Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

Misfits of Aquila: Chapter 5, Part 3

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The next update comes with new characters and a new location, I promise, but first, there’s time to meet up with a few old friends.

Continue reading “Misfits of Aquila: Chapter 5, Part 3”
Free Fiction, Overworld, Writing

Mountain Blossom: Part 3


This is a free short story featuring characters from the Wingborn series.
For more stories and info about the novels, please head here.

|| Part One || Part Two ||

In which Milli gains a little company. Warning: contains flirting.

SHE MUST HAVE fallen asleep, because a sharp yap made her jump just as a shadow passed over her face. Her head swam as she sat up too swiftly, telling Bumble to be quiet as the nakhound barked. A cool breeze swept over her and she looked up.

A miryhl.

Big, brown, impressive. There was a band of black around the eagle’s neck and two parallel stripes beneath each eye. Despite her upbringing, Milluqua wasn’t ashamed to admit that all miryhls looked alike to her. With two exceptions.

Her sister’s Wingborn, Cumulo. Big, brash, cocky and beloved.

And this one: Atyrn, bonded miryhl of Lieutenant Stirla.

The man himself dismounted and secured his reins so that they didn’t hang around the miryhl’s neck. He murmured something to his eagle before turning to face Milluqua, eyes bright and mischievous.

“The mountain meadows bloom early in Nimbys, I see.” Planting his hands on the rock beside her, he hauled himself up and took her hand, planting a kiss on the back of her glove.

She felt it down to her bones.

“Dodging your duties, Lieutenant?” she teased, looking at his smiling face and wondering how he could seem so fresh and awake when she knew he’d been up before dawn.

Stretching his long legs out alongside hers, he leant back on his hands and chuckled. “How long have you been sleeping up here, pretty flower, dozing in the sun? Ah, to be born to a life of such privilege.”

Though he meant it in jest, Milluqua had to look away, pulling at her violet skirts to neaten them. “I did not realise how much time had passed,” she admitted quietly, feeling ashamed of her idleness.

“I was finishing my patrol,” he explained, smoothing over the moment, “and as Atyrn skimmed over the ridge, what should I spy in the meadow below but the prettiest mountain blossom I ever did see.”

Keeping from rolling her eyes, barely, Milluqua turned back to him. “If you say one word about plucking, I shall be forced to hit you.”

The corner of his mouth curled up in a rueful smile. “Bit much, was it?”

The prettiest mountain blossom I ever did see,” she mimicked in a winsome voice, and he winced.

“You wound me, my lady, how you wound. Here I sit, a poor, lack-witted lieutenant, feeble brain scrambled by your beauty and you mock my words. You mock me. How cruel you are.” He rested a hand over his heart and looked woeful. “Especially,” he continued, pulling something from behind his back, “when I was telling the truth.”

He held out a bunch of mountain bells, each delicate, pale lilac flower smaller than his fingertip. Woven between them were sprays of white cloudlets, tiny cluster-blooms also known as morning kisses.

“How vain my lady is,” Stirla teased, as she took them silently, gazing at the sweetest bouquet she’d ever been given. “As if I would be so clumsy as to call you a mountain blossom. Though, since you mentioned it, I wouldn’t say no to a quick pluck -”

She hit him. What else was a girl of good breeding to do?

“Mind the flowers!” he cried, flinching unnecessarily, since he was so big that a swat from her would be like a fly bouncing off a miryhl’s beak. “It took me ages to gather those.”

Thumping him again, just because she could, Milluqua turned back to admiring her gift. They were unharmed, since she’d used her other hand to assault him, and they smelled fresh and sweet, like the high mountains.

“They’re lovely,” she said, for want of anything better. Stirla always had this effect on her brain. She should avoid him really. Except that he was quite handsome, in a roguish way, especially with that scar on his cheek. And he flirted delightfully.

“Mm, I thought so too,” he murmured, peering over her shoulder. Somehow she didn’t think he meant the flowers, though a glance down reassured her that she was still buttoned up and decent.

“You, sir, are a scoundrel.”

“And you, my lady, wouldn’t have me any other way.”

They smiled at each other. She did so love the way he said my lady, with the faintest hint of possessiveness. As if she was his lady in truth.

Reaching out, he balanced a tiny cloudlet on a callused fingertip. “They look like little stars,” he said softly, his breath teasing her cheek. “Delicate, perfumed. All that’s perfect about the night, brought out to dance beneath the sun.”

Knowing she should move away, that she should stop this, that it was improper to be alone together, sitting so close, meeting in secret, Milluqua closed her eyes and held still. One of his arms was behind her back, the other reaching around her to touch the flowers. His leg was close but not quite touching hers. He was so much taller and broader than she – he made her feel small and surrounded, but protected and safe. It made her chest hurt the way he treated her, like she was something precious. A gift. So much more than the daughter of an earl or a hefty dowry. He made her laugh, and when he wasn’t doing that it was because she was breathless.

Like now.

“Where I come from they’re known as cloudlets. Do you call them that in Nimbys?” His hand moved from the flowers to the patch of skin bared between her glove and the sleeve of her gown. He brushed his thumb over her pulse, once, twice.

She swallowed and nodded, her cheek brushing his.

He teased her heated skin with the whisper of his lips as he moved his mouth to her ear. “But they have another name,” he murmured. “Do you know it?”

She nodded as he breathed against her skin.

“Tell me.”

“Morning kisses,” she said, surprised at her languid, dreamy tone. She’d never sounded like that before. Her eyes fluttered open as he touched her chin, turning her face towards his. He studied her intently with his dark eyes, and for once there was no smile on his lips.

It was she who smiled, her eyes falling shut, drunk on the nearness of him. “We call them morning kisses.”

A puff of air ghosted across her mouth as he chuckled. Then her heart stopped beating, waiting for him to move closer…



A thump in the back shoved her forwards, banging her nose against the solid wall of his chest, while that firm jaw she had so often admired whacked her on the forehead.

“Heirayk’s balls… of fire,” Stirla cursed, one hand clamping her head to his chest, while the other rubbed his jaw. “Damn dog!”

Utterly unconcerned by his anger, Bumble used Milluqua’s back as a convenient step from which to lick Stirla’s face.

Milluqua giggled. It was all so undignified. She was half-turned towards him, her legs tangled in her skirt, cap askew, face crushed against his chest, with a nakhound balancing on her shoulders. While he was still trying to hold the offending pup off.

“Stupid mutt, get off, get off!” Obviously trying not to swear, Stirla shoved the dog away with one arm and finally succeeded in shifting her. Only then did he let Milluqua go.

She stared up at him, biting her lip, knowing she must look a complete fright. Stirla looked dishevelled too, but he was as unfairly gorgeous as ever. She’d never noticed how perfectly thick and long his eyelashes were until he kept his gaze down, refusing the look at her.

“Sorry,” he apologised gruffly, trying to straighten her cap. He poked a few escaped tendrils back underneath, but Milluqua could have told him it was hopeless.

The reason she didn’t was because she was trying not to laugh. He looked so mortified, but really, she found the whole thing ridiculous. And typical. And probably for the best.

She liked him. Too much. He was everything she’d ever wanted. Yet nothing her father would permit her to marry. Not high born enough, not rich enough, not even a captain in the Riders yet. He had no political ambitions and wasn’t even in trade to better his fortune. The thought was enough to strangle her giggles.

“There,” he muttered, tucking the last of her curls away. “It… umm… doesn’t look as it did, but… well… better, anyway.”

For two pins she would have pulled the cap off and redone it herself, but she couldn’t let her hair down in front of him. Unmarried ladies didn’t do such things. Especially not in front of men they had no business encouraging. It was enough to make a woman tearful.

“Here.” He handed her the bunch of flowers, now sadly squashed and broken. She still thought them more beautiful than the most expensive bouquet she’d ever been given.

“Forgive me,” he muttered. “I trust you are not hurt.”

Staring at the flowers, she shook her head and tried to straighten a crumpled mountain bell. “I’m well.”

“Good,” he sighed, paused, then sighed again. “Good.” Running a hand through his hair, he slid off the rock and headed towards Atyrn. “I’d best go. I apologise for any offence caused, Lady Milluqua.”

She raised her head and realised that he was walking away. He was leaving. After everything. He was going. Just like that. He couldn’t go. She wouldn’t let him.

“Wait!” Floundering against her tangled skirts, and cursing herself for choosing this particular garment with its stupid inserts on today of all days. “Stirla, wait!”

The more she struggled, the more entangled she became, especially as she only had one hand, the other refusing to drop her flowers. “Please!”

A warm hand encircled her ankle and she fell still. “Steady,” he soothed. “It’s all right. Let me.”

He stood in front of her, and in this position, with her on the boulder and he carefully straightening her skirts, taking excessive pains not to touch her more than necessary, they were almost the same height. Actually, if she wanted to be accurate, she was slightly taller than him.

How lovely.

He was being so careful with her, not looking up, expression grim, hands trembling. Part of her wanted to weep because this was her fault. She shouldn’t have encouraged him. Neither of them were stupid; they knew nothing could come of this…

She sat up straight and suddenly felt like smiling. “I shouldn’t have encouraged you,” she said, while he tugged her skirts to make sure the last of her entanglement had been removed.

“I came looking for you, my lady. As always, your behaviour was faultless…”

She ignored him. He was a man and he was being silly. “Neither of us are stupid.”

“… It is I who is to blame. I took advantage of your kindness, I…”

“We both know the ways of the world and we know nothing could ever come of this.”

“… shouldn’t have. I apologise. Please, forgive me, Lady Milluqua. You can’t know how much I honour and esteem you. I hope my actions have not ruined our friendship, for I value it more than anything -”

Since he wasn’t listening, she covered his mouth with her hand. When he finally looked at her, surprised, she smiled. “I value it too. Very much.”

And she kissed him to prove it.

Because she was a woman, and though she could be silly too, she also knew a good thing when it stood in front of her. She might not be able to have him for long, and he might not be able to keep her, but here, in this moment, on this rock, which made them both equal for the first time, anything could happen. Anything was possible. And if the daughter of an earl wanted to kiss a farmer’s son turned captain-in-training, well, no one was here to see.

Except for a dignified miryhl and a brainless puppy.

The latter of which joined in the fun by thumping Milluqua in the back again and shoving her off the rock.

Straight into Stirla’s arms. Which was where she wanted to be anyway, so instead of scolding Bumble she saved her breath. She had a better use for it.

Eventually, when she finally let Stirla go, deciding to rest her head against his chest again, she had the delight of feeling his chuckle rumble against her cheek.

“Well, well,” he murmured, nuzzling her loose curls, since her cap had been completely dislodged this time. “My little mountain blossom decided to -”

There was a light slap and a stifled laugh as she put her hand swiftly over his mouth.

“Don’t make me hit you again.”

His lips curled under her palm and, still holding her with one arm, he peeled her fingers away with the other hand. “You need to find a better way of stopping my mouth.”

Hauling herself up higher against his chest, she draped her arms over his broad shoulders and raised her eyebrows. “Do I indeed? I hope you have some suggestions.”

Threading his fingers through her curls, he pulled her closer and smiled against her lips. “Indeed I do. A recent discovery this, but I think you’ll find it effective.”

Unsurprisingly, she did.

Thanks for reading!

Free Fiction, Overworld, Writing

Mountain Blossom: Part 2


This is a free short story featuring characters from the Wingborn series.
For more stories and info about the novels, please head here.

|| Part One ||

Milli and Bumble make the most of the fine spring morning.


THE DAY WAS beautifully fair, and Milluqua thought there might even have been a hint of summer in the air. From the heights of the noble district, she looked down over Nimbys, with its honey-gold buildings and hidden shadows. Contrasted with the granite grey and bronze of the mountainside, only just sprouting with the first hints of green, Nimbys shone like a jewel. And beyond, the world was all white and blue. The Cloud Sea was luminous today and it hurt her tired eyes to look at it.

Determined only to think of pleasant, wide awake things, Milluqua turned away from the city and headed deeper up the valley. Bumble strained at the lead, eager to go wherever they were going, as long as they went fast. Faster. Or over there. No, here. Here. Wait! Smells! It was a jerky, halting walk as Milluqua passed the dozing mansions of the rich and the noble, until they finally stepped away from the cobbles and onto the dirt path leading to the high meadows.

Once she reached the narrow woodland, filled with oak and birches designed to prevent the pastureland beyond from offending the eyes of the nobles, Milluqua untied Bumble’s lead and let her loose. Yipping with glee, the pup galloped off, nose to the ground, searching for squirrels and voles. Despite her pristine appearance, there was nothing more attractive to Bumble than mud. Milluqua had lost count of the times she’d scolded the pup for wallowing in puddles or rolling in fox sprays.

