Authors: Jane Glatt
Brotherhood of the
Copyright © 2012 Roberta Jane Glatt
Jane Glatt Enterprises Inc.
All Rights Reserved worldwide under the
No part of this document or
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All characters appearing in this work are
fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely
. Brenna grabbed her pack
and patted Blaze before she handed the reins to the boy who stood expectantly
in front of her. She didn’t want the title or the responsibilities that went
with it. She’d like nothing more than to get back on Blaze and ride as far away
from it as she could. Her hand crept into her pack and she caressed the coronet
before turning to find Kane’s blue-eyed gaze on her.
“Ready?” he asked.
She moved to stand beside
him and nodded, her look taking in both Dasid and Gaskain. People were
depending on her -
was depending on her - and she couldn’t allow
Thorold to rule Soule. She knew what he was capable of.
She led the way and when she
reached the third stair from the top, the door swung open. Duke Ewart of Fallad
stood there, his eyes darting from her to the church across the square.
“Please come in.” Ewart
Brenna entered his
Silverdale home followed by Kane, Dasid and then Gaskain. Ewart closed the door
and ushered them into a sitting room. Brenna took a seat on a padded bench and
leaned her pack against her legs as her companions quietly sat on chairs that ringed
a large, low table.
“I didn’t see any merchants
in the square,” Kane said.
Brenna looked up in
surprise. Kane was right. As they rode through she’d seen people in the square
– but mostly Duke Ewart’s militia. The last time she’d visited Silverdale the
square had been bustling with merchants and their customers, as well as priests
of the One-God. The largest church in Fallad stood on the opposite side of the
“Yes,” Duke Ewart replied.
“Only priests who are too old or frail to leave are still at the church. My men
tell me the rest packed up and left as soon as the news about King Mattias’
death reached Silverdale. That was almost a week ago.” Ewart paced in front of
the fireplace. “I’ve sent more troops to the borders.” He stopped beside the
mantel and turned to face them. “I doubt Thorold will do anything hostile, at
least not until I’ve declared that I’m opposing him, but I thought it better to
be prepared. I’ve sent messages advising all Falladian communities to prepare
for a hard winter and I’ve been recruiting more men for the militia. I want my
people and my duchy ready.”
“Have your staff left
then? Is that why you answered your door yourself?” Brenna asked.
“I have a cook still and
someone to clean, but I told the rest of my household staff to see to their
families,” Ewart said. “Some of the men have joined the militia.” He looked
from her to Kane. “I’m hoping that you can help train and outfit the new
“Dasid and I can do that,”
Kane said. “But you know we cannot pledge to you.”
“I understand,” Ewart
said. His gaze swiveled back to Brenna. “We’ll all be pledging to Brenna soon
“Yes,” Kane said.
Even from where she sat
Brenna felt Kane relax and some of the tension in the room evaporated. She’d
told Kane that this would be Ewart’s answer, but they all knew what it meant. Duke
Ewart of Fallad had just acknowledged that he would rebel against the crown.
Thorold would call him a traitor and in the eyes of the law, he was. But they
had their safe haven in Fallad, a place where they could begin their campaign
to save Soule.
“Refugees have been crossing
into Fallad for weeks,” Ewart said. “Many of them have already enlisted in my
militia - I also have a number of volunteers from here in Silverdale so you’ll
have a lot to do right away.”
Brenna’s eyes drooped closes
as the conversation hummed around her. She reached down to her pack and her
hand slid inside it almost without being aware of it. But she knew the minute
she touched the coronet.
Almost every moment since
King Mattias’ death the coronet had been a constant presence in her mind.
Usually it was a gentle hum just below every waking thought she had, but at
times it changed to a whisper while at other times it turned into a simple song.
But when she tried to ignore it, the coronet blared loudly. It only allowed her
peace when she actually touched it. When her hand was in contact with the old
steel the metal felt warm, almost alive, and the sound it made was like a
contented purr. Brenna had taken to sleeping with one hand curled around coronet
just to be able to get some rest.
With a start she opened
her eyes and met Kane’s concerned gaze.
“Are you feeling all
right?” Kane asked.
Somehow she’d slid down
until she was lying on the bench, her body curled around her pack and the
coronet inside it. Kane took her arm and helped her sit up before he moved back
to his own chair.
“I’m fine. I’m just
tired.” She pushed a hand through her hair.
“Are you sure?” Ewart
asked. He frowned. “I’ve been a terrible host. Can get you something to eat or
drink? Tea perhaps?”
“Thank you, no,” Brenna
said. “I really am fine. It’s the coronet. It’s been very insistent since King
“Insistent about what?”
“About being worn. By me.”
Brenna pulled the coronet out of her pack. The plain silver-colored band shone
brightly in the dim room. If touching it made it purr, then bringing it out
into full view made it roar - there could be no doubt that it wanted to be out
“I can hear it,” Ewart
“Yes, sometimes it gets
louder when it’s on display but I
hear it in my head.” Brenna
grimaced. “I’m getting better at ignoring it but when I’m tired, like today,
it’s more difficult.”
Ewart edged closer and
peered at the coronet. He reached out a hand and tentatively touched it. “It
doesn’t react to me. Not enough of the same blood?”
“It doesn’t react to anyone
other than Brenna,” Kane said. “Even though it’s old steel, like the
“What will make it stop?”
Ewart asked. “
“I think it will only stop
when Brenna declares herself queen and wears the coronet openly.” Kane looked
over at her.
“I’m not ready, not yet.”
Brenna stared at the coronet and ran her hand over the smooth old steel. “I
need to know more about Beldyn and what role he wants to play.”
