Chapter Five St. Hilary’s Basilica—Duncan’s Study
February 14, 1136
Duncan glanced around the room at the informal gathering of Schola magistri seated in his study. Sister Therese sat at one end of the table, rolling some sort of herbal paste into small pellets and lining them up on a plate of glazed earthenware to dry. Sister Helena sat next to her, one hand idly stroking the cat in her lap while the other held a letter. Father John, on the opposite side of the table, was also reading. His eyebrows lifted as he got to the end of the message.
“The Schola has received a bequest, it would seem,” he said, passing the letter to Duncan. “Or, technically speaking, the Royal Library has, although the donor wishes the collection to benefit the Schola.”
“A bequest of books?” Duncan asked, his interest rising. Beside him, Lady Sophie set down her stitching and looked up in curiosity.
“Books and other 'artifacts,' as the letter refers to them, believed to have belonged to some ancestress of the donor. A Deryni ancestress, it appears, although Baron Henslowe—that's the donor—is human. They were discovered when he did some recent renovations to his library. Baron Henslowe is asking if we would like to send someone to evaluate the collection and transport it to Rhemuth, since he says he doesn't know which items would be of use to us, and he's not in the best of health, so he's not easily able to make the trip to Court anymore.”
Duncan nodded. “I think we can manage to find someone willing to do that.” He exchanged a knowing smile with his friend. “I'm amazed you haven't beaten down his door already.”
Father Nivard grinned. “Seeing that I just cracked the seal on this letter about two minutes ago, that would be a record, even for me.”
The purring emanating from Sister Helena’s lap intensified, and Sister Therese began to laugh. “You’re going to rub all the fur off poor Pouncer at this rate!” she joked. Sister Helena glanced up at her, startled, then with a sheepish grin she lifted the cat off her lap, bestowing a kiss on top of its head before setting it down on the floor. It trotted off to bat at the knotted ends of Sister Therese’s cincture. Therese reached down to rescue her cincture ends before continuing. “What are you reading, Helena?”
“It’s a letter from Ædwige,” Helena told her.
Duncan turned his attention to her. “How is the new bride doing?”
Helena frowned over the page for a long moment before replying. “I’m not sure. The text of the letter seems cheerful enough, but….” She studied the letter a bit longer before looking up at him. “It feels
“Poor little duck,” Sister Therese murmured sympathetically. “What does she say?”
The younger Servant skimmed the letter’s contents again. “She’s settled into her husband’s manor in Danoc, just a few miles this side of the Free Port of Concaradine, it would seem….she says it’s a nice enough area, but she misses her friends here. She’s not had a chance to make many friends there yet, she’s been so busy trying to set the manor to rights…oh, here’s a bit for you, Therese! She asks what you would recommend for killing mice and rats.”
The infirmarian’s dark brows rose beneath her veil. “Oh dear, she’s inherited a bit of a mess, has she? Well, a few cats should sort out the rodent problem soon enough, or if her husband is averse to cats, she can use foxglove, wolfsbane, or mortweed to kill vermin. She might try baking them in bread and then setting pieces of it in hidden places where the mice are likely to find it.” Therese frowned. “I don’t like using poisons; it’s hard to find good places to leave them out where they’ll kill their intended prey without risking harm to small children who might be playing nearby, but I suppose that’s hardly an issue yet.”
“It might be if her maidservants have children,” Sister Helena mused. “I’ll be sure to warn her against using it anyplace where children might have access.” She continued her sweep down the letter. “She says her husband has promised her a shopping trip to Concaradine in the spring, and that he is very doting and attentive….” She looked back up. “She’s underlined ‘very.’ I hope
that’s a good thing.”
