The enraged sea buffeted the Gleaming Endeavor as the storm surged on overhead.  Merasiël wrapped her legs around the cracking mast, blinking away the rain as Angrist cut through the jammed ropes holding the sails in place.  Somewhere below, Gabriel floundered in the sea after being thrown overboard.  She could only trust that Rainald would pull the swordsman back to safety.  Triumph turned to fear as the newly freed sails fell towards one of the stouthearted seamen that served aboard the vessel.  The sails caught Tully square in the chest before severing the seamen’s safety line.  A large spray of water blew over the side of the ship where he had fallen and then he was gone.

Merasiël barely registered that her own safety line had been compromised, and dove for Tully’s rapidly disappearing line.

Merasiël dove for the shadows behind one of the plush chairs near the window. As light from the hallway filled the room, she shrank further away from it, forcing herself into stillness. The door closed, and the bright light from the sconces in the hall was replaced by the dim flicker of candlelight.

“My Lord Tereus, we will find her.” Edward? She thought. “But my father threatened her yesterday. She has likely fled.”

“For both our sakes, I hope you do find her. She is the only loose end that remains to be tied. What were you thinking, goading your father like that? Announcing your intentions to marry that elf.”

A pause. “I don’t particularly care for the tone you are using, Tereus.”

“Are you having second thoughts, then? Perhaps you should have entertained those before your father’s untimely demise.”

What is going on here?  His father is dead?  The floorboards just on the other side of Merasiël’s hiding place creaked and she held her breath. The cushioned fabric beside her head hissed gently as someone slumped down in the chair. When Edward broke the long silence, his voice was close to her ear. “No. No second thoughts, Tereus. My father deserved his fate. I will find the Lady Misthal and see that she remains…silent.”

“Good. You have been given the gift of your father’s wealth and power, young Edward, and are the last that holds the Bonet name. It would be a shame if your family’s line were to be cut prematurely.”

The conversation ended with the sound of footfall followed by the door slamming closed. Merasiël waited still, her breath caught in her throat. The fabric beside her head whispered softly once more as Edward rose and walked to the window. Merasiël then had her first clear view of him, and she believed that if someone were to look like hell, as the humans were want to say, then Edward would fit that description. His normally clean and pressed clothing was stained in several places. His collar was undone and the hairs on the top of his head were sticking out at an odd angle. He gazed out the front window for a long while, scowling downward towards the front drive, until the unmistakable sound of a litter leaving drifted up to the window. “Ah, what a bloody mess,” he grumbled, and then turned away from the window. His eyes met Merasiël’s and both of them froze.

It was Edward who broke the silence. “I should have expected you’d find your way here.”

Merasiël rose from her hiding place behind the chair, one hand resting on the hilt of her dagger and the other resting on the back of the chair beside her. “Your father is dead.”

Edward sat on the edge of the desk and ran both of his hands over his face. His voice dripped with exhaustion. “Yes. Not by my own hand, of course, but I was there.” He glanced over one shoulder, eyes scanning the disturbed pages on the desk. “I see you have been busy. You will know by now what my father was involved in.”

“Slave trade.”

“Yes, a disgusting business, and one I wished my family out of. But it goes further than that.” He looked up at her, and he tilted his head, his expression becoming one of genuine confusion. “Are those my trousers you are wearing?”

Merasiël ignored him. “Your father’s business?” she prompted.

“Children as slaves. Noble born, peasantry, it didn’t matter. The younger the better, sold to the highest bidder by a rival’s family or simply taken from the streets and never heard from again. Those few who discovered were silenced before they could bring it to the notice of the church. I had to stop it.”

“Tereus was working with you.” Edward’s simply nodded, and Merasiël continued to press him, “Tereus hired me to steal your father’s secrets. All the while he had your ear? Why?”

Edward folded his hands together and rested his chin on his knuckles and his shoulders slumped forward. “I am sorry, my lady, I truly am. You know that Elves aren’t very welcome here. You were here to be a convenient scapegoat. Now that my father is dead, you will be accused for his murder.”

Merasiël took a step towards the window, and Edward rose hurriedly.

“Wait. Please. Lord Tereus arranged all of this. He would ensure my father’s downfall, and I would ensure your permanent silence. But I find..I cannot. I will not.”

Merasiël’s knuckles were white from gripping the handle of her dagger, and slowly began to draw the weapon. She spoke through gritted teeth. “Oh? And why not?

“Because I have fallen in love with you.” When Merasiël’s only response was to stare at him, he continued, his voice bordering on desperation, “Please. Tell me truthfully. Was none of this real? All of this time we have been together? Was every moment false?”

Merasiël snapped her dagger back into its sheath, a small smirk finally playing its way across her lips. “What do you think?”

