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The Amber Arrow: Chapter Twelve

       Last updated: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 18:37 EDT



The Situation

    Even though she was surrounded by possibly dangerous Skraelings, Ursel Keiler continued reading the letter from Duchess Regent Ulla Smead.

    And Wannas Kittamaquand kept looking intently at her as she read.

    Have I got a bug in my hair or something? Why does he keep doing that?

    Never mind.

    She needed to get to the bottom of this, and decide what to do.

    The letter was addressed to her father, Earl Keiler, but Ursel knew Duchess Regent Ulla well. Just as Ulla knew that, aside from matters of war, Ursel ran Shwartzwald County for her father. The letter from Ulla was really meant for her.

The thing is, Lady Saeunn agrees with me about Wulf’s so-called quest. I’m sure of it. Wulf should answer the dragon-call, not set out into the wilderness on a wild hope. But Saeunn had been so ill, only awake a half-watch or less each day for weeks now, that she had not been able to put up any resistance to Wulf’s determination.

After Wulf heard Abendar’s suggestion to go to Eounnbard, he grabbed at it. Abendar had offered it very cautiously. But off Wulf went three weeks ago–it will likely be a month when you receive this.

He took with him a company of the Bear Valley levee commanded by that young bobcat man, Captain Jager, who Wulf met. He came to admire Captain Jager during the battle to retake Raukenrose.

Also along are Abendar Anderolan, the elf, and–at my request–Ahorn the centaur, a lore master and star gazer, who I ordered to act as my private agent and surrogate.

And there is yet another complication. Princess Ravenelle was determined to go to Vall l’Obac and find out the fate of her mother’s kingdom. She has also been studying healing under a renowned buffalo wise woman. Both of them have been nursing Lady Saeunn.

So the princess decided to travel with this company to the mark’s border with Vall l’Obac. Once there, she plans to separate from the group, and head southeast to Montserrat. My foster-brother–Rainer Stope–and Princess Ravenelle’s bloodservant bodyguards will accompany her the rest of the way.

That is the state of things at present. And so we–you and I–are left in a quandary. I will not send thousands of men and Tier to battle and grave danger until Wulf answers the dragon-call.

What if there is another way?

What if the dragon has been trying to reveal this to Wulf?

I know the dragon trance doesn’t necessarily work in such a way, but I am haunted by the prospect of ordering those men to their deaths–and then its turning out to all be a mistake that could have been avoided.

So I have sent Wannas Kittamaquand, this young Skraeling envoy, to you for two reasons. First, I think that if anybody can get through to my stubborn brother, Wannas, with his eyewitness account of the siege of Potomak, can. But Wannas will need help finding Wulf.

I know Wulf intended to cross the west valley and travel south through the Greensmokes. From the southern border, he planned to make his way through the wilderness trading paths to Eounnbard.

Without a native guide, there is little chance that Wannas will be able to catch up to Wulf. Your daughter, Ursel Keiler, would make an excellent guide.

The second is to deliver a personal postscript, appended to this letter, to my dear friend Ursel.

Your servant, etc.,

Ulla Smead, Duchess Regent of the Mark of Shenandoah

    Ursel closed her eyes for a moment, trying to imagine Ulla sitting at her small desk in the Great Hall side room she used as an office. She’d converted her father’s old map room into her work space, although the maps still remained.

    Ulla had dictated this letter. The script was too professional, even for Ulla, who had an artist’s hand for calligraphy.

    And there it was. The postscript. It was a private letter, rolled up and sealed inside the outer scroll.

    Imagining Ulla at Raukenrose brought back a flood of other memories. Memories she’d spent the past few weeks trying to get away from. They had dulled for the most part. All except one. The final one.

    The last time she’d seen Wulf von Dunstig.

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