Read An Excerpt
Coded for the eyes of the Whisper Man ONLY
October 14, 466 H.E.
From the Sign of the Sheaves, Arenaver
Do you remember that time we had together in Blue Harbor back in May? You said we carried on like youngsters. I told you in April I’d fought a mage who guarded a smuggler’s crew. He lobbed some manner of sticky magic at me. It got under my armor—you saw the burns on my neck and chest. My ember-stone seemed undamaged, as was that other, special charm I wear, remember? The one I said I should just give up with my Change of Life dancing around me, but we both knew I jested? Then after that battle, as we were shipping the smugglers off to justice, a storm blew up and I forgot the whole thing. I hied myself off to Blue Harbor and you once I got the chance.
Right now you are frowning and telling me to stop fluttering and spit out the crab that has got hold of my tongue.
I’m pregnant, laddybuck. When I started puking, I looked up Neal, who serves as healer for Lady Kel at New Haven. (She and Neal send greetings to you.) Neal said I might do as I please with my charm, for it was useless for preventing a pregnancy. That mage had stripped its spell. My ember-stone is unchanged—nothing can touch the Goddess’s power. So now I wear my no-fertility charm in that second right-ear piercing you don’t like. I think it makes me look piratical. Now pregnantly piratical.
I bade farewell to the north. In two days, I will be in Corus. There I have arranged an audience with Their Majesties, where I mean to offer my resignation as King’s Champion.
Dearest, I am serious this time. When I said I was thinking about it back in May, you laughed, but I was telling the truth. On damp days I need winches in my shoulders so I can get a sword over my head. I love the modified jousting saddle that you had made for me, as it braces my hips and lower back for a long day of riding. But truth to tell, my work needs someone who doesn’t creak so much.
Now the Goddess gives me as clear a sign as a woman could want. It is time for me to place my sword before Jonathan and Thayet and tell them to find a new Champion. I have no replacement to recommend, but I am sure the king has been turning possibilities over in his mind for the past decade. Also, I am sure Her Majesty will not object to a change. She’s been hinting that I need to retire. Kindly, of course, but she has noticed my winces.
Whoever my replacement is, I wish him well. I know it will be a “him,” but there’s naught I can do about that. Lady Kel has made it clear that she is too sane for the work that I have done, and the more recent girls have yet to obtain their shields.
Once that is over, I will come home to my patient, forbearing lover and have our child. And this time I mean to stay home. I won’t do as I did with the twins and Thom, leaving them to you and our servants to raise. I mean to help with this one. (The midwife promises it’s only one this time.) That’s fair. It was my carelessness in not examining my charm that has presented us with this newest token of the Goddess’s favor.
I do not know how long Their Majesties intend to keep me in the capital. Not very long, I think. And then I will make my way to you somehow. I would like to say I will ride, but the way things are going, I believe any healers I talk to will order me to take ship to the Swoop. Pray for good weather, I beg. It is so unromantic to come home while puking over the rail.
I would apologize for the new token of our affection, but I remember how you always teased that you would be happy for more children. I also remember that when you tease you often speak the truth. So here I come, my belly leading the way, to fulfill your wish just a little.
With all my love,
and a new hatchling in my nest,