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.
"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.
she answered gathering up the flour sacks she'd been sent to fetch. Arriving in the kitchen she found a very
"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.
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.
remembered freedom and longed for it.
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
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.
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
shrugged, "Some noble stupid enough not to put warding spell on his stuff in
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.
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.
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
looked up from the scroll he was studying.
"Who did you
steal thins from?" Ariadne asked in a fierce voice.
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."
around and pulled out another and began to read it. His eyes widened in horror as he absorbed its contents.
over his shoulder.
"You fool! You
pick-pocketed the most powerful mage in the realm and stole the Dominion Jewel!"