Chapter Title: First Impressions

Summary: He notices that when she runs through the halls, she does not run away from him, but rather toward Severn. There is a difference, and it is not a pleasant one.

Notes: I love the Chronicles of Elantra, and everyone in the series. Even Mallory. Oh, and the best reviewer gets the next chapter and/or one shot dedicated to them…what's that? You want more incentive? Sheesh.

Warnings: Spoilers for Cast in Shadow

Relevant pages in Cast in Shadow are (in mass market paperback) pp. 74-110

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"So. You are the child."

-Lord Nightshade on Kaylin; the first time they meet

She was small. Smaller than he had expected, at least. He noticed her hands first, twitching towards the daggers at her side. It was almost amusing to see such defiance in one of his own. But then, she had been gone awhile.

Thick brown hair pinned back into a messy bun, with stray locks falling into her similarly colored eyes. Eyes that stared at him unabashed, taking his measure. Weighing the odds. He felt an inexplicable urge to smile. But he knew what must happen, and it was nothing to smile about. She was, or would become, a dangerous weapon. He could not allow her to become one that could be used against him.

She needed to be bound; he would bind her. It would be his hand, in the end, that wielded the weapon.

The magic he used to mark her was an ancient one, and not one used very often; it was therefore more challenging than it should have been. But it was done in the end and that was what mattered.

That was all that ever mattered.

She did not understand, true, but Tiamaris knew. Knew, and was furious. Severn also had some small inkling of the truth, and was wary. His guards were simply shocked. If none among their diverse group had guessed what she was, what bringing her to meet him would trigger, he was alone in his suspicions for the moment.

He hid a satisfied smile and bid them follow as they made their way back to the castle. They came, neither silently nor willingly, but they came. She herself could not have stayed away. He heard her whispering to Severn, seeking comfort, and it gave him pause.

He had been under the impression that their relationship was fragmented. Could they have repaired it so quickly? Or was she merely reaching out to the familiarity of a man she had known for almost her entire life?

It did not matter, much, in the end.

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The portal disconcerted her. It was slightly disappointing to see her so offset by a mere twist of space and location, but he admitted to himself that she could not be perfect. Her flaws, even the smallest ones like this, gave him room to change the direction in which she grew.

So he took her into the heart of his castle. It was far easier to study her without the added presence of her companions, to gauge her reaction to himself.

It should not have been a problem, taking her to the seal of the Old Ones. Or at least, it should not have posed a problem he was unprepared or unable to contain. It did. She now held his name, and he had received nothing in return.

He was beginning to sense a trend, with this girl. She knew not the limitations of her own power. He had underestimated her, and he had paid the price. It would not happen again.

Then, of course, she refused to allow him to assist her afterwards. With the blood. He gave her freedom in this matter—it was better that she learn in an instance where he was present to protect her from the consequences of her naivety.

They tried to claim her, to draw her in as one of them as he knew they would. They saw the marks that twisted around her bare arms and shoulders. They knew, and they desired. They would have taken, as well, had he not denied them the right.

He could not lose her so soon, before her power had even reached its limits. If it was indeed a power that had limits.

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He could hear the angry voices and whisper of blades being drawn from their sheaths before they set foot into the hallway. This was displeasing, but not unexpected. Severn would choose to fight rather than remain in the dark, and Tiamaris would follow.

He was not eager to see their blood stain the walls of his castle, not yet, when it could serve no valid purpose.

She heard them, then, and panicked. He watched with some curiosity as to how she would react, and was not disappointed. She quickly freed herself from the trappings of her heeled shoes and sprinted down the corridor. He noticed that when she ran, she did not run away from him, but rather toward Severn.

There was a distinction, and he was irked by it. She would learn, and quickly too if he was any judge of character. And he was. He followed her slowly into the room in time to see her put herself in the path of Severn's weapons and give him pause.

Severn's eyes were dark and angry as he stared past Kaylin. There was something in the lines around his eyes and mouth that spoke of frustration, as well. Then his gaze locked onto Nightshade and the warning was clear: stay away from Kaylin. The demand was so obviously futile Lord Nightshade chose to ignore it, and turn away instead.

Yes. She would learn where to lay that misplaced deference and how to better apply her remarkable perception. He left them there, in the halls. Let them find their own way out.

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Requests for the next event? I have some in mind, but suggestions are welcome.