Even with the constant distraction of the pup – rooting through the undergrowth, growling at nettle patches, chasing squirrels up trees, eating doelyn droppings – Milluqua took time to enjoy the beauty of the woods. Buds sprinkled the oak branches, while catkins already draped the birches and showered the air with yellow pollen. Insects buzzed in the undergrowth and birds whistled in the trees. She glimpsed a nuthatch and had the pleasure of seeing it hop down a tree right in front of her.

Perfectly content with her lot, Milluqua called Bumble to heel as they reached the edge of the trees. Surprisingly obedient for so boisterous a pup, the nakhound trotted up, wafting her smell before her.

“Urgh, it’ll be the mews and a bath for you, my girl, before you come anywhere near my room again.”

Please with herself, Bumble huffed, her pink and black tongue bobbing as she panted.

“Glad we understand one another.” Smiling despite herself, Milluqua walked out of the shadowy wood into the bright sunshine. The gentle slope of the pastures rolled out in front of her, dotted here and there with horsats and doelyn, placidly grazing with only the occasional flick of a tail revealing any possible discontent.

Bumble lifted her head and pricked her ears at the nearest horsat, but a murmured “leave” was enough to keep her at Milluqua’s heels. Which was a relief, since it would be undignified to run headlong through the pastures, hollering at the top of her voice. It had happened once or twice, but since Bumble had attempted to nip a bullwing and earned a hoof in the ribs for her trouble, she’d lost her taste for chasing big animals. Squirrels, rabbits and voles were more her kind of thing these days.

As Milluqua and Bumble hiked up the increasing slope, she waved at a young messenger fetching in his horsat, looking exceedingly smart in his uniform.

“Morning, milady.”

She smiled back. “Going far?”

“Off to Tipfirth,” he replied, grinning at the chance to fly over a thousand leagues to the end of Imercian. She hoped his message was worth it.

“Fast winds and clear skies,” she wished him, but the boy had already caught his mount and was returning to the stables, eager to be away. She watched him go, wondering just what the appeal of flying was. Not even in her childhood at Wrentheria, the greatest feather-winged breeders in the Overworld, had she understood why so many people risked so much to become airborne.

“Give me solid ground any day of the moon,” she told Bumble, who, unsurprisingly, wasn’t listening.

A horsat snorted nearby, the source of Bumble’s distraction. It cropped another mouthful of grass, then raised its head, staring at Milluqua and the dog. One of its big, bat-like ears pointed towards them, while the other swivelled warily behind. It twitched, leathery wings half-opening before resettling on its back. It was a sweet looking chestnut, but Milluqua didn’t like the way it watched Bumble, so she patted her thigh for the dog’s attention and hurried along.

At the top of the field, a second pasture flattened out. Not so big as the first, but not so awkward either, even if it was littered with rocks. Here was the bullwing herds spent each night before being taken to work at the docks or in the quarries during the day. Big, muscular and stupid, the females were docile and easily led, but the males could be a handful. Especially the bulls. Pausing at the fence, Milluqua scanned the grassland. Seeing only females and calves grazing, she opened the gate and carried on.

Her ultimate goal was the scrubland above the pastures, where the grass was fit only for sheep and goats. The ground was covered with rough grass punctuated by tenacious thorn trees and gorse clumps, the perfect playground for young rabbits to scamper about. It was Bumble’s favourite place to visit, and though it took some effort to reach, once they arrived Milluqua need do nothing more than sit back and watch while the pup wore herself out.

There was nothing in sight when Milluqua climbed a small slope to her favourite rock, but Bumble yipped and ran off anyway, soon sending rabbits fleeing down the mountainside. A shower of pebbles and dust rattled in the nakhound’s wake, but otherwise the spot was peaceful, undisturbed and beautiful.

Milluqua took off her pelisse, spread it over a nice, flat boulder and lay on her back, staring up at the sky. Wispy cirrus clouds were all there was to be seen and she folded her hands across her midriff as she watched them drift slowly apart, fading into nothingness under the warm sun.

|| Part Three ||

Thanks for reading!

Free Fiction, Overworld, Writing

Mountain Blossom: Part 1


This is a free short story featuring characters from the Wingborn series.
For more stories and info about the novels, please head here.

To while away the wait before Book 3, I thought I’d share a tale or two featuring less well known characters in the Overworld. This three part short story takes place during Wingborn, when Mhysra and co are still in Nimbys at the Selection School, preparing for life in the Riders.

It’s a day-in-the-life look at what Milluqua and Bumble get up to while Mhysra’s at school. There’s also a hint of romance, but you’ll have to wait until later for that to turn up.

For now, Lady Milluqua is attempting to mind her own business while a very lively puppy demands attention at foolish o’clock.

Mountain Blossom

23rd Thaw, 785 CE

THERE COULD BE no surer sign of sisterly affection than to sacrifice one’s sleep to promote the interests of a younger sibling. Or so Lady Milluqua Kilpapan believed one fine spring morning as a cold nose burrowed under the covers at the bottom of her bed. It slithered across her toes, making them clench, before a warm, slimy tongue licked her heel.

Bumble!” Milluqua shrieked, dragging her knees up to her chest and pulling her feet out of reach.

This, of course, was the best game ever invented – in Bumble’s opinion – and the dog dived under the blankets to give chase.

After much tussling, growling, yips and yelps – and that was just Milluqua – the pup was finally ejected from the bed, the blankets were straightened and the majority of the pillow feathers were brushed onto the floor. Sprawled across her disrupted bed, Milluqua stared at the ceiling, while the nakhound pup clambered back up to lie by her side.

“The things I do for my sister,” Milluqua grumbled, and tilted her head towards the dog.

A remnant of old hunting breeds from the days before the Cloud Curse fell, nakhounds were long-legged, far-sighted, slender beasts. The kind that once might have hunted deer or wolves, who could lollop through snow or briars without feeling a thing. Intelligent, in their way, and quick to train, they were a credit to centuries of human tampering.

Added to all this was a hint of dragon work, which accounted for the fluffy wings. Nakhounds were the last gift the dragons had given to humans before they hid themselves behind the roiling barriers of the Stormsurge and Stormwash. Just like their long-lost ancestors, nakhounds were designed with one prey in mind: the kaz-naghkt. And, as with all dragongifts, what one saw in a nakhound was not always what one got.

