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Rated: ASR · Sample · Fantasy · #2236910
To see the world - excepted from "Annaria: Broken Empires"
Ceann’s face was torn between surprise and anger. “You promised Thane what?!”

Daniel shrugged, eyes darting away to give him time to think. “I said we’d given him all my iron rods for the fabric and dye we talked about. I know the iron is worth more right now, but he pointed out just how much he was helping us, and given our plans, we’ll need a lot of help.”

Ceann’s fists clenched at his side. “What kind of help?”

Daniel cleared his throat, and voice faded a bit. “You know, putting in a good word for us, letting us stay here and set up shop, giving us contacts in the larger villages nearby who might want the dye for their art, helping us plan a route. That kind of thing.”

“We have a wagon, and if you do set up shop, Thane will make at least as much money as we will - unless you changed that part of the deal?”

“Not exactly,” Daniel muttered, looking down.

“What demon possessed you, boy? You were never Lazarus’s gift to traders, but I thought even you had more sense than this. You can’t do this! And by that, I mean Prince Jacob sent me here to make sure you didn’t do this. But Thane’s not going to be happy when I tell him that wasn’t a promise you could give.”

Daniel shook his head, gritting his teeth. “The caravan is is yours, but the last wagon is mine to help me set up shop. I didn’t promise him all the iron, just my share - including what I can trade you my ironwood for. I know you’re trying to help, but you have to finish your run to Sarronnen and head back home. I’ll stay here and work with Thane. You don’t have to worry about me.”

Ceann threw up his hands. “Your crazy, Daniel. With the war, the iron is worth more than gold. It won’t do anyone any good if you’re forced to drive an empty wagon back home with your tail between your legs. At least, you’re standing up for yourself now. Why didn’t you with Thane?”

“Because of me, of course”, Anginette said, her Kharshe accent faint. She had been practicing.

Daniel smiled briefly. “Sorry, I didn’t see you there, Ginny.”

Ceann whirled towards her. “If you’re going to take credit, I don’t suppose you could help talk him out of this madness.”

Anginette raised her eyebrows. “You know, I think I will - help, that is. But Daniel is not mad: he’s twice as brave as you are. He went with Prince Jacob to confront the Emperor himself. But he’s afraid to anger father, in case he should lose me. He shouldn’t have to fear that.”

She shook her head, mouth puckering as if she had tasted something sour, then shouted to the next room, “Papa!”

After a moment, Thane stepped around the corner. “What? Do you not know I am busy, girl?”

Anginette tapped her foot. “Papa, did you tell Daniel he had to give you all his iron for your silly dye?”

Thane’s grin was wide. “And my best fabric! It’s called negotiation, my dear. A man who wants to be my son-in-law must learn to stand up for himself!”

The blonde’s voice was hard as she continued. “And did you point out that if he hoped for a good relationship with his new family, he would give them a good deal? Especially if he still hoped to be in that family?”

Thane raised his hands defensively, and his laugh sounded a little forced. “Maybe, maybe he got that thought, but there’s no harm in it, my love.”

Anginette turned to Daniel. “When you take your wagon south, to the villages near Caerdann, I am coming with. You are a good man, a brave man, but too nice. I will not be the reason for you to fail your Lord and have to go to Ironwood, and I can help you.”

Thane’s color drained from his face. “No! You are my daughter and will stay here. There is a war coming, and it is too dangerous. Where there are no armies fighting, there will be bandits. And what will everyone say of a woman traveling with a man she is not married to? No.”

Anginette barked a laugh. “Among our people, a woman may take up the spear if she chooses, and none can stop her. Are you going to tell me trading is more dangerous than that? And you remember the woman who came here once, named Athena? She fought and traded with men, and she was respected, even by men such as Prince Jacob. See? Daniel’s people will respect me if I go with him, and I want to go.”

Ceann looked away, embarrassed. But Thane's face reddened, and he raised one fist to pound into another. “You will not disobey me in my own house, daughter!”

Yenna, who had stepped behind her husband when was talking, placed a hand on her husband’s arm to lower it. “Daughter, it will be dangerous, and there will be more than a few in our village who will gossip about you if you travel with a man and do not come back married. Are you sure, absolutely sure, that you want to do this? You should not go with him if you do not love him with your whole heart.”

Anginette's deep blue eyes were liquid as they met Yenna’s. “Mother, Daniel is my life. You‘ve told me all the reasons I should wait to marry him, and they are good reasons. But he is the man I am going to spend my life with, I know it. I have dreamed all my life of leaving this town to see the world, and I am going to see it with him. He needs me, and I have never been needed. And I need him. I’m going.”

Yenna nodded, her own eyes bearing tears. “Then go with him, with my love. But come back, please also come back.”

Suddenly, mother and daughter had their arms around each other as the men stepped backward, speechless. “I will, mom. I promise.”
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