Home > Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra #11)(3)

Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra #11)(3)
Michelle Sagara

“It doesn’t seem like an adequate reward for good behavior,” Mandoran replied. He was grinning unrepentantly; it made his entire face both younger and more compelling. “I am, on the other hand, willing to entertain the prospect—if helping out around the house gets me out of other duties.”

“I don’t know why you say these things; you are just going to annoy your brother.” Helen’s voice was now reproving.

“Too late.” Mandoran had apparently had enough of the breakfast he’d hardly touched. He stood, turned to Kaylin and added, “Sorry if we woke you up.”

“I had to go in to work today anyway.”

“That’s what I said, but Helen didn’t agree.”

* * *

As Kaylin left the dining room and headed toward the grandly lit front doors, there was another surprise waiting for her. The wide, curving stairs had a person on them. Bellusdeo.

Kaylin almost didn’t recognize her. Gone was the fancy court dress that marked so much of her life in public; she was wearing pants and a tunic. The shirt beneath the tunic was beige, and if the cloth was a much more expensive weave than Kaylin could afford, it wasn’t immediately obvious. Her hair had been pulled up off her shoulders; she wore no obvious jewelry.

“Do I have something unpleasant on my face?” Bellusdeo asked, her eyes a steady bronze.

Kaylin remembered to close her mouth. “No—it just feels like it’s been so long since I’ve seen it.”

“And absence has made your heart grow fonder?”

Kaylin blinked.

“It’s a mortal phrase, I believe.”

“Mortal covers a lot of cultural territory.”

“True. I admit that I don’t completely understand the usage. I’m using it incorrectly?”

“I wouldn’t say that, exactly. Are you coming with me to the office?”

“I’m not dressed like this for Diamart’s abominable, condescending lessons, no.” Her smile deepened in exactly the wrong way. “When he is recovered enough that apoplexy won’t kill him, I think I will be, though.”

The small dragon, having resumed his ownership of Kaylin’s shoulder, snickered.

“Get it out of your system now,” Kaylin told him. “I’d like to be taken seriously by the rest of the Hawks once we get to work.”

He hissed laughter.

* * *

“You’re going to find the office a lot quieter,” Kaylin told Bellusdeo as they walked.

“Why?”

“We lost four Barrani Hawks and a dozen Aerians; the Swords lost at least that many men and women. The office is still functioning; the duty roster is still being filled in all divisions that require one. It’s not that no one dies in the line of duty—they do. But this is the first time we’ve lost Barrani.”

“Is it the first time the Barrani have been injured?”

“What? No, of course not. Barrani arrogance doesn’t lend itself to caution. But nothing we run into on a regular walking beat is capable of taking down a Barrani.” Kaylin exhaled. “But we lost four in the battle with the ancestor. Four. We don’t get a lot of Barrani applying for the force. They’re culturally willing to swear to protect the city—but the ‘serve’ part of our oath really gets stuck in their throats.”

Bellusdeo chuckled. “Some things never change.”

“No. The Barrani weren’t given funerals that the rank and file in the Halls could attend. The Aerians were—but half of the Aerian funeral service takes place in the air or in the Aerie, and not all of us could get there or participate in those. Grammayre asked the Aerie if they could hold the parts that take place inside the Aerie somewhere the wingless could reach, and they agreed.” Most of them, anyway. One or two Aerians, raw with grief and anger at the loss, wanted their beloved departed to have nothing to do with the office that had indirectly ended their lives.

Kaylin hoped that the respect and grief of the Halls of Law would at least make them understand that their loss was felt, and felt keenly; that the lives of the lost had been respected and valued. She wasn’t certain, though. Funerals hadn’t been part of her childhood. A gathering of the living around the dead had usually had more to do with desperation than respect or comfort.

“Why do you think they serve?”

“The Barrani probably do it because they’re bored.”