Therese laughed. “He’s a rusty old lord with a beautiful sixteen-year-old bride, of course he thinks all of his Twelfth Nights have come at once!” She dimpled. “Hopefully she’s not averse to pleasing him—I’m sure he’ll settle a bit once an heir is on the way—but if it gets to be too much, tell her to try serving him monastic beer at table. A lot of monasteries have taken to adding hops to their brews. The flavor is a little bitter and might take some getting used to if he’s not accustomed to it, but a hops-laden beer is alleged to help curb carnal desires. That’s the theory the brothers at St. Illtyd’s had, at any rate.” She gave the bishop a winsome smile. “You received a birthday cask of beer at Candlemas from the brothers at St. Illtyd’s, Father. Does
Father Nivard burst out laughing at Duncan’s startled look. Lady Sophie’s eyes dropped demurely to her needlework as she pretended not to have noticed, but the bishop suspected from the amused glint in her eye that tales of this moment would be entertaining the Arilan family later that evening. After recovering his composure, he acknowledged their amusement with a wry smile and replied. “Not that I’ve noticed, though I’ll admit that was hardly among the side-effects I would have looked for right off.” He felt his cheeks warm. “It made me a bit sleepy, though that could also have been the effect of a warm meal and a full stomach, so unless you’re thinking it might make Ædwige’s new husband think more fondly of his sleep than of his new bride, I’m not sure it’s the most effective remedy.” He glanced over at Helena. “What else does the letter say?”
She paused momentarily before answering, looking as though she might be fighting down laughter of her own, though her voice was steady enough when she continued. “Only a little more, Father. She’s in need of a few supplies until she can make the trip to Concaradine, and she asks if one of us could convey an order to the apothecary shop in Market Square for her, to be added to her lord’s account.” She looked up from the letter. “I have business in that general direction myself, so I don’t mind doing that for her.”
The study had emptied as the magistri had mostly gone their separate ways, Father John escorting Lady Sophie and Sister Therese to the refectory for the noon meal. Sister Helena picked up Ædwige's letter and folded it, preparing to return it to her pouch. The motion caught Duncan's eye, stirring a memory.
“You were planning on heading into the City sometime today, weren't you?”
She glanced up at him. “I was planning to head into town right now, as a matter of fact. I figure I can get to the apothecary shop for Ædwige's order and take care of some other shopping while I'm at the Market. Why, did you need me to pick up something for you while I'm out?”
“Well....” Duncan hesitated, stole a quick glance out his study door to make sure the other magistri were well out of earshot before continuing. “Actually, I probably need to do it myself, since it's a birthday present I'm looking for, but I'm a little stuck for ideas.”
“Ah.” Helena smiled knowingly. “Would this be a present for your daughter, then?”
The bishop looked confused. “I don't have a daughter,” he told her. “Just the one son.”
“Oh, I think you do have one! It's fairly common knowledge, among those who’ve seen you together anyway, that you have both a son and a daughter, born just under two months apart but in different parts of the Kingdom and to two different women, one of whom you never even had the good fortune to meet.” Helena grinned at his startled look. “This is
a present for Sophie, yes?”
He laughed, his expression clearing. “Yes, it is. And I suppose you're right, she may as well be my daughter. I didn't realize it was that obvious.”
“Like snow gleaming on a mountain-top in the middle of July. Come on then, let's have a look at the shops; perhaps we can find some suitable gift for a lady. Jesú knows if something's not to be found in the market stalls of Rhemuth, it's not to be found anywhere at all! The trick, of course, is knowing where to look.”
“Hm. “ Bishop Duncan studied the imported Torenthi carpet laid out before him. “I love the colors in this one, and I’m pretty sure it will match the furnishings in Tre-Arilan’s solar unless she’s changed everything recently, but do you think it’s too dear?” He glanced at Helena and quickly clarified, “I don’t mean for me; I can afford the expense. But you know Sophie; is she going to balk at accepting it from me?”
Helena considered the question thoughtfully. “You’re right, she probably would. She’d worry that Seisyll will disapprove of her receiving something so luxurious from another man, even if he is
a priest. It’s a shame, though; that’s a stunning carpet.
“Ah. Well, if that’s
the problem….” The bishop’s gaze roamed the room again, this time falling on the etched scimitar that had caught his eye earlier. “What if I add that to the purchase?” he asked, pointing the weapon out to Helena. “A little something for Seisyll too. He can hardly object to that!” He grinned.
The lay sister laughed. “Duncan McLain, you’re far too generous! Is this why Princess Rothana manages the Schola’s accounts?”
He shrugged, his eyes dancing. “It might be.” He stepped over to the far wall to take a closer look at the antique scimitar, examining the fine metalwork. “I have to do something
with my money, Helena.” He glanced over his shoulder at her. “Look at it this way. I have no housing expenses, since my rooms are provided by the Church or, in the case of my chamber at the Castle, by the King. I rarely need to buy food, since my meals are taken mostly in the Schola refectory or Kelson’s Great Hall. I have to maintain battle readiness, so I’ve a horse to feed and stabling to pay for, and I have to keep up appearances at various state functions, but really, there’s not so many of them that I need to buy a whole new wardrobe every year. I have family, but none who need my support, and the Royal Library keeps me well stocked with books. I give alms to charities, but there’s still coin left to spare, and all my personal needs are met. What else am I supposed to spend my stipend on, if not gifts?”
