Short version of the story – Rin has been at war, acting as a healer in the Callanthe army. The Callanthe beat the Bitrani (this time), and she took as a prisoner of war the Bitrani noble Girey. Hijinks ensue.
Rin’s father had pulled Girey out of the room the minute they’d arrived, with something that sounded like “I want to ask you about this ancient Bitrani artifact.” It had left Rin and her mother alone, sipping tea and staring out her parents’ large picture window at the city below.
“What was it like?” Watching her mother’s face, Rin was reminded that the older Princess had never left Lannamer, much less gone to war. She’d come of age in a rare time of peace and been married before battle was declared again, busy producing heirs for the throne.
“It was… dirty,” she offered. “Busy, dangerous, sometimes too cold and sometimes too hot. But mostly it was dirty.” She wondered if she was trying to make it sound more unpleasant than it had been for her mother’s benefit.
“But you stayed long past your first tour of duty.”
“They needed me. They needed healers, and I’m a very good healer.”
“You could have led them.”
“I could have, but there were other people suited to leadership. There weren’t that many suited to healing.”
“And what are you going to do now?”
Rin plucked at her formal qitari. “I’m going to attend Elin’s wedding, and smile, and wish her well.”
“That will do for the next three days. Are you going to rejoin the army?”
“I thought about it,” she admitted. “But…”
Her mother smiled at her. “I know that expression. Forgive a mother meddling, dear, but I have some suggestions for you.”
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