Fantasy. Duke Edward Solaris learns of his father’s death and rushes home from patrol, only to encounter a family friend having mysterious powers: Alain Harper the Undying Singer. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepherd.
“Your Grace,” Eric shouted as he rode on Edward’s left, “a lone man stands in the road ahead of us. It looks as if he means to speak with us.”
“Nay, to oppose us,” Sir Martin shouted from Edward’s right; he had spotted the man’s battle-readiness in his very stance. There was something about that stance that somehow suggested the earth could barely hold the man’s feet to the ground, that he might leap through the air and knock a rider right off his horse without warning.
“What, is he mad?” Edward exclaimed. “One man opposing a whole column of mounted knights?” He raised his right arm, signaling the column to slow to a canter, and then to a walk, and finally to a halt.
“Be on your guard,” Edward ordered those behind and beside him as he slowly rode forward, not to Sir Martin’s great pleasure. The man he approached wore a hooded cloak, pants, belt and boots all of charcoal gray and an ivory pullover shirt under it. A scabbard on his back, likewise charcoal gray with ivory trim, held a medium-length, double-edged sword. He was otherwise unadorned save for a ring on each hand and a circular clasp for his cloak at the neck bearing a strange sigil: a golden box with winged men on top, borne on golden poles and surrounded by twelve golden stars, all on a silver background.
At a gesture from the Duke, the rest of the column surrounded the man in a wide circle. Sir Martin and Eric remained where they were.
“Your men oppose me at their extreme mortal peril, young Duke,” the stranger warned.
“Who are you to oppose the rightful Duke of Lumina and his host?” Edward demanded. “Speak!”
“Your father was certainly right,” said the man with barely suppressed laughter in his voice and body language; he had relaxed his fighting stance by then. “You have about as much tact as a catapulted stone. He was always telling you, while you were yet a child, that you had to learn to please people once in a while. Too bad that people of your sort so seldom listen to such advice.”
Sir Martin blanched with rage. This man spoke of tact and he dared to be so insulting to the heir apparent of House Solaris?
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