Rolling onto her side, Milluqua tickled Bumble’s silky white belly, tracing the black stripes that covered her lower ribs. She was a pretty thing, from her black-barred wings to the pink spots on her nose. Her face was covered in a black mask that spread to her ears, broken by a finger-width of white that started in the centre of her forehead and gradually widened as it swept back over her head and flowed down her neck. Still only a pup, her wings were more fluff than feathers, but it wouldn’t be long before she could fly.

Thoroughly enjoying the attention, Bumble wriggled onto her back, wagged her fringed tail and waved a white paw. Milluqua rolled her eyes and shook it. “You are shameless.”

Bumble sneezed and rolled to her side.

“Good idea,” Milluqua agreed, and shoved the dog off the bed. In the past she might have made the mistake of trying to go back to sleep. However, after four months of this routine, she’d learned not to bother. The moment she put her head down, Bumble would pounce and lick her nose. If that didn’t achieve the desired result – namely, an eager playmate – she would lie on Milluqua’s chest and rest her cold nose under her chin. And stay there. In fact, once settled, she was impossible to move.

Not keen on being flattened that morning, Milluqua got out of bed in a shower of pillow feathers and headed for her dressing room. Once upon a time, she never rose before midday. A society favourite, Lady Milluqua Kilpapan was on the guest list of every family of note and there was rarely an evening that she spent at home. It was not uncommon for her to dance long into the night and return home early the next morning. Many a summer sunrise had been viewed before she had even been to bed.

Not that much had changed on that side of things, but thanks to Bumble she could no longer sleep the day away. Instead she had to get up and go out.

It wasn’t that Bumble was a demanding or fussy dog – she never minded the destination, for example – she was just a puppy and puppies liked to play. Since Kilpapan House was a grand place, full of precious items precariously placed on tables and stands, Milluqua had quickly learnt that playing was much kinder on the nerves – and the purse – if one did it outside.

Using the bowl of warm water in her dressing room, placed there by the servants the moment Mhysra left for the selection school each morning, Milluqua tried to convince herself she was in fact awake. It was a trick she had been attempting to perfect for months, but as yet hadn’t quite mastered.

Before she even had time to ring the bell, her maid arrived. “Morning, my lady,” Jayli greeted, bobbing a curtsey on her way to the wardrobe. “Where will you be walking today?”

Peering at her reflection, Milluqua prodded the unsightly bags beneath her eyes and covered them with a cool cloth. “I’ve not yet decided. Nowhere too busy. My head still rings from the Hemington’s last night. They had the worst quartet I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.”

Jayli chuckled from the depths of the wardrobe. “I heard that her ladyship always wanted her daughters to play well. Claimed it would save on expenses at balls.”

“Shame none of them can play worth a pin,” Milluqua sighed, taking the cloth from her eyes and wrinkling her nose at the mirror. “And it is a shame, for they’re good girls, though the youngest is still so very young. Eleven, I believe.” She shook her head at the pale fawn walking costume Jayli was holding up. “Poor girls, to be exposed to such experiences and ridicule. Their mother does them no favours. Nothing too pale, Jayli. The sun may be shining, but it’s still spring and you know what Bumble is like.”

Sighing with disappointment, Jayli put away the light green muslin with the white silk ribbons and didn’t even bother to offer up the buttercup yellow. Once the maid had spent the entire morning picking out her mistress’ clothes for the day, making her the most beautiful woman in the city. Then, while Milluqua paid the requisite calls, or received her own flood of visitors, Jayli would press gowns and prepare a selection for the evening ahead. Now Milluqua picked out whichever dress was most practical, most comfortable or best at hiding stains and left without a second thought. It was then up to the maid to repair rents and snags, remove mud, dust and sleet, and sigh over the beautiful gowns that had been ignored.

Milluqua saw all of this as her maid pulled out a deep violet walking dress that had long been one of her favourites. Jayli thought it dull, but the insets around the overfull skirt were lined with indigo, which flashed when she walked. It was also perfectly comfortable, not to mention two years out of date, making it perfect for taking Bumble outside. Over the top she pulled her oldest, most serviceable brown pelisse and added a lovely brown cap to hold back her hair. All that remained were her matching violet-dyed doelyn leather gloves and she was ready.

Jayli sighed unhappily as her mistress called for Bumble and attached her lead to her collar.

Shaking her head, Milluqua smiled at her maid. “Just a few months more, Jayli, then all shall be as it once was. My new gowns from Beaulei should arrive today and I should like to wear the silver tonight, if you would be so good.”

Cheered up by the prospect of new clothes to care for, Jayli bobbed a merry curtsey. “Of course, my lady. Enjoy your walk.”

“I shall try,” Milluqua replied wryly, with more hope than expectation, and left.

|| Part Two ||

Thanks for reading!

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

Wingborn: Chapter 20, Part 2


(First time reading? Catch up Here!)

~ Previous Chapter ~

A letter from Nimbys…

               I miss you already, and it has not yet been a month since you left. I even miss your bumbling pup, but I’m glad to hear you’ve settled in and hope you are well. I wish things weren’t as they are, but I would be lying if I said our parents are reconciled to your choice. Father wanted to petition the Stratys for your return, until mother reminded him that Prince Lyrai is a Rider and the Stratys might deem it an insult. There is apparently little they can do, so for now, you and Cumulo are safe. Relatively speaking.

Thank you for word of Kilai – a more hopeless correspondent I’ve yet to meet. I’m delighted he’s happy in his Rider life, but I’m more pleased that you are. You and Cumulo deserve your happiness.

Speaking of which, I’ve refused three more suitors. Father grows impatient, but two were older than him and the other younger than Kilai! Mother says I have gained a reputation for being Unattainable, so all the young cubs are forming ridiculous passions for me, certain to be the one who tames me. It is so stupid. One of these days I shall say yes, and won’t the fool in question be surprised.

It’s not that I enjoy turning them down – you know how much I hate it – but I’ve yet to be asked by a man who wants me for myself. The Kilpapan name and fortune are so attractive, but we have no need of advantageous alliances. Despite father’s blustering, your decision to enter the Riders has been met with nothing but praise. Everyone thinks you are terribly brave. The Kilpapans are rich and courageous, not to mention favourites of the Stratys.

Show me the man who has no care for these things, who sees me as more than an empty-headed doll, and I will happily marry him.

