He heard no sound, but he felt the dark power when Daemon walked into the room and sat beside the bed.
“I feel like something that had been hidden and festering got lanced,” he said. “I know if my leg wasn’t wrapped in numbing spells, it would hurt like a wicked bitch, but I feel better. Does that make sense?”
“It makes sense to you,” Daemon said. “Maybe it’s easier to accept when there is no longer a possibility of taking up the life you had.”
“Maybe.” Was Sadi weaving a soothing spell in his voice, Rainier wondered, or was it the healing spells that made him feel like he could float on the sound?
“Would you like me to read to you?” Daemon asked.
Rainier laughed. It sounded like heavy syrup. “I’d be asleep before you read the second sentence. I don’t want to waste the offer.”
“All right. Another time, then.”
His arm was so heavy. He wasn’t sure he’d actually moved it until Daemon took his hand.
“I want to stay in Ebon Rih. Have a reason to stay now. Jaenelle won’t like me staying, so I need you to stand for me.”
“Why do you want to stay?”
Something he’d seen in Falonar’s eyes, something he’d felt when Falonar’s Sapphire and Lucivar’s Red powers had crashed into his own effort to keep himself upright, leaving him vulnerable in too many ways. “I’m not sure. . . .”
“Whatever you tell me now will stay between us,” Daemon soothed.
As I was falling, I felt Falonar ram against my inner barriers, and with all the power slamming around me, I couldn’t keep my mind shut tight, couldn’t keep everything private. Might not have been intentional. He could have been flung against me by the Red, but intentional or not, Falonar grabbed at the chance to find something, anything, I might know that he could use against Lucivar. Some secret, some weakness. The pain in my leg . . . I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to protect a confidence, so I floated a lie near the surface where it would be easy to find that Lucivar’s left ankle was badly damaged when Yaslana first came to Kaeleer, and even now it’s weak and wouldn’t support him if it received a couple of hard blows in a fight.
Did he say the words? Did he voice the suspicion of what Falonar had hoped to achieve by causing him to fall?
“Shh,” Daemon said. “Rest now. I won’t act on what you’ve told me unless I have proof that it’s true. And I’ll talk to Jaenelle so that you can stay in Ebon Rih for a while.”
Having those assurances from the Prince he served, he drifted off to sleep.
Lucivar found Falonar at Nurian’s eyrie. Not unexpected since they were lovers and she was the Healer the Eyriens around Riada and Doun came to when they were injured or ill. The Eyriens who lived in camps in the northern end of the valley complained about having to see one of the Rihlander Healers in Agio because there wasn’t another Eyrien Healer in Ebon Rih, but there wasn’t anything he could do about that. He would have accepted another Healer if one had been willing to sign a contract with him and had the disposition needed to settle comfortably in Kaeleer, but Nurian had been the only one who had been willing to settle in Ebon Rih and live under the rule of a man most Eyriens still thought of as a half-breed bastard despite his bloodlines.
She looked tired. That wasn’t unexpected either, considering the number of people who had become ill recently, but he didn’t think the strain he saw in her face was due to fatigue.
Falonar was settled in her parlor, his left arm shielded and wrapped to protect the fragile, newly healed muscle and skin. He looked comfortable, but his eyes were yellow stones filled with anger.
“Will the Dharo man prance again?” Falonar asked.
“No,” Lucivar replied. “But we’re hopeful he’ll walk on that leg again. You should be hoping that too, because if he can’t walk, neither will you.”
“Is that a threat, Yaslana?”
No title, no courtesy in the voice. More and more, Falonar seemed to be forgetting who ruled and who served.
“That, Prince Falonar, is the message from an enraged Queen drawing a line and stating what the blood debt will be for damage done to one of her court.”
Falonar paled. “There is no court. Hasn’t been one for almost two years.”
Lucivar huffed out a laugh. “You be sure to explain that to Witch while she’s stripping all the muscle out of your legs.”
Falonar paled even more.
“Stay away from Rainier. You won’t get another warning. And if the Queen has a reason to go after you, you won’t find anyone strong enough to stand in her way who will stand in her way. Is that clear?”
“As clear as what passes for Eyrien honor here.”
Ah. Lucivar gave Falonar a lazy, arrogant smile. “So let’s hear what passed for Eyrien honor in Terreille.”
Falonar exploded out of the chair.
Lucivar waited, watching the other man’s eyes.
“We’re Eyriens who aren’t allowed to be Eyriens,” Falonar snarled. “We should rule this valley instead of having to pretend that the Rihlanders are our equals. These mountains should be filled with our kind, but there are less than two hundred Eyriens in Ebon Rih.”
“The others who came through the service fair had no interest in living in Ebon Rih,” Lucivar said.
“No, they had no interest in living under you. Instead of having a new life, they chose to go back to misery rather than serve you. The only thing you honor about our race is our fighting skills and what we can do on a killing field. You’ve cast aside everything else and expect us to accept that, swallow that.”
Well, that’s interesting. Lucivar shifted his expression into puzzlement. “What else is there beyond what was learned in the hunting camps?”
“Our traditions, our customs, our heritage! You send Jillian to school to learn what? Nothing Eyrien.”
“Last time I looked, Eyriens can read the same words and tally the same numbers as Rihlanders or Dhemlans.”
“What about our history?”
Now, that was a sore spot, since Eyrien history was something he wanted Daemonar to learn. “There aren’t any storytellers who can teach the youngsters the old stories,” Lucivar said with genuine regret.
“There were some who came to Kaeleer, but none who would come here,” Falonar said bitterly.
“That was their decision.”
“So you’ll condemn the rest of us instead of making an honorable choice?”