A Woman's Privilege [Fate Series]
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by Elisabeth Waters
Description: Akila's home is being invaded, and she is determined to get herself and her twin brother out alive--even if she has to turn into a sword to do it. (Note: this story later became the beginning of the novel Changing Fate.)
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1986 Sword and Sorceress 3
eBookwise Release Date: December 2005
22 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [26 KB]
Reading time: 14-20 min.
Woman's Privilege Elisabeth Waters
Akila hummed softly to herself and stirred the cauldron to the rhythm. With her father and most of the castle guard away, she had finally managed to get sufficiently caught up on the work of running the castle to steal a bit of time for her own experiments. This one promised to have interesting properties if she could complete it successfully, but the potion still needed another hour of constant stirring. It was still three hours and a bit until dinnertime, so she had a good chance...
"Akila!" Her twin brother Briam could be heard halfway down the corridor. "There's an army coming up the valley!" He caught himself in the doorway and stared at her. "What are you doing?"
"What kind of an army? Is Father with them?"
Briam looked bewildered, and Akila sighed inwardly and struggled for calm. She loved Briam dearly, but nobody could possible claim all his wits were there. Their mother had died during their birth, and while Briam had survived and grown into a sturdy young man, his mind was that of a child. Two questions at once were more than he could handle. She continued to stir the cauldron carefully and tried again. "What did you see?"
"I told you. An army. Men, horses--you know what an army is!"
She would have to go see for herself. "Briam, come in here and bolt the door." He complied, looking worried. "Good. Now listen carefully. I'm going to look at that army. While I'm gone, I want you to stay here and stir this cauldron. If anyone comes to the door, don't answer, just keep stirring the cauldron. Don't do anything else. Is that clear?"
"But I want to come look at the army with you!"
"Briam, it is important to keep stirring this potion, and if you don't do it, I am going to turn you into a wood dove and use you for hunting practice. Is that clear?"
"Yes," he said sullenly, taking the paddle from her and beginning to stir.
She watched him as she stripped of the cloth she'd tied her hair back with and began to unlace her gown. "Good, that's right, just keep it up. I'll be back as soon as I can." She slipped off the gown and laid it on the end of the table, followed by her undertunic and hose. Naked, she crossed to the window and perched on the broad sill. She had chosen this room long ago for its location; it was at the very back of the castle, with a sheer drop of several thousand feet into the gorge below. The gorge protected the entire back and most of the sides of the castle, and the climb up from the valley at the front wasn't easy either. The place would be quite defensible--if it were adequately provisioned, which it wasn't. Damn Father for bringing all those mercenaries here to feed in the middle of winter!
She dove out the window, concentrating on the feel of the wind rushing past her skin, fluffing the downy breast feathers, teasing at the pin feathers ... she stretched her wings to their full extension and beat them to start climbing, then banked to the south side of the castle and caught an updraft.