A Will and a Way
As the candlemark of the resting period was close to ending, Stenlis
was brought to Bryvin's office, ushered quietly by what seemed to be
an overly eager understeward. Stenlis gave him the courtesy that
civility demanded, but the young man seemed far too eager to please.
Perhaps, however, Stenlis thought, Yriadha had directed all of the
staff to cater to him. The thought was pleasing. She had forgiven him
then. That was all to the better. Perhaps he would not have to wait
until the wedding as he had promised. But...perhaps not. He wanted to
be sure she was truly his before taking her to his bed properly. He
pushed aside the remaining guilt to focus on the meeting with Bryvin.
The office door was open and he was sent in with a flurry of bows and
well-wishes. "Lord Bryvin. Thank you for taking time to see me."
Bryvin nodded and invited Stenlis to the seat across from him with a
wave of his hand. "Of course," he smiled.
Stenlis sat at the offer. "I'll try not to take up too much of your
time, Lord Bryvin. We both know that running a Hold is
time-consuming, though I have to admit that yours is obviously more
so. "The smile was civilly polite." I'm also sure that Yriadha is
pleased that you've agreed to perform our nuptials. " He handed Bryvin
the documents he'd had prepared. "All is in order."
"I'm sure," Bryvin smiled and took a cursory look at the document. A
few phrases caught his eye but he didn't react. "Some interesting
provisions," he said. "Did you include an inventory of all her
"I an wedding her without such concerns, Lord Bryvin. My Harper looked
at her previous marriage contract and simply added the clause that was
included within it to ensure that all was correct." Stenlis smiled
briefly. "Unfortunately, her father left all of his holdings and
wealth to her brother. In the event of his death, his son should
inherit. I did attempt to get him to change his will, but he declined."
"I see," Bryvin nodded. He planned on going through the document with
a fine-toothed comb but one phrase stood out like a flame in his
mind's eye. '...present ward agrees to transfer the management of all
her properties to her spouse upon her marriage.' Which meant to him
that he currently held the management of her properties and Stenlis
was attempting to hijack them. "Well, in that case, I'll have to make
my own investigation to assure that a complete record of her holdings
is added as an addendum to the agreement." He smiled pleasantly as
though it were the most reasonable of statements. "I feel responsible
for her until you marry," he shrugged. "I'm sure you understand."
There was a quirk of a brow. "There's nothing to see, Lord Bryvin. She
has none at present. I did the research myself with my Harper. I
understand, however." His smile didn't quite reach his eyes. "She's a
valuable member of your staff. I'm sure you're loathe to lose her.
Unfortunately, the contract states that the wedding is two days from
now. Further research on your part would take much longer and as long
as she and I have been apart, I'm eager to have her as my wife. I did
arrange to have the documents that you require in my baggage. I can
assure you that she'll do quite well as my wife and no harm will ever
come to her. Her father approved of the match before his death and her
brother has also agreed to provide an annual stipend that she will
receive in the event that I precede her in death."
"I see," Bryvin nodded then coughed and shifted slightly in his chair.
"Of course I understand your eagerness," Bryvin smiled. "She is quite
the beauty. But forgive me, I don't intend to delay your nuptials, but
as her current warder it behooves me to at least _act_ as though I'm
doing my duty. I know you understand."
"She was even more so in her youth." Stenlis agreed easily, his voice
smooth as he studied the man across from him. "I will be even more
pleased to have that beauty grace my home where she will be fully
valued for all of her skills, abilities, and potential. Had she been
born of the Blood, she would have been unmatched for marriage offers
as a young woman. A woman such as herself should never have been a
widow for so long and without a benevolent man to guide her steps."
Stenlis drummed his fingers against the arm of his chair. "I will get
you the documents this evening for your perusal, of course. I want no
delay to our vows. We're have waited since our youth to belong to
each other. " He paused, then nodded to the hides he'd given the Lord
Holder. "And the other, the adoption documents will need your consent
"Understood," Bryvin had no intention of signing those documents. The
boy was his but Stenlis didn't have a clue. "Well," he smiled and
leaned forward on the desk. "I'm sure you've had a long day. I know
that Yriadha has spent a great deal of energy getting us ready for
your visit. I'm sure tomorrow will be a big day. I'll see you at
dinner. Would you mind sending in my under steward on your way out?"
