All They Had

He looked at her. He saw her careworn face, her red hair bound up and starting to lose its shine with the onset of her age… He imagined what life could’ve been like, if it was her hand he had held at the summer gala…

All They Had

By A. Broadhead

This piece was a response to a short writing prompt: write a dialogue in which the two characters are almost having a big fight, but not quite. I chose Tyrric and Mirium for this scene as that’s something they often do! What came out of it isn’t quite a dialogue, but I’m happy with how it illustrates the ongoing tension between them.

As far as canon goes, this scene would’ve been set roughly before Keelath returned from the dead but while Tyrric was still dating Alelsa. It’s not entirely accurate to that timeline though, mostly because I wanted to write a scene that was self-contained –one you could pick up and read without knowing anything about the rest of Sunwalker lore. So, enjoy it as a illustrative piece if not a completely factual one!

Author’s Note

“Lord Tyrric, we really need to talk about your taste in horses.”

Tyrric looked up from the handwritten ledgers spread across his desk. Mirium was standing across from him, hands on her hips, in that “I’m about to make some trouble” kind of way that always set his heart racing.

“Yes. Ah. What about?” he answered, calmly enough despite his distraction.

 “The stables are operating at near full capacity,” Mirium said in smart reply, and she dropped her notebook of breeding records on top of his ledgers. Names and lineages and numbers of grain sacks marched their way across it, spidery little lines connecting this stallion to that mare to that potential foal in such a snarl Tyrric wondered if her record-keeping wasn’t the main problem here.

But she wouldn’t much care for him if he said that aloud. Tyrric bit his lip, picking up the record and wafting it gently so the freshly inked pages of his papers underneath wouldn’t smear. It also gave him time to think.

“Isn’t being that a good thing?” he finally said. “More horses means more to sell at the spring auction, after all—”

“No, Tyrric. It is not a good thing,” said Mirium, in a tone like she might explain astronomy to a child. “Nine mares still have yet to drop their foals. That means nine box stalls for brooding. We have eight. Barely. And without any of last year’s crop selling, the next year we’ll have none.”

“I think I see the problem,” Tyrric said faintly.

“It’s the luck of the draw,” said Mirium with a huff. “Battlecry’s foals haven’t done as well as I’d like. That pink nose hides a lot of bad bloodlines, or I’m no horse woman. King’s stud fees barely cover his feed. And then Wraith rejected her last foal, and it takes twice as much work for the stable-hands to hand rear a foal as to—”

Tyrric watched her in a daze, until all he saw was her mouth moving, and her huffy shift from side to side as she laid out her problems for him. His mind wandered, and he wondered what it would have been like if he had married her instead of Alelsa. Mirium seemed happy now—or happy when she wasn’t worrying about her horses. And yet…

“—and then you had to go buy a whole new set of colts for me to home, unbroken and untried. Didn’t you learn anything from purchasing Cloud Kicker? Yes, his conformation is good, but I can’t get rid of those spots in his offspring. The Breeding Club doesn’t want spots in their rinaani. That’s why they don’t sell, Tyrric! I have half a mind to ship them across the sea where they don’t have such standards, just to make a few coins back, but then the politics of negotiating a deal with—”

Yes, she seemed happy. It was better she was here, quibbling over stalls and studs and bendor spots, than worrying about her late husband or the war. 

“—and I told him I couldn’t imagine why he wasn’t performing. His lines were good, and we had spent months on the training. You remember that, yes? How many times we must’ve sent that colt to the lists, but when the tournament came, he could only balk—”

He had given that to her. It was the least he could’ve done, since failing her so badly the year before. She had a home now, such as it was, and something to keep her mind busy: something she loved.

“I think we’re looking at this all wrong,” Tyrric cut in to Mirium’s monologue. “Our stables are full of good horseflesh. That’s something that hasn’t happened in decades, my dear. All right, all right, so some of the foals are not as good as we hoped. I still remember back to the blight, where it was lucky if a mare came down at all, let alone drop a foal. We could do worse, Mirium. We really could.”

“You’re not listening to me,” Mirium said tiredly. “We need less foals now, Tyrric, and less studs. Or less studs of the quality we have—”

“The market will turn around,” Tyrric said, more loudly. “You’ll see. Sometimes, we just need to sit back and—and, well, let life happen to us, Mirium. Bad things happen. Good things…they happen, too, especially if we don’t go dwelling on what could’ve been.”

He looked at her. He saw her careworn face, her red hair bound up and starting to lose its shine with the onset of her age. And his. He imagined what life could’ve been like, if it was her hand he had held at the summer gala, if it had been him who had won the joust and the title of champion. If it had been him who had earned the honor of leading the charge into the Battle at the Border.

If it had been her horse that was shot out from under him. If it had been his life that was ended, at the thrust of the enemy’s spear. If it had been him who had been shoveled into the grave, with all the roses and glories of a fallen knight of the realm, while she stood and wept over him.

While a near-stranger held her, trying to comfort her and help her forget.

A stranger who had always loved her, even if that love could never be.

Tyrric bowed his head and let Mirium’s words wash over him. “We’ll make the most of it,” he murmured, and didn’t care if it made sense in answer to whatever it was she was saying. “What is important is what we have, Mirium, not what we lost.”

It was all that they had.

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