Michelle West - Sun Sword 04 - Sea of Sorrows

Michelle West - Sun Sword 04 - Sea of Sorrows by Winterborn Read Free Book Online

Book: Michelle West - Sun Sword 04 - Sea of Sorrows by Winterborn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Winterborn
Serra did not flinch. Did not bow or scrape. Did not offer the submissive noises that made it clear that she understood the full consequences of her crime. Instead, as if they were equals here—
—she answered. "Yes."
    If she could have, Margret would have slapped her again, or worse. But she knew her cousin; Elena
break her wrist. That much was clear by the white edges around lips pressed into as thin a line as Margret had ever seen.
    "She knew everything," Diora said softly, lifting her head again. "She knew
. Understand that what is at stake is too important to let knowledge slip into enemy hands without even the attempt to preserve our secrecy. I have lived the secret life," she added, her voice showing a hint—a trace—of emotion that vanished before Margret could name it. "I understand the need for secrecy."
    Yollana's voice, unexpectedly gentle; Margret
it. "She would have expected no less from you, Serra. She would have done the same, or worse, were your positions reversed."
    The Serra nodded. "She gave me one other thing."
    "A dagger. The dagger is long and slender; it is not jeweled or adorned in any obvious way. But she named it—"
Lumina Arden
," Margret could not keep the incredulity out of her voice. She had never had to. The cool of this… this… woman galled her, enraged her. "She
knife?" But not so much as the fact that her mother's last act of significance had been to gift this stranger, this unblooded clansman, with the responsibilities that Margret herself had sought approval for for an entire lifetime.
    She had never hated anyone so much in her life—or rather, had never hated any two people. She wasn't certain whom she hated more: the stranger or her mother.
    "Yes. A gift, she said, free of geas." She bowed her head for another moment. "I kept both. I had both with me when I went to… to find your mother before the first full day of her ordeal had started. I did find her. But she was not alone."
    "Not alone."
    "She was being… questioned. I arrived too late."
    Now, three breaths were drawn, held: Yollana's, the Serra Maria's, Elsarre's. Margret's, already held in an attempt to keep her bitter, sharp words where they couldn't do any further damage to her reputation among the Matriarchs, didn't change. But the Serra was staring at a point beyond them, into night sky, dark night. Memory called, and to judge by the expression on her face, she was an audience and Memory was the stage, the ever-unfolding play; she was captivated.
    "Your mother saw me. I do not understand the gift she gave—and I wish no understanding; in my experience a true understanding of things Voyani is often a precursor to a death; death guards secrets far better than life, and I have much to do before I keep secrets in such a fashion."
    Margret realized that the Serra was actually speaking.
    Since she'd arrived she had done nothing but defer or demurely shunt aside all questions, pointed or gentle; this was as much speech as Margret had heard. And the words were soft and sweet; not too high and not brought low by age. The voice was
    Even in capitulation, it was perfect.
    "I do not know if it was the pendant or the knife that brought me to your mother. She called me, and I came; I had to come to her side." She paused and looked away for the first time, seeking the faces of the three Matriarchs who had not built fire with heart's work and blood. They had faces of wood or stone; faces of earth. Everything was beneath the surface. She turned back to Margret, to Margret who struggled so ineffectually to keep rage and pain from her voice and face.
    "I walked among her enemies and they did not see me, but she did. She asked me—she asked me for death.
    "She was dying. She was dying and she was—I think— stronger than most men would have been. She told me she had told them nothing. I… am skilled in some of the Lady's arts. Very few of the living can offer me a lie

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