Egarengar had known things when he married Inatalana.
He had known that it was a political match first, a financial match second, and a match of compatible personalities third.
He had known that her title was so much higher than his as to be on a different ladder altogether, and that they were distance enough related that, if they had been goats, they would not have even had the same colors in their coats. He had known that she was a daughter of the Emperor, and that they would be expected to have many, many children.
He had known that he was stepping into a subordinate role, but one where he would be respected and honored, treated as a peer and not as an employee.
He had known all this because he paid attention, because he asked pertinent and impertinent questions, and because he had an extended family to tell him those pieces he hadn’t noticed on his own.
Watching Girey, he realized the young Prince had none of that. He did not know who Arinyanca was, not in the context of Lannamer. He didn’t know what position she’d offered him, in giving him the bracelet which Egarengar had carved. He didn’t know where he would stand in relation to the court he had been thrust into. All he knew was that Arinyanca had plucked him from a tent and dragged him across the length and half the breadth of Reiassan.
And yet, he was still standing, just behind and to the left of Rin’s shoulder, looking unfortunately Princely. And, more importantly, he looked as if he would smash the face of anyone who insulted Arinyanca.
The girl could hold her own, of course. She was Inatalana’s daughter and Egarengar’s. But Egarengar smiled to himself. He might not understand it yet, but the boy had found his place.
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