This need not have been!
But was that true? Looking into Melcer’s face, Marquart saw Beshu. Observe much, speak little, and trust no one. Beshu’s words; Melcer too had grown up with them ringing in his ears.
In Melcer’s face he saw Beshu. And himself. And even Tidac, in years to come. So much alike. Too alike for alliance.
Marquart felt all his failings come round to halter him. The dead men at his feet had fought for pay. Not one of them had cared if he lived or died. All that might have cared, he had driven away.
# # #
Clevis threw his left arm around Tidac and began to retreat, sword out in front of him, backing toward a side passage that ran down to the kitchens.
# # #
Marquart raised his lancette. He was dressed in furs and wool and Melcer in leather and mail, but that was not the killing difference between them. Marquart felt his end before his end. Dread filled him, as a rage that matched his own put an end to all his scheming.
# # #
Tidac saw the end. He saw Melcer’s sword fall, and saw his father fall. He saw much more than that.
He saw Baralia throw back her head, screaming out in orgiastic joy, “Free!” and saw her fading figure fly arrow straight through he stone walls of the Citadel to the menhir, to merge finally and eternally with those she had sought to join for all her years of hellish exile.
He saw his father’s soul rise up out of his falling body and follow her flight, crying out, “No!” The menhir had claimed him years before. There would be no need of enreithment. The menhir itself had torn soul and ai from his body as it fell, and all that Marquart had been was swallowed up by the ring of stones before his body had stopped twitching.
# # #
Clevis saw none of this, but he heard Marquart’s death cry and knew that nothing mattered any more but getting Tidac to safety. He dragged the boy through the kitchen and out to the entryway. No one was there. All the guards had rushed into the Citadel toward the sound of battle. Clevis dragged Tidac down the ramp.
One of Marquart’s men, Devlin, came cantering up on kakai. Clevis let him draw close, then jerked him down. He hit the ground hard, stunned, and Clevis kicked him in the face.
There was no time for explanations. Not even seconds. Clevis hurled himself into the saddle and reached down for Tidac. He turned up the road toward Instadt, where the boy’s g’father could offer him sanctuary.
He had not gone a mile when he saw troops on kakai moving to cut him off. He turned north then, in the direction of the mountains.
# # #
Melcer looked down on the empty face of his h’brother. He looked like Beshu. He looked like the face Melcer saw each time he looked into a mirror.
Tidac would look like that someday, if he lived. And he would remember this day. When Melcer had seen the boy sitting on the fence rail, half a year ago, he had actually felt a kinship with him. It would have been pleasant to have a nephew.
Now all that was changed. Now the boy had to die. more tomorrow