If you hear from your brother, tell the guards to send for Lord Caedon.”
“Yes, sir.” I figured this man was Lord Caedon himself. He looked to be a bit older than Avery, quite a bit older than Wat. He was simply dressed, but as I stared at him, I saw the signs of wealth about him. Soft white hands. Linen cloth of the best quality in his plain dark tunic and cloak. The best leather on his feet. A hint of gold about his wrists and his neck. A jeweled brooch at the shoulder to fasten his sweeping black cloak.
As this fine lord turned to the door, he stopped and looked me carefully up and down. To the guards he said, “You may go. Leave one of the torches.”
The guards saluted him and clumped down the corridor.
This lord, this Caedon took the remaining rushlight and lifted it high. He laughed.
“Aedan Silvertongue, is it? You’re a girl.”
“No, sir, of course not, sir, I—”
“Easy enough to find out the truth of it,” said Cadeon. He placed the torch deliberately in its bracket. Then he unsheathed his sword. “Stand up. Strip.”
“But sir, I—”
Caedon moved the tip of his sword until it was at my throat. Gently, with the very point, he tilted my head up. I could feel a trickle of blood running down my neck.
“You see my blade is very sharp,” he told me.
Trembling, I obeyed his order.
“Yes, indeed. I see,” he said. “No, don’t move. Stand still and let me look at you.”
With the tip of his blade, he touched me there. And there. And there.
He laughed again. “Now why in the Nine Spheres would you do something like this, Master Aedan? And how did you manage it? Why not come into the castle and sing as a girl? I find this quite intriguing.”
I was silent. Actually, I doubt if I could have spoken, even if he’d turned his blade on me in earnest. All words had left me.
“Of course I could get the truth out of you easily if I wanted to,” he was saying past the red roar in my ears. “There are very simple methods I could use.”
He watched me as I shivered, and he laughed again. “But I don’t want to,” he said. “I can find out your reason without those methods, interesting as they might be to apply.” He walked all the way around me, coming back face to face, too close. His eyes traveled up and down my naked body. His gaze was almost a physical thing.
I flinched, and he smiled, a smile that turned his mouth cynical and crooked. His face was long and pale in the rushlight. His eyes were strangely golden.
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