The Price of Owing


By: Kitty Ryan, 2003

Rating: G

Authors Note: This is set directly after The Power in the Storm (also known as Tris's Book) and speaks from the perspectives of some of Tris's family. Is a loose sequel to Ice Against My Window.


Val and Darra Chander's household, the city of Ninver, Capchen, 1036.


"He's dead, Darra. He's…my son…Aymara's dead."

Darra Chandler let her sister-in-law cry, let the other woman's tears soak into the almost shamefully inappropriate green linen of her dress. Bihan fabric, at three silver astrels a yard. If only she'd known sooner, then she would have been able to change into something more suitable, a small part of her mind, always concerned with respectability, mused, while the rest of her concentrated on stroking Gretchen's tightly pinned hair and making soothing noises. It was a terrible blow to the house, Aymery's death. That young man had had the potential to make the Chandler family a success.

Gretchen--who had barely shed a tear at her husband's death three years before, or at Uraelle's, the woman who had brought her into the family and had taught her everything she knew--was devastated. The tears, the shakes, had all started an hour ago, as soon as she'd stepped through her brother's door. Darra held her, shared her pain, and tried to calm friend, but a part of her was disgusted at the woman's hysterics. Shadowed memories of her own tears, her own weakness and humiliation, kept rising up in front of her eyes. She let them close, to shut them out.

"I-I'll ne-never live it d-ow-wn!" Gretchen was whimpering into her shoulder, now, trembling and hiccuping. The wide chair the two women were sitting in rocked backwards and forwards, in time with her mindless convulsions. She really was distraught.

Never live it down, indeed, Darra thought, despite herself. You know nothing of pain. Still, she managed to keep her voice gentle, as she whispered in Gretchen's ear.

"Sush, now. He was special. A mage. There's always a risk, in that profession. Aymery died honorably, working for the family--"

"--But he didn't." Gretchen pulled away, light-brown eyes wide and despairing. Black did not suit the woman. It drained her face of everything except red blotches and haggard lines, and her hair, for all its pins, was coming down in a frazzled mess about her shoulders. Darra hated to look at her.

"Whatever can you mean, Gretchen-love?" Darra tried her hardest to keep calm, all while the thought 'she's become insensible' crossed her mind with ease, giving her cause for more than a little worry. "Your son was one of the best at Lightsbridge. A born mage, rather too fond of experi--"

"--he worked for pirates!"

Pirates.

Looters.

Vandals.

The word, with all its meanings, hung over the two women. Terrifying. Separating. Pirates were what every merchant feared. Destroyers, with little care for anything other than brief self-profit. The idea that any of Chandler stock fraternizing with any of that kind was ludicrous.

Wasn't it?

"He…he owed them money," Gretchen muttered, swallowing.

Oh, this is too much. The scandal, if it were really true.

"How…" Darra had to stop to breathe-- her voice was thick. "How many know, of this?"

Gretchen wailed, then. "I found out from a common messenger boy, who said he worked for one of our contacts in Summersea. No word from Lightsbridge or the lawyers…just, a commoner. If they know…"

Then everybody knows. Darra shuddered. "There's nothing can be done by crying about it, Gretchen. We can survive this. Our reputation is such, that--"

"--There's more, Darra."

"Well," the woman tried to keep her voice level. "Tell me, then."

"He…Aymery, I mean, he was k-killed at the W-wind…the Winding Circle Temple, in Emelan, by mages. By the pirates, but there was a mage, too. A mage… and her friends, defending the community." Gretchen, for all her stuttering and tear-muddled phrasing, looked her sister-in-law straight in the eye as she spoke, her small voice clear in the room. The chair had stopped its rocking. "Four great child-mages, killing each and every pirate on their own, through storms and fire and thorns…and the most powerful one. The one people are whispering about, who can shape lightening, and ignored the drying's screams…her name was Trisana. Trisana Chandler. "

Darra's eyes misted over, and her ears thundered with the memory of hail and rain against glass. And one thought lodged in her mind, never to go away for as long as the woman lived.

…She kept her name.