“I have no idea, Father, but if you’re still adopting daughters, I’m feeling a sudden yen to visit faraway Byzantyun my next birthday.”
Duncan laughed. “If you keep teasing me about my spending habits, I’m quite likely to send you there!”
She shook her head at him, the expression in her eyes growing more serious. “Father, I know Sophie is dear to you, and that you can afford the carpet well enough, but I think it would be best if you set your sights on something a little bit less…extravagant? Try looking at it from a woman’s point of view.” At his puzzled look, she smiled. “I know…it’s exquisite, and it would look magnificent in Tre-Arilan’s solar. It’s even likely to prove the centerpiece that draws all eyes to itself the moment a person enters the room. And then what? When visitors ask her where and how she managed to obtain such a lovely work of art, how should she respond?”
“Well…I’m sure she’d tell them it was a gift….”
A dark auburn brow rose. “A gift, yes. But such a princely gift should by all rights come to her from her husband, and while Sir Seisyll has done quite well for his family according to his means and station in life, this is a bit above his means for what, despite its beauty and value, is essentially not much more than a piece of ornamentation, isn’t it?” She stroked the carpet’s plush pile. “This is, what, half a warhorse’s value in knotted wool and silk? There are surely more modest yet still quite lovely tapestries she could use to adorn her solar wall, or other ornaments that would raise fewer questions in other people’s minds. Don’t you think Sophie might find it rather mortifying, trying to find words to explain how she’s merited such a fine gift from a man who is neither husband nor true father to her, should anyone ask her where it came from? ” Helena reached out, laying a gentle hand on his arm. “I know your heart well enough to know your intentions are pure and well-meaning, and hopefully so would Sir Seisyll—otherwise, if you do
give him that scimitar, he’s likely to use it on your neck!—but not everyone knows your heart, Father. Or, for that matter, hers.”
The bishop frowned thoughtfully, his fingers stroking the carpet’s pile as if reluctant to let it go. “I suppose you’re right.” He sighed. “No, I know you are.” Duncan gave a rueful chuckle, looking up at the magistra. “It would be much simpler if she really were
“Yes, then you could spoil her as much as your deep pockets would allow, at no risk to her reputation or yours. But since she’s not….” Her gaze roamed the shop, falling on a set of matching cushions which she pointed out to Duncan. “Look, those have quite similar colors, and even very similar workmanship, but I think you could get away with presenting something like that as a birthday gift without Sir Seisyll wondering if you’re trying to buy his wife. They’re still quite a bit nicer than Sophie would be inclined to buy for herself, but not so much so that she’d be embarrassed to accept them as a gift.” Helena grinned. “Especially if the giver were her adopted father.” She glanced down at the carpet Duncan’s fingers were still stroking. “And if you’re just too in love with that carpet to let go of it entirely, perhaps it would make a suitable gift for Dhugal and Mirjana. Or, for that matter, when was the last time you bought new furnishings for yourself? Sophie could even visit it several times a week between classes, if you hang that in your study. Just tell me you’re not going to follow the latest fashion of putting something that costly on the floor, or I’ll truly start to question your sanity!”
Duncan laughed, moving away from the carpet. “I came here to buy a present, not to spend all
my money, woman! How did this ever get so complicated? This
is why I don’t go shopping.” He started towards the collection of cushions nearby.
“Nonsense, Father; shopping’s good for the soul.”
Duncan eventually settled on a tapestry cushion richly embroidered in Opus Andelonicum stitching. It had been a spray of lilies, worked in a vibrant palette of colors and shadings in stitches so fine that the resulting tapestry had seemed as detailed as a painting, that had caught his eye. Sophie loved lilies, he remembered. But the lilies had simply been background detail, and as the bishop had given the tapestry design a closer examination, it was the lady in the foreground, seated with a unicorn resting beside her beneath an oak tree so painstakingly detailed he could see the veining of each leaf, that had caught his attention next. The maiden depicted in the stitchery bore a close resemblance to Sophie herself, much as she had looked at seventeen when he'd first met her, the shy young damsel sent to King Kelson's court to serve her godmother as a lady-in-waiting all those years ago. The one who had timidly accepted Sir Seisyll's attentions at first, unsure she was ready for marriage yet, but who had fallen for his charms in the end. Duncan smiled. Yes, this was the gift he sought. She might not recognize herself in the maiden on the cushion, but mayhap Seisyll would. Duncan chuckled quietly. Not that he was under any illusions that Sophie's young knight had been quite
the icon of shining purity that the unicorn represented, despite his honorable courtship of Sophie; Duncan supposed the symbolism could only be stretched so far.
