Author's Note: Half-way through writing this, I realized it had similarities to the fic on here Hanging On

Author's Note: Half-way through writing this, I realized it had similarities to the fic on here Hanging On.  I apologize to the author, I don't think I've stolen any major plot points from that wonderfully written story.  I  stopped reading it to make sure I don't end up inadvertently copying, but I think my story is different enough from that one.

Disclaimer: A bunch of this stuff belongs to Tamora Pierce.  Malvina and Carpathos are mine.

Triple Talent

"Malvina! Get up here now! I've warned you about dawdling.  If Clanth finds out he'll give you another beating!" Sombra's piercing voice carried down the stairs to the cellar where Malvina was sitting.

"Coming Sombra!" she answered gathering up the flour sacks she'd been sent to fetch.  Arriving in the kitchen she found a very harried Sombra.

"Girl you'd best get to work, Master Clanth has guests  tonight.  You're to freshen up the guest quarters, thorough, mind you.  You're also to wait on the lady.

"Wonderful, lucky me," she mumbled trudging up to the right wing of rooms that served as the guest facilities of the Carthaki noble's castle.  "The Lady" turned out to be the sixteen-year-old daughter of Linshu Alak, well known advisor and supporter of Emporer Kaddar.  Linshu's wife had died a number of years ago and now his daughter, Lady Tamana, acted as his hostess.  Dinner went over well, except for the fact that every time Malvina looked up, she saw Linshu studying her.  She was glad to escape his sight as she led Tamana to her rooms.

"If the Lady requires anything she need only ring the bell for this unworthy one's service," Malvina gave the slave bow and exited the room.  It made her blood boil every time she had to speak in such a way, every time she had to make submissions, to be subservient to another.  But she knew if she didn't Clanth would find out and she'd pay.

Malvina had been born free.  Her mother was dead, her father unknown, and so she and her siblings had been raised by their aunt.  Carthaki armies had turned her world up-side down when she was five.  Her entire village had been taken and then sold into slavery.  She'd neither seen nor heard from anyone she'd once known for the past eleven years.

But she remembered freedom and longed for it.

She'd tried running away; three times she had planned carefully and worked to perfect her tactics.  Three times her plans had been foiled and she had received such wounds as she'd never had before for her efforts.

The next morning she awoke to the unpleasant face of Clanth.  "I'm finally rid of you girl.  I've sold you to; you're Lady Tamana's personal attendant."

So that was why Linshu had been looking at her.  He wanted someone to tend his daughter.

'Up now!" Clanth grabbed her arm and wrenched her up into a sitting position.  An hour later she found herself seated beside the driver of a carriage.  Her new mistress rode inside, her new master mounted on horseback beside, bound for Carthak City.

@-----

"Carpathos, you're a wonder!" Ariadne  exclaimed, examining his latest hull.

"I know, too bad there's no Court of the Rogue anymore. I'd be king for sure."

Ever since the last king- George- had given up the street-life and become a noble there was no Court anymore.  They were all loosely connected, but they worked mostly in small groups.  No longer ruled by a king they had less rules.

"Right, they'd love to have a sixteen-year-old king," the girl rolled her eyes, "So who'd ya nick this off'a?"  She indicated the money pouch, the case of gemstones and travel packs that sat on the table before them.

Carpathos shrugged, "Some noble stupid enough not to put warding spell on his stuff in this district.'

Ariadne was admiring the gems one by one while Carpathos counted the money in the pouch.  He whistled, this would feed them for months.  He and Ariadne had been friends since they had been slave in the Emporer's palace and escaped together six years ago.  He'd been ten at the time and she fourteen.  They'd come into contact with Lindhall Reed, a mage at the Imperial University , who also helped slaves escape.  They'd been lucky, only months after they'd left Lindhall Reed had left the country himself.

Carpathos rummaged through the travel sacks, taking a bite out of some bread.  He laughed as he pulled out the change of clothes he found.  Some very long breeches; a man who wore them must be part giant.

Ariadne joined him, picking up a leather pouch on a string.  She drew out its contents.  A white crystal, shining with every hue, lay in the palm of her hand.  Ariadne knew her powers of the Gift were weak, but even she could feel the power in this artifact. A gasp escaped her lips.

"Hmm?" Carpathos looked up from the scroll he was studying.

"Who did you steal thins from?" Ariadne asked in a fierce voice.

Carpathos shrugged, "Like I told ya'; some careless noble.  I don't know who it was.  Maybe there's a name in one of these scrolls.  This one just has a bunch of foreign gibberish in it."

He rummaged around and pulled out another and began to read it.  His eyes widened in horror as he absorbed its contents.

Ariadne looked over his shoulder.

"You fool! You pick-pocketed the most powerful mage in the realm and stole the Dominion Jewel!"