Alas, I do not think he will ask. Nor would father agree to such a match.

Did I mention how much I miss you, dearest? And your friends. They were so lively. I hope they’re all doing well. And your lieutenants too. How is Lieutenant Lyrai? And Lieutenant Stirla?

I wish I could visit, since you cannot come to me. A break from town would be most welcome. Guests from across the Overworld have descended for the negotiations over Prince Henryn’s marriage and Nimbys feels quite small. Crowds gather wherever the foreign dignitaries are staying and trail their every move. You’d hate it.

March Serfyn, from the King’s Council of North Point, is staying with the Fenhays three houses along. Father deems it unacceptable, though mother often goes out to catch the attention of the press and promote the business. She is quite shameless, but you already know that.

The negotiations might continue for another month! I shall go mad. Write back soon, dearest, and take my mind away from such things. In the meantime, please take care, and send my regards to everyone.

Love to you, Cumulo and Kilai.

Your lonely, spinsterish sister,


Mhysra folded her letter and grinned. She didn’t envy her sister in the slightest; seven months in Nimbys had been more than enough.

“Everything all right?” Corin whispered, filching Mhysra’s history notes. “Is your sister getting married yet?”

“No.” Mhysra tucked the letter under her geography essay and looked busy as Lieutenant Willym walked past. Study sessions were never fun when he was around since he banned talking, smiling or enjoyment in any form. Whispers rustled in his wake, stopping the moment he turned, but the students had become adept at avoiding his notice.

Scribbling about the gently sloping mountains and agricultural yield of the Lowlands, Mhysra kept an eye on the lieutenant. “She’s turned down another three.”

Corin chuckled, squinting at Mhysra’s notes on the reign of King Meryk VI of Scudia and the Jarl uprising of 548 CE. “I’m beginning to think your sister doesn’t want to get married.”

“She does,” Mhysra murmured. “She has someone in mind, but father would never agree.”

“Who?” Corin demanded, nosy as ever. Unfortunately, she forgot to lower her voice.

Willym pounced. “All done, Student Corin? And you, Student Mhysra?”

Since their tutors delighted in giving them more work than anyone could possibly manage, it was obvious that they weren’t. Excuses were pointless, though. They shook their heads.

“No?” Willym drawled. “Then what is so important that you need to shriek about it to the entire hall?” Looming over them, he poked at their papers with his flying crop.

Mhysra bit her lip, worried he would uncover her sister’s letter, since Willym read private correspondence aloud whenever he found it. Not that there was anything to embarrass Mhysra in the letter, but she hated the thought of others making fun of her sister. Thankfully she had hidden it well, and when Willym’s insolent prodding knocked a heap of papers off the table, she slipped it into her pocket.

After he’d disrupted all their things and found nothing but lesson notes, the lieutenant sniffed. “Report to the tanners on Starday. Two bells each. Don’t let me hear another squeak from you.” Slapping his crop against his palm, he stalked off.

Corin grimaced apologetically at Mhysra and they settled back to work in silence. That didn’t mean their conversation was finished. The moment Willym was across the room, Corin nudged a note towards Mhysra. Who?

Biting her lip to restrain a smile, Mhysra scribbled, Lt. Stirla.

Corin masked her gasp under a convincing sneeze. Poor Milli!

I know. Mhysra sighed, putting her geography essay aside and fishing her arithmetic notes out of the mess Willym had made. The sums looked no more appealing now than they had the day before, or at any point during the last quarter-moon, but they were due the next morning.

Lieutenant Hlen was no trouble, though. As long as the students made an effort, he treated them fairly. If they didn’t he looked sad, which was far worse than any humiliation Willym meted out. Dhori shoved a sheet of hints across the table to help her. Grinning, she set to work, while Corin ransacked everyone’s notes for more on King Meryk. By the time the evening bell finally rang, the students were more relieved than usual: the Willym effect.

“What was all that about?” Derrain asked as they left the hall.

“A letter from Milli,” Corin said before Mhysra could reply. “She’s in love with Lieutenant Stirla, but the earl would never agree to the match.”

Mhysra scowled at her. “She isn’t in love with him. They just flirt.”

Derrain chuckled. “That’s what Corin got you two bells in the tanners for? Poor bargain.”

“I don’t mind. They’ll give me stitching.” Due to Corin, Mhysra often had punishment duty. Now that she wasn’t being forced to sew useless samplers and handkerchiefs, she’d found she had quite a skill for it.

“Lucky you,” Corin grumbled. “I always have to cure things.”

“That’s because your attempts at stitching look like a drunk spider fell into an ink pot,” Derrain told her, using Mhysra as a shield against retaliation.

“He’s right,” Dhori said, sidestepping the scuffle. “It’s quite a gift.”

Corin appealed to Mhysra for support, but she shrugged apologetically. “He has a point.”

“And you call yourselves my friends,” Corin sniffed and flounced off.

After she left, Derrain turned to Mhysra and grinned. “So, is Milli really in love with Stirla?”

* * * * *

AS THE STORM season gathered around Aquila, the first-years settled into a regular routine. They flew every day, alternating mornings and afternoons, and the rest of their time was filled with lessons. On Stardays the whole of Aquila flew, the bells calling them out to the eyries without warning. The lieutenants claimed it was good practise to spring a surprise summons, but Corin thought it was torture.

“They watch me, they must do, because the moment I go to the privy the bell rings and I’m stuck with my breeches round my ankles!”

Mhysra wouldn’t have put it past Stirla, especially after the third time Corin almost suffered an undignified accident, but she couldn’t believe it of Lyrai. He was too steady, though a lot less stern and humourless now that he had Hurricane. He was certainly better than Lieutenant Willym. Was ever a man more contemptuous? Willym looked down on everyone, but saved a particular brand of disdain for the girls. He was as bad as her father.

Their lessons ranged from geography to cooking, with arithmetic and even smith-work to keep their brains and bodies busy. They trained with staffs before breakfast, followed by swords, then archery after noon, and were sent on runs through the citadel whenever someone felt the need to give them more exercise. Captain Hylan, whose students were in the upper years, particularly enjoyed making them scurry. As one of Hylan’s Riders, Kilai assured them the captain was the nicest, quietest man they could meet. The exhausted students disagreed.

“He does have a twisted sense of humour, though,” Kilai warned, but Mhysra and her friends had already noticed.

Bad weather became so frequent that even Mouse stopped twitching at the lightning. Only Dhori continued to care, his eyes brightest when thunder was in the air.

“You’re unnatural,” Corin complained during Captain Fredkhen’s geography class. “How can you stand it? My head pounds so much I could scream.”

Dhori rubbed her tense neck. “I never claimed to be normal. Who doesn’t love the raw power of nature?”

“Me,” Haelle croaked, head on the desk, in even worse shape than Corin. “I just want one quiet day. I don’t even mind if it rains.”

“I want to fly,” Mhysra grumbled. The storms had been so thick that she hadn’t so much as sat on Cumulo for six days, and before that they’d had just two flying lessons after a three day wait. Their current lessons were confined to the eyries where everyone was taught how to feed and care for their miryhl, with loud, unimpressed huffs from Cumulo helping to keep things interesting.

“I thought you liked thunderstorms?” Derrain said, copying the map from the blackboard.

“So did I,” Mhysra agreed. “Until I moved into one.”

“You’re no fun,” Dhori sighed, staring out of the window at the rain-lashed mountain.

“I never claimed to be,” Corin replied, and groaned as thunder rolled once more.

~ Next Chapter ~

All comments welcome – and if you spot a typo, please let me know.
Thanks for reading!

Books, Overworld, Serial, Writing

Wingborn: Chapter 10, Part 3


(First time reading? Catch up Here!)

~ Previous Chapter ~

Shall we dance?

AS LYRAI MOVED around the ballroom, meeting acquaintances and dutifully writing his name on the dance cards he should, he crept closer to the top table and his mother. Occasionally he glanced at the Riders enjoying themselves, or at the flock of young men surrounding the Kilpapan daughters. Lady Milluqua handled them deftly, while her sister stood awkwardly to one side. He felt sorry for her.

On the training field Mhysra was an intelligent pupil, quiet, but willing to put herself forward when required. With her miryhl she was an undisputed expert. Here she was clearly uncomfortable. Too tall, too thin and too awkward for this gilded sphere. Having once struggled to move between such different worlds himself, he’d gladly put his name down for two dances. Even though she didn’t like him, he thought she’d find him easier to dance with than a stranger.

As he watched, Stirla insinuated himself into the group by talking to Mhysra. “Wily old fox,” Lyrai chuckled, seeing the smile of gratitude Lady Milluqua sent his friend for paying attention to her sister. Stirla was full of tricks and Lyrai didn’t doubt he would use them all before this night was through. It was just curious that a wellborn lady was his objective. Stirla rarely played his games where the odds were so heavily stacked against him.

Still, what Stirla got up to was his own business, so Lyrai approached his mother. He kept an eye out for his father, but knew the old man preferred making late entrances.

“Lyrai.” His mother angled her cheek for a kiss. “How dashing you look. There isn’t a woman present who doesn’t long to dance with you.”

He smiled at her radiant appearance. “There is only one lady I wish to dance with.”

She arched an eyebrow and chuckled. “I am long past the age for dancing, dearest.”

Looking at her golden dress, glittering with diamonds in a style that wouldn’t look amiss on a newlywed wife, Lyrai shook his head and tugged her to her feet. “Nonsense. You’re the prettiest girl here. No one would imagine you the mother of five nearly grown children. Come, dance with me, and we shall wow the city with our splendour.”

“You ask so sweetly, how could I refuse?” Resting her hand on his arm, she allowed him to sweep her onto the floor. As he swung her around she laughed like a child and he smiled to see her so happy. It reminded him of long ago days when she would visit the schoolroom to dance with him, much to the dismay of her servants and his tutors. In time his father had put a stop to it, but Lyrai still treasured the memories.

“I’ve missed dancing with you, my Lyrai,” she murmured as they stepped together, turned and joined hands with two other couples to make a circle.

When they came together again, he saw tears in her eyes and squeezed her hands. “I will always dance with you, mama.”

She smiled and when the dance was over asked to be taken back to her table, where she remained for the rest of the evening, isolated in her golden splendour. She danced with no one else and after Lyrai’s father finally arrived the gentlemen stopped asking.

* * * * *

WINCING AFTER A particularly clumsy romp with a young lord whose name she’d already forgotten, Mhysra limped back to her table. Her father was busy with an acquaintance, her mother similarly engaged across the room, while Milluqua was dancing with Lieutenant Lyrai.

Dreaming of the moment when she could take her shoes off, Mhysra watered down her wine and took a sip, thinking she ought to eat something. She wasn’t hungry, but the night was barely half done, so getting drunk probably wasn’t a good idea. Except she would have to get up if she wanted to visit the food table. Her feet throbbed. She couldn’t bear to put weight on them yet.

“Evening, my lady. May I join you?”

She looked up and smiled at Stirla. “Please do, sir. My sister won’t mind.”

“She’s a popular partner,” he said, sitting down. “I don’t think she’s sat out a single set.”

“She likes to dance.”

He smiled at the understatement and poured a glass of wine, eyes widening as he tasted it. “You have better stuff on this side of the room.”

Mhysra laughed, no longer feeling the need to perform for the strangers looking down their noses at the gangly country girl. Lieutenant Stirla knew her and she liked him. “I’d say you’re enjoying yourselves more.”

They looked at the far tables where a raucous toast was going on. “Savages.” He grinned.

She wished she could sit with them. There was no pretence with the Riders. They’d been granted an evening off and were taking full advantage of it. She wished she could do the same.

“I suppose your sister will get married soon,” Stirla said, staring at Milluqua as she skipped around Lieutenant Lyrai. They made a striking couple; her darkness complimenting his light. “Probably to some high lord or prince.”

“My parents are very ambitious,” Mhysra agreed, wondering for the first time how much say her sister would have over her own future.

Stirla’s smile was self-deprecating. “My parents are wool farmers.”

She smiled back, feeling sorry for him. “You’ll make a fine captain, sir.”

He nodded towards the floor. “I believe this is our dance.” When she cast a disgusted glance towards her slippers, he chuckled. “Or we could sit it out and have something to eat instead.”

“A damn fine captain,” she said, and he rolled his eyes as he left to fetch food for them both.

* * * * *

AS DANCES WENT, Lyrai mused while waltzing with Lady Mhysra, it wasn’t the worst he’d experienced. Some conversation might have been nice, but it was difficult to talk to one’s partner when she was watching her feet so intently. Not that he minded the quiet; he was fond of this piece of music and the orchestra played to perfection.

Despite her nerves, Lady Mhysra danced surprisingly well. Considering her age and height, she was graceful. Nothing like the beauty of movement that set her sister apart from everyone else, but for a young lady not fully grown, she did well. Years of flight gave her excellent balance and her natural rhythm made her a good partner. He was almost enjoying himself.

Until the music stopped, she stepped on his foot and someone tapped a glass.

“Sorry,” she whispered, as he helped her regain her balance.

Lyrai looked around the quiet room, saw his father standing at the top table and froze. “It’s all right,” he said, wishing he was back at the Rider tables. He felt exposed out here on the dance floor. Vulnerable.

“What’s happening?” Lady Milluqua appeared beside her sister, Stirla at her shoulder.

He raised his eyebrows expectantly at Lyrai. “Do you know anything about this?”

Lyrai shook his head. “My father doesn’t confide in me.”

“Your father?” Lady Mhysra looked up, eyes wide. “But that’s the Stratys.”


“He’s your father?” she squeaked.

He nodded, too worried and distracted to explain now, and waited with the rest of the room for the man to speak.

“My lords, ladies and distinguished guests,” Stratys Henryk III spoke into the expectant hush. “I welcome you to the Feast of Our Father of Glory, Divine Heirayk, God of the Sun. The Midsummer Ball goes back far beyond our forefathers to the days before the clouds came and our world was changed forever. A time of celebration, of veneration, to honour and thank the greatest of gods. It is an event where matches are made, promises given and futures entwined forever. A night when fresh hope is born.” He paused to raise his glass, waiting for the silence to gain an impatient edge as all wondered where his speech was going.

“Friends, I ask you to join me in celebration. Tonight, my oldest son, your beloved prince and heir to the Stratys throne, wishes me to announce his betrothal.”

A flurry of excited whispers broke out and Lyrai glanced at his brother, who looked thunderstruck, a red flush creeping up his neck. Beside him, he felt Lady Mhysra turn away and Stirla step closer.

Lady Milluqua swayed, whispering beneath her breath, “Please, no. He didn’t. He wouldn’t. He promised. Divine Lithaen aid me. He promised, Mhysra, he promised me.”

“We could not be more pleased with his choice of bride,” the Stratys continued, oblivious to the fact that his oldest son was arguing with his friends, shaking off the more persistent as he tried to leave. “Join with me, dear friends, in wishing them every future happiness.

“To Prince Henryn and Princess Demolie of Havia.”

The crowd dutifully echoed the toast, while the ballroom doors slammed shut behind Henryn.

“Oh, father,” Lyrai murmured, as the crowd began to whisper. “What have you done?”

“My apologies to your brother,” Lady Milluqua said shakily. “But I am mightily relieved.”

Lyrai stared at her, truly taking in her glowing prettiness for the first time and smiled. “As am I, my lady.” Stirla scowled at him over Milluqua’s head. Eager to annoy his friend, he bowed over her hand until he noticed that his parents were watching. He dropped it hastily.

Lady Milluqua stepped back and smoothed her skirts before turning to Stirla with a bright smile. “I believe this is our dance, lieutenant.”

“Of course, my lady.” As the music restarted, Stirla swiftly whirled his partner away.

Which left Lyrai with Mhysra, who watched him with raised eyebrows. “What are your feelings on marriage, Your Highness?”

He grimaced, having eschewed his title all his life. “Lyrai, please, or lieutenant if you must, or even sir. But I beg you, not Highness.”

Eyebrows still raised, she nodded. “I see.” He led her through a series of tight twirls. “About marriage, sir, what are your thoughts?”

“Why?” It was Lyrai’s turn to raise his eyebrows, unable to resist teasing. “Are you asking?”

He was rewarded with a horrified squeak and she stared at his shoulder again. “I thought it only fair to warn you, that’s all.”

“About what, marriage? Rest assured, my lady, I am already wary.”

Overcoming her embarrassment with visible effort, she glanced at his eyes, then quickly away. “Perhaps not wary enough. It wasn’t just your parents who watched you smile at my sister a moment ago.”

Lyrai spat a curse that would have made any proper miss swoon. Thankfully he was dancing with a Rider-in-training and she laughed, albeit softly.

“As ambitious as my parents are, at least marriage by proxy was outlawed last century,” she said. When he glared at her, she grinned. “When do you leave for Aquila?”

Not soon enough, he thought, whirling her one last time as the music slowed. “The same time you do,” he reminded her. “The end of next month.”

“You might want to go into hiding until then,” she advised. “My parents are tenacious.”

As were his. Making a great show of returning her to her table, he kissed her hand and smiled wryly. “A suitable endeavour for any Rider lieutenant.” Spotting Stirla and Milluqua approaching, he made a hasty retreat.

Now that the Stratys had arrived, the evening was stiffening up. The pitchers on the Rider tables appeared to contain more water than wine and the food was cold. As such Stirla, Fleik, Imaino and a host of others were only too happy to accompany Lyrai as he made his escape.

If several expensive bottles intended for the top table disappeared at the same time, well, it was sheer coincidence.

~ Next Chapter ~

All comments welcome – and if you spot a typo, please let me know.
Thanks for reading!

Books, Overworld, Serial, Writing

Wingborn: Chapter 10, Part 2


(First time reading? Catch up Here!)

~ Previous Chapter ~

Welcome to the Midsummer Ball!

“AN EVENING OF dancing, fine wines and even finer women – what more could a man wish for?” Stirla chortled, as they pushed through the crowd inside the ballroom. Jewels winked and glittered beneath five enormous chandeliers and everywhere glinted with gold. A rainbow of dresses swirled across the dance floor, their male counterparts almost as bright. An impressive sight, especially for four Riders more familiar with austere barracks and cold mountainsides.

Rees gave a surly grunt and tugged at his collar. “More slack in the stitching,” he growled, wandering towards the knot of Riders lingering by the punch bowl.

Despite having little desire to be present himself, Lyrai wasn’t sorry to see Rees go, though the man did have a point about the tight jackets. “How soon do you think we can unbutton?”

“Just take shallow breaths,” Honra advised.

“You’re too skinny, that’s your trouble,” Stirla said, as they accepted wine from a footman and headed for the Rift Rider table. “You need more muscle on your chest.” He thumped his own. “Then you breathe in deep at the fitting and get some give in your gear. You’re such a runt – it’s no wonder you’re trussed up tighter than a Midwinter goose.”

Lyrai shook his head and tasted his wine. “I’ll bear that in mind.” Sitting near the head of the table, he looked around for his family. He couldn’t see his father, but his brother was laughing too loudly across the room, already drunk, while two of his sisters were dancing. His mother sparkled at the top table like captured sunlight.

“See anyone interesting?” Lieutenant Fleik wanted to know. One of Myran’s senior lieutenants, he’d been patrolling the area around Nimbys for the last six months. Since the kaz-naghkt attack the captain and the rest of his flight had come into the city. They’d stayed for the festivities and would leave again in two days. Lyrai wished he was going with them.

“Lots of interest,” Imaino, the other senior lieutenant said. “But no one I know.”

“Lyrai can supply the names,” Stirla volunteered, already on his third glass of wine.

Fleik laughed and shook his head. “How, when he’s been running wild with us for five years? Society changes – only the daft rules stay the same.”

“I know some,” Lyrai replied, goaded into defending his normally despised social credentials. “That fat, bald man pawing that poor girl is Lord Leivn.”

“Leivn the Letch.” Imaino grimaced. “Even I know him.” The lieutenant came from Mistrune – an isolated, inhospitable place half-submerged in the Stormsurge most of the year – and frequently claimed to have been born under a rock. “Try again, Lyrai.”

“Aye, like the name of that little beauty.” Fleik nodded towards the door.

Lyrai recognised the man first, towering above his three companions. He carried himself like a king, dressed in the sombre dark green of his house. “Earl Kilpapan,” he told his audience. “The woman on his arm is his countess. Formerly a Wrentherin.” Dressed in the same colours, Lady Kilpapan looked small but regal, walking confidently beside her husband, every inch his equal.

Their two daughters trailed in their wake, dressed in shades of blue and gold. “The tall girl is Lady Mhysra,” he continued. “Who happens to be training with us this year.”

Fleik raised his eyebrows. “Rather forward thinking of her parents.”

Despite still having doubts about that, Lyrai smiled. “She was raised at Wrentheria.”

The Riders murmured their approval and turned to watch the family again. Fleik focused on the shorter, more curvaceous woman in gold. “And the other?”

“Lady Milluqua,” Stirla answered to general surprise, since the women he typically associated with could rarely be described as ladies. He fiddled with his wineglass. “I met her at the eyries. Looking for her sister.” Everyone watched him for a long moment, but Stirla remained silent.

Shrugging, Fleik turned away, asking Imaino, “When do we take our turn in Nimbys again?”

Stirla sighed and Lyrai smirked. His friend had failed to mention just how many times he’d met the lady at the eyries. As one of the Riders’ chief gossips, Stirla should have known better.

“You’re drooling.”

Stirla shot him a scathing look. “Why don’t you go visit your mother?”

“And dance with a pretty lady along the way?” Lyrai asked. “I just might. This uniform does all the talking for me. Do you think Lady Milluqua will approve?” He slid from the table, chuckling at the growl aimed at his back as he strode away.

* * * * *

LADY MILLUQUA KILPAPAN hid a yawn behind her fan and smiled at her sister. They had barely arrived and her dance card was almost full. Even Mhysra had accepted a few offers, though her dancing lacked confidence. Milluqua glanced across the ballroom, smiling as Mhysra looked the same way. Though many Rift Riders came from good families, they were mostly younger sons and rarely moved in society. The Nimbys Midsummer Ball was one of the few events at which they were all welcome. It certainly made things interesting.

“See anyone you know?” she murmured in her sister’s ear, watching a Rider officer make his way across the room. Even amongst the peacock shades, his scarlet coat stood out.

Pale and uncertain in her beautiful dress, Mhysra smiled weakly. “Some,” she admitted. “Captain Myran’s whole flight is here, but I only know half of them.”

“What about him?” Milluqua pointed her fan at the golden-headed officer approaching them.

“Lieutenant Lyrai,” her sister replied. “My training instructor. You’ve seen him before.”

“That’s Lyrai?” Milluqua blinked, but shut her mouth as the lieutenant bowed before them.

“Good evening, Lady Milluqua. Lady Mhysra.” He smiled politely, though his attention was mostly on Mhysra. It was an unusual sensation for Milluqua, who was used to receiving the full focus of any man in her vicinity. She was more amused than disgruntled, though, especially at her little sister’s discomfort.

“I trust you’re enjoying yourselves,” the lieutenant enquired, accepting a glass of wine from a footman. “A pleasant change from your daily routine.”

“Yes, sir,” Mhysra murmured, toying with her glass and not looking at the lieutenant.

Catching Milluqua’s eye, he smiled in silent acknowledgement of Mhysra’s shyness. “My lady, would you grant me the honour of a dance this evening?” Then, almost as an afterthought, he turned to her sister. “And you too, of course, Lady Mhysra.”

As ploys went, Milluqua thought it masterful. Now Mhysra was frowning because Lyrai had almost forgotten her and presented her dance card without protest after he scrawled on Milluqua’s. She hid her smile behind her fan when he wrote his name down twice for her little sister, after claiming only one dance with her.

“Until later, ladies,” he murmured, bowed again and left.

They watched him walk away, while Milluqua languidly plied her fan. “He seems nice.”

Mhysra started to shrug, then remembered it was undesirable behaviour in a young lady, so sighed instead. “He’s very stern. I don’t think he likes me much.”

Milluqua said nothing, concentrating on folding her fan just so.

“He envies me Cumulo. Well, most of the Riders do, but for him it’s worse since he’s grounded. At first I thought he didn’t want women in the Riders, but he treats the other girls fairly. It’s just me he doesn’t like.”

Smiling, Milluqua tucked a stray curl back into Mhysra’s chignon, proud of how elegant she looked after all the hard work of getting her to the fittings and the torture of making her sit still this afternoon to get ready. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about men, love, it’s never to second guess what they’re thinking. Especially when it comes to women. Men are rarely as complicated as we believe. I’m sure he doesn’t dislike you.”

“I hope not,” Mhysra grumbled, grimacing as she studied her dance card. “I’m to dance with him twice. Maegla preserve me, what will we talk about? I can’t even look the man in the eye.”

Delighted that her sister appeared to be noticing men at last, even if she didn’t realise it yet, Milluqua suppressed a chuckle. “I’m sure you’ll find something.”

~ Next Chapter ~

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Thanks for reading!