Treason's Shore by Sherwood Smith




  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Acknowledgements

  PART ONE

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Chapter Twenty-seven

  Chapter Twenty-eight

  Chapter Twenty-nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-one

  Chapter Thirty-two

  Chapter Thirty-three

  Chapter Thirty-four

  Chapter Thirty-five

  Chapter Thirty-six

  PART TWO

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Chapter Twenty-seven

  Chapter Twenty-eight

  Chapter Twenty-nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-one

  Chapter Thirty-two

  Chapter Thirty-three

  Chapter Thirty-four

  Chapter Thirty-five

  Afterward The King Who Was an Emperor

  Characters and Ships in TREASON’S SHORE

  Also by Sherwood Smith:

  INDA

  THE FOX

  KING’S SHIELD

  TREASON’S SHORE

  Copyright © 2009 by Sherwood Smith.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-10872-7

  All Rights Reserved.

  DAW Books Collector’s No. 1482.

  DAW Books Inc. is distributed by Penguin Group (USA).

  All characters and events in this book are fictitious.

  Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

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  Acknowledgments

  My heartfelt thanks to Hallie O’Donovan, Francesca Forrest, Kate El liott, Shweta Narayan and Faye Bi for their generosity with their time and insight in beta reading, to Tammy Meatzie for her patience and generosity in proofreading for me, and to Gregory Feeley for the title suggestion.

  Anyone interested in extra information, there is a wiki full of Sarto rias-deles geekery here: http://s-d.newsboyhat.co.uk/ including a “what happened after” timeline.

  It’s difficult to pin down music that is close to what one hears, but there are three pieces that can provide a vector: the soundtrack of Amistad, “Chale Chalo,” from Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, and “Azeem O Shahen Shahenshah” from Jodhaa Akbar, as well as some cuts from the Scottish band Albannach.

  PART ONE

  Chapter One

  THE arched window over Tdor’s bed glowed with the faint blue of impending dawn. She rose, pushing down the covers on the inside so no cold air would disturb Inda, her husband of one night. Inda slept on, an unmoving mound under the quilt.

  Below, as the sun began to crest the eastern hills, Inda’s mother Fareas-Iofre walked through the castle and to stable, courtyard, and garden as people shuffled out to begin their day. She spoke to each, requesting quiet movements so that Inda could sleep.

  Many looked up at Tdor’s bedroom window, smiling at the memory of Inda’s wedding the night before. Others remembered how old he had looked on his long-awaited arrival home. Not old, no, but hard, though he had just turned twenty-one—hard and covered with scars. They picked up their tools with care, and spoke in lowered voices, if at all.

  Tdor was too preoccupied to notice the unusual quiet. She stood for a short time, looking down at Inda’s sleeping form. Her palm ached with her desire to caress him, but she knew he needed rest.

  So she flung her waiting robe around her chilled flesh and crouched down before the battered trunk that had held her clothes since she had first come to live at Tenthen Castle when she was two years old. In the weak light the trunk was barely discernable as a bulky rectangle; the carved horse heads with tangled manes could only be felt, not seen. Her fingers ran from those to the top edge, between the iron hinges. At the left end, the pattern of carved leaves had been marred by a dozen or so rough notches, gouged long ago. When Tdor left the castle nursery at age eight, Fareas-Iofre had told her, This trunk belonged to Inda’s grandmother. When she was a girl she made those notches to commemorate happy days. It is now yours.

  Tdor had made notches on the right-hand side. Not many, though she considered her life a happy one. But days when the cup of light inside her heart so overflowed it seemed to spill out into the world, those were the days she’d used one of her wrist knives to make a mark of her own.

  She ran her fingers over them, recalling each occasion. The earlier ones seemed childish now, like the first day she hit the target center with every arrow. The day she’d successfully translated a whole line of Old Sartoran without resorting to the gloss. The day she’d beaten Inda’s cousin Branid in a not-quite-friendly fighting match. After she turned thirteen, for a long time she hadn’t made any, not with Inda away in exile for so many years, and so many other bad things going on. During that interval she’d only made two: the first on the day she left for the queen’s training, and the second the day she returned (she thought) forever.

  More recently she’d added another pair. One when her foster-sister, Joret Dei—who had been betrothed to Inda’s brother until Tanrid had been killed—married a prince over the mountains. The last one she’d made was after the day she commanded a successful castle defense war game the previous spring.

  Tdor slid her knife from its wrist sheath and worked it into the wood, slow and silent. It must be done now. In the future when she touched it, she would remember kneeling here the morning after her wedding ceremony, pooled in happiness. Inda had come back from his long exile. He had led the kingdom in battle against the invading Venn despite terrible odds. He had regained honor and place—and he’d come home.

