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.
The doors to the great hall were off their hinges, one of them cracked into three pieces, the other kicked in and only hanging onto the frame at the top. Walking between them, Oren tilted his head back to keep an eye on the upper pieces, seemingly balanced against nothing, and tried not to imagine them falling in on his head.
The hall itself was almost empty. He was unused to the echo of his own steps in a room that was usually full with conversation and humming motion, so he moved slowly. The lamps had not been lit, and the window light stretched between shadows. The pillars were stripped bare. The high seat was still upright on the dais, but it stood forgotten behind the table that had been dragged in front of it. No chairs, just a handful of men and women leaned over it, murmuring and marking.
Oren slowed even further, trying to sort between the strangers. One of them must have been Lady Dareya. He felt stupid, realizing that he wouldn’t know her even if she looked straight at him. He should have asked someone what she looked like.
He was going to marry her. There was nothing stranger than knowing that before knowing the color of her hair.