As they caught their breath-and listened for the beams to crack-Durand found Heremund tottering around the corner.
The little man stared. "Does anyone inside know they're falling into the sea?"
"I should have been a carpenter," said Durand.
Heremund shook his head. "Some of this will have stood since Willan's Lost Princes." The sea shimmered beyond the gulfs like beaten foil.
"Come Durand," said Heremund. "You'll be making these fellows antsy." He winked, and Durand followed Heremund into the battered courtyard.
"You'd been gone some time," Heremund said, giving Durand a close look.
"I'm fine. Couldn't stand that hall another hour."
"You and the king. He's packed up that train of his and started the march south already. Prince Biedin had his own chambers set aside."
"The vote was finished."Again, the little man gave Durand a close look.
Durand only smiled. "Worry over someone else, Heremund."
"You looked half mad in there, Durand. I don't want to see you summoning up green ghosts again for a few days, eh?"
Durand glanced toward the castle gate and the bridge beyond where royal and rebel had fled. "I'm going to get a little more air."
Heremund nodded, and Durand crossed the high bridge back to the camp. Animals grazed among the flattened tents. He pa.s.sed the place of Waer's long fall. The low hump of Agryn's unhallowed burial lay dark in the gra.s.s. He found his tent where it sprawled over the trunks inside.
He got to work untangling his belongings.
But a sharp sound stopped him: south, toward the mainland, and too near for the treasonous lords riding home. Tock. Tock. He heard the swing and rap of a staff's heel on cobbles, and he froze, listening. He heard the swing and rap of a staff's heel on cobbles, and he froze, listening.
But then there was laughter. People from the castle back on the bridge. Berchard and Ouen traipsed over the high span.
"We squeezed it out of old Heremund," said Berchard. "You can't hide from us. Ouen picked the man right up off the ground." There was a flash of gold teeth.
"I've wanted to do that," Durand said.
Smiling, Berchard peered south. 'These kings are shifty beasts. After tonight, His Majesty will be wanting to give you ten castles in Beoran. We'll have to catch him."
Ouen slapped his shoulder. "You'll be rich as a Mankyr merchant He's bound to have a strongbox or two left somewhere."
Ouen took Durand's arm. "Now, though, His Highness, Prince Biedin, he'd put up some fine Vuranna claret to serve his royal brother. Now it'll only go to waste."
Berchard took an arm as well. "You'll taste the warm Eye of Heaven and the fragrant breezes of the Inner Seas."
"Under my own power, I think," said Durand.
The two nodded, and, once they were sure Durand was following, let him free.
"Maybe we can get Agyrn buried properly," Durand said.
"Aye," said Berchard. "Even a Patriarch wouldn't say that was anything but war."
Durand nodded and looked up from the turned earth to see Deorwen picked out against the castle gates by moonlight For an instant, she stood alone on the bridge. But Ouen and Berchard were already bowing to her, each with an eye on Durand as they did so. Coensar and Lamoric walked from the gates.
Coensar's eye glinted. Lamoric beamed, taking his wife by the shoulder. Her expression was unreadable: a mask donned in haste.
"Come," Lamoric said. And they were all walking in.
Under the gate, however, Durand glanced back. This time he heard the staff click, clear but distant, as if the Traveler were moving off.
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