“You have a good eye, Father,” Helena said approvingly. “The craftsmanship of that piece is surpassing excellent, even for Andelonian work. It reminds me of some of Countess Celsie's commissioned pieces, only without the cording lore magics worked into it, of course.”
“That settles it, then,” Duncan told her, picking the cushion up. “Not to mention you’ve given me an idea for next year’s gifts. The Countess’s commissions help to fund her Sanctuary work, don’t they?”
“They do,” Helena affirmed.
“Hm. Mirjana’s birthday is coming up next month, but I don’t suppose that’s enough lead time for needlework so fine as this. Maybe some small Twelfth Night presents, though; belt pouches or the like?”
The magistra grinned. “Jesú, I’d best get you out of this shop altogether before it inspires you to dream up more ways to spend your life savings in one go!” She caught the shopkeeper’s eye, motioning him over. “My lord bishop would like this cushion wrapped and delivered to the Basilica, if you please.”
“Aye, m’lady.” The shopkeeper bowed. “And shall I have the bill sent to the Cathedral or to St. Hilary’s, my lord bishop?”
“St. Hilary’s. And it’s a personal expense, so please see that the bill is sent directly to me and not to the Schola’s bursar.”
“As you wish, my lord.”
“Where to next?” Duncan asked as they re-entered the bright sunlight of the Market Square.
Helena blinked, her eyes trying to adjust to the change of light level. “The apothecary’s shop to pick up Ædwige’s order, then the laundress’s shop to pick up our clean linen, and also the spice-seller’s shop to order more seasonings for the refectory.”
“We’re going to eat the refectory? Rather crunchy, don’t you think, with all that stonework?”
The magistra aimed a blow at the Schola rector’s arm with the wax tablet that contained her shopping list. He dodged it easily, ducking into a doorway and opening the door for his companion. “Speaking of eating, everyone else has had their noon meal, but we haven’t yet. Perhaps we should stop by the Gold Lion on the way to the spice-seller’s shop. Or do you forget to eat even when you don’t
have a book in hand?”
Helena looked faintly embarrassed. “I have
forgot again, haven’t I?” She stepped into the apothecary shop, looking around at the wares on display as Duncan closed the door behind them.
An older man in a stained apron came to the counter from a back room, peering at them both. “How can I help ye, m’lord an’ lady?”
Helena handed him the letter from her former pupil. “We’re here to pick up a heart cordial for Sir Gilrae of Eddington,” she informed the apothecary, “at his wife’s request. It’s to be charged to their account.” She pointed out the relevant portion of Ædwige’s letter. “And she says she’s also in need of something to get rid of vermin. Foxglove, perhaps?”
The man shook his head. “I’m fresh out o’ foxglove. What sort o’vermin, an’ how bad is th’ infestation?”
“Rats and mice, and I don’t know how bad it is. I’ve not seen for myself, and the letter doesn’t say.”
He perused the text, pursing his lips slightly, then handed it back. “Mortweed’s in season; I’ve an ample enough supply o’ that in stock, I think. Shouldn’t take much. One moment while I check.” He shuffled off, returning shortly afterwards with a small corked bottle of green glass. “Here’s th’ cordial. As for th’ mortweed, I have both th’ dried leaves an’ an infusion. How was she planning on baiting th’ rats?”
Helena shrugged, glancing at Duncan. “I’m not sure. Our infirmarian suggested that she could bake the leaves in a bread loaf and leave pieces of it in nooks and crannies for the mice to find. Is there some better way?”
The apothecary snorted. “Jesú, I’d not recommend that!
