Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 48

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Dafythe was credited as architect of the pax normania, but Dafythe himself knew that it was his brother’s doing. He’d only been a boy when he’d been introduced to Kharles’s plans. The red still swam before his eyes after he’d witnessed his first execution at Tyburn, when his elder brother had taken him by the shoulders and said softly: “I couldn’t tell you before this—you wouldn’t have understood what it was like until you’d seen for yourself.”
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 47

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When the group disbanded, Kat took Bel’s arm in the corridor outside Mara’s apartment. “You’ve been with her these months while we’ve all been in the south,” the Irish Prince whispered. “How long has she been like this?”

“February,” Bel answered. “She had her vision of Santiago at the beginning of Lent. I was at her side when it happened.” There was a distinct note of pride in her voice.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 46

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They met in the ladylike parlor that had once belonged to Mara’s mother. Warrior women with copper clasped braids and daggers strapped to their leather jerkins or thrust into the tops of their tall boots lounged on velvet cushioned chairs meant for more gentle females at less serious business. Ren served them wine and honey-cakes, then retreated to the windows, where she usually sat during the Prince’s conferences.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 45

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The war in Naufarre hadn’t gone well for Kharles. The royal family had slipped from his grasp when he’d taken Pamplona: the Dowager Marianne retreated to the sanctuary of a convent on Majorca long before the Emperor lay siege to the city. Likewise, Serafina and her Spanish retinue fled to Toledo. Prince Juan Maria escaped capture during the confusion following the city’s fall and had been maddeningly elusive since. It was said that he was somewhere in the Pyrenees with his armies, where he took one small victory after another through surprise attacks and infuriating strategic retreats.

Juan’s soldiers knew the mountains well; they held hundreds of tiny strongholds in the clefts and passes and could slip from one to another via footpaths unknown to the Emperor’s forces. The large imperial army simply couldn’t keep up with them. In addition, the peasant folk were fiercely loyal to their rebellious prince. Juan might find aid in any one of a number of farms or villages.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 44

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She held her destiny in her hands. All battles were hers. All dreams fulfilled. She saw herself becoming a warrior-maid of legendary proportions—the hero that so many already believed she was. But how was she meant to wield the power of this little gem? Did she control it at all? Could she use the magic to influence her father?

If the gemstone held any influence over Dafythe, it wasn’t immediately apparent. Nothing that took place in her first interview with her father had been unexpected: Dafythe hadn’t been angry with her. He had not scolded. He simply refused to consider her request.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 43

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Mara sat at the window of her reception chamber, the gemstone dangling before her eyes. A pretty bauble: Though it appeared unimpressive in normal circumstances, it shone bright red when held up to the sunlight. The flaw, she saw now, was a single v-shaped streak of dark matter at its center. Held at a certain angle, it looked like a pair of outstretched wings.

She didn’t call this gem the Black Ruby any longer. This was Dragonseye, the talisman of her herald beast. Who knew it had once belonged to Denys? Miguel, who had given it to her, but he was in Spain. Her companions, but Bel alone was in Pendaunzel. Even so, all three of her friends had expressed disbelief when she’d first told them of Miguel’s gift. Bel and Alyx, cynical Storm-Porters, had scoffed as if the young nobleman were a suspect merchant plying worthless trinkets at the bazaar. They wouldn’t carry tales. Since she’d returned from her campaigns, she had confided only in Peter.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 42

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She’d seen very little of her father since she’d returned from the Redlands. Though Dafythe appeared at public ceremonies, such as Wednesday’s Mass, and held audience in the small reception hall in his apartments, he had withdrawn from the court. When he wasn’t summoned by his duties, he shut himself in his private chambers.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 41

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

The large, square map featuring the eastern half of Atlantea was spread flat on the table in the Hall of Record, its curling corners weighted with an inkpot, a seal of office, and two candlesticks. The Northlands was tinted pale blue. The Norman marches, to the south and west, were lavender. In the upper right corner, not far above the circle of gold paint which symbolized Pendaunzel, was Scandinavian Uinland in green. The Spanish territories bordering the southern edges were yellow. The coastal regions were represented in great detail, with the smallest villages, rivers, and roads clearly labeled, but as the map progressed westward, fewer details were provided. Only the principal rivers and towns of the western marches were given their names. Beyond the Michelne River, so it was said, lay vast, green forests, a grassy desert populated by nomadic pagan tribes, and a range of mountains far greater than the Spirit Mountains which provided the Northlands’ western boundary. Unclaimed and unexplored, these fantastic features did not appear.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 40

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The next morning, when the court assembled at the Othelie chapel for Ash Wednesday Mass, Mara sought out Bel. The captain was the only one of her companions who had accompanied her back to Pendaunzel.

“I think of leading another campaign against the Spanish this summer,” she said softly as they took seats in the forward pew. Although the benches behind them filled rapidly with bleary-eyed courtiers who had been up late at the Grand Tuesday revelries, none would join the Prince and her captain without explicit invitation. Their conversation wouldn’t be interrupted.
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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 39

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“Peter, I think I am accursed.”

Peter Scholar, the court magician, looked up at Mara in the doorway of his private chambers, startled by her presence as much as by this strange announcement. “You, My Prince? You’ve never been more victorious.”

“But that’s exactly why. I think the Spanish have put a curse upon me in revenge.”

Since her return to Pendaunzel two months ago, she had been plagued by dreams. Night after night, the Sonnedragon wove its way through her sleep, manipulating the circumstances of her triumph: its serpentine length slithered soundlessly between the kegs of cannon powder at Spainfort and exploded them with a gentle blast of fiery breath. The beat of its vast wings drove the rainclouds into the hills where the Spanish archers hid. A taloned claw swept down, disemboweling the Con Permiso commander. When she awoke, her heart pounded, her nightshirt was soaked with chilling perspiration and she was a-tremble, but not with fear.
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