Reader and Raelynx

Reader and Raelynx by Sharon Shinn

Book: Reader and Raelynx by Sharon Shinn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sharon Shinn
Tags: Fiction, General, Fantasy
quite some time,” Valri remarked.
    An excellent opening for a change of subject. “Do you have a big family, then?” he asked the queen. “Are you close to them?”
    “Yes to both questions, though I have not been to see them in a few years,” Valri answered. “But they are most protective of me. One of the reasons I wanted to leave—to try what my life would be like without their close attention.”
    “Wait—I want to finish with Cammon’s story before we get to yours,” Amalie said.
    Valri looked amused. “Well, that’s enough of my story for now, anyway.”
    “And enough of mine, don’t you think?” Cammon asked.
    “No,” the princess answered. “So what happened when you arrived in Gillengaria? What did you do?”
    He gazed at her for a moment, debating how much of the truth to tell. It had been horrible, really, the worst six weeks of his life. He had wondered how he would stand it—had seen no way out.
    And then Senneth came along…
    He had hesitated too long. “Tell me,” she commanded. “All of it. I am your princess, and you must do as I say.”
    He gave a tiny shrug. “I didn’t have the money to pay for the rest of the trip. My mother had apparently struck a deal with the ship captain—she worked in the galley as part of the price of our passage. So now that coin was gone. When we arrived at Dormas port, the captain had me indentured to a tavernkeeper there. I wasn’t clear on the terms. I don’t know how long I was supposed to work off my debt. The tavernkeeper didn’t care much for mystics and something made him think that’s what I was. I’d never heard the word before—I didn’t know what it meant. But he put a metal shackle around my throat and set it with a moonstone as big as my thumb. It pretty much made me useless to do anything except stumble around the kitchen helping the cooks and shuffle around the tavern serving customers.”
    He put a hand to the base of his throat, where he still bore a faint scar. Moonstones were deadly poison to mystics; Senneth was the only mystic Cammon knew who could bear their contact. The Daughters of the Pale Mother wore the gems as a way to mark their dedication to the goddess—and a way to expose mystics by watching who shied away from the jewel’s fiery touch.
    “The moonstone burned my skin,” he said. “I didn’t know why. It made it hard for me to think, and I didn’t understand that, either. But I started having strange visions—strange thoughts—from outside myself. I don’t know how to explain. I was able to sense the moods of the people around me. It was so disorienting. But useful! I could tell when Kardon—the tavernmaster—was furious enough to want to beat me, so I would hide until his rage died down. I think once or twice he would have killed me with his bare hands, and magic was the only thing that saved my life.”
    Now Amalie looked absolutely horrified, and Valri looked both angry and sad. “The crimes that have been committed against mystics by ignorant and stupid people,” the queen spit out. “Someday there will be a reckoning for all that.”
    Amalie seemed to swallow with some difficulty. “So, what happened? How did you get free?”
    He smiled, because he still liked this part of the story. It almost made it worth enduring all the wretchedness that had come before. “Senneth, of course. Actually, Senneth and Tayse and Kirra and Justin. And Donnal, but he was outside the tavern with the horses. They were passing through on their way somewhere else and Senneth realized I was a mystic. So, she rescued me and brought me with her and—and that’s how I’ve ended up in Ghosenhall today.”
    “Oh, no, I want more details of the rescue!” Amalie exclaimed, finally able to smile again. “I knew that you had met them somewhere on the road, but I didn’t realize it had been such a dramatic encounter.”
    So he told the tale, which made Amalie offer up a small cheer, and then obligingly recounted a few

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