Fantasy. Tyrannical Henry Highridge of the Fief of Clayborne, whose ambition is awakened by the death of High King Adams, is rebuked and then humbled by the Undying Singer. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepherd.
“Who are you?!”
“You know,” said the man with the same annoying Water-style high amusement undergirded with icy Air-style calm, “I really ought to take Ivan and his library clear, and maybe Jordan too, then blow this whole mountain range and everyone on it to smithereens – not that I think my Lord would allow that. Still, I could ask. In the Realm of Judgment you’d all have a chance to mend your ways. And boy howdy, do they need mending.”
“For the last time,” Henry shouted as he strode forward with a massive fist ready to land a crushing blow, “who are you and how did you get in here?!”
“The same way I usually do, my good Dukeling. Oh, that’s right: you probably wouldn’t remember me even if I weren’t invoking my Cloak of Shadow. You’ve been too busy making other people’s lives miserable to remember a participant in your Festival Games, I guess.”
Henry stopped short. “Oh, no – not you.”
“As hospitable as ever, I see,” said the man as he pulled down his hood. “Yes, it is I. Has it never occurred to you that your father wisely gave his three sons different and suitable inheritances, each according to his character and abilities? You’re the warrior of his house, enough so even to give me trouble – for a little while. Why are you grasping for more than you’re really worth?”
Henry would’ve loved to smash this young-looking annoyance, a head shorter than he and only two-thirds his weight at best, like a piling into the floor. Unfortunately, this stranger was never less than five times stronger than a normal man of his build and his appearance out of nowhere in the local games years ago was enough to prove it. He’d not been back to visit Clayborne since, but his legend had yet to die: Blademaster Chris Alan Starbright, as he’d called himself then and there, the one challenger that had ever been strong, fast and skilled enough to beat the Dukeling at his own very physical games.
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