Kushiel's Justice (Page 100)

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I thought about the forces arrayed against us; Ysandre's adamant opposition. After speaking with Drustan, I understood it in a way I hadn't before. If there was some way I could rip my heart from my chest and show it to her, convince her, I would do it. I doubted it would be easy or pleasant. The spectre of my mother lay between us, lit by the lamp of the Unseen Guild. As a boy, I had wanted nothing more than to bring her to justice. Now the thought was a burden I didn't wish to take up.

Still, there would be others against us, too. For a surety, Barquiel L'Envers; and many, many others. My mother had left a long trail of hatred in her wake. One way or another, I would have to reckon with it.

But there would be allies, too.

Somewhere behind us, Captain Corcan was shouting orders; Alban sailors were scrambling to obey. I could hear Ti-Philippe making himself useful, and Hugues getting in the way. Phèdre and Joscelin came to join us in the prow, watching the shore approach. Joscelin ruffled my hair lightly, as he hadn't done since I was much younger, the corners of his summer-blue eyes crinkling as he gave his half-smile. He leaned on the railing, one foot propped, the hilt of his longsword protruding over his shoulder.

Phèdre laid a hand on his arm. “Home,” she said softly.

“Home,” Joscelin agreed.

I wanted to gather them all up, hold them all in my arms and in my heart, never let them go. I never wanted to lose anyone I loved, ever again. Phèdre glanced at me, the scarlet mote of Kushiel's Dart floating in her left iris, the Name of God in her thoughts, a world of love and pride and concern in her smile. I smiled back at her, tightening my arms around Sidonie. Somewhere in the distant future, Alais' warning hung over us.

A bad feeling, nothing more.

One day it might be.

“Imriel.” Sidonie's voice was calm and breathless. “I can't breathe.”

I loosened my grip. “Sorry.”

A lilt of humor leavened her tone. “Well, I don't mind, sometimes.”

The flagship's crimson sails descended with a soft rush. Out oars, and the ship glided into the harbor of Pointe des Soeurs. Lines were tossed ashore, the ship secured. Somewhere below deck, there was a familiar stomping that sounded like the Bastard expressing his displeasure at the sea passage.

There was an entourage awaiting us, led by Bertran de Trevalion. A certain look of trepidation crossed his face at the sight of Sidonie and me, but he managed to swallow it, and gave the sweeping bow accorded the Dauphine of Terre d'Ange. Enemy or ally? Mayhap neither. His mother had tried to have me killed; his father had wished me good hunting. Who could say? There might be many in Terre d'Ange who would take no side, waiting to see how the drama played out.

To be sure, I was curious myself.

The captain lowered the ramp. Claude de Monluc gave a crisp order, and Sidonie's personal guard formed a double line, flanking the ramp. I let go of Sidonie and gave her a courtly bow, extending my arm.

“Are you ready, my lady?” I asked.

She took my arm. “I am.”

Terre d'Ange and the future awaited us.

Together we went forth to meet them.