Chapter Twelve
Nothing Taken Unwillingly


But was Omar not showing public approval by maintaining chambers at Stormguard? And was not Council showing at least tacit approval by allowing him to? This was something I would need to bring up on my return. It seemed Drake and his fellows were saying one thing, and allowing another. That, unfortunately, was nothing new.

On the night before he was to return to his tower, Omar invited me again to his rather sumptuous chambers in the Citadel, this time for a most generous dinner. His young courtiere was in attendance. She smiled nervously around the two of us, but was quite stern with the servants. Late that evening, I broach the subject of the girl.

“She had potential,” Omar admitted after a long draught from trice refilled goblet, leaned back in his ornate chair of dark wood from the distant jungles of Xola. “But was rejected in her three applications. Standards ever creep higher. I remember being allowed five. And you…?”

I laughed. There had been no colleges in my day. Arcory had sought me out. Drawn he said, like a moth to the flame, my inclinations, my risk of corruption be damned.

I looked back at the girl adeptly managing the dinner we were being provided with.

“Is it not a touch cruel to allow her to be so close to what she may never have, never be?” I asked.

“Would it not be cruel to keep her from what she has an affinity for,” he replied. “She is quite disciplined. But her inclination leaned towards the dark, and you know what her fate otherwise would otherwise have been.”

I nodded. It would have been grim indeed. Still-

“You aren’t thinking of…” I started. Apprenticing the refused? Such an act… would earn him more trouble than I ever had.

“No, no, no,” he replied, laughing at the thought. I glanced over at the girl. Her face was like stone. “My station is difficult enough without encouraging the wrath of Council and its Arbiters. She has had use, and will have use. Those with potential always have. You know that. Even if she will never become such as we.”

I glanced over at Caithness, who had now turned away. I did not like what I was hearing either.

“You have taken from her,” I narrowed my gaze. It was not something that was typically approved of. I had helped see to that.

“Nothing unwillingly,” he told me. “She was made aware of the alternative. And it was performed under full approval of the Dayruan of College Marrick.”

He laughed his loud laugh again.

“Did you think I would have dared acted otherwise?” Omar shook his head. “It is for the best, master. I remember your lectures of those who had been so easily corrupted during the Riven war. What she has given up is something she will never truly miss, and in hands such as ours, will always serve the greater good. It has never been pleasant to deal with those magic has found corruptible, has it?”


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