And here is the second of my introductions to the supporting cast of Recovery. Here’s Tama, a few days before she first appears in the book.
Tama was in the middle of the frost fair when the page found her. He was a tiny little thing, his green and copper livery tabard hanging down past his knees, and her first instinct was to pat him on the top of his fur lined cap and buy him some warm spicebread. But he wore the green dragon and that meant he was on royal business, so she contented herself with dropping to one knee on the ice and saying, “I hear you, voice of the crown.”
He stood up straight, puffing his shoulders out, and said, “His highness the prince of Shara summons you, lorewitch.”
“I hear and obey.” Then she did give in to temptation and reach out to grab the sleeve of her nearest friend. “Ingund, buy this gentleman something hot to eat, will you?”
Ingund turned around, spotted the page, and made a squeaky noise of delight which made him flush red with indignation.
Sigi, who Tama hadn’t thought was listening, said, “A royal summons? Ooh, Tama, what have you done?”
Tama laughed and shrugged. No need to tell them it was probably nothing—she preferred it when they forgot her connection to the crown, loose and informal as it was. “I guess I’ll find out. Tell Gisela I’m sorry to miss her singing.”
They waved her off and she made her way out of the performance tent, apologising every time she slid into someone. Luckily, it was a merry crowd, and soon she was out onto the open ice, skimming back towards the bank as fast as she could manage, dodging between other skaters and party-goers, waving at the few people who shouted her name—most of her old classmates were still here in Shara, waiting for the high passes to thaw before they headed out to new chapterhouses and assignments. The snow had come early this year, taking many of them off-guard. She had done a few short trips already, helping move convoys of emergency food out to some of the surrounding towns and helping them take stock of rations and plan for the rest of the winter. This could well just be another of those.
But Prince Alerin had summoned her himself. Another rationing run would have been organised by the chapterhouse, not by the prince. Could it be something else—the one task she’d been hoping for ever since her fathers first sent word from the desert? Could the prince finally be sending out a party to find a dragon? Could he be sending her?
The idea was so wonderful that she jumped a little, forgetting that while she was as quick on her skates as anyone who had spent the last three winters in Shara, she wasn’t good enough to actually land on ice. She went staggering, feet sliding in different directions, and then lost any chance of regaining her balance once she got the giggles. Several people came skimming over to help her up, but she waved them off cheerfully, scrambled upright, and continued on at a more sedate pace.
It probably wasn’t going to be a dragon, despite her hopes. It was a bad time of year to send people up into the High Amels, which made the Sharan alps look like mere sand dunes in comparison. No, she would almost be certainly be waiting for the spring before that chance came along.
Well, maybe it was just social, then. The roads to the south and east were still open, and her fathers should be due for a stop in Shara soon, before they started back towards Hirah to overwinter until spring hiring. Yes, that was the most likely.
It wasn’t as exciting as dragons, but it still put a smile on her face as she queued up to get off the ice. She hadn’t seen her fathers since she finished her novitiate, and she wanted to know where they had been, what they had seen, how the world had changed since she last set foot upon the road.
A penny got her over the ditch some enterprising river man had cut along the edge of the ice, and she sat on a step to get her skates off before heading up into the city. Down here, the taverns were overflowing with fairgoers, music rolling out every time a door was opened, and she found herself whistling as she headed uphill, sticking to the main streets where the cobbles had been shovelled clear of snow.
Shara in winter always made her think of sugared almonds and marzipan—all its houses painted in pastel shades and snow weighing down every roof. She didn’t think she would ever stop enjoying it, but she had been here long enough. It was time to take to the road again, to see other cities, other colours. She missed the Anniel delta, where the cranes went whooping out over the shivering reeds, and the hot blast of the road through the Alagard, the urgent chaos of Hirah in the spring, and the elegance and greed of Aliann.
If it was not dragons, let it at least be a mission which would let her ride across the world again. She was a merchant’s daughter, a child of the road, never to be caught in one place for long.
Up and up, the road zigzagging towards the palace where it stood on the bluff above the city. The banners on the houses changed—the bright colours of the merchant guilds and inns giving way to more and more copper and green—every barracks flew the green dragon rampant, the dragon of Shara, symbol of its ancient power.
Maybe she would meet that dragon one day—be the one to rouse Sharnyn from his long slumber. Or maybe it would be Quarllian—he would need help to rebuild his library, surely? Markell was out there too, Isara, Arden (though rumour had it someone was already on that quest). And there were others too—not just the seven who had led the war against the Shadow, but all their brothers and sisters who had stood with them upon the plains of Eyr.
Oh, what a wonderful time to be alive!
And here was the palace, and she went skipping past the gatehouse with a smile for her cousin Lothar, who rolled his eyes at her from behind his helmet. Poor dutiful Lothar—she couldn’t imagine living his life. Thank the Dreamlord that her father had come along at just the right moment to seduce Papa away from family tradition and off to the open road instead.
Even the public parts of the palace felt very warm after the crisp winter air, and she took her hat and gloves off to shove in her bag with her skates, trying to comb her hair flat with her fingers. Even after all these years, she never quite felt smart enough for the palace. She just wasn’t meant for marble halls and silk wallpaper and paintings of people who could trace their bloodlines back to Sharnyn’s last hoard.
Unlike the prince, though, she didn’t have to live here, so she buried her discomfort behind a smile and walk up to the doors to the prince’s study with a bounce in her stride.
The guards on the door know her, but she bowed all the same. Sharans liked ceremony.
“Tama Lattimar, to see Prince Alerin.”
They swung the doors open in from of her and she walked in to find out what her future held.
Wondering what the prince wants with her? Well, you know what to do 😉 Pre-order links below:
DSP Publications Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com