A mother’s love

Bellera stood at the window, staring out into the night as she rubbed a smooth stone between her fingers. A rune-stone, protection. Her mother’s blood had run out years ago and Bellera had not kept it powered. She wasn’t sure why she kept the chunk of river-rock. Stone did not hold magic well and the rune had been carved as an emergency measure long ago, when her mother had first been captured and brought to Caynith. Why her mother had kept it, even after the fear had faded and she had made the decision to stay in Canyith, raising her baby daughter among the Warspeaker’s people, was a mystery lost to time and carried to the grave.
Bellera’s fingers traced the carvings – the same shape she had made for each of her children, that she continued to fill with her own blood. The shape that could not protect her first, her eldest, the fruit of those tender advances so long ago.
“Have you slept at all?” The sound of Thomas’s bare feet on the cold stone floor, his arm around her hips and breath at her neck. Bellera leaned into him.
“Sixteen years old and he still wakes me up in the middle of the night,” Bellera said, nodding to the window, where the gate could just be seen opening and closing as if on its own accord.
“I thought you were going to ground him to the tower this afternoon,” Thomas answered. Bellera frowned, reaching up to play with Thomas’s beard.
“I would if I thought that he would stay.” Bellera sighed, placing the rune-stone on the windowsill, her fist still resting on it. “He carries the weight of the world. Perhaps it would not weigh so heavily if it were not about to break.”
Thomas placed his hand overtop Bellera’s, squeezing slightly. “Do you wish you had not married a king? That you could have lived a long life among your father’s people?”” Thomas looked into her deep pools, Bellera reached up to stroke his face.
“I did not marry a king, I married Thomas Swiftglaive. I bound myself to him for better or worse, in living and in dying. I do not regret my decision, not for a moment.” Bellera kissed him, lingering as Thomas wrapped her in his arms.
“Your father’s people will take you?” Thomas asked.
“There is a place I know, just beyond the border. They take in battered Sylvan women, it is a place to start. Marcus knows where to take the young ones.” Bellera sighed, weaving her fingers through Thomas’s. “ZaZa is fifteen. He’s not ready for this.”
“No one is ever ready. But this is the only way I know how to stop another civil war,” Thomas answered.
“We are hanging the fate of a kingdom, the fate of our family, on the neck of a child who has always been told his gift is evil,” Bellera said.
“There is nothing more to do but pray the Triune have mercy.” Thomas pulled on Bellera’s hip, guiding her back to bed. Bellera pulled Thomas down with her, nestling into the hollow at his side.
“Ravens guide us all,” Bellera said. She stared out the window, at Eras’s face, which for the briefest of moments was shadowed by what might have been wings.


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