A Record of the Delfinian War

Book Eight: Worldly Rival Leaders

The war with Tanga is cleared up in two months, with Delfinia expanding its boundaries to include the eastern side of the Tau Mountains. Woll gives the land to the Tau Free People, on the condition that they consider themselves citizens of Delfinia. He agrees to protect their right to govern themselves. Orlon, the king of Pallast, fears that Delfinia will try to take the western Tau Mountains next. He sees no value in the property, but he wants to keep possession of it on principle. He starts corrupting the local Delfinian lords near that area to be loyal to him.

When the king returns to Coral, marriage is in the air. Baluro's relatives urge him to convince his arranged fiancee to marry him, while Nashias' sister visits to persuade him to look for a potential bride. Both have serious obstacles. Baluro's fiancee, Grand Duke Rosamond Cyril Bellminster, is acting as the head of her family until her late brother's young son is old enough to take her place. Her brother, for whom she cared deeply, died when he accidentally drank poison meant for her. She has taken on a male role for the interim, so although she likes Baluro, she refuses to be his bride.

Nashias had been married eight years previously to his sister's best friend Elaine. Unfortunately, Elaine began suffering from an incurable wasting illness, and she had begged to marry him before she died. They lived together for only twenty days. He was emotionally traumatized and doesn't intend ever to marry again. He begins spending a lot of time with Lady Endover because she understands what it's like to lose a spouse.

The castle staff is concerned that the king and queen aren't taking proper advantage of their marital bed. They want to see an heir as soon as possible. They would encourage the king to take a concubine, but there are two big flaws in that plan. For one thing, they're afraid that the warrior queen might become jealous, regardless of how much she protests she doesn't care. The second cause for concern is that the king himself is showing absolutely no interest in any other women.

Shera grows frustrated that Vantser's skill is greater than his own and begins practicing harder to improve. This leads to a crisis when Sharmian comes upon him and discovers he's really a boy. Thinking he's a danger to the queen, she tries to attack him. Even shows up to stop her, but he makes a huge miscalculation and winds up gravely injured. Sharmian is horrified at what she's done and locks herself up in her father's mansion in tears. Even, with his left eye ruined and left arm sliced through to the bone, manages to make it to Lee's house. That's where Lee, Shera, and Woll find him.

Knowing his arm can't be saved, he asks Woll to amputate it for him. Lee kisses him and starts to try some healing magic first, though she admits it's dangerous. When it appears the spell will be too much of a strain for her, Shera's renegade guardian spirits possess him and advise Lee to use "this moon." She is able to borrow power from Shera to complete the spell successfully. <Smoochies> Lee has a great deal of inherent magic, but to prevent it from reacting to her emotions and causing a catastrophe, her "partner" long ago sealed it. She isn't supposed to access it without the Key. She swears never to use such magic while in Delfinia again, because it's too dangerous. The four of them pretend that nothing ever happened.

The Tau Free People want Woll to get the rest of the Tau Mountains for them, which means more war. The trick is to get the neighboring countries to start it. The Tau leader, Jil, reveals that silver and gold can be mined in the mountains. If they leak information about the silver mines to the other kings, they will try to capture the land, leaving Woll free to defend his people. They give Woll a map of the silver mines, with the message that they'll tell him where the gold mines are when they are certain they can trust him.

Back in Lee's home dimension, her partner is still searching for her. Lee had fallen through an unstable dimensional hole, rather than a stable gate, so it has taken time to track down how to find her. The partner plans to go through the hole when it next opens, taking along the Key to Lee's magic, a silver ring. Meanwhile, Lee's use of magic alerted other magic users all across the land. Some see her as a threat. One group asks for Orlon's assistance in their efforts to perform a ritual that will send her back where she came from.