The Season of Withering – Lisa Short
Tamasin, called Abhasvar, watched from the concealing folds of her hood as the Riever and his men strode into the great hall. For a long, fearful moment she thought the Riever wouldn’t stop, would mount the dais alongside Piro and throw a too-jovial arm around his neck (and perhaps break it). But the Riever did stop at the foot of the dais, bracing his legs wide apart, teeth bared in a broad grin. He’d brought six men with him, two of them grinning as unpleasantly as their master; the other four were blank-faced, their gazes darting to the orblights on the walls. Piro had insisted on the orblights and Tamasin thought now that he might have been right to do so—that sourceless, icy glow was uncanny, even to her. Her own objections had centered on the wisdom of exhausting himself in maintaining them; Piro was pale, to her critical eye, but perhaps no more so than usual. She hoped.
“The prince of Anmoor himself!” cried the Riever, and flung out his arms. One of the more uneasy of his men flinched back. “Your welcome, so unexpected!”
“Surely not,” said Piro. His voice was light, thin compared to the Riever’s rich tones, but to Tamasin’s pride quite steady. “Captain Shal did not assure you of our hospitality?” Tamasin and Piro had spoken nothing but Imperial Un, to each other and to anyone else who would listen, for the past four weeks. Piro had come along amazingly, well enough that he’d been able to insist upon keeping Tamasin hidden for this first meeting rather than using her to translate.