• Lynda

Golden Souls - 03 of 30

You must not go out.


When she felt better, Dela ate a few cunningly made sweets from a dish that was always full, and decided she would take a walk. But when she called for a servant to fetch her walking shoes, she was met by a man in house uniform wearing a formal dueling sword.

"Princess-liege," he said, "you can’t go out."

Dela blinked at him. "Why ever not?"

He was one of Ril's grandchildren, a large, honest man, who had bred down in his choice of wife. They had lost their first son in fleet service, but had another boy-child at home and a daughter studying court-craft at the capital. He was a good man on the whole, content to raise chickens and children with equal enthusiasm on his small country estate when he did not serve Chandad's cousin, Ronan, as a house guard.

But there’s precious Golden about him, Dela thought, feeling uncharitable. He looked more like one of the Silver Demish with his square jaw and blunt features

"You really have to stay inside," he told her, speaking up perfunctorily, "out of sight, until Lord Ronan says otherwise."

"Very well," Dela said, feeling insulted.

Lord Ronan was her husband's cousin and her regent during her husband's extended absence. He was two ranks beneath her—a mere Seniorlord nobleborn like Ril —and yet he often spoke to her in peerage, in private. Dela would not have minded him taking this liberty, as a sign of intimacy, if Ronan had felt real respect for her. But he only looked after her on behalf of his highborn cousin, Chandad.. Chandad did not care about her either. All he cared about was that her Royalblood rank entitled him to challenge his betters for things that he was not entitled to have, and to move in exalted circles among the Emperor's Golden courtiers. It had taken her ten years, but she had learned to her grief that Chandad was not worthy of her love, and the soul he dragged through life mere dross. Not gold.

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An #okalrel story by Lynda Williams. Art by Richard Bartrop. #spaceopera #scifi

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