Tag Archive | character: daxton

Two old Patreon Stories: now open for everyone to read

After discussing it with my Patreon patrons, I’ve decided that any Patreon story written as a continuation of an extant public story will be made available for general consumption after three months. Here’s the first two.

This story includes portions originally posted http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/665445.html and http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/697268.html to make a complete story.
There was something amiss with Winter’s sister.

With the oldest of Winter’s sisters and the most steady, the most easy-going, the least likely to have things go amiss.

Read on!!

This is written to Clare K. R. Miller ‘s request for More Daxton & Esha.
Daxton was captive again, struggling not to take it in ill grace. This time, it seemed unlikely that Esha could rescue him.

It was a captivity far more posh and sometimes far less comfortable than his time in the Red Queen’s dungeons.

Read On!

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Planning Rescue, a continuation of Daxton and Esha

This is the next post in the ‘Rescue, of Sorts’ storyline, which can be found at this tag: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/tag/character:+daxton

It is written to a donation by [personal profile] thnidu after Rescued Indeed…

It took them a week to escape the castle, although their eventual bid for freedom was far less dramatic than the first time they’d met. “Just want to scout the countryside,” Daxton assured his parents, and, “they want us to rule something, we ought to see what we could rule,” Esha told her captain.

Nobody believed them, of course. The beauty of it was that it worked whether it was considered truth or lie — let their friends and family think they were off working on the next generation of Ducal heirs. In a sense, they were.
The manor house they found had been carved from a mountainside and built outwards from the stone they’d pulled. Aside from a population of wild mice and some small mountain foxes, it hadn’t been tenanted in a while, but the walls, built when the world was a stronger, stranger place, were still true and strong.

There was a barracks on site that, with some work, could house a mercenary troop in far more comfort than they were used to. And there was a village nearby that could use the protection of a strong force so close.

“It’ll take work,” Esha pointed out. “A lot of work.”

Daxton’s smile was crooked, more amused than pleased. “Still better than a dungeon.”

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Rescued Indeed…

This is the next post in the ‘Rescue, of Sorts’ storyline, which can be found at this tag: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/tag/character:+daxton

It is written to a commissioned present for [personal profile] clare_dragonfly, as well as to kelkyag‘s prompt here for my Summer Giraffe Call and a very-requested line item to my Finish It? request.

The wedding was the sort of pomp-and-circumstance affair you’d expect from a nation in the middle of a long peacetime, not one that was attacked on nearly a weekly basis. It was rich and extravagant, and if the coffers of the Duchy and some of the King and Queen’s own money had been plundered to pay for it, so had many people donated time and materials to the event as well.

The bride was stunning, in a confection whispered to have been designed by the groom. You could see the lines of armor in the design of the bodice, and she carried her sword proudly. They were still a nation at war, after all, and she was a soldier.

The groom was handsome, walking tall, recovered from his ordeal in the Red Queen’s dungeon. He wore a suit no less fancy than the bride’s gown, and he, too, carried a sword. They were accompanied by seven warriors, all of them armed to the teeth.

They wore white, all of them, even the priests, the Duke, the Duchess. Most of the guests gave some nod to the white as well, if even just a sash. There was no red to be seen anywhere in the temple or around it. The Red Queen had been driven back but not defeated, and they would not give her quarter here, in their most intimate of celebrations, even in showing her color.

The bride was nervous, but she walked straight forward, her back straight, a smile on her face that would have been beaming had it not been quavering a bit on the edges. The groom smiled almost shyly as he looked around the gathered guests: so many people, his smile seemed to say, although he and his bride both understood. This was only about them in a very small part; this was about not being defeated.

Daxton reached his long march down the left of the temple as Esha finished walking down the right. There his parents, her captain and first lieutenant, and the three highest priests of the duchy awaited them. Daxton reached his hands out to Esha and she, in turn, clasped his wrists.

There were words said, of course. The Duke and Duchess began, speaking of the deal they had made, should anyone rescue their son. There was a moment of silence, because many people had died in attempting that rescue, and so many more people had died in this awful war against the Red Queen. Daxton and Esha bowed their heads no less sadly than anyone else in the temple; they, too, had lost people, and they, too, wanted to remember those people.

