It was getting irritating, listening to well-meaning statements about what was and was not possible. Lowri read it in Braelyn’s face while her little ring of advisor’s alternately offered their advice and slapped it into the dim, echoing hall. She listened to all of it in the same diplomatic silence, hands folded, back elegantly straight. But one corner of her mouth was tilting up, moment by moment, sharpening a crooked smile that Lowri loved and hated.
“You cannot invite yourself to the Clan Lord’s island,” Kedia told Braelyn for the second time. She had already thrown her hands in the air as if she had given up, but she did that again as well, and ran her fingers through her hair for good measure, wrecking the line of carefully styled curls on the crown of her head. “He issues his own invitations. All you do is accept or decline.”
Braelyn had, and Lord Cian Visade had accepted, so Braelyn just met her eye patiently, and Ifan quickly moved past it.
“You must wait for construction on The Artifex and The Prestige to be completed,” Ifan told her. He held up well when Braelyn turned her silent gaze on him. “Your fleet is insufficient as is, and frankly, unsuitable. You can take the The Grayfly, if you must, but not the others.”
Braelyn’s smile sharpened that much more. Ifan should have known better. Braelyn loved her fleet, an odd collection of infamy which she had neither built nor captured, but purchased. Her current flagship, a double-masted cutter with a keel like a razor, had been a pirate ship less than a year ago. Black-flagged. Impossible to outrun. Named after a particularly scandalous queen from a country more myth than reality. And she had kept the name.
“You can’t,” Tidney said. As if that would counter the pride that Braelyn had in having talked her way into owning that particular ship in less than an hour. “My lady, I don’t understand what you hope to accomplish.”
There was a small pause, and when no one else volunteered, Braelyn gave a short, quiet answer. “The Visades have not seen me since I was thirteen,” she said. “I thought they might like to see what I’ve become.”
She looked to Lowri as she finished, and Lowri looked back. The others all took a breath in, or let it out in disbelief. The combination sighed and echoed through the massive room, from the double doors at the far end of the hall, past the bare pillars, to the roughed stones under their feet where the throne and dais had been ripped out. It washed over them in the emptiness, but didn’t seem to touch Braelyn. Her Dark hair braided perfectly, her gown an embroidered spark of sunset red, she was an echo of something else long gone.
Lowri just shook her head slowly.
Braelyn’s face shifted, just slightly, but Lowri knew her, and felt was she was about to say. “I can.”
Braelyn looked at each of them in turn, an open invitation to say anything more. Then she left them, footsteps clapping down the length of the hall.
My friends are thieves! They’ve run off with the first line of this piece to write fictions of their own. Check them out to see what else is impossible.