The weather is turning cold already.
Dutchess Estelle of House Leanhaun is somewhat apart, speaking with courtiers who have suddenly appeared at her side. An aura of light surrounds here and no one approaches unless invited. She is long-since blind to the rapt stares of awe and desire that she evokes. She floats above her warlike surroundings, unarmed, unarmored, and relatively unaware.
Dukes Gorim and Tremayne stand together, waiting. Tremayne’s sharp eyes catch the front ranks of their army parting, hears the murmurs of surprise, spite, and a little fear. He can see the banner that is being carried – it holds six banners. Topmost is Gwydion’s gold eagle on a field of green. Next is Fiona’s silver lion on red, followed by the black mailed fist and hammer of Doughal on red and gold. The next is a simple Eiluned twin silver moons on a black field, followed by Liam’s silver tree on blue and, surprisingly, the black unicorn on silver and grey of the Scathach exiles.
The Dukes are surrounded by elite guards who part with a creak of armor as she approaches. She is alone but for the standard-bearer, a Troll who is trying to appear brave while surrounded by a thousand enemies.
She comes to a stop close enough that it makes Tremayne uncomfortable. But this is Gorim’s victory. The huge, crazed-looking man with red and silver hair takes a step forward and Silis’ blind eyes turn to him. His rasping voice carries over the now-silent field. “So, you’ve had enough?” He laughs. The wind catches the banners and they snap.
“I am here to speak to you about terms on behalf of the Summer Court.”
The Duke of Bailor laughs even louder. “A couple of hundred cowards behind walls are hardly a Court. Who’ve you got there? Eiluned’s dead, and so’s Doughal. Liam is shit and always will be. Scathach? Aren’t they commoners? Didn’t we kick them out? Thought they were finally gone. Gwydion and Fiona’re the only real Houses you’ve got, and who says I’m done with ’em?” He grins and shows his sharp teeth, a deformity that is also his birthright. “Maybe I’ll just smash your head, blind bitch, and send it back where it came from, eh?” He takes a step foward before Tremayne grabs his armored shoulder.
“I wouldn’t touch her, Gorim. Not if you want to leave this field alive.”
Now Silis smiles a small, toothless smile. “Your friend can see, scion of Bailor.” Now they can feel it hanging in the air. Some potent curse, tingling like the moment before lightening strikes.
“Bah!” He spits. “Let’s hear your terms then.” But he does shuffle a half-step back.
“They are simple. The war ends. You leave the field here and end the sieges of other holdings. Withdraw your…troops…and other allies to your own lands. In exchange, Mab gives you the Throne of Concordia. The royal seat, lands, and all that come with it. You raise a king and queen if you can, or rule as we have in the absence of them. You have the Stone, or what is left of it, so you may even succeed.”
After a pause, during which Tremayne feels she is somehow watching them all, considering. “And what, Duke? Are these not satisfactory?”
“What about reparations? This war cost me a lot. And I don’t suffer debts.”
“Do you think it cost us less? If you think these terms leave debts unanswered, then you will have to suffer them, because these are the only terms.”
Gorim bares his teeth again and glances to Tremayne. He nods. Estelle rolls her eyes. Her clear voice softly cuts the air, sharpened by annoyance. “We accept. Now leave us.”
Tremayne watches. Silis is almost unmoved by that terrible presence. Gorim turns and chokes slightly. It isn’t worth the struggle to disagree with her.
The terms are perfect.