  She pressed the blade deeply into the wood, then sat back to impress every detail into memory: the r
ough stone of the walls stippled with a faint honey color; her worn rug of green yarn, the dark green broken by the two lighter patches that she had worked in herself to mend worn spots—they hadn’t found the exact green dye to match. The strengthening light glowing in the window began to reveal the two shades, once so annoying, but grown familiar, and then dear.

  A movement from the bed snapped her gaze up. The warming light outlined the shape of Inda’s shoulder, one relaxed hand, his brown braid with curls straggling loose. He slept on, so she continued her survey, breathing deeply of the familiar smell of stone, of horse, of mingled sweat. She cherished each, even the cold mottling the skin on her own hands as she gripped her knife.

  I am so happy, Tdor thought, rising to her feet. The lightness of joy intensified to the sweet anguish of gratitude, making her giddy—almost afraid—as she looked across the room at Inda breathing deeply in the tangle of sheets.

  Fear of a proximate threat was pragmatic; fear of the imaginary threat was just craven. She picked up her knives and her clothes and eased noiselessly from the room to run down to the baths.

  The sun had appeared, shafting spangles over the gently steaming water when she forced herself to leave the hot bath. Inda’s lover, Dag Signi, had obviously used her magic to renew the water-cleaning spells and whatever mysterious magic it was that took light and heat from the day’s sun and hoarded it in the stones below the baths to keep the water warm. The familiar dank smell, strengthening slowly over the past year or so, was entirely gone.

  Tdor consciously extended her gratitude to include Signi, the lover Inda had brought back with him. Tdor hoped before long that welcoming Signi within the family circle would be unconscious, as effortless as her own love for Inda.

  Tdor was mentally ordering her day when she emerged from the women’s side, walking at her usual brisk pace, and ran right into a tall, strong figure just emerging from the men’s side. A flash of long, glossy wheat-gold hair, a beautiful hand gripping her arm to steady her: she looked up into dark-fringed golden eyes. “Tau?”

  Each stepped back. Tau was mildly surprised to see Tdor awake; she was far more surprised to discover him dressed in his foreign clothes: a long vest over a loose shirt and narrow trousers rather than the ubiquitous blue coat worn by Marlovan Runners. “You’re leaving? Does Inda know?” She flushed, hoping the question wasn’t wrong. So much of In da’s life was unknown, even strange. “I mean—”

  “It’s all right.” Tau uttered a soft laugh. “I’m leaving, and Inda doesn’t know. Do you remember Jeje?”

  Tdor smiled at the vivid image of the short, dark-browed woman her own age whom Inda had brought to the royal city when his exile had ended. Jeje had called herself master of a scout craft, which Tdor understood had something to do with boats. Jeje had been part of Inda’s pirate fighting fleet. They’d only conversed once, but Jeje’s pungent opinions and her matter-of-fact outlandishness had entertained Tdor immensely.

  “I think I told you that she left us early on. Said she had a quest of her own, which I had assumed was to find her family. Late last night Jeje wrote to me by one of those magical letter cases.” Tau tapped an inner pocket of his vest. “It seems she’s found my mother. She won’t tell me how she found her, or how my mother wound up where she is. It appears I’ll be required to cross half the continent to discover what happened. And as Inda will not need me in the royal city, where he will no doubt find plenty of Runners far better trained at running than I, well, I may as well get started.”

  Was there just a breath of laughter, of self-mockery in his pleasantly spoken words? She did not look up. In the few weeks Tau had been among them, she had discovered that his expression—almost always mild and friendly—rarely changed.

  “So here is a suggestion.” Tau stopped on the stair. He held out a hand and Tdor stopped as well, looking up in surprise. “When Inda is bad in the mornings put willow-steep in his coffee.”

  “Willow,” she repeated, and started down the stairs again. “But that’s so bitter. And what do you mean by bad?”

  “Wakes up with stiff joints. Mostly when the weather is wet—I don’t know why. Not always. Don’t ask him. He’ll just say he’s fine. Give him the willow. He won’t notice, I promise you.”

  “He rarely noticed his food when small.” For some reason Tdor’s eyes stung. “He just shoveled it in. He was always planning what to do next. He organized all our games.” She gulped. “It’s so odd he never told you that. Talked about us. It’s as if he wanted to forget us.”

  “No.” Tau’s voice was quiet, but resonant with conviction. “I think he missed his home so much he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, talk. But he’s got you all back again.”