Then there were homilies and vows, promises and quiet jokes, input from the crowd — loud input, in some situations, and a few snickered whispers that were probably still louder than intended. For all of the solemnity, marriage was a fun affair and a public one; Daxton and Esha joked right back along with their guests, as did the priests and the Duke and Duchess, the Captain and the attendants.

The ceremony segued naturally into the feast, with the jokes growing louder and more wild, the shouting sliding into group songs. “Let the Red Queen hear what she’s missing!” was a common refrain. Nobody was surprised to hear Esha joining in; the bride, after all, was a mercenary, even if she had been catapulted into nobility by her exploits.

Almost everyone was surprised when Daxton joined in on one of the crudest songs, even presenting a verse nobody had heard before. When Esha elbowed her new husband, he blushed. “The Red Queen’s guards sing, too,” he whispered to her, before providing yet another verse of the ridiculous song.

Eventually, the party died down. The bride and groom slipped away — snuck away might be more accurate — to Daxton’s suite up in the castle.

A few weeks from now, they might head out to the country, to find a piece of land they could grow comfortable on. For tonight, they locked and barred his door and pulled the curtains tightly closed.

“They’ll be expecting…” Daxton began.

Esha shook her head. “Let them expect. We are alone together and it is our wedding night. What happens here is our business and ours alone.”

It wasn’t — not in some sense. They belonged to the Duchy, their returned son and their hero, and they knew it. But for tonight, they could pretend.

“Did you expect this, when you came to rescue me?” Daxton lay on the wide bed and stared up at the ceiling.

“I barely expected to survive.” She lay on her side studying him. “No, let’s be honest. I expected to die. But someone had to try, we were going to keep trying, and I wanted it to be me dying, not someone more important.”

Daxton rolled over to look at her. “You’re important to me.”

Esha smiled crookedly. “Well, then… I’m glad I lived.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1147424.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Kind of a Rescue, a continuation of Daxton for More, Please

First: A Rescue of Sorts
Previous: A Rescue In Kind

Esha was not quite locked in her room, but Daxton had to coax his way past three maids and a very very burly valet. Once there, he found her surrounded by three seamstresses and one milliner, all of them draping her in yards of lace and satin.

She was plucking at it helplessly. “This is… This is lovely. But it’s so expensive, and I don’t know how I’m going to move in any of it.” She hadn’t quite noticed Daxton yet. He stayed quiet and watched.

“You’re not supposed to move. You’re supposed to glide quietly down the center aisle and then stand, lovely, staring into your groom’s eyes.” The head dressmaker tch’d. “There are princesses that would kill for a dress like this.”

“The problem is that I’m not a princess. I’m a soldier.”

“I’m aware.” She squeezed Esha’s bicep rather more firmly than Daxton thought was necessary. “It’s making all sorts of difficulties in fitting you.”

“What if you tried to fit her?” Daxton stepped forward and took a sketch pad from an unresisting junior dressmaker.

“That’s what I just said. And what are you doing here?”

“No, no. Fit the dress to the bride. I’m not marrying her because she can glide nicely, after all.” He studied Esha for a moment, then sketched out a few lines on the paper. “Like this. A dress. Silk and lace. But a bit of white leather here, and then here, like a sword belt. She earned her title and her sword. Far more than I did, and there’s supposed to be one in my uniform. Let her carry them.”
He passed the sketch over to Esha before the dressmaker could snatch it, and was graced with a slow smile creeping across her face.

“Oh,” she said, pleased, “I’m keeping you.”

“That was the deal.” Daxton leaned against the wall and grinned. He was already managing to rescue her, and he’d just gotten here.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1009563.html. You can comment here or there.

Patreon Posts in July!

July’s Patreon Theme was “More, Please;” the prompt call covered anything my $5 readers would like to see continued.

A Rescue in Kind, a story of Daxton-and-Esha continued
The Hunt Continues, a story of fox hunting in Tir na Cali continued
Down, Down, Down, more of Doug and the Basement – free for all to read!

I also posted a couple other stories on Patreon:
Last Bid, a story of a worried slave in Tir na Cali
The Queen’s Councillor, a story also of Tir na Cali and a Queen worrying her people.

Check them all out here!

Not a member yet? For $1/month, you can read all patron-only stories.
For $5/month, you not only get access to the prompt calls, you will put my Patreon over the next Milestone Goal and open up a monthly serial!

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/967026.html. You can comment here or there.

