Lives and Times of Elsidar

Clawing back towards the waking world, Ali became aware of two things. One was pain – mostly a throbbing headache, but also some all-over aching and stiffness; the other was the scent of lilacs.

That was a bit curious – it was well past the early spring when lilacs were in bloom – and that in turn provided something to focus on other than the pain, which was quite welcome. Oh, to be sure, some floral scents were frequently distilled and used in perfumes and incense, but lilac was – regrettably, from Ali’s point of view – not a common choice for that.

It also served as a reminder that Ali wasn’t at home, because the Arcine manor didn’t have lilacs on the grounds these days, blooming out-of-season or otherwise, nor was the scent favoured among the staff. As fragments of the evening before sorted themselves in Ali’s memory, this wasn’t terribly surprising – but one thing Ali couldn’t remember was actually getting into bed.


Ali gazed up at the Vhendal home with no small amount of trepidation.

As homes went, it was large and imposing; the Vhendal family had been one of means for quite some time. But that wasn’t the issue here; the Arcine family had had its power for just as long, and their family home was more extravagant. A large home was what Ali was used to.

No, the problem was the errand that brought Ali here – and the other matters of recent history between the two families. None of it Ali’s choosing, but convincing anyone else of that was proving to be quite difficult. The tigress had, after all, loomed quite large in her father’s vile plans – never mind that she actually hadn’t been given much of a choice in the matter, nor even advance notice; when Markas Arcine had first suggested a marriage – no, a liaison, a mixing of blood – between his line and the Vhendal, been rebuffed, and then resorted to sorcery in an effort to take the boy’s seed by force…

Well, reasonable people would conclude that he’d gained the cooperation of his only daughter in that plot.