  But he doesn’t have his home back, she thought as they passed through the children’s dining room with its plain plank table and worn mats. Home. She cherished the dilapidations that had shocked Inda the day before. Though she knew she was happy—she was aware of the glowing cup inside her—the thought of leaving diminished some of the joy. But the royal city and their new lives were an unsurpassed honor, she reminded herself. Hadand was there. I will be happy there, too.

  “How will you get to where you are going? You can’t travel over the mountains now—winter is almost on us. It takes half a year to get through when the passes are clear.”

  “No more mountains!” Tau gave a soft laugh. “I thought I’d see if a ship or two miraculously survived the pirate attacks.”

  “Plenty of ships. No miracle.”

  They turned around to find Whipstick Noth, the beech-thin, tough, weathered Randael assigned to the Algara-Vayirs by the former king after Inda’s older brother Tanrid was killed.

  Amusement flashed through Tau as Whipstick went on. “Now’t the pirates and the Venn seem to be gone, my dad tells me people’re bringing out fisher craft and even trade ships they hid along the inlets until the troubles were over.”

  In the east, good manners required that if you overheard another’s conversation, you pretended not to, and excellent manners obliged you to step out of earshot. Among Marlovans, Tau had discovered, if you heard it, you were a part of it.

  “Maybe I can talk my way on board one, then. Work my passage.” Tau flexed an arm.

  Whipstick eyed Tau as they took up plates and helped themselves to fresh rye pan biscuits. The fellow was an anomaly here in Tenthen. Not so much his spectacular looks—though that was certainly a part of it—but his manners, his fine clothes, his outland habits, like teaching the steward to sew ribbon along the edges of the linens to make them last. But first he’d had to teach the weavers how to make ribbon.

  You’d think, with those looks and his finicky ways, he’d be on the strut, but he hadn’t been at all. More, he was tough. Whipstick had discovered that after his first offer of a practice session on the mats. Their strength was a match, but Tau always won because he was trained in some new type of contact fighting that Inda had learned while a pirate. Tau had used it fighting beside Inda at the end of the Venn War, where—according to rumors preceding Inda—the two of them had scythed down hundreds of Venn all by themselves, ending with the surrender of the commander himself. Whipstick knew how numbers of dead inflated with every telling, and he was waiting to discover the truth behind the rumors, if he could.

  “You tell them who you are, that’ll get you passage,” Whipstick said.

  Tau grimaced very slightly. It was brief, Whipstick almost missed it, and Tdor did; she was leaning against the prep table, staring out the window.

  Whipstick realized Tau—for whatever reason—did not intend to tell anyone at Parayid Harbor who he was. Whipstick wouldn’t waste time trying to argue. Instead, he sat down with his food.

  Tdor turned away and joined the fellows as they all settled on the mats at the table. From old habit Tdor sat across from Whipstick. How strange life was! Ten years ago, she’d sat here one spot down to the left, across from Inda, with Tanrid and Joret at her right, the best end of the table closest to the fire.
Then five years later, Tanrid was dead and everyone expected Joret to marry Inda (if he returned) and Tdor to marry Whipstick, who took to sitting in Tanrid’s place, just because he could get up faster if called away.

  Then Joret left to accompany Hadand, Inda’s sister and a new-married queen, on a diplomatic visit over the mountain border into Anaeran-Adrani. Hadand had returned, but Joret stayed to marry the crown prince. Here at home, Tdor moved over a spot, again because it was easiest if she was called away.

  Now Inda was back, and the rest of them sat here out of habit in the children’s dining room; they still thought of themselves as the young generation because as yet there was not one younger.

  Her reverie broke when Whipstick and Tau, who had been talking companionably, fell silent. The comfortable atmosphere had changed, and Tdor knew without looking up that Inda’s Cousin Branid had entered.

  He walked into the room carrying his plate, his eyes flicking back in forth in that anxious, snakelike way that made Tdor’s innards tighten with dislike. Tdor had been shocked to overhear someone remark once that he was handsome. It was true that Branid was tall and he’d become muscular from his new devotion to drill. Alone of the Algara-Vayir blood relatives his hair had remained bright yellow, his eyes blue instead of the brown shared by Inda and his mother, but Tdor couldn’t think of him as handsome. His features always seemed distorted into a perpetual pout when they weren’t angry or sly.

  She realized Branid had been standing there staring at them for several heartbeats. When Whipstick and Tau glanced up from their food, he forced a big grin. “Well, we should begin as we mean to go on, shouldn’t we? I’m heir to the Adaluin now. Or will be when I ride to Convocation and make my vows.”

  Annoyance flushed through Tdor. She was about to remind him that this was the children’s dining room, and the Adaluin hadn’t sat in here for at least fifty years, more like sixty. But Whipstick just scooted down, leaving Tanrid’s old place to Branid.

 
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