A Rescue in Kind posted on Patreon

A Rescue in Kind

a story of captivity, continued: the ongoing story of Daxton and Esha, begun here:

Daxton was captive again, struggling not to take it in ill grace. This time, it seemed unlikely that Esha could rescue him…

Want to read this and many other stories? A Patronage of just $1/month will give you access to everything posted on Patreon.

Want input into the story prompts? A Patronage of $5/month lets you prompt in the monthly prompt calls. For $15/month you get your own personal story!

Check it out!

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/962275.html. You can comment here or there.

A Rescue in Kind – Patreon Story

This is written to Clare K. R. Miller ‘s request for More Daxton & Esha.  The Daxton/Esha story to date can be found at this tag and it begins with A Rescue, of Sorts.


Daxton was captive again, struggling not to take it in ill grace. This time, it seemed unlikely that Esha could rescue him.

It was a captivity far more posh and sometimes far less comfortable than his time in the Red Queen’s dungeons. Nobody, as far as he knew, was dying because of him, which was very pleasant. He had his own bed to sleep in, baths as often as he wanted them — and then some — and very nice food, occasionally in excess of what he could either want or need.

It was beginning to seem, however, that he’d had more freedom when chained in the dungeon. For one, the Red Queen had often left him alone — sometimes for days on end. For another, although there had been a script to follow with the Queen, it had been an easy one, and involved very little actual lying. It had helped, too, that he hated the Red Queen.

Daxton didn’t hate his parents, and he certainly didn’t hate their staff or any of the other people complicit in this captivity. There were courtiers, hangers-on, and installations, people who might as well be furniture for all they could budge, that he felt less than entirely fond of. But even the worst of those, bumps on the log of his parents’ court, Daxton did not hate. In his life, he’d only truly hated the Red Queen and sometimes, on bad days, her guards. Continue reading

Hurt/Comfort Meme Answer 2: Injured, Esha/Daxton

To Kelkyag‘s prompt to my H/C prompt here. After A Rescue in Hand.

There were people everywhere. There were courtiers and mercenaries, guards and generals and servants, all of them pushing as close to Daxton as they dared, all of them talking at once.

Esha was holding up, standing straight and answering questions. She was the hero of the day and she was rightfully proud, but she still had an arrow sticking out of her shoulder, and she was turning a bit grey.

Daxton met his father’s eyes over the crowd. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d done that. From the raised eyebrows his father was showing, neither could he.

“Son?” He pitched his voice carefully, carrying over the crowd and aimed straight at Daxton.

“You offered my hand in marriage?” Daxton used the same trick. He wasn’t as good at it; the nearby crowd hushed.

“I did. If you-“

For the first time since he was two years old, he cut off his father in a public situation. “I’d like to take my betrothed to the palace doctor now, please. She’s injured, and she got injured saving my life.”

The Duke smiled at him. “Go right ahead, son. Captain Senner, Captain Iken, please escort Lady Esharina and Lord Daxton to the doctor. My son – I am very pleased to have you back.”

Lady. They were really going to do it. He bowed, as low as he could. “Thank you.” Before anything could sneak up on them, he wrapped a careful arm around Esha and led her to the doctor’s suite.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/928725.html. You can comment here or there.

A Rescue In Hand

Previous: Probably a Rescue
First: A Rescue, of Sorts
see also:
A Proof, Of Sorts

For the “Do up whatever story/stories suit your fancy or for whomever most wants/needs ’em.” commission and the poll here.

Daxton’s rescuer really had thought of everything. She’d packed a change of clothing for him, as well as scissors to trim his scraggly hair and a razor for his beard. When they rode away from the cabin, he was as clean, as well-dressed and as smooth-shaven as he had been on the day the Red Queen’s agents had taken him.

He was skinnier, by quite a bit, but he had a full stomach for the first time in ages. And he was a lot more nervous than he had been, right up until the moment the Red Queen’s people had grabbed him.

“You could ruin me, you know.” It wasn’t the most cheerful conversation for your prospective wife, but then again, most prospective wives didn’t pull one out of a dungeon owned by a wildly powerful despot.

“If I’d wanted to ruin you, I would have left you in the dungeon.”


“Wedding.” The mercenary woman shrugged. “I gain nothing by blackmailing you. Nothing but – down!” She had her short horse-bow out and was wheeling her horse around before Daxton could do anything but duck. But duck he did – he hadn’t survived as long as he had by ignoring the people paid to protect him.

Heartbeats passed, his and the horse’s, Daxton’s nose in the roan mane. He could hear the mercenary’s horse shifting restlessly, and see the way the woman’s calf stretched as she stood in her saddle. Then she settled down. “False alarm. Sorry.”

Daxton rose slowly to a sitting position. “No need to be sorry.”

“If you’re going to keep being this reasonable,” she teases, “I’m going to think I got a ringer. Do your family keep doubles around?”

“We’re not nearly that important. Well…” Daxton shrugged. “I thought we weren’t that important. It’s not as if my parents are King and Queen, just Duke and Duchess. It’s not as if I’m heir.”

“And yet your parents sent mercenary after mercenary after you.”

“Put up a reward, you mean. They didn’t actually send anyone, did they?”

“It’s quite a reward.”

It was. If his parents followed through… “I don’t even know your name.”

She barked out a laugh. “I imagine you’d find out at the vowing-in, if not before. Esharina nic Myodoc. Esha.”

It seemed the thing to do, so Daxton bowed from his saddle. “A pleasure to meet you, Esharina nic Myodoc. I look forward to showing you the hospitality of the Ducal Estate at our earliest convienc-”

“Down.” Her voice never changed from a conversational tone, but Daxton ducked anyway. Three arrows whanged over his head in quick succession. “Ride, your graceiness. Ride.”

Some time later, Daxton might think to ask about “your gracieness.” At the moment, however, all he thought about was riding. They would ride, and then the mercenary would wheel around and fire another arrow past his ear. They’d ride more, and another arrow would whing past. Again and again, until finally Esharina let their sweating, lathered horses come to a walk.

“That was either the last of them, or they’ve stopped follo-” She followed Daxton’s gaze to her shoulder, where a broken-off arrow waggled with her every move. “What?”

“You have an arrow sticking out of you.” He said it slowly, in case it turned out he was somehow wrong.

“We’re a half-hour hard ride back to the Ducal estate. I’ll be fine that long.” Esha seemed entirely too casual about the whole thing.

“You don’t want me to – I don’t know, pull it out or something?” Daxton found his hands flailing and used both to grab the saddle horn.

“Not unless you have hidden talents as a medic that I don’t know about. You can help me bind it, and we’ll be good for the rest of the ride.”

With her left arm bound, she wouldn’t be able to shoot. “Give me the bow, then.”

“You can shoot?”

“I’ve hunted. I’m not a warrior, but I can hit a target.” He nudged his cooperative mount as close to hers as he could manage.

“There’s rags in my left saddlebag. They should work.”

He wasn’t surprised that a merc kept clean, wrapped rags close to hand. You had to survive long enough to get to a healer, after all. He bound her arm to her side, following her directions, and wrapped around the arrow, to keep it still. It was nerve-wracking work, all the worse with his spine itching, trying not to look behind him every two seconds. Finally Daxton let out his breath. “That should hold until we get home. Bow?”

Still she hesitated. “A merc’s weapons…”

“I will hold them as carefully as I would hold your honor. After all,” he smiled gently at her, “I may soon hold that, too, and you, mine.”

She was startled into a weak chuckle. “Nobles. I wouldn’t have put it that way. But…” She swayed a bit in her saddle. “Let’s ride. Put the pointy bit into anyone who attacks us.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He checked over the bow to be sure he knew how to use it. It was a different sort than he’d handled before, more compact, more efficient. Of course, mercenaries generally had to be more efficient than “nobles.” Content he could manage the piece, he let it rest against his thigh. “Let’s ride.”

They were close to home now, close enough for all of Daxton’s worries to come back. Esharina was right; there was a chance that Daxton’s father wouldn’t follow through with his offer. He was usually a fair and honest man – but had he anticipated getting a merc for a good-daughter, even if he had posted the offer? Had he expected to get Daxton back at all? What were they riding into? Before the Red Queen had taken him, there had been talk of marrying Daxton to the Dowager Duchess of the Blue Mountains, whose duchy bordered theirs. It would secure the border – but the Dowager Duchess had outlived three husbands and four sons and was not yet forty.

“Heads up!” Esha’s snapped warning brought Daxton out of his worries. He could see the Ducal estate on the horizon – and off to the left, he could see riders coming towards them. “Friends of yours?” He readied the bow anyway.

She squinted into the distance. “They – yes. They’re flying the troupe’s colors. Please don’t shoot my friends.”

Daxton didn’t lower the bow. “I won’t shoot your friends,” he answered, carefully. Someone had snatched him from the middle of his father’s lands and thrown him in the Red Queen’s dungeon. Now that he was free, he found he had no interest in going back and less interest in dying.

Esha made a small noise. “If they’re not friends, I’m in no shape to fight,” she warned.

“If they’re not friends, I think we can try running again. If we head straight for my parents’ estate, that’ll run us into the orchards quickly. It’s hard to shoot through trees at a running target.”

She made another noise. Daxton glanced over at her. The mercenary’s face was gray, her lips pushed together tightly. They had to hurry. He wasn’t sure what he’d do if she passed out. And he really didn’t want her to die. “You,” she spoke slowly, “are more interesting than I thought you were.”

“That’s the goal.” He looked between her and the quickly-approaching riders. “Ready to run?”

“I’m sure I can manage a couple hundred yards.” She straightened her spine. “If I have to. Daxton, if I can’t trust my troupe—”

“I hope we can. I really hope we can. But I—I’m not feeling particularly trusting right now, sorry.”

“No, no need to be sorry. But – oh!” She straightened a bit further and her color improved. “It’s Senner and Karron. We’re safe. If I can’t trust them, the world’s gone upside down.”

Daxton lowered the crossbow, even as he was considering: Esha being able to trust them and him being able to trust them were two different things.

They road towards their visitors, and their visitors rode towards them. When they were a hundred feet away, the stouter of the two shouted “Esh!” and urged her mount into a canter. Esh’s horse danced for a couple steps before settling down to a walk again; Daxton kept his hands on the crossbow and watched the newcomers carefully.

They had no eyes at all for him, not at first. “Esh, Esharina, shit, how bad is it?” The stouter woman – that had to be Senner, Captain of the mercenary troop. The leaner one – that would be Karron, then – was young, barely old enough to be wearing armor at all, but she already had three gold earrings and an elaborate silver hair-piece. “Esh, what happened?”

“Give me some space to talk, Senner.” Esha sounded like herself – as far as Daxton could tell, at least, cheerfully snappish. “They came after us. Probably the Red Queen’s people, but I didn’t stop to ask for their particulars.”

“The Red Queen’s…” Senner turned to look at Daxton. “By the mountain’s tits, that is young lord Daxton!”

Daxton found himself blushing, a situation only worsened by the way Karron was whooping. “Esha’s getting marrr-eeed, Esha’s getting marrrr-eeeed,” she crowed, like children at play.

“Maybe.” Esha’s voice was soft. “But I got him out, at least.”

“That you did, Esh, that you did.” Senner’s smile took in both of them, a small, proud thing. “And a job well done. Now let’s get you back two back to His and Her Grace, so you can claim your reward. And then, Swordslady, we’re taking that arrow out of you properly. Come on, let’s ride!”

And they rode towards home, the sun setting to their left.

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Probably a Rescue, a continuation for the Dungeon Call

Previous: The Rescue? Continues?
First: A Rescue, of Sorts

“Was it really that obvious?” Daxton let the mercenary woman half-guide and half-help him into the hunting cabin. He couldn’t have run away if he’d wanted to and, concerned as she was with the ransom, she’d probably catch him. “I mean, that I’m not interested in…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence the way she had, interested in rutting. “Um. Bedroom games? I thought I hid it pretty well.”

She opened the door with her foot. “You flirted with married women, grandmothers, great-great-grandmothers, and the occasional woman devoted to the gods. In other words, you were immensely friendly with anyone who would never take you up on it.”

“…You really noticed that?”

“I was looking.”

“I never noticed you.

“Well, you’re not supposed to, are you? I mean, you’re the Duke’s son and I’m a mercenary. But I had reason, too.” She helped Daxton to a chair – a surprisingly sturdy one, that looked big enough to hold a bear comfortably. “I’m going to see to the horses. I’ll be just a moment.”

“But what was your reason?” He found himself calling after her back.

“We’ll get to that. Horses first.”

Daxton took the moment to look around the cabin. His first thought had been hunting cabin, the sort of place that nobility took to when they wanted to go deep into the woods. But this place was, while every bit as sturdily built as his father’s cabins, small, hardly bigger than the dungeon room Daxton had spent the last three seasons in.

It was a study in contrasts – tiny, but sturdy, everything made of humble materials and dull, faded dyes, but everything made with care and very very well. It was more comfortable, he supposed, than a dungeon, although every bit as much of a trap. But he had no chain here, and he didn’t know what she expected of him.

Bath she’d said, and he could see the big hook where a kettle might heat up over the fireplace. He couldn’t walk very well, but it was only a few steps to the hearth, and the wood was stacked – dry, split, cured wood – within arm’s reach of that hearth.

By the time the mercenary came back, Daxton had gotten a nice little fire going. It might be the end of summer, but that did not mean the nights wouldn’t be cold.

“Good idea.” She latched the door – it had a sturdy hasp, he noted, and a bar as well – and began shedding her leather armor. “You asked why I was looking. I thought you’d figured it out already.”

Daxton shook his head. “My brothers are more handsome and before me in succession.”

“Yeah. So a woman looking to marry or bed power or looks, they’ll go after your brothers. I’m not looking to bed anyone – and in a merc company, that stands out. I bet it stands out in a Duke’s son, too, if you don’t learn to hide it.”

It finally sank in, what she’d been trying to tell him. You’re not the only one who’d rather do anything else than rut.

“I thought…” He found he was staring at her as she stripped down to her underclothes, and found that he could still not look away. “I was born early, my father always said it stunted me. I thought it stunted, you know…”

“I’ve found a few others. Not many. A farmer, an armorer, another merc – and you.” The mercenary shrugged. “I figured, when your father raised the reward to your hand in marriage, that it would kill so many birds with one stone, if only I could manage to make the throw.”

Something about the way she said it made Daxton take a second look at her face. “Those people the Red Queen said had come for me -”

“Yeah.” She sank to the floor, her knees within touching distance. “I don’t know how many she told you about, or what she said, but we lost some really good fighters.”

Daxton swallowed. “Dead?”

“Some of them. I mean – we know about some. And there was nobody else in the dungeons, so if they were captured, they weren’t kept there.” She shook her head. “They were such better fighters than me, but I knew I had to try.”

“I was – “

“You were in danger, I know. And now – well, now we get to see what your father will do.”

That was a good question. “My father keeps his word.”

“But did he really expect a common mercenary to succeed? And does he really plan to give me your hand in marriage? To let us rule the little rocky earldom by the border?” She shook her head, this time more fiercely. “If he holds true on the marriage, that will be enough.”

Daxton blinked and blinked again. “You… you want to marry me?

“That is what I’ve been trying to get across, yeah.”

“You want to…” Daxton coughed over a sudden lump in his throat. “You don’t know me yet.”

“Of course not. Neither would any noble or rich woman your father sold you to. Neither would the Red Queen. Neither would any other merc or knight or soldier or their sister or cousin or partner who found you. But what I know is that I can marry you and give us both a little respite, and that seems like a good thing all around.”

Respite. Daxton had feared marriage – and the likely-inevitable angry dissolution of such marriage – more than he had feared the Red Queen. But this had to be a trap. “You’d get an Earldom out of it, too,” he pointed out.

“We would. And I never claimed not to be a mercenary.”

“That… that is true. But you really want to, want to marry me? Me?”

“You are the one I rescued, aren’t you?” She poked his knee gently. “You’re not a spectre or a doppelganger, are you?”

“No, no, I’m me. Daxton.” He looked up at her, an unfamiliar smile touching his lips. “That was who you were sent to find, right? Daxton?”

“The one and only. Son of Duke Tebrin and the Lady Prediwan, right?”

“That’s me.” He suppressed a chuckle. “You should know them, if you want to be their kin-by-marriage… oh, dust.” His good mood soured as quickly as it had come. “What about babies?”

“Well, there’s always gritting our teeth and bearing the necessity, which I’m told works for most people. But,” and she had not stopped smiling, although the expression now was a bit more grim, “the war with the Red Queen has left a lot of orphans, many of whom are at least ethnically similar to your family line. If we time it right, nobody will ask unfortunate questions.”

Daxton found his jaw dropping. “You really have thought of everything.”

“I told you.” She bowed, as deep and as courtly as one could manage from a sitting position. “I do my prep work.”

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This story written as [personal profile] technoshaman‘s commissioned continuation

Next: A Rescue in Hand

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