What if th’ baker were t’ mix up th’ loaves an’ send th’ poisoned one back t’ the wrong household? She’d have thriving rats an’ a dead neighbor! Nay, if she wants t’ be sure o’ th’ little buggers dying, it’s best t’ use th’ infusion.” He held out a second bottle, this one black, its cork dyed a brilliant red. “Just a few drops sprinkled on a morsel o’ bread or cheese ought t’ do for ‘em. But keep th’ bait well out of sight o’ th’ children!”
“That’s not an issue yet, but I’ll warn her.”
“I’ve labeled th’ bottles, as ye’ve seen, an’ if Eddington’s lady penned her own letters, I assume she can read th’ labels right enough. But just t’ be sure, remind her which bottle is which. Green’s for health; black’s for death.” He reached under the counter and shoved a book towards Helena, handing her an inkpot and pen. “Ye’ve got t’ sign for poisons. It’s th’ law. Or give me yer name an’ make yer mark, an’ I’ll sign for ye.”
Helena chuckled, taking the pen and signing the register in her neat hand. The old apothecary gave a grunt of approval and took it back, returning the book to its shelf under the counter, pages left open to allow the ink time to dry.
“’Elen Angharad ferch Ednyved’? Jesú, no wonder you go by Helena! That’s a mouthful,” Duncan teased as they left the apothecary shop.
“Not for a Llanneddan. And apparently not for you either. At least you didn’t mangle the pronunciation. Your Border roots are showing.” She tucked both bottles away in her pouch, looking around the Square. “The spice-seller’s next? It’s a little closer.”
“Not unless you want me to eat all their stock.” Duncan took Helena’s arm, steering her towards the tavern on the corner. “Meal time.”
“I’m not really that hungry,” she started to say, but a loud rumble in her gut contradicted her. Duncan laughed, ushering her inside.
“Sure you’re not. Just wait until you try their stew.”
Helena watched, amused, as the rector spoke animatedly of his future hopes for the Schola, pausing briefly between sentences to take another sip of his ale or a bite or two of his meal. He'd been right, it was quite tasty, and she'd finished her bowlful several minutes earlier, but Duncan had been so caught up in his enthusiastic recital of his dreams for the future expansion of their curriculum that now he was the one in danger of forgetting to eat. At last he paused, finally seeming to realize that she'd not spoken much in the past several minutes aside from the occasional comment or question.
She spoke now. “You've needed this, haven't you, Father?”
He tilted his head quizzically at her. “Needed what, the meal?” He glanced down at his half empty bowl. “Yes, it's hitting the spot.”
Helena laughed. “When you remember to eat it! No, that's not what I meant.”
“What do you mean, then?” His eyes met hers, attentive, as he ate another bite of his food.
“A day out. Some time away from it all, just to relax a bit and refresh your energies, and break from your usual routine. Just look at you…you’ve just broken out of your usual routine for a couple of hours, and already you’re looking more cheerful and better rested than usual. Imagine how refreshed you’d feel if you had several days away from your duties!” She saw the puzzled look grow, and elaborated. “When was the last time you had a break from your duties, Father? A proper holiday, I mean, not just the occasional evening's visit with your cousin or a goblet of wine with John?”
Duncan looked surprised. “Helena, we've just had the twelve days of Christmas....”
“Ah yes, because the Christmas holidays, with all the non-observant folk suddenly remembering their need for the sacraments, are so
restful for a bishop! Not to mention all the council meetings and the Royal Courts. Even on Twelfth Night, as I recall, you ended up missing the latter part of Court and most of the feast due to Schola business....”
He laughed. “All right, you have a point. But after that....”
“After that was the beginning of the current term at the Schola, and now that that's
well underway, what's your excuse for not taking a bit of time for yourself?” Helena rested her chin on one hand, gazing at the rector expectantly.
take breaks!” He thought back. “There was that hunt with Alaric and Brendan a few weeks back, for example.”
“Hardly a proper hunt. Just a couple of hours' riding through the countryside, as I recall. It's better than nothing, I agree, but not much of a rest.”
“Well...all right, what about that fortnight I spent with Dhugal and Mirjana after Jared was born? That was a proper holiday.”
“In September of 1133?!
” Helena gave an incredulous laugh. “Two and a half years
ago?! Jesú, Duncan, the King and Archbishop Cardiel are hardly slave-drivers! I'm sure they'd allow you a few days of leave from your duties now and again, even if it's not for something as momentous as the birth of a new grandchild. So, when are you planning your next leave of absence?” She gave the bishop a winning smile.
