A Record of the Delfinian War

Book Fourteen: Crimson Garb of Mourning

Even has a problem. He would love to marry Sharmian herself, yet he wants nothing to do with nobility. If he married a future earl, he would face scorn from most of the other Tau Free People, who hate the nobility. Since he's the main bridge between the Tau and Delfinia's king, he can't afford to lose his place of respect. Woll believes that the real problem is that Even now knows his real father turned his back on being a nobleman, and returning to that way of life would feel like a betrayal. Even tells Sharmian he will marry her if she gives up her status, but she can't abandon her father.

Nashias' wedding goes smoothly. However, Lee is sent into shock at seeing Shera making a present for the couple using a pattern of red roses against a white background. Lee's foster father had been killed during the winter, so she has a vivid memory of his blood against the snow like bright flowers. What's more, that image is connected to a memory of her partner admiring an arrangement of red and white flowers, which makes her incredibly homesick.

Rufaselmi is going crazy without Eddie. He can do nothing but wait for the portal to open. He occasionally senses echoes of Eddie calling to him or has the disturbing feeling the child is in danger, yet he's helpless to act. He chooses to cocoon himself in a nest of his own semi-sentient hair and sleep.

Woll makes a secret alliance with the new king of Sanseberia, a protectorate of Pallast to the west. Sanseberia wants independence, but it can't stand up to Pallast on its own. The king offers to attack Pallast from behind, freeing up Delfinia's forces to confront the other enemies they predict will be coming when the winter ends.

The Tau notice a band of tall, strong northerners who pass through their territory on their way to the river. Jil explains there are two races living in Skenia--the ones who comprise the government, who are little threat, and the native barbarian western clans, who are fierce warriors. To Jil's knowledge, the native warrior clans despise the invaders and hate the Skenian government, but if the two have begun working together, it could be a disaster for Delfinia. The warriors will swarm through the Tau Mountains, take the river south in their small, swift boats, then attack Delfinia's coast. Even goes to Kiltansas to ask his ex-pirate friends for help.

In February, a rebellious Tanga lord threatens the Delfinian border. Woll and Lee go to clear up the matter. Just as they've all but defeated the enemy, Lee is frozen by the sight of red blood against fresh snow. Letitia, who has been following her in the hope of catching her in a moment of distraction, uses the opportunity to shoot her with a poisoned arrow.

Though it was supposed to be instantly fatal, Lee survives, but she's barely strong enough to move. Letitia instinctively senses she's still dangerous, so he sends some local "expendable" assassins after her. The ones Woll and Shera can't stop, she unconsciously reduces to bloody pulp with her magic. Woll passes the incident off as the work of Bardoh, the warrior god angered by the cowardly attack.

During the aftermath of Lee's magic, she and Woll experience some of each other's memories. Lee figures it's because they're so alike, they have the same wavelength. When Woll reveals he saw Lee's partner and heard him call her other name, she forbids him from speaking it aloud. She spends the next little while recovering from the poison. <Threesome>