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268 pages, Paperback
First published May 9, 2013
“Strange wee boy. Full of stories. Full of mystery. Folk around here used to say, he’s not for this world, that lad. Not for this world.” Then, checking himself, realising he might be stirring my sadness, he cleared his throat. “I’m glad you’re both here. I think you made the right choice.”
There are seven kings in Thyrsland. My father is one of them, and my husband is another. In my belly, perhaps, I carry a third.
It is blood month, and outside my bower window I hear fear-moaning cattle on their way to slaughter. Every night this week, I have smelled blood on the wind: faint but unmistakable, worming under the shutters. And I’ve turned my face to my pillow and held tight to avoid retching.
He turned his gaze to her. “Virginity, Dindrana, is a woman’s only treasure. His hands, then, shall I remove them both?”
“You shall not touch him,” she said, imbuing her voice with more force than she actually felt. “Let him leave. You shall not act contrary to my wishes when you are the guest of my father.”
Galahad, courteous to a fault, put his sword away. “Go,” he said to Gabriel. “I shall be telling Dindrana’s father of this, so you’d best go for good. You will be unwelcome anywhere in Margris from this moment on.”
Gabriel stood uncertainly, reached for Dindrana. Instantly the sword was free again, swinging down and stopping a mere inch from Gabriel’s hand. “You will lose it,” Galahad threatened.
New stone churches were going up all over England. For years, we’d done what we ought and travelled to the chapel-at-ease, four miles away at Lissford, as good Christians are meant to do. Or sometimes we forgot to travel or forgot to pray or forgot about God all together, because he wasn’t as tied to our days and seasons as we needed him to be, and instead we went to the spear-stone, or the well, or the ancient yew tree, to leave offerings and tie ribbons for wishes. Our community’s faith was fluid and self-serving, and we enjoyed the freedom even as we knew the creep of containment was coming in the wake of William’s invasion.