The Hero And The Crown

Part One Chapter 1
To Terri

The Hero and the Crown takes place some considerable span of years before the time of The Blue Sword. There are a few fairly dramatic topographical differences between the Damar of Aerin's day and that of Harry's.

Part One

Chapter 1

SHE COULD NOT REMEMBER a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it. She supposed someone must have told her it, sometime, but she could not remember the telling. She was beyond having to blink back tears when she thought of those things the story explained, but when she was feeling smaller and shabbier than usual in the large vivid City high in the Damarian Hills she still found herself brooding about them; and brooding sometimes brought on a tight headachy feeling around her temples, a feeling like suppressed tears.

She brooded, looking out over the wide low sill of the stone window-frame; she looked up, into the Hills, because the glassy surface of the courtyard was too bright at midday to stare at long. Her mind ran down an old familiar track: Who might have told her the story? It wouldn't have been her father who told her, for he had rarely spoken more than a few words together to her when she was younger; his slow kind smiles and slightly preoccupied air had been the most she knew of him. She had always known that he was fond of her, which was something; but she had only recently begun to come into focus for him, and that, as he had told her himself, in an unexpected fashion. He had the best - the only - right to have told her the story of her birth, but he would not have done so.

Nor would it have been the hafor, the folk of the household; they were polite to her always, in their wary way, and reserved, and spoke to her only about household details. It surprised her that they still remembered to be wary, for she had long since proven that she possessed nothing to be wary about. Royal children were usually somewhat alarming to be in daily contact with, for their Gifts often erupted in abrupt and unexpected ways. It was a little surprising, even, that the hafor still bothered to treat her with respect, for the fact that she was her father's daughter was supported by nothing but the fact that her father's wife had borne her. But then, for all that was said about her mother, no one ever suggested that she was not an honest wife.

And she would not have run and told tales on any of the hafor who slighted her, as Galanna would - and regularly did, even though everyone treated her with the greatest deference humanly possible. Galanna's Gift, it was dryly said, was to be impossible to please. But perhaps from the hafor's viewpoint it was not worth the risk to discover any points of similarity or dissimilarity between herself and Galanna; and a life of service in a household that included Galanna doubtless rendered anyone who withstood it automatically wary and respectful of anything that moved. She smiled. She could see the wind stir the treetops, for the surface of the Hills seemed to ripple beneath the blue sky; the breeze, when it slid through her window, smelled of leaves.

It might very well have been Galanna who told her the story, come to that. It would be like her; and Galanna had always hated her - still did, for all that she was grown now, and married besides, to Perlith, who was a second