A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff

A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff

Author:Sarah Kozloff
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates

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Bidding farewell to Olet caused Thalen no pain, because Olet was so effusively happy that their mission had succeeded and so (deservedly) proud of his role in the expedition. He turned the goodbye supper into a joyous fest. “Islanders don’t like to boast,” Olet remarked, “but we do give the best parties.”

Eli-anna’s ship back to Metos wouldn’t leave for another week. So the next morning Eli-anna, weighed down with a bag of sugar and two bridles decorated with silver and jade jewelry that the Raiders’ treasury had bought as gifts for the Mellie sisters, stood with Olet on the dock to see the Raiders off when they departed Pilagos on Island Voyager. The Raiders waved their hats goodbye as the Voyager’s sailors rowed the ship out of harbor. Soon the slim figure standing next to the heavyset man vanished from view.

“We’ll never see her again,” Tristo said to Thalen, his voice filled with misery.

“That seems likely,” Thalen admitted. “Life is full of sorrowful partings. At least we got to say farewell and we know that she is hale and following her own stars. Take comfort in that.”

It was lucky that Island Voyager turned out to be a more spacious ship than Song; the winds turned against them, and the ship sat becalmed for days at a time. Since all the Raiders had fallen slack, Kambey made use of the time by instituting sparring drills on deck, especially for those who had been injured. Their activity provided great entertainment for the Green Isles sailors, who began betting on the fencing contests.

When Island Voyager finally slipped into the harbor at Sutterdam, Thalen rushed to the prow, eager to survey his own home. The city that stretched before him looked battle-scarred but still basically intact; the Oros had wreaked less damage on buildings and bridges than he had feared. Another positive sign was that lots of countrymen were out and about this midday.

Many of those people thronged at the wharf, shouting and cheering, when their ship docked.

“What’s all this fuss about?” Thalen asked Quinith, lowering his brows.

Quinith looked at him as if he’d lost his reason. “When did you become dense? They are cheering for the Raiders who saved their country. They are cheering for you! You’re a national hero.”

Thalen pulled a face at such a preposterous notion. “But how did they even know the Raiders are on this ship?”

“I sent word on a fishing boat the minute Hake booked Island Voyager. And I gather that harbor lookouts can see ships a good while before they dock, and they spread the word we’d been sighted.”

Thalen turned on his friend, eyes flashing with anger. “Why would you do such a fool thing?”

“But Thalen,” Quinith protested, puzzled and hurt, “isn’t it right, isn’t it proper, to acknowledge what you’ve done? What your men have done? What Hake and I have done?”

“You don’t understand,” said Thalen. “I’m not proud of it. Any of it. You’re celebrating death and murder.”

Voyager tied up and lowered a gangplank.


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