The ward of castoria, p.14
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.14

           Robin Silverglate
 

  *****

  Dane paced back and forth in the richly furnished room Yara used when she conducted important business. The fact that he had been led into this room meant she was serious in her request. This was not an informal visit by any means. He had been waiting for over an hour and he had hoped to get this whole business over in ten minutes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t happening.

  He heard the door open behind him and turned around. Yara’s thick brown hair was pulled back in a long braid. She wore a bronze-colored dress with an intricate beadwork bodice. Her warm smile made him feel a little comforted even though he was worried about leaving Bryn for so long. Dane walked over to Yara and placed each hand on the side of her shoulders. He tilted his head down toward her face and rested his forehead on hers.

  Yara took her hands and placed them on each of Dane’s cheeks. She lifted his head so she could see his eyes. She smiled as she said, “Dearest Brother, it’s been too long. Why is it I have to send an official summons to see you?”

  Dane’s regret sounded sincere as he said, “My Vanguard duties have been keeping me busy. I’m truly sorry if I’ve offended you, but Tetari keeps sending me to the Reflection.”

  “Yes, I know how busy you have been,” Yara said as she motioned Dane to sit down with her. “But we live in the same house. I thought for sure I would at least see you at a meal or two. I miss you.”

  “I miss you, too,” said Dane as he reluctantly sat next to her. He decided to get it over with. “I can’t stay long though. I need to get back to the Reflection as soon as possible because I’ve made a commitment to be there. So, why did you summon me?”

  Yara gave him a reproving look and stated, “I wanted to talk to you about another type of commitment.”

  “I’m not interested in any other commitment at this time.”

  “Dane,” stated Yara, “You’ve entered your Third Age. This is the time when a man finds a wife.”

  “That is not a definite law, Yara. It is just a general expectation. I know plenty of men in their Third Age who are not yet married.”

  “And I know plenty of men who are,” Yara stated firmly. “I’ve been more than patient. It was my wish that you find someone from our province in order to share your life with, but I can tell that no young woman here has caught your interest. So, I want you to know I have no further plans on encouraging you to marry a local girl.”

  “Great,” exclaimed Dane, relieved to hear this. Over the past year, he had been forced to attend dinner parties where several single, young females were invited in the hopes that one of them would peak his interest. He was tired of fending off the advances of the overly-eager girls and having to carry on conversations with the extremely boring ones.

  Yara held up her hand and said, “Hold on a moment. All I’ve said is I have given up on finding a local girl for you. There are many girls who live in the other provinces. In fact, a marriage among our family and a foreign family could prove to be very advantageous.”

  Dane’s face turned white with dread. “I don’t want to be forced into a marriage with a stranger.”

  “I would never force you, Dane. But I’m thinking about writing letters to the major families which will ‘test the waters’ so to speak.”

  “Please do not go to such trouble.”

  “Oh, it’s no trouble. I assure you.”

  Dane took a deep breath and said, “Yara, please don’t do this. I cannot abide being paraded around to people I don’t even know. I abhor the very idea of it.” He looked at her stubbornly hardened face and was worried. They had similar discussions over the past few years and he had always been able to convince her to wait, but this time she seemed determined not to back down. He racked his brain in order to think of a convincing argument, but in the end said the only thing he knew could reliably work. “Please, Yary.”

  At the sound of his childhood name for her, Yara’s features softened a little. “It is your duty to marry soon. I don’t care whether it is with a local or foreign girl, but it needs to be soon.”

  “I promise I’ll keep looking. Just please promise me you won’t write those letters.”

  After a long moment of silence, Yara stated, “I promise. For now.”

  Dane sighed with relief and said, “Thank you. Now may I return to the Reflection?”

  “No. I expect you to stay for dinner with us tonight. It’s just the family.”

  “I don’t need to eat,” he said. “I really should get back.”

  “I insist. The children miss their uncle.” Yara gave him a look that he knew meant he could not refuse.

  He bowed to show his acquiescence and said, “I’ll go spend time with the little ones, clean up, and then be back for dinner.”

  “Thank you,” Yara said as she sat down at her desk.

  Dane left the room to go in search of his niece and nephew. He did not like that he had to stay at home for several hours longer, but there was nothing he could do about it. Even though she was his sister, Yara had been the one who raised him as a child and she deserved his respect. When she insisted on dinner, he had to comply. No matter how much he wished that he were somewhere else.
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