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Gothregor 2993

[A cloth letter, unfinished, undelivered, found in the quarters of the Knorth Matriarch Kinzi Keen-Eyed on the night that Shadow Assassins massacred the Knorth ladies]

 . . . and so, dear sisterkin, I will spend some time stitching this note to you while I wait for my grandson Ganth and the others to return from the hunt, being too on edge to do anything else.

How the Tishooo howls! Does it also shake your tower in the Women's Halls?

Odd, to think of you so close, and yet so far. We could have been together tonight if not for this stupid hunt—for a rathorn, no less. I asked Ganth not to go, but you know how restless and unmanageable he has been of late. I tell him he should take a consort, but he only gives that bitter laugh of his. He has someone in mind, though, I swear, but whom? Oh, my dear, I used to know him so well. It hurts me to see him turned so hard, as if afraid to show any softness, and as for his temper . . . ! If only he would recognize its Shanir source, I could help him master it. Instead, I fear that some day it will master him.

Speaking of berserker tendencies, yes, you should send your granddaughter-kin Brenwyr to me. You have done wonders with her since her mother's death, but an untrained Shanir maledight is so very, very dangerous. Worse, I fear that she and Aerulan have quarreled—over little Tieri! Sometimes I wonder if we of the Women's World are any wiser than our squabbling men-folk, but at least we rarely draw blood.

And so, circling, I near the heart of my unease.

Can it really be ten years since Gerraint died? You have been impatient with me for not having told you more about that night. In truth, Ganth has told me virtually nothing of what happened in the death banner hall before so much of it burned, and you have laughed at rumors that Greshan was seen walking the halls of Gothregor when he was five days dead.

Well, I saw him too. In my precious Moon Garden. With that bitch of Wilden, Rawneth. She led him in by the secret door behind the tapestry and there, under my very window, made love to him.

Except it wasn't Greshan.

I knew that the moment I saw him, and I didn't warn her. Oh, Adiraina, I was tired and angry, and so I let her damn herself. Then he changed—into whom, I don't know. I couldn't see his face, but Rawneth did. She gaped like a trout, then burst out laughing, half in hysteria, half, I swear, in triumph. What face could he have shown her to cause that?

I have since bricked up my window, but that question continues to haunt me. Especially now.

It has been three months since Lord Randir died and four since the Randir Lordan disappeared. My spies tell me that Rawneth contracted the Shadow Guild to assassinate him—much luck they seem to have had against a randon weapons-master, as strange as he may be in other respects. Now she insists that Ganth confirm her own son, Kenan, as the new lord of Wilden.

And here we come to the heart of the matter.

Rawneth went back to Wilden that same night, contracted with a highborn of her own house, and some nine months gave birth to Kenan. But who is Kenan's father—the Randir noble or the thing in the garden? Without knowing, how can I advise Ganth to accept or reject his claim? And so I have summoned Rawneth and her son to Gothregor while you are also here, since your Shanir talent lies in determining bloodlines at a touch. You will tell me, dear heart, and then I will know how to act. I must admit, I do hope our dear Rawneth has mated with a monster.

But if so, why did she laugh so triumphantly?

How the wind howls! Now something has fallen over below. I hear many feet on the stair. Perhaps it is Ganth, come home at last . . .

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