Kerowyn unlaced her boots and left them at the clinic steps, eyeing the fresh scuff-marks even the most careful Companion would leave on wood. Other marks marred steps farther down the veranda, where the long building went from being Healer Gensai’s clinic to the late Koshijirou Kamiya’s salle; dojo, as Yamato called it. “Been looking after the place, hmm?”
“We manage,” Kaoru smiled brightly, keeping a good grip on Yahiko, who seemed torn between running ahead of them and wanting to pry at every last detail of Sayvel’s tack. “Healers need room to work sometimes, too. And Healer Gensai says it’s… nice… living somewhere that reminds him of my father.”
A man I truly would have liked to put under Truth Spell, Kero thought ungratefully. Sixteen years in Valdemar without ever breathing a word that why he was really here was to plant an anchor for a Jump in case things went wrong for your clans.
Which they had. Spectacularly, from everything she and other Heralds had put together. Not that they’d put together much; like Koshijirou, Yamato didn’t talk to outsiders if they could help it. And those diplomats who would talk were all too familiar with shielding themselves from Mind-Magic.
Now that’s something I never expected to find outside Valdemar, Kerowyn admitted to herself. A whole people with a horde of little Gifts. Nothing strong enough to be Chosen-
:Or nothing we can find,: Sayvel grouched from the garden by the front gate. :I swear, they must train their children to shield before they can talk!:
Wouldn’t surprise me. What they’d seen of the Yamato spoke of a culture in which honor and loyalty were valued above love, yet treachery and assassination were almost as common as in the Eastern Empire. Witness Koshijirou, who’d been an honorable and loyal Guard for Haven, raising a daughter with the strength and character to be Chosen – and who’d arranged for a mass, if peaceful, invasion of the land he’d sworn to protect.
Though to be fair, the two clans – not to mention the odd fragments of families and troops that ended up transported with them willy-nilly in that massive Jump two years ago – had apparently been aiming for Valdemar’s untenanted western edge. They’d meant to drop themselves in empty borderlands, not near smack in the middle of Haven.