man blessed by gods to serve a mor-
tal desire. Not for me, nor for you "
"For his son?"
"No. I will not interfere."
Taut silence, as Kellin spun tightly away. Ur-
chin hesitated only a moment, then hastened to catch up. "Kellin "
"You heard." It took effort not to shout. "You heard what he said. About my
father " It filled his throat, swelling tightly, until he wanted to choke, or
scream, or cry. "He doesn't want me."
Jennifer Roberson
"That's not what the Mujhar said. He said your father would send when the time
was right."
Kellin strode on stiffly. "The time will never be right!"
"But you don't know th "
"I do." Venomously. "He renounced the throne, and renounced me. He renounced
"But he's a priest. Don't priests do those things?"
"Not shar tahls. Not most of them. They have sons, and they love them."
Kellin's tone thinned, then wavered. He clamped down on self-possession with
every bit of strength he had. "Someday I will see him, whether he wants me or
no, and I will tell him to his face that he is not a man."
"Kellin "
"I will." Kellin stopped and stared fiercely at
Urchin. "And you will come with me."
He dreamed of gods, and fathers, and islands;
of demanding, impatient gods; of Lions who ate humans. He awoke with a cry as
the door swung open, and moved to catch up the knife he kept on a bench beside
his bed, with which he might slay lions.
"Kellin?" It was Rogan, bringing with him a cupped candle. "Are you awake?"
Kellin always woke easily, prepared for lions.
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"Aye." He scooched up in bed. "What is it?" His heart seized. Not the Lion "
There was tension in Rogan's tone as he came into the chamber, swinging shut
the door behind him. He did not chide his charge for speaking of the Lion.
"Kellin ..." He came forward to the bed, bringing the light with him. It
scribed deep lines in a haggard face. "There is something we must discuss."
"In the middle of the night?"
"I can think of no better time." A slight dryness
altered the tension. Rogan put the candle cup on the bench beside the knife,
then sat down on the edge of the huge tester bed. "My lord, I know you are
troubled. I have known for some time. Urchin came to me earlier, but do not
blame him; he cares for you, and wants you content."
"Urchin?" Kellin was confused.
"He told me what you both overheard today, when you eavesdropped on the
"Oh." Only the faintest flicker of remorse pinched, then was consumed by
remembered bitterness.
"Did he tell you "
Rogan overrode. "Aye. And after much thought, I have decided to do what no one
else will do."
The tutor's eyes were blackened by shadows, caved in unreadable darkness. "I
offer you the op-
portunity to go to your father."
"To " Kellin sat bolt upright. "You?"
Rogan nodded. His mouth was tight. "I make no attempt to explain or excuse
him, my lord .. .
I merely offer to escort you to the Crystal Isle, where you may ask him
yourself why he has done as he has."
"My father," Kellin whispered. "Jehan " He stared hard into darkness. "When?"
"In the morning."
"We will say we are going to Clankeep. You wish to take Urchin there, do you
"Aye, but "
"I shall tell the Mujhar you wish to introduce
Urchin to Clankeep and the Cheysuli. He will not refuse you that. Only we
shall go to Hondarth instead."
"But the Mujharan Guard. They'll know."
"I have prevailed upon the Mujhar to allow us to go without guards. You are
Cheysuli, after all [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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