A Song for Arbonne

By Guy Gavriel Kay

For the Northern mercenary known as Blaise, it all started with the loss of life of a king and betrayal within the type of a peace treaty. Wandering in self-imposed exile, he might trip to the dominion of Arbonne, the place the courtroom of affection made warriors bow to troubadours, and a well-sung ballad was once valued as hugely as a skillfully swung sword. yet Arbonne was once a realm, torn by way of an historic feud among its strongest dukes and coveted as a prize via the land during which Blaise himself had grown to manhood. And no one—except probably Arbonne’s goddess—could forsee that one Northern mercenary may turn into the most important to Arbonne’s destiny....

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Bertran got here in the direction of her, providing wine. "I depended on your aim," he acknowledged easily. the easy brown jacket and leggings turned him, accenting his burnished open air color and the bronze of his hair. The eyes have been surely extraordi­nary; many of the lineage of Talair had these eyes. within the girls, that coloration of blue had damaged hearts in Arbonne and past for generations. within the males too, Aelis meant. She made no movement in the direction of the prolonged goblet. now not but. She used to be the daughter of Guibor de Barbentain, count number of Arbonne, ruler of this land. "You relied on your cousin's existence to my objective? " she requested. "Your personal? An irrational belief, definitely? i would have wounded you as simply as he. " His expression replaced. "You did wound me, Aelis. on the midwinter banquet. I worry it's a wound that would be with me all my lifestyles. " there has been a gravity to his tone, sharply at odds with what had long gone prior to. "Are you actually displeased with me? Do you no longer understand the facility you've during this room? " The blue eyes have been guileless, transparent as a kid's, rest­ing on her personal. The phrases and the voice have been balm and tune to her parched soul. She took the wine. Their hands touched as she did. He made no different stream in the direction of her notwithstanding. She sipped and he did an analogous, now not talking. It used to be Talair wine, in fact, from his family's vineyards at the jap shorelines of the lake. She smiled eventually, freeing him from interrogation for the instant. She sank down onto the single bench the cottage provided. He took a small wood stool, leaning ahead to­wards her, his lengthy, musician's arms keeping the goblet in fingers. there has been a mattress via the some distance wall; she have been conscious about that from the instant she'd walked in, and both acutely aware that the charcoal-burner was once not likely to have had a formal mattress for himself during this cottage. Urté de Miraval will be a ways west through now in his favorite woods, lathering his horses and canine in pursuit of a boar or a stag. the daylight fell slantwise in the course of the japanese window, laying a benison of sunshine around the mattress. She observed Bertran's look keep on with hers in that path. She observed him glance away. And discovered in that immediate, with a surge of unexpecteddiscovery, that he used to be now not approximately so guaranteed as he appeared. That it may well truly be actual what he'd simply stated, what was once so frequently spun within the troubadours' songs: that hers, because the highborn lady, the long-desired, used to be the genuine mastery during this room. Even the birds above the lake ... "What will they do with Ariane and the corans? " she requested, acutely aware that unmixed wine and pleasure have been doing harmful issues to her. His hair used to be knotted up from the con­fining masks and his smooth-shaven face regarded shrewdpermanent and younger and a bit reckless. regardless of the ideas of the courtly video game, this may no longer be a guy simply or continuously managed. She had identified that from the 1st. as though to endure witness to that, he arched his brows, com­posed and poised back. "They may be carrying on with on their approach to Talair quickly sufficient. My males could have got rid of their mask through now and declared themselves.

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