Thorn of the Rose

“O Scourge of the Sea! Though long you have stalked me, no more shall you withhold your truth from me…

“…O Scourge of the Sea! I see the curtain has parted, your true form at last revealed to me.”

Keelath went out to look for the rinaani the next afternoon. He wasn’t sure why, for he hadn’t gone to see them since Mirium had left. When he reached their meadow, they were nowhere to be found.

Instead he sat and brooded, running over in his head ways to get more money. His father had gone over the ledgers with him that morning, demonstrating to him in no uncertain terms that they could not afford the full tribute. Despite this, Keelath was taken aback at his father’s charity. Would he be angry when he learned Mirium’s father was not some hero from the Kingslayer War, but an unimportant commoner?

“Military service pays well,” Keelon had said at last. “It is what got us this land, after all. It’s not what I would have wanted for you, for it is dirty work, too full of violence and pain for what I would wish on my sons. It would be a fitting way of making up the last of the tribute, however, and you are strong.”

Keelath was considering that option again now. Though the wars had tapered off into simply going after the odd akor’mar bandit in the mountains, service would never be fully without danger. It was also take him away from Mirium, as the soldiers of Sun-on-the-Lake were often deployed for years at a time.

He considered other paths: manual labor, one of the crafts, even joining another theater troupe like Miri’s. None of them paid so well.

As the sun slanted down over the trees, signaling the approach of nightfall, Keelath stood. He knew what he had to do, and he went to see his father, to ask after how he could take out a loan from the brokers in Yohon’nai, to be repaid at a later date through his service to the Council’s armies.

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