Bellusdeo nodded. As an immortal, her thoughts on boredom resembled the Barrani opinion with which Kaylin was so familiar.

“The rest of us?” Kaylin shrugged. “I can’t speak for the others. But me? I wanted to be involved with something I could respect. I wanted—and maybe this is stupid—to be the good guy or the hero.”

“And now? I take it from your self-deprecating tone that you think the desire was naive.”

“A little. When I first met the Hawklord, I didn’t feel naive. I felt that everyone else was—I mean, everyone who lived on this side of the Ablayne’s bridge. Because they’d had it so easy. I still think that sometimes.” She shrugged again. “I wanted to be part of something bigger than me, in the end. I like the sense that we’re working on something together. That if justice and the law isn’t perfect, it’s better than the alternative. Someone is always going to be at the top. That’s just a law of power.

“But if the law can sometimes be used to protect those who don’t have that power, it’s better than nothing. Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Frequently,” Bellusdeo replied, but her voice was gentle. “But not in this. I wanted to be perfect, when I ruled. I wanted to be a queen who could be admired and followed; I wanted to make no mistakes. In that, I failed. But I considered the alternative worse: to not try. I learned from my mistakes. I made new ones. As I gained power, the cost of my mistakes grew—because it wasn’t just me who would pay for them. It’s the one silver lining to the cloud of being powerless, here.”

“You could join the Hawks.”

“Given your Sergeant’s attitude toward Dragons, I highly doubt it.”

“He’s not in charge. If Lord Grammayre gives you permission...” Kaylin trailed off.

“He would require Imperial permission first, and I highly doubt he would receive it. Not in my case. And yes, I am aware that Lord Tiamaris has been, in the past, considered a member of the Hawks. I am content, however, to be allowed to accompany you on your patrols. If,” she added, “you have no objections.”

Right at this very moment, Kaylin didn’t.

* * *

If anyone else was surprised to see Bellusdeo approaching the Halls in regular clothing, they were better at containing their shock than Kaylin was.

Clint and Tanner were on door duty, and therefore had the first opportunity. They nodded to Bellusdeo; they were not required to be more formal while on duty. Not that any of the Hawks were great at formality, except those in the upper echelons.

“Anything I should be dreading before I’m given permission to enter?” Kaylin asked, glancing at Clint’s wings. They’d been singed, but not in a way that would prevent flight; Clint had assured her that they would be fully functional, and he’d been right.

“Moran had a screeching fight with Ironjaw. She also had a clipped, angry ‘discussion’ with the Hawklord.”

“Moran?”

“You might remember her? Shortish, speckled wings, foul temper, runs our infirmary?”

Moran had reportedly been clipped by fire that was hot enough to melt stone. According to Teela, one of her wings was a disaster; her prognosis for future flight was not good, and she was supposed to be confined to the Aerie in the Southern Reach.

“Why is she even in the office? Shouldn’t she be at home?”

“You might want to keep that opinion to yourself today,” Tanner replied, wincing. “She is not in the mood to have her presence at work criticized, and she made that quite clear.”

“Can she even fly?”

Silence.

Kaylin turned to Bellusdeo. “We’re going to take a detour to the infirmary.”

“Were we not just warned against that?”

“Not exactly,” Kaylin replied at the same time as Clint said, “Yes.”

“I am not familiar with Moran,” the Dragon said. “I’ve met her, of course, but our paths have not otherwise crossed.”

“If you’re smart, they won’t cross today.” Clint glanced at Kaylin before adding, “But if you mean to tag along where Kaylin goes, smart won’t count for much.”

“Thanks a bunch, Clint.”

“I thought you valued honesty?”

Chapter 2

“If your Sergeant was unable to convince Moran that her services are not currently required, what do you think you’ll achieve?” Bellusdeo asked pointedly as they made their way to the infirmary.

“I’ll worry less. I just want to make sure she’s all right.”

“You don’t expect her to be all right.”

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted