Adrik Adrikov (The Corrishman)

Epilogue | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The Northern Wastes, late Summer's Beginning, 992 KY

Rodder Pawl looked down the long, curving ridge jutting out of the lake and shivered. What a fate it would be for his horse to lose her footing and drag him caravan and all down the steep wooded hillsides into that lake, icy blue even on this warm summer day with the air full of sharp green and warm brown smells. But the track was wide, his caravan sturdy, and his mare sure-footed. There would be no accident before he entered the walls of Gremassem.

Chapter 7 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Ma Kupar led her away. Mattie took a last look at Adrik; his eyes remained the same hard, flat brown, but he was glaring at his father and spared her not a look.

They walked her down numerous hallways to her bedchamber, a grand, whitewashed affair of tapestries, carpets, and a stove tiled in brilliant blue; the room's mullioned windows looked out at the great lake and its hundreds of islands and thousands of boats. They fed her a light meal: oatcakes, salted fish and some sort of dried berry compote with custard. Mattie offered no resistance when they undressed her down to her chemise, nor when they tucked her into bed, pulled shut the bed-curtains and darkened the room.

Her mind did resist. Would she rather die than marry Ruvin? Perhaps if she offered them compliance, they might grow complacent in time and she could make good an escape. As things stood she had no knowledge of the country nor of the language, and not a friend to help her. Adrik looked as if he wanted to come to her defense, but was it because he wanted the advantage marriage to a daughter of Harsin would confer? Or did he love her, and if he did, would he go against his father?

Chapter 7 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Ma Kupar led Mattie past guards set three and three beside a great arched door banded in iron, and left her in a high-vaulted hall; tapestries covered the stone walls, thick carpets the wooden floors. Mattie was the only woman in the room. Men in native costume filled the benches--the Gremas? She had never heard them called anything other than "northern barbarians," but Ma Kupar had used the name "Gremas." Red heads and brown heads sprinkled the crowd, but most were blond. Almost every eye turned toward her was blue.

At the hall's far end, a roaring blaze filled an enormous fireplace hooded in the same verdigris copper covering the turrets. On a dais before it sat two men in ancient, ornately carved chairs. Both wore richer versions of the common clothing--woolen trousers tucked into modern riding boots, and high-necked shirts. Their long quilted vests were silk embroidered in gold. The one on Mattie's left had hair so shot through with white that the blond strands remaining looked like sunlight streaked on snow. The other's hair was as dark as her own, though heavily threaded with silver; his beard, trimmed more neatly than those of the men around him, was almost completely gray. Something about his lean, angular face resembled the King's profile on a five-silver piece.

Chapter 7 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The flat grasslands of the Northern Wastes turned into forests of pine and newly-greened larches and birch, patches of snow purple in their shadows. They traveled miles through these trees until the road burst into in the open, traveling along the shoreline of a lake so large it could fairly be called an inland sea. Islands greater and smaller rose up from its surface, the small crowned with gray stone buildings, the larger with villages. Boats plied the water and clustered on the many docks; how cold it must be on their decks. At any other time, Mattie might have found the scenery charming and exotic. Now she looked only for opportunities to escape--and saw none.

Chapter 7 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

"Dunley? No," said Mattie, keeping her voice as blank and calm as she could despite her jittering insides. "My stepfather's name was Ambleson. It's the name he gave me."

Adrik laughed. "One of the things I love about you, Mattie, is that you're terrible at subterfuge. Your emotions cover you head to toe. You fell in love with me the first day, when you twisted your ankle, didn't you? My sweet girl, I would marry you no matter what your name is. I don't use my real name either."

Was Adrik in similar circumstances? Not long ago, when she lived in Reggiston and didn't have to lie about her name and didn't know whose daughter she was, she would never have considered the suit of a bastard. She couldn't very well put herself above one now, could she? She burrowed closer to him, and he hugged her tight. "If my name is not to be Mistress Adrikov, then, what is it to be?"

"I am Adrik Antremont, some day to be styled Adrin of Tremont."

Chapter 7 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The two priests of Harla unrolled the canvas: a stretcher, a red silk tassel tied in black thread dangling from the ends of its black poles. They spread it on the hearth rug as the priestess manipulated the corpse's arm back and forth at the elbow. "Still somewhat bendable, but not for long," she said.

The priests positioned Pawl's Mistress on the canvas as best they could, and the priestess spread the white sheet over her; all four Friends raised their hoods and the two junior priests picked up the stretcher poles. Somehow the tassels' sway and the lump under the sheet broke free the whimper Pawl had been holding back for two hours. Mistress was dead, and he was responsible. If he hadn't helped Mr Adrikov and Miss--but how was he to know this would happen?

Chapter 1 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Early spring in Corland could hardly be called spring at all, especially in the little city of Arren. It sat far to the north, just on Tremont's side of the border with the Northern Wastes, and winter loved it far too much to leave on time. Downy snow still fell from the sky, determined to smother the streets like an overstuffed featherbed. Mattisanis Ambleson--the former Mattie Dunley of Meadow House, Whithorse Estate--thought it beautiful. The cold rimed everything in brilliant, magical whiteness, hushed, as a breath held. Or perhaps lost. Ever since meeting Adrik Adrikov just after Neya's Day the year before, she had been breathless.

Chapter 17 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Neya's Day flower buntings no longer arched above the streets of Arren, but a soft, flowery mood still hung over the town, weeks after the festival. The winter's coal smoke had finally blown away with the snow, leaving the air clear and the sky a fragile but unbroken blue. Mattie Dunley, now Mattie Ambleson, walked through the streets toward Arren's market square, and saw none of it.

Get an exclusive free ebook from the world of the Intimate History! Exclusive content, contests, new releases and more.