Well of Darkness | Chapter 5 of 10 - Part: 1 of 30

Author: Margaret Weis | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2483 Views | Add a Review

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“He does?” The Queen looked up from her embroidery, a piece of work she never finished, but liked to hold in her lap.

One of her ladies would finish it for her, put the finishing touches on it, as the Queen would say, though she had taken only a stitch or two. “Send His Highness in immediately. No, wait.” Emillia glanced in a mirror, put her hands to hair. “I am not prepared to receive him. Inform His Highness that I shall meet him in the so-larium in . . .”

“Mother,” came an impatient voice from outside the room, a voice that drew nearer, accompanied by the sound of booted feet. “I am not one of your courtiers, to be kept waiting.”

Prince Dagnarus entered the room.

The prince had been a beautiful child. Now, at the age of twenty—an age considered by humans to be the age of majority—

Dagnarus was a man whose looks, bearing, poise, and demeanor commanded the admiration of all who saw him. Even now, 226

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman when he had obviously just come from riding, when his auburn hair was windblown and tousled, the color high in his sun-browned face, his riding clothes dirt-covered and splattered with mud, he caused those nobles who had spent hours before their mirrors, combing and preening, to regard his good looks with jealous envy.

At the prince’s entirely unexpected and unorthodox arrival, the flustered Mistress of the Wardrobe wrung her hands; the ladies-in-waiting flocked together, twittering in pretend consternation and hoping to catch the eye of the handsome prince.

Only one of the Queen’s ladies continued to calmly ply her needle. She was counting stitches and did not raise her eyes.

The ladies of the court twittered in vain. Although Dagnarus was of marriageable age, none of the yearning noblewomen (or their daughters) had managed to bring a sigh to his lips or a glint to the cool emerald eyes.

“Love weakens a man,” the prince had stated on one occasion when he and his friends were drinking wine and composing son-nets to various ruby lips. “The sight of the loved face in battle causes the swordsman to hesitate when he should strike. The touch of the loved hand jostles the elbow of the archer and the loved lips bid a commander to retreat when he should be advancing. Thank you, gentlemen, I would sooner drink to the plague as to love.” Saying which, he had thrown his mug into the fire.

The prince had not drunk a toast to love, but he had drunk many to lovemaking. Unbeknownst to anyone else in court, the prince’s chamberlain, Silwyth, kept a fund of silver tams ready to ease the pangs of abandoned women.There were any number of redheaded children running about the streets of Vinnengael who could be said to have the blood of kings in their veins.

Dagnarus was not a man to allow animal passions to rule him. He indulged his sexual appetite, but only in order to keep that appetite from interfering with the truly important matters in life. He chose his bedmates wisely, selecting those who were Well of Darkness

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too poor to be a danger to him, and he was honorable enough to leave these women better off, financially, at least, than they were before he dallied with them. He was always coldly honest with them, coldly impersonal in his lovemaking, and it could truthfully be said that none of these women ever languished of love for him at the end of their relationship.

Dagnarus paid scant attention to the simpering ladies-in-waiting. He noticed only one, and that was the one who was not simpering, who did not even look up at his arrival, but continued with her work. Dagnarus was not accustomed to being ignored, and he took this as a challenge. He would make this woman, whoever she was, acknowledge his presence.

“You cruel boy,” his mother berated him in whining tones. “You have not been to see me for a three-month, and now you break in upon my work and throw my ladies into confusion. Look at you.

You have not even bothered to change your clothes, but you come straight to me from the stables. I am extremely ill-used.”

The Queen lifted a lace handkerchief to the corner of her eye.The ladies-in-waiting—all but one—sighed and rustled.

“Come now, Mother,” said Dagnarus in a voice mellow and rich, a voice that he played with the skill of a flutist, “you know how busy I am. What with my studies and attending the King’s levees and taking command of my own regiment, I can barely find hours enough in the day. This leaves me, to my regret, no time for pleasure—for the very great pleasure—Madam, of waiting upon you.”

Dagnarus kissed his mother’s hand most contritely, his gaze fixed upon the lady-in-waiting who still refused to leave off her work and give him the admiration that was his due. Dagnarus was starting to feel annoyed. All he could see of her was black hair, smooth and straight, parted in the middle and flowing down her back almost to her waist, and her hands, which were extraordinary for their long, delicate fingers and rosy nails. By the hair coloring, her slender frame and strict discipline, her silken and colorful dress, he knew she was an elf.

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Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

“Ah, my child, you work too hard, far too hard,” said his doting mother, who instantly forgave him months of neglect. “Your brother does not work nearly as hard as you do and yet he is to be King,” she added, pouting and bitter.

“Of course, Helmos will be King,” said Dagnarus lightly. “He deserves it and it will be an honor to serve him.” Leaning near, he whispered, “Hold your tongue, Mother. You do our cause more harm than good.”Aloud, he added, “I wish to speak to you, Mother, upon a private matter. Dismiss your ladies.”

It was not the prince’s place to command the Queen, but Dagnarus had so long been his mother’s master that she obeyed him without question.

“Ladies, leave us,” the Queen ordered. “I will ring when you are needed.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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