He took a sip of his ale, blue eyes brimming with amusement over his mug. “Now you sound like Princess Rothana,” he told her once he'd swallowed. “Did she put you up to this?”
“No. Though I think you'll find, if you ask her, that Sister Therese would agree with us. Even God needed a day of rest after six days of Creation!”
Duncan leaned back from the table with a grin. “You know, I think I envy men who are husbands of only one wife. I somehow seem to have acquired three.”
Helena folded her arms. “Well, don't look to your 'daughter' for support, because I assure you, she'll say the same thing.”
If he was looking more cheerful than usual, Duncan thought, it was the company, though he could hardly tell Sister Helena that, of course. It was
nice to have a bit of a break from his daily routine, although he suspected it would hardly be wise to continue visits to the City alone with Saint Camber’s lovely Servant on a regular basis. He was already breaking with convention somewhat by bringing her here to the Gold Lion in the absence of other company, even though there was nothing objectionable in and of itself about a bishop and a lay sister sharing a meal together in a public house in the middle of broad daylight. It was just…he felt more alive in this moment than he had in years. Perhaps that was what was making him feel vaguely guilty, even though he knew he’d committed no sin. This feels a lot like courtship,
he suddenly realized, and the thought stunned him, causing him to tighten his shields involuntarily as he pondered the unexpected insight. Jesú, has she picked up on my feelings?
He rose suddenly. “I’m sorry, Sister Helena; I’ve just realized I need to get back to the Schola after all, so I’m afraid I’ll have to cut our outing a bit short. “ He fumbled in his coin pouch, left a small silver coin on the table.
She stared up at him, a look of confusion crossing her expressive face. “So soon?” A shimmer of hurt appeared in her eyes. “Father, if I've caused offense in any way, I do apologize. I wasn’t meaning to come across as a scold, it’s just—“
He shook his head swiftly, holding up a hand to stop her apology. “You didn’t. It’s just that….” His mind floundered for an acceptable excuse to give her. “I have a Council meeting later today that I need to prepare for beforehand.” That was true enough, on the surface of things, though he only needed a few brief minutes to re-acquaint himself with the issues coming up for discussion, not two full hours to ready himself. A twinge of conscience assailed him. If he left now, he’d be leaving her without an escort, although the sun was still quite high in the sky, and they were well within sight of the Castle walls. And she had
been prepared to venture out from the Basilica by herself earlier this afternoon, which wasn’t unheard of when any of the Sisters had an errand to run in the City of Rhemuth, although generally they preferred to venture out in pairs or small groups, both for companionship and the greater safety that such numbers might afford.
His conscience won out. “Will you need assistance, though, in bringing home the fresh linen or at the spice-seller’s shop? I could delay my return for a short while, if need be.”
She shook her head. “No, the spice order is just a list of seasonings to be delivered to the Refectory kitchens, so there's naught to be picked up there. And there wasn't a large load of wash this week. I should be able to carry it back easily enough on my own, but if not, the laundress's son is always eager to earn a farthing or two. Run along if you need to, Father; I'll be fine.”
Duncan still felt guilty, but having committed himself to leaving in his sudden, knee-jerk reaction to flee from his turbulent feelings and the woman who was the cause of them, he could hardly think of any graceful way to amend the situation now. “Well...if you're sure.” He paused, feeling awkward. “Thank you for your help today,” he added after a moment. “With Sophie's gift, I mean.”
Her lips quirked. “I wouldn't have missed that for the world. Even if it did
mean having to rescue you from yourself. Who knew our thrifty Schola rector was secretly Father Christmas when let loose on his own?”
Duncan laughed, feeling somewhat on solid ground again now that it was evident there were no lingering hurt feelings in the air between them. “That's to remain our secret, I hope? I don't want to wake up tomorrow and find a long queue of people lined up outside my chamber door in hopes that I'll buy them lavish gifts and send them all on a tour of the Eleven Kingdoms?”
“Well, you can send them packing for it at the very least, if you do!” Helena smiled, rising from her seat and fumbling for her pouch. He put out a hand to stop her, pointing out the coin on the table between them.
“It's a Schola expense; you're out on Schola business.”
They left the Gold Lion together, Helena's steps taking her westwards towards the spice shop next, while Duncan's turned south instead, back down the road towards the Castle gatehouse.
Chapter Six: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=764.0