“He’ll be crowned king,”
Ewart said. “What else do you need to know? There can only be one ruler and if
that’s you then it can’t be Beldyn.” Ewart crossed his arms over his chest and
looked at her sternly but then his face softened and he sighed. “I know you
still think of him as the little boy who trailed after you when you were
younger Brenna, but it must be one or the other of you.”
“But he’s unwilling to
rule,” she said. “We know that from Jemma, a Brother who has befriended him.”
Brenna and Kane had discussed this more than once but she would not change her
mind. “I need more information before I declare myself queen and openly pit
myself against Beldyn.” She didn’t want to do anything before she could talk to
Beldyn - he deserved to know what she was planning. He’d trusted her when they were
younger and she didn’t want to do anything to change that. “He was family to
me, and I to him,” Brenna continued. “I won’t give up on that until I absolutely
Jemma had promised to
contact her as soon as Beldyn visited her again.
he visited her
again. There was no guarantee that he’d get the chance to slip away from his
formal duties now that King Mattias was dead. There were three weeks left of
the official mourning period - then Beldyn’s coronation would take place.
Brenna sighed and stroked the coronet again. She
to talk to Beldyn
before then because her coronation would be held the same day.
“I don’t like it,” Ewart
said, frowning. “We have no idea if Beldyn is even telling the truth. For all
you know he’s working with his father and telling you what Thorold wants you to
“It’s a risk,” Kane agreed.
“At this point everything we know leads us to believe that Beldyn does not want
the crown. Has that changed? That’s one reason Brenna is so tired.” He shook
his head and looked over at her. “Since Mattias’ death she’s spent most nights in
contact with Brothers in Kingsreach, Aruntun and Fallad trying to find out more.”
“A few weeks is all I’m
asking for,” Brenna said. “I’ll need to declare when Beldyn does. By that time
the Brothers from the training facility should be here and the forge should be making
progress on creating old steel weapons.”
“All right,” Duke Ewart said.
“I’d rather not have Thorold know I’m supporting you until then anyway. He
won’t really worry about me until closer to the coronation.”
“And we’ll be a few more
weeks nearer to winter,” Kane said. “We’re not ready for a fall campaign, not
until the recruits get some training, so the longer we can deceive Thorold the
more likely he won’t be able to strike until spring.”
“Yes,” Ewart agreed. He
looked relieved. “If we can postpone the fighting until spring we have some time
to prepare properly.”
“We don’t think Thorold can
be ready to mount an offensive before winter,” Kane said. “But if he has a few
more weeks without any real opposition it will be even harder for him. By that
time his plans will have been made and it will be too late in the season to change
“Hopefully Thorold’s own forces
will stay in Comack for the winter.” Ewart nodded. “Do we know where you want
your training camp?”
“Gaskain and I will be
handling that,” Dasid spoke from his seat by the fire. “With your permission
we’ll take stock of what’s available and where we can house the men and start
getting things set up.”
“Good,” Ewart said. “Let
me know what you need from me.”
Brenna was surrounded by
women in glittering gowns and men in formal attire with family and guild crests
displayed prominently on velvet and silk coats and vests. The soft strains of
music played in the background, almost drowned out by the hum of conversation
and the clink of glasses. There, wasn’t that Carolie Brunger with her father
the Guild Master? Standing close to them, holding two punch glasses, was Colm.
His blond curls were subdued and he’d grown taller since his days as one of her
Brenna tried to move
towards him but the crowd surged around her and she was propelled in the
opposite direction - toward a high dais where Duke Thorold sat and overlooked the
assembly. He had a small, self-satisfied smile on his face and Brenna balled
her fists, her lip curled in disgust. Her grandfather - she would
become anything like him. Then she was moving past him, through a small door
and down a long corridor and finally into another room.
When Brenna entered, the
furious activity of several servants stopped and they froze, surrounding the
figure who sat hunched into yards of blue silk, the gold thread shimmering in
bright patterns. It was Beldyn. He turned to her, misery on his face.
“Help me Brenna.”
She heard his whisper, saw
the pleading in his eyes and she nodded.
“Yes,” she answered. “See
Jemma. I’ll help.” Beldyn’s image started to fade but before he was gone, Brenna
caught a look of relief on his face.
Kane gently opened the
door to enter the room he and Brenna were sharing. He’d insisted she that come
up and rest for as long as she could - she needed to be awake later to
communicate with the Brotherhood – something she’d been doing every night since
Mattias’ death. He stepped over to the bed, his smile turning to a frown when
she rolled over and flung her arm out.
“I’ll help,” Brenna
Kane caught her wrist and
held it, stroking the back of her hand until she settled and her breathing
He should wake her - that
was the only way to make sure she remembered a vision - but she needed the
sleep. It would be well past midnight before she had a chance to rest again.
Kane gently sat on the bed and pulled Brenna’s head onto his lap.
He’d tried to explain her
exhaustion to the others but even Dasid didn’t fully understand. It took energy
for Brenna to communicate through old steel. It was easier with people she
knew, like Jemma and Yowan, but contacting someone she didn’t know well – was
so difficult that she couldn’t do it without Kane’s help.
Kane urged her to draw
energy from him – just as she’d done when she’d been captured by Thorold’s men -
but she refused, saying that he had needed his strength to accomplish his own
tasks. And he did. But nothing else was as important as ensuring her health and
well being. And despite her assurances, he knew that rescuing Neal and Duchess
Avery had depleted her more than she would admit and that she still hadn’t
fully recovered from that.
Brenna snuggled closer to
him and he gently smoothed a hand over her hair. He would never forget the
utter despair he’d felt when he’d seen Duke Thorold’s guards carry her away