Edward studied her expression, looking for some sort of hope, but he apparently found none and he took a steadying breath. “I see. Then the Lady Misthal is dead. Or perhaps never existed.” He leaned forward against the desk, resting his knuckles on the wooden surface. “I’m afraid you will not be able to stay in Hyrnan. I will instruct the guards that you are to not be hindered and you may leave the grounds with all you came with. But,” he added, ”I ask of you a boon.”

Merasiël rested a hand on one of the windowpanes. “And what is that?”

“I give you your life and freedom in opposition to Tereus’ demands. As you heard before, he is not above ending my family’s line if he doesn’t get what he wants, and I have a distinct interest in staying alive. In exchange for allowing you to live, you will ensure that the Bonet line is not threatened by him further. Agreed?”

Merasiël nodded. “This will conclude our business, then.” She then turned back towards the window.

“And for God’s sake, don’t climb out the window. Use the door?”


Three days later, the sun dawned bright with the promise of a warm, late summer day. The manor bustled with preparations for the late Lord Bonet’s funeral. The transition to the new master of the house was going well, however this morning, the new Lord Bonet was notably absent, remaining locked in his study.

“M’lord Edward?” The voice of Bruce, his father’s Steward, called from the other side of the locked door. Gentle raps became more insistent, and then turned into a cacophony of fists hammering against the wooden surface.

Edward snored from where he had fallen asleep in his desk chair the night before. Eventually the noise woke him, and he lifted his head. He blinked in the dim light that filtered from behind the partially closed drapes, then flew out of the chair, sending several pieces of paper flying in the air. Edward looked out the window, noting with some chagrin the position of the sun and then ran for the door. When he opened it, Bruce stood there, fist raised to continue pounding against the door.

Edward straightened his jacket and stood a bit straighter, fully aware of how distressed he must look. “Bruce? What is it, man?”

“Beg pardon, Lord Edward, but it’s half past ten and there’s a bit of news from town.”

“News? What sort of news?”

Bruce stepped off to the side, allowing one of the servants to pass through with a tray of food. Edward’s stomach rumbled, and he followed breakfast to the desk, motioning for the other man to enter. Once Edward had seated himself and begun to eat, the old Steward cleared his throat and continued. “Seems there was an accident over at M’lord Tereus’ manor during the night, sir. A fire, sir.”

Edward froze, fork lifted halfway from the plate to his mouth. “A fire, you say?”Manor_on_fire

“Yes M’lord! Terrible one. Sad to say that Lord Tereus was caught sleepin’ in it and has passed on, God rest his soul.”

Edward lowered the fork, his appetite suddenly gone. It’s done then. Am I so different from my father now? Lives can continue or come to an abrupt end at my word.  And yet, the end result is worth it, is it not?

“Something wrong with the eggs, sir? Cook’ll be fit to be tied if the girls brought ‘em to you cold.”

“Eggs? What? Oh, no no. They’re delicious. I’m just…at a loss for words over the news.” Edward forced himself to pick the fork up and eat.

“Quite right, sir.”

Edward paused again, and looked at Bruce. “He had a daughter, correct?”

“Oh yes sir, lovely young lady she is. Lady Katherine. About fifteen as I recall. Oddly enough, she must have been stricken by a fit of sleepwalking for they found her outside the house wrapped in a blanket and lying in a pile of hay. She claims someone carried her out in the night, but the guards believe she’s just upset because of her father. Shook her up quite good, but if you ask me…” he continued to prattle, but Edward’s thoughts turned elsewhere.

Oh, my Lady of the Great Forest, you do have a heart buried in there. Thank you.

“…oor thing has no family here and she’s not betroth—”

Edward interrupted the continued drone of the steward’s voice. “Bruce.”

“Ah…yes, M’lord?”

“Please see to it that proper condolences are sent to the Lady Katherine.”

“Of course, M’lord.”

“No family and no betrothed you say? Well then, I suppose the Church will see that she’s taken care of. But…we could offer her a place here, in the meantime of course. We have plenty of room. See that it’s done.”

“Very good, M’lord.”


Merasiël glanced upwards as the popping and crackling of her campfire echoed loud in her ears. It had been more than a week since the downfall of Lord Tereus, and no pursuit had come from Hyrnan. Still, she glanced around, wary of trouble. When none came, she looked back down at the paper she had secreted away.

Lord Tirius Evern

She did not know where they all were, but she would find them, one way or the other.

Lord Marcus and his Lady Kiriste

Each name’s accusation, branded on paper, involved in slave trade. She had seen enough damning evidence. She proclaimed them guilty.

Lord Malus Drogan, Lord and Lady Fenwick

Some were involved more than others, but in this, Merasiël could not be choosy. They would all eventually fall, just as Lord Claudius Bonet had. Merasiël committed each name to memory, then tossed the paper in the fire and watched the last turn to ash.

Lord Proximo.