January, 1027 YD
Brennan was folded by his window, fixed on the Charge of Darkness. A subterranean restlessness had been rising in him since receiving it; this was his fifth reading. Régan’s recognisable footfalls—quick, rhythmic, determined—echoed along the corridor. He slipped the text beneath his cushion.
The Princess came into his room without knocking, closing the door behind her. He tensed at her expression.
__‘Lady Ione has informed me that some in the court have commented on our familiarity, and the proximities of our chambers. Lenyol help whoever distributed that information.’
__His breathing halted.
__‘You will return to Offenure,’ she sighed, ‘and work in the castle for a time.’
__He stood, bowing his head. ‘Of course.’
__Régan frowned. ‘What is this?’ She crossed the room to his seat, brushing him aside to collect the ill-concealed book. She split it open, read of its pages, and focused grimly on his face.
__There was a prolonged moment of silence.
__‘I have a friend in Ona.’ Perhaps avoid mentioning Sevína’s gender. ‘It was a gift.’
__Régan continued to stare.
__‘Perhaps you understand the spirit has yearnings of its own. It is for my own heart, for inward nourishment.’
__‘For your own heart,’ she echoed, folding the scripture. ‘I did not know you had connections in Miggest.’
__‘Only the one, from my very early years.’
__She passed the text back to him. ‘It would be best not to keep this. Spend the evening with Fiona. She will take your place when you depart in the morning. Try to communicate to her what “work” means, if you can.’
__‘Yes, Your Highness.’
__She allowed the formality to stand, and took her leave.
‘Forgive my summoning,’ Brennan opened when Sevína appeared on the rooftop. He halted. ‘What has become of you?’
__Sevína bore the shorn head of adherents, and was clad in draping black robes. ‘I have returned to the faith. The Custodia has asked something of me. I would have refused, but the wind is so dry. The rains will not come this year.’
__Brennan burned with the eruption of sudden and profound craving. ‘Take me with you. To Miggest, tonight.’
__Sevína stared, his hands now clasping her own.
__‘I am being sent to Offenure. The noble rumour mill has finally turned its listless blades to the Princess’ bedchamber. I am being temporarily removed from her service. Ill will come of it; I beg you, take me with you. I want nothing other than to study scripture. Perhaps one day make for Mount Réimeach itself.’
__Sevína concealed her shock at the change in him. His face was raw with zeal. ‘I cannot. High Priest Arnaud will cross the Bridge in a matter of days, and I am marked to take his place. I will come for you when I can. Please, Brennan—do not fear. I will collect you as soon as I may.’
__‘If I summon you, do not forsake me.’
__‘No, my beloved friend, I shall not. I need your love in these changing times.’
__He embraced her. ‘I will be in Offenure by the week’s end. Find me there.’