Salventi ant’ Anguilla r’Assan had not put up her arms for the spring list.
I had been away too long. It was the only gossip in Khyre, and though gossip is my business it meant nothing to me.
Sal r’Assan is staying on . . a term, maybe a year . .
I heard it first in the stables, before I had even reported to m’lord Ursus. I had made a long day to finish a long journey, and I was beginning to realise my mistake as I tried to disentangle my own gear from my borrowed tack. M’lord Ursus would curse me for coming late and disturbing his routine, or on the morrow would curse me for not coming to him as soon as I returned. I determined to get good value for his curses, and worked over the mule methodically, forgotten by the stable hands. It was no surprise to hear them speak fondly of a r’Assani. Most have enough Clan blood in them to be horsemen first, last and always, and I have yet to meet one who would allow – much less expect – an unknown groom to care for his beast. I went on quietly with my work, and jumped to the obvious conclusions. Some junior child of a small estate, without contacts. A cadet who would cling as long as possible to Khyre and the possibility of patronage, despite her homesickness.
I took a certain grim satisfaction in reporting punctiliously to m’lord Ursus that night, rode out his bluster, and for want of a better arrangement found an empty inglenook in the public hall. I doubt I would even have remembered the cadet, without that sphragonym, Anguilla, to draw my attention. Grooms are not noted for standing on ceremony, and had not named her formally. The staff of the public hall are more judicious, even in their chatter, and I did not immediately connect the gossip that accompanied my waking with the object of the grooms’ concern.
Salventi ant’ Anguilla is missing from the list.
Salventi is a common enough name, after all. Common in Assan, at least. As I gentled myself into the day I came to realise that it was past all belief that two r’Assani cadets should be both so universally well thought of and so unexpectedly absent from the list, and I began to take an interest in the girl.