As Queen Yoisea now has discovered, not only is Kailen in close company with the Nritrik subject, King Burdamon, but is himself of the Lugiönes, an ancient rival of the Alsaldic Empire. Bregan really must consult with Uissid Tizarn. But then what can Tizarn do, currently weakened by the Darkness . . . Read on
Another two days and King Burdamon was up on his feet. Though with one foot held off the ground and hobbling with help of a staff, the wounded big man did nothing but wince. Yet, in pain though he was, that didn’t stop him from eyeing young Mistress Bregan. He called Kailen to him. Together they watched her. It was then I sensed the colossal ‘unniceness’ of that man. It caused me raking shivers.
I wanted to know what they were about. But my Brictish abilities fast failing me, it wasn’t so easy to tap into thoughts. And so I walked around in their vicinity—though always at a safe distance, not to alert them—and eavesdropped on their talk.
“If you don’t take her, I will,” I heard King Burdamon say.
“You do that and you need never call me friend again,” Kailen returned, and sternly. “Then you’ll feel the full force of the Dunelts against you.”
King Burdamon laughed. “One clan? Am I supposed to be afraid?”
“You forget of the Lugiönes. We Dunelts can muster those too.”
“Huh!” King Burdamon scoffed. “Insipid followers of Lu. But, you know they’re King Ithen’s men now? He has them eating out of his hand.”
At that Kailen’s bravado failed him. “Just leave her alone,” he said.
Again King Burdamon laughed. And such a horrid-sounding laugh it was. Contemptuous. He may have been a king, but never have I known a more foul and ignoble man. He deserved to be hung upon a tree, sliced straight down his middle and his guts pulled out—aye, and while still living so he could watch. I did not like the man.
“Either you take her,” King Burdamon said, “—since you so want her. Or I shall.”
Oh no! Horrors! I was all in a flutter, all aghast! I had to warn her. I couldn’t keep quiet, I couldn’t say nothing. What if she were to be walking out one day and King Burdamon grabbed her and . . . and . . .do whatever he had in his mind to do to her? I didn’t want to look inside his head to discover the details of that. My imagination was suffifient.
I went straight to Mistress Maia’s isle. They were brewing, the gate was shut. But I had to speak with Bregan. It couldn’t wait. It was urgent. I did something I hadn’t done in all the years of being queen. I opened that gate to the King’s Wife’s isle and I walked right in. Let her shout at me, I didn’t care.
But when I knocked at her door there came no answer and no one called out. I opened her door—cautiously—and I peered inside. I had to be certain. But no one was there, the house was empty. Well of course it was. They’d all be in the brew-house. Yet that was one place I could not go, no matter my audacity. She may say nothing of my being in her isle, but she’d have plenty to say if I as much as set a toenail in there. So what to do now? I could nothing but wait.
Back to the gate I went and kindly shut it for Mistress Maia, and there I waited. Soon enough someone would come out of that brew-house. Soon enough I’d be able to tell them to fetch young Bregan.
And soon someone did. Mistress Maia. But before I’d as much as opened my mouth to speak she turned on me.
“What do you want now?” Then, before I could answer she told me to clear off, to go. “We’re busy. Can’t you see the gate is shut?” And off she strutted, across the isle towards her house.
“Mistress Maia,” I called after her but she ignored me. “Mistress Maia,” I called again and still she ignored me. “I must speak with Bregan. It’s important,” I said.
I knew that that would fetch her attention. She stopped in her tracks. She turned. She came marching over to me in such a fury. It was all I could do to restrain my laugh. I had to bite it down. I knew exactly what she was going to say (and she did).
“Mistress Bregan. Mistress.”
“Aye,” I answered. “And it’s Mistress Bregan I need to speak with—if you will tell her. It’s very important. Very.”
“My niece is busy,” she said, though somewhat calmer.
“Please.” How undignified, the woman was forcing me now to plead.
She heaved a sigh. “But she’s not to leave the isle. You understand? If you take her away I’ll—”
“Excuse me, but it’ll not be me who’s doing the taking if you don’t let me speak with her, and now.”
I didn’t need any Brictish tricks to know she wasn’t pleased. Yet she fetched young Bregan to me.
I told Bregan what I had overheard. She heaved an enormous sigh and looked up at the sky as if pleading with Saram. Or was it with Sauën? Sauën could be seen now—most days—now the Darkness was thinning. Yet despite Draksen was leaving of his own accord, the plans to perform Kottir’s Rites on the eve of the Feast of Slaughter remained just the same. I supposed it because no one had noticed as yet, except me. No one looked up; they feared to see that the Darkness remained.
“You must tell Uissid Tizarn,” I told Bregan. “Have you spoken with him yet on the other matter?”
“We’re busy brewing,” she said.
“Not so busy you can’t sneak off to be with that man.”
“I have not!” she denied. “Not these past two days.”
“And nights?” I asked.
“I share a bed with my aunt,” she said.
“Well,” I said, “you’ll have to go to Uissid Tizarn now. This won’t wait.”
“But first I’ll have to explain to my aunt,” she said. “She’ll not let me go otherwise.”
Aye well, that sounded the better idea, for the more people who knew what King Burdamon intended the more would keep an eye sharp for her.
I didn’t see her again till the morning of the eve of the Feast of Slaughter. She was flustered.
That feast is one of the biggest of the year which means a heavy workload for the brew-women. Moreover, the feast is held at Isle Ardy which means the King’s Beer must then be taken to there. Of old, they brewed the King’s Beer at the brew-house beside that ancient isle. But that place hasn’t been used for such an age it’s now all a-crumble and covered with briars and ivy—at least ivy and briars before Draksen came.
I asked her, “Did you speak with Uissid Tizarn?”
She shook her head. “I’ve not had time.”
“Did you tell Mistress Maia?”
She again shook her head.
“Then I shall go to him and I shall tell him. And I shall tell Mistress Maia.”
“Have you seen Kailen again?” I asked her.
“When have I had the time to see Kailen?” she said. “I’ve hardly had time to breathe.”
“Come with me now,” I urged her. “We’ll find Truvidir Markenys and insist he takes us to Uissid Tizarn. If you don’t, I shall have to tell your aunt all about Kailen.”
“You wouldn’t!” Oh, now she was scared. I’d found a way through to her.
“Come,” I said, holding onto her hand.
“But I’m supposed to—”
“You’re supposed to go to Uissid Tizarn and tell him what’s been happening.”
But there was still reluctance. She kept casting back glances to Mistress Maia’s isle. I offered to tell Maia where she had gone should Maia rant—which we both knew she would. But Bregan refused me.
“I can sweeten her,” she said. “I don’t like to do it, she’s my father’s sister, but I can sweeten her.”
“She’s not your father’s anything,” I reminded her. “Your father was a daen, an Immortal. You’re not her true heir.”
We found Chief Truvidir Markenys. Despite his initial reluctance he took us to Uissid Tizarn. I think he didn’t want us to know the Uissid’s hiding-place. Between Bregan and me, we told him the story of Kailen and King Burdamon. Bregan said nothing of her part in this and I said nothing of it either. It was the matter of King Burdamon that was most important.
“This Darkness—” Uissid Tizarn began his usual excuse for not doing anything.
“Look outside, old man,” I told him—because I could say things like that to him. But ‘Old man’? Not to look at him, not any more. Now he looked no older than King Kottir. “You’ll see that there’s a sky up there above the tattered wings.”
“Aye,” he admitted. “I have seen. It’s as I said. But Sauën doesn’t shine down on us yet and I’m still weakened by Draksen. I should be the one to send this King Burdamon away. I should put the message firmly in his head, that he must go, and go at once—even before tomorrow’s feast. But I haven’t the strength to do it yet. But at least with King Burdamon gone, Kailen, too, will go. You say he stays because of him?”
“Aye,” Bregan answered. “I think King Burdamon has some hold on Kailen but I don’t know what. I know he’ll never admit it, but I know Kailen’s afraid of him.”
“Well,” said Uissid Tizarn to her, “you must be the one to rid this land of King Burdamon. Aye. you must do it, since I cannot. And don’t look at me like that. I know you have the power.”
Will Bregan be able to send King Burdamon on his way when, young and inexperienced, she hasn’t yet found the full extent of her Brictish powers? Perhaps Uissid Tizarn is asking too much of her? Next episode, In Tandem