Warnings/notes: might contain a tiny, little spoiler for The Viscount of Adrilankha.

Disclaimer: The wondrous world of Dragaera was created by Steven Brust.

written at 24th march 2006, by Misura, as a failed attempt at writing a drabble for the livejournal-community dragaera100 (prompt: Sethra Lavode)


Once, I asked Sethra why the majority of all those Dzur-heroes who felt an urge to go and try to knock on her front-door were never heard from again. I'd accepted by then that if she was ever going to tell -what- had happened to them, it wouldn't be to me, but I was rather curious about the why.

The Jhereg don't like people snooping about either, only that doesn't mean everyone who shows a bit of interest receives a pointed warning not to stick his nose where it doesn't belong. That'd be bad for business after all; no Jhereg worth his life will kill someone without getting paid for it (not permanently, at any rate), and no Jhereg with the kind of authority it takes to have someone killed will do so without a better reason than mere human curiosity. Of course, since Sethra doesn't sell anything, that comparison's a bit flawed.

She didn't answer me right away, which I considered a hopeful sign. After all, if you're not going to tell someone something, you don't need any time to straighten out your story or, in this case, decide how to phrase your story in such a way that the person you're telling it to will understand.

By which I don't mean to say I'm dumb, but rather that Sethra's view on the world was a bit different from mine, a circumstance which didn't keep us from being polite to each other whenever we met in the halls of Castle Black, but which did limit our conversations somewhat.

"Morrolan visited me once, to demand I paid him his dues as Count of Southmoor," she said at last.

I mulled this over for a bit. Morrolan is actually a Dragonlord, not a Dzur, but the difference doesn't seem all that great sometimes. I tried to imagine what this world might look like if Morrolan had disappeared without a trace, before he got around to doing all that stuff that left him as the Lord of Castle Black and the guy with the best chance at becoming the next Warlord.

"What did you do?" I'd seen arguments between Aliera and Morrolan. If I got any say in the matter, I tried to only see them from a safe distance, or not at all. I didn't really want to imagine Morrolan and Sethra going head to head, although I assumed they hadn't, considering that both Dzur-mountain and Morrolan were still there.

"I gave him Blackwand." She didn't even grin when she told me.

"Right." I thought I might have heard that before, somewhere, although I hadn't known that he'd gotten it from her after demanding she acknowledged him as her liege-lord. There had to be an interesting story there that I'd doubtlessly be better off not knowing about. Maybe Morrolan would tell me if I asked him nicely and while he was drunk.

"The Empire needed a strong Dragon Heir." She leaned back, her eyes half-closed. "And Verra favored him."

I mulled things over a bit more. "Is that all it takes then, to survive seeking out the Enchantress in her lair? Being needed by the Empire and possessing the favor of a goddess?"

"That's all it takes." This time, she did grin. "It's remarkable an Easterner figured out what so many humans don't seem to understand after a hundred years or more."