With five days to go until Recovery comes out, meet another of the characters. Here is Lord Roland, Voice of Shara on the ruling council of the city of Aliann.
Sometimes, even after all these years, Roland wakes and doesn’t know where he is.
It’s as if, no matter what his waking mind knows, in his sleep he forgets he is in Aliann and wakes expecting the cold dry bite of a winter dawn in Shara or the sound of the prince’s guard matching outside his window.
It’s always a surprise to wake to the soft sound of water on the quay, the long calls of the boatmen, the creak of timbers. The air feels heavier in Aliann, damp and mild in winter, humid in summer, weightier somehow but also softer. It is easy to let things slide here, to make deals rather than stick to resolutions. There’s always something moving in Aliann, alliances shifting, promises being redefined, power and influence dancing around each other faster and faster until the inevitable stumble and bow of defeat.
But his prince would never have sent him here at all if he was the sort of man to stick rigidly to a principle rather than do whatever was needed for the sake of Shara. He is here to speak for Shara, to deal for Shara, to lie for Shara.
Except last time he went back to the city where he was born and all roads end, the cold haunted him and he dreamed of Aliann every night. He looked at the steep, winding roads of Shara and thought of the gleaming canals, watched the summer storms gather over the mountains and yearned for the mists that rise from the lagoon.
Sometimes, sitting in the council he thinks of Aliann’s interests first and Shara’s second and he’s not sure if that means he should resign his position or hold to it all the more.
Behind him, the mattress creaks and Philammon says, voice soft with sleep, “It’s to early to be worrying.”
“I’m not worried,” Roland lies and turns onto his back. Philammon props himself up on his elbow and grins down at him. His hair is on end, curls springing in every direction. There’s a line of ink down the side of his cheek, and he’s already starting to fidget with the energy that drives him through every day at a pace which is dizzying, even for this restless city.
He’s far too young and beautiful and brilliant for a weary old politician. His presence here in Roland’s life, the easy way he loves him—it is yet another way that Aliann confounds him.
“Worrying,” Philammon says again and leans down to kiss the end of Roland’s nose. “About?”
“Places,” Roland says. “Loyalties.”
Philammon wrinkles his nose. “Nothing I can print then?”
“You only want me as a source,” Roland grumbles.
His lover grimaces. “Don’t even joke about it.”
Roland almost argues that he wasn’t the one to start the joke. But Philammon’s attention has shifted, his head up as he listens. Roland goes quiet, hears voices passing, running feet, the distant clang of the tide bell, the faint whisper of wind.
“Tide’s not due to turn, but the bell’s ringing and the watch are running,” Philammon murmurs. He’s already moving, throwing his clothes back on in a rush, pulling his hair into a messy knot at the back of his head.
Roland watched him, a little bemused. He still doesn’t understand how anyone can tell all that from a few moments listening. Perhaps you have to be born to it, to the rhythm of the tides and the curl of the wind. He reluctantly heaves himself upright, though. Philammon’s instincts are rarely wrong, and if this is more than a dock fight, the palace should know.
“If it’s something I need to know—” he starts.
“I’ll yell at the guard until they go running,” Philammon says, grabbing a quill off the desk, shoving an ink bottle into his pocket, and tucking a curl of paper through his belt. He darts back across the room, kisses Roland quickly and firmly, and then is gone at a run.
Left alone in the quiet, Roland shakes his head and smiles, before staring to look for his own clothes. This too is Aliann—unpredictable, so fast to react he is left blinking, but never dull, not for a moment.
Whatever worries haunt him in the first light of dawn, he knows he’s never going to leave.
Wondering how Roland will manage his torn loyalties? You’ll just have to read the book. Pre-order links below: