Home > Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1)(12)

Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1)(12)
Jeff Wheeler

“Why not cut to the quick? I sent for you for two reasons, Annon. You barely know me, and that is my fault. But it’s not that I don’t have interest in you, lad. My…responsibilities in the tower are only getting heavier. I am not free to come and go as I would wish. My work keeps me confined to Kenatos.”

He glanced down at the tabletop and then withdrew a thin golden circle with a cut in the middle—a hoop. He sighed. “I probably should have done this earlier, but it is too late for regrets.” Tyrus looked at Annon fiercely, his expression no longer calculating. He looked deadly earnest. “You see, boy…you have a sister. I should have spoken of her before, but I did not. But now it is out in the open.”

There was no way to prepare for such news, so it struck Annon in the pit of his stomach and nearly stole his voice. For a moment, he could not breathe. The words buzzed in his ears. He stepped forward, his eyes narrowing. “What?”

“I believe you heard and understood me.”

Tyrus had always been his only relation. His parents were dead. He had been told that explicitly. The Plague had taken his father. Sadness had killed his mother. Emotions flooded inside his chest, but the chief of them was rage. Blood-scalding, fire-seething, implacable rage.

“Her name is Hettie.”

“I cannot believe that you…”

“Let me finish, Annon.”

“You tell me I have a sister as if you are commenting on the weather. For pity’s sake, how do you think this makes me feel about you?”

Annon tried desperately to tame the anger roiling inside. A sister? How could that even be possible? Was it some sort of trick? Tyrus was the sort who manipulated others for his own ends. Reeder had warned him of that, but surely Reeder had not known. His loyalty was to Annon, not Tyrus. He would have told him if he had a sister.

“You are angry.”

“Obviously that matters very little to you, or you would have told me earlier. This is outrageous. I’m not sure I should even believe you,” Annon said, his voice nearly choking with rage and humiliation. “Surely, Uncle, you would have said something before now if it were true.”

“A liar, am I?” Tyrus said, his eyes like flint. “Really, Annon, I told you before that you needed to master your temper. This will not do.”

“How did you expect me to react?” Annon said, his voice shaking. The emotions spun and twisted him. He took a step forward, not sure what he would do.

A glass globe on the varnished desk suddenly lit with orange light. It was bright, like the sparks from a blacksmith’s anvil. The light darted and bounced against the curve of the glass, toward Annon, as if it were a little bee stinging in rage.

Tyrus scowled with annoyance. “Be still,” he muttered and fetched a dark velvet rag to cover the globe. “You are angry and rightly so. I owe you an explanation. I was attempting that when you began spitting at me.” He glanced over some of the other globes, which also started to flicker awake with light. He whistled a low tone, and then began to warp it into a tune, a haunting yet soothing melody. He glanced at Annon and then scooped something up from the table.

Tyrus held up the golden hoop. “You are not the only one who has known a life of pain, Annon. I was raised in an orphanage here in Kenatos. My sister brought me here as an infant to earn wages scribing languages. My brother…to be honest, I would rather not even talk about him. I know about loneliness and unfulfilled hopes. I overcame them, and I have prospered here. You can even give me some credit in choosing your mentor. Now tame your feelings. Master yourself. We do not have much time, and you need to understand something. You told me that you know of beavers and woodcutters, but what do you know of the Romani?”

Annon struggled against his feelings, for he desperately still wanted to lash out at Tyrus. Sweat trickled down his ribs as he battled to tame himself. Irritation clung to his voice. “Everyone knows of the Romani. They run goods between kingdoms, except for Silvandom. They are worse than thieves.”

“About their customs? Do you know what this is?”

“It is an earring. Romani wear them, the boys as well as the girls.” Annon was impatient. He wanted to know about his sister, not the Romani. “Their ears are pierced at a young age, as babies, I believe. I’ve met several caravans through Wayland, though never trusted them. I was warned not to.”

“You are correct. The Romani travel the lands and move goods from one place to another. They steal anything that has value. Give it a thought, Annon, but you are probably still too angry. What has the most value in a land routinely cursed with Plague? Children. They are worth more than gold ducats. The Romani covet children. When they are stolen, they are marked in their ear by a single hoop. This they wear until they are eight, when they are first sold. The fee is for ten years.”

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