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Stories from the Verse
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Chapter 73: Hastings 210
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Tiras had clearly heard Serona’s warning, but did not grasp its import. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“We are all in danger, some more than others.”
“I am listening.”
“We killed a member of the royal house,” she said. “Whatever our justification, the nobles will want retribution for that. They might be satisfied with the life of the one who laid the killing blow, or they might want your head, or they might want the entire group. We might not want to wait to find out; escaping after they decided will only mean that we have the army in pursuit.”
He nodded. “The princess can’t protect us?”
“Her position is probably tenuous: she has to prove that she will uphold the traditions of her people, particularly since her sister just confessed to having murdered their mother. She might be able to give them one of you plus me, and hold her power that way.”
“You? Why you?”
Serona dropped her head. “I’m a renegade drow,” she said. “I fled from the drow--not here, but another drow queendom--because I couldn’t embrace the worship of the Spider Queen. The drow as a people assassinate any of their own who have done this.”
With a puzzled concern he asked, “Why in the worlds did you come?”
“There weren’t a lot of options for me, and I hoped that you would get me out safely. You were known for that, after all. But the assassination of the usurper changes that.”
“Yes, I see,” he said, nodding, then stood with an uncertain look on his face. Lauren realized that from here it would be a difficult escape, but that she could help.
“Tiras,” she called, walking toward him. He looked over at her, a bemused grin on his face.
“Do I have another problem?”
“Not quite. I might have a solution.”
Quieting as she approached, she continued, “I have the ability to open a sort of gate to any place I can picture clearly in my mind. I’ve been with you for some distance, and perhaps with a bit of effort I could take everyone back to some place we’ve already been. I’m not sure how well I remember any of those places, and of course I’d have to envision them without our presence, as they are now, but I might be able to do it.”
“It sounds promising,” he said, “but I actually do have another problem. Noar? Mupar?” he called. “We have a situation.”
The huge samurai and smaller fighter came toward them, and Malacon and Taz also approached.
“It was written into our contracts that you would be given the opportunity to open trade negotiations on behalf of your houses. I am reliably informed, however, that it is almost certain some of us will be executed for the assassination of the usurper. We are going to have to protect Lurt and Serona, certainly, probably Nightstalker, maybe the Lady Lauren. They might want my head, but I will deal with that as it comes. There is no guarantee they won’t insist on executing all of us. Lauren says she can gate everyone out to any place she has already been and can remember. If we all stay, some of us will probably die. If we all go, we abandon the opportunity to negotiate. If we send some away, we might well create a more difficult situation. It is my responsibility to ensure that you have the opportunity to negotiate, but also to get everyone home alive. What are your thoughts?”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #381: World Complications. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: