My thanks, as usual, to Evie, for rounding up all my stray commas, correcting my typos, and making excellent suggestions!
Chapter 1 – The TempestTehryn Keep
Barony of Tehryn
Jäna de Tehryn stood sullenly just inside the door of her brothers’ room. She watched as Lady Amah folded shirts and breeches and placed them neatly into the two small chests on the floor at the foot of the bed her twin brothers shared. As the triplet daughter, she had shared that bed too, until she turned four. Then Papa and Amah had decided she should have her own separate room, as befitted a young lady. That first night alone had been scary: strange noises, an owl hooting in the tree outside her window, and the intense dark that she thought would never turn into dawn. Then Papa had come in and lifted down her carved wooden cat from its new shelf above the bed and tucked it in beside her for company. She still slept with her wooden cat sometimes, even though she was now almost seven years old.
Lady Amah straightened after packing the last of the shirts and rubbed the small of her back. Although the December morning was mild, it was chilly in the boys’ room. She hoped Jäna had finished her own packing, and they could withdraw to the warmth of the solar for a while. As she turned to look at the girl in the doorway, she knew it was not to be.
Jäna’s normally pretty, pert face was drawn into a scowl, softened only slightly by wisps of deep auburn hair that escaped the usually neat braids. Amah chided herself for not taking more time with them this morning, but she had so much to do before Baron Jerrill and his children left Tehryn for Christmas Court in Rhemuth.
“You haven’t finished your packing, have you Jäna?”
“No I haven’t,” Jäna replied, pointing her small finger at the two chests. “I don’t have one of those!”
Amah sighed, her normally considerable patience draining swiftly away. “You don’t need a chest, child; the saddle bags are big enough for everything you need for Court. We have already discussed this.”
Jäna stood, watching as Amah firmly closed the lids of the chests. Each lid was painted with the Tehryn golden wyvern on its sable ground. Jared’s bore the three points of the eldest son; Justin’s bore the crescent of the second son, born fifteen minutes after his brother.
“I want one! I NEED one! I don’t want to come back home!” Jäna’s emerald eyes glared at the woman standing across from her and then she turned and fled from the room.
“You had best be packing your clothes!” Amah called after her, her voice much sharper than she intended. At least Jäna wasn’t strong enough yet to slam her chamber door. Amah startled in spite of herself at the sound the heavy wood door striking its frame. She would have to check Jäna’s training controls before the children left for Rhemuth. Jäna was too distraught to rely on the level of Deryni discretion the old woman had previously set.
Lady Amah Furstán d’Arjenol sat on the edge of the bed, drawing her black shawl closer around her shoulders and looking out the window at the bare trees. She felt a bit like the bare trees herself. Two of her precious leaves were about to leave her, and her only remaining leaf was struggling to separate, too.
Jared and Justin de Tehryn would not be returning to Tehryn after Christmas Court. They would be pledged as royal pages and begin their tutelage under Prince Nigel Haldane, the start of their journey to manhood and hopefully on to knighthood. Amah smiled; she had no doubt they would earn the accolade. They were Tehryn sons! She remembered how proud their mother had been when their older brother had been knighted so many years before. Anya de Tehryn would not see these sons knighted, for she had died shortly after they were born. But she would still be proud; so would their elder brother, who had died serving Prince Nigel.
Had she really expected Jäna to meekly accept the coming separation? Spirited Jäna, who had spent her whole life beside her brothers, determined that she could do everything they could do and just as well? Jared and Justin had never failed to ensure that she did, carefully concealing any allowances they made for her smaller size. It had remained uncertain for her first year whether Jäna would survive the difficult birth that had claimed her mother’s life, and both Amah and Baron Jerrill had indulged her as she finally grew stronger and thrived.
Amah wanted very much to hang on to her remaining leaf. She stood and rubbed at the dull ache behind her temples. Well into her fifth decade of life, perhaps she wasn’t as patient as she once was. Jäna needed calm, firm reassurance, not shouts. She sighed and glanced once more at the two closed chests. It wasn’t easy for any of them.
Lady Amah left the boys’ room and made her way along the corridor to Jäna’s chamber. It was a smaller room, located in the corner formed by the south and west walls of the fortified manor house. It was a smaller room, but well lighted by windows in both the outer walls. The heavy door was ajar as Amah approached; she tapped lightly on the door before pushing it open.
The two saddle bags that Jäna was supposed to be packing lay dumped on the floor, one flat and empty and the other spilling its contents to the side. The pretty green gown they had worked on for Twelfth Night was in a heap on the floor against the opposite wall, likely thrown across the room. “Jäna!”
Amah called, truly angry now, but there was no answer. This was inexcusable behaviour, and there would be consequences! Frowning, Amah considered where Jäna could have gone. Jared and Justin would be in the training yard, having a final lesson in swordsmanship with Sir Aaron, Baron Jerrill’s aged swordmaster. Entering farther into the room, she spotted the blue gown Jäna had been wearing on the bed. She had no doubt now that she would find Jäna in the yard, seeking her brothers for comfort. They were just about the only ones who had not had a sharp word for her as she became increasingly difficult the closer the date for departure came.
Amah turned abruptly from the room to find her wayward charge, vaguely troubled by the fleeting thought that almost everyone in this household was “aged” except for the triplets.