Post- Trickster’s Queen, Aly is all settled in, working her spy master mojo for the raka, installed someplace permanently and married to Nawat.
New guards are sitting in a courtyard, gossiping unfavorably about Aly, Nawat, and/or Dove and Sarai. Don’t notice the trio of crows in the tree above them.
Crows fly off, about five minutes later Nawat comes sauntering around the corner, sits on the table where the guards are talking, pops elbows on knees, fists under chin, grins at guards.
“So I heard you were talking shit!”
I.erutan - LAMENT OF THE HIGHBORN | II.alanis morissette - NOT AS WE | III.dido - SLIDE | IV.marina and the diamonds - ROOTLESS | V.woodkid - RUN BOY RUN | VI.lorde - GLORY AND GORE | VII.shinedown - HER NAME IS ALICE | VIII.william fitzsimmons - IT’S NOT TRUE | IX.imagine dragons - SMOKE AND MIRRORS | X.lindsey stirling - HEIST
I like to think that the title duani just sticks to the post of Royal Spymaster of the Copper Isles after Aly retires. Probably duan if the post is held by a male - though don’t hold me to that word because I’m, not certain we ever hear the male equivalent of “grandmother/boss lady.”
Anyone else think Nathan Fillion would make a pretty perfect George Cooper, Baron of Pirate’s Swoop and Royal Spymaster in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals and Trickster series? I’d say he’d make a perfect George period, but then I remember in the Song of the Lioness series he’s like, 17.
Alanna inspected her only daughter with a mixture of concern and awe. The girl, only seven years old, was holding a small, fixed-blade knife in her hands, looking thoroughly pleased with herself.
Earlier that day, Aly had been playing with her friends in the village. The girl had a nose for trouble, perhaps more so than Alanna herself at that tender age. Seeing robbers targeting one of the poorer houses, she followed the men and accosted them. Ten minutes later, the two men were out cold and Aly was scurrying away with the boot knife she had taken from them and used in the fight. She was so proud of herself that she sprinted back to the Swoop to tell her parents right away.
The blade in the child’s hand was still covered in dried blood. Alanna plucked it from her daughter’s hand, her brow furrowed.
“Absolutely not,” she snapped, soaking a handkerchief in water and wiping off the blade. “It’s dirty, it’s blunt, it’s-it’s-”
Aly pouted, but she reached for the knife anyway. “Why not?”
Alanna pulled her hand back, keeping the knife away from her. “I said no, Alianne.” Her voice held that warning note that told Aly it was useless to argue. “When you turn ten, your father and I will buy you a proper boot knife, a good one.”
“And until then, I don’t want to hear any more of this.”
“Yes, Mother.” She repeated.
Alanna’s eyes softened. “Off you go, then. I have something I need to finish up.”
Aly let herself out of her mother’s office feeling forlorn. She didn’t want to wait three years for a sharp knife. She wanted to work with this one, now. Da could help her work with it, and Uncle Coram could teach her to put a better edge on it when she visited Trebond for the summer.
“Cheer up, Aly.” Her twin chirped, seeing her dour face. “Da can get you loads better knives than that one. Three years isn’t so far off.”
“But this one was my first.” She told him, feeling hot tears well up in her eyes. “He would have been proud of me for getting it.”
Alan shrugged at her. “He can be still be proud, even if he doesn’t see the knife.”
“You know he’ll want to hear the whole story.”
“I bet he’ll think it-”
“I know! Leave off it, Al.” She interrupted peeved. Used to these outbursts – Aly would only speak her mind around him – he remained unperturbed.
“Just think about it,” he murmured, “maybe you can persuade Uncle Coram to help you make a knife of your own when we go to Trebond.”
At this, Aly brightened. She had considered asking Uncle Coram for help, but Alan had planted the seed of an idea in her mind. While Uncle Coram had gotten used to magic while traveling with her mother, he still didn’t love it. Perhaps with a little help from Thom, he could be coerced into helping her. Summer was certainly closer than her tenth birthday. She needed time to plan.
“A knife! Can you believe it?” Alanna was pacing in George’s study, her voice loud in the enclosed space. She slammed the blade down on his desk as she passed, chipping the wood.
George shushed her and guided her into his chair. Standing behind her, he began kneading her shoulders. She sighed gratefully and leaned into him.
“Would it be so bad,” he murmured, “for her to have a knife?”
Alanna sat bolt upright in the chair. Her fingers gripped the arms so tight that her knuckles turned white.
“No noble daughter of mine will learn to fight with knives.” She snapped, seething.
“You learned.” He pointed out with a smile. “You learned from me.” He loved when she got on her noble dignity. She always conveniently forgot all of the rules she broke as a child when she lectured their own children.
“That was different.” She said stiffly.
He didn’t answer her, but when she left the room, he kissed her and slid the offending knife into his belt. Once she was gone, he examined it thoroughly. While now blunt and rusted, it had clearly once been great; he could still make out the Raven Armory stamp on the blade near the hilt. He tapped against a finger thoughtfully.
After a long day, Aly finally trudged up to her bedroom. She hadn’t seen her da in the afternoon, which meant their nightly ritual of Bedtime Code-Break was likely to go unfulfilled. As she entered her room, however, her sharp eyes noticed something was amiss. Someone had used her desk and left a note. She immediately recognized her da’s writing and decoded the message in seconds.
But then Maude came in to get her ready for bed, and she had to put the note aside or risk the woman clucking over her like a mother hen. Once the candles were blown out and she was tucked into bed, Maude left to put Alan to bed.
Aly listened intently to be sure Maude wasn’t going to return, and then peeked under her pillow. The knife lay there. The rust had been removed and the blade freshly polished and oiled, but it was clearly the same knife that she had stolen earlier that day, right down to the three notches in the handle. Her da – and it had to have been her da – hadn’t bothered to sharpen it for her. He would know, of course, that she planned to ask Uncle Coram for help with that.
Underneath the knife, there was another note in code. She sharpened her Sight to read it, even in the minimally lit room. The message made her smile.