Stenlis recognized a dismissal when he heard it. He rose offering
Bryvin his hand. "I look forward to our dinner and to the morrow.
Thank you, Lord Bryvin, for your assistance and may our two holds
prosper from our mutual trade." He inclined his head and turned, his
smile one of satisfaction. As he left, he gestured to Pifer, who stood
near the door, shifting from foot to foot with anticipation. "He'd
like to see you now."
Pifer watched as Stenlis limped away, leaning on his cane, then
hurried into the Lord Holder's office. "You wished to see me, my
"Yes," said non-committaly until the door was firmly shut. "I want you
to take a dragon to Amber Hills first thing in the morning and get a
copy of Drifaren's Will. Also, check on the son. I just want to know
where he is."
Pifer frowned, but didn't show any sort of displeasure or
disappointment. He'd hoped to attend the festivities of the wedding
and hopefully see his own wife take Yriadha's place the moment the
wedding was completed. He slowly nodded. "Well, yes, of course, my
Lord. I'll do so." Perhaps he could return in time, for the wedding
wasn't until the late afternoon. "I'll need a letter with your seal
with the request, my Lord."
"Write up what you need and bring it for my signature." Bryvin
clenched his jaw and closed eyes. "Dismissed," he said with a growl.
"Yes, my Lord, right away." The growl from the Lord Holder sent Pifer
scurrying out of the room quickly, unwilling to face any anger that
might have been forthcoming.
There was a long silent moment, a moist popping sound, then a rustle
of cloth as Yriadha's head emerged from beneath the desk to look over
at the door. Her eyes were narrow, despite the flush to her cheeks and
the slick sheen of moisture on her lips. "He's lying. My
brother wouldn't agree to any such thing."
"I'm sure you're right, beauty," he smiled. All the tension he'd
betrayed earlier gone. "And I'm going to find out for you."
She worked her way out from under the desk and rose, dark eyes
snapping with irritation at the entire situation. Then she looked down
at the pleased expression on Bryvin's face and arched a brow as her
lips slightly lifted. "Thank you, my Lord. For allowing me to listen
in." She picked up the hides off of the desk and studied them. "It
makes no sense for him to have these. They should have gone to my
brother." She exhaled softly. "And he has a son my daughter's age
that would inherit before I would. "
"Stenlis is pulling something sneaky here," Bryvin agreed. "But we
both know he's not getting away with it or with you. And he doesn't
get our son."
It was the first time he'd said "our son". Even that small
acknowledgment of Yavin was enough to ease some of the tension in her
shoulders and her chin lifted just a little. "Are you certain that
it's necessary that I wed him? If our plan doesn't work..."
He pulled her down into his lap. "I promise you Yriadha. He will never
claim you again. Our plan will work. He's so full of himself he
doesn't really see you," he put a finger on her chin and turned her
face toward him. "He won't know it's coming."
She nodded slowly, studying his face. She had to trust that it would
work. The thought of permanently being bound to Stenlis made her skin
crawl. She relaxed at his assurance, but only a little. "Good. I
should go and oversee dinner and then rest. I have a big day
He nodded and let go of her. "There will be guards outside your door
tonight. No one will be getting in so you can rest easy."
That brought a relieved sigh. "Thank you, Bryvin." She rose from his
lap, but before she left, laid her hand lightly on his shoulder. "I'll
see you at dinner. "
"See you at dinner," he returned. He looked up and smiled as she left.
Then he opened a dish of treats on his desk and Treek glided down from
the rafters. "Take this message for me," he said and pictured the
person he wanted the message delivered to. With any luck, he'd have
his answer before dinner was over.
Treek chirped agreement and launched disappearing almost the moment he
was in the air.
Last updated on the June 15th 2019