Jenny: The Shadow of Winter

Kay backed off from the fence and jammed his coiled stockwhip into his belt at his back. "Who knows!" he said cheerily. "Vortigern is stupid, but he isn't so stupid as to stick his neck out when Ambrosius has the sword out of the sheath. He'll let it lie a little and a little, and spring again. Only he's going to have to be far more cautious now, because the cat is out of the bag." The Companion whistled through his teeth and turned away from the paddock. "I'm going to check up on Bedwyr - he lost his left hook in the fighting last night." He flexed his own fingers. "As soon as he's up and running, he'll be wanting to learn how to compensate. You never stop running in this game, not for a moment. Were you headed anywhere in particular?" he asked, casting a sly glance at the fellow over his shoulder.


She could only be reminded of her awakening from her dream, cross and disobligingly refusing to heed Domitia's words. She would heed them, she thought, later; but even she had felt the empty gulf of death and the cool shadow of it which had fallen across her valley. And with the autumn spinning out and winter coming on, the shadow would only grow longer. And so she pointed to the beeches, as Domitia had admonished her, almost only to reassure herself, knowing her words would fall hollow on the other's ears. But the shadow had come, long and dark and deep when Ambrosius had lain wounded and fitfully recovering through another long winter, and they had come out of it. They would come out of this, too. And there were thing that made the shadow riddled with holes: Jason, for one, and Master Lucius' new herd of horses; and Domitia, who would doubtlessly marry Cathair and be a love-sick nuisance to the valley. She tucked in a small smile. Without Cathair, she was not sure what would become of Domitia. It would have come to blows, and the Guttersnipe would have bested the girl, and they would have fallen out for good. But these were pleasant things that made the winter seem more bearable. And her lords were home, and she was home and, so far as she could see, if one did not look too closely at the little gaping places in life, all was right with the world for God was in his heaven.

She rose, fully chilled now with the breeze on her skin. She fetched up her woolen gown and slipped it over her head, pulling over her dampness, jerking where it stubbornly stuck at the hollow of her back. "We can go up now," she replied, tying the sides of her overdress.

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