“But an Earth Child is a gift from the Elyon! Elymas wouldn’t dare kill him.”
“Elymas has been killing his replacements shortly after he became Earth Skyll himself.” Nan Maura’s voice was hollow. “I’ve seen them in dreams from which I couldn’t waken. Sweet angels frozen in death.” She paused to look at the Queen. “Laveth, if I’m not to take the child to Ron Jonna then who—” She stopped, looking as though she wished to bite her tongue.
“Mirella, you must carry the prince to the Shautu at Ron Jonna.”
“No!” shouted Mirella, then covered her mouth. She was talking to the Queen.
“You must,” All maternal softness was gone from Laveth’s face, in its place was determination, compelling and fixed. “You know the way, Mirella, and you are young. I will arrange it this evening if you say yes.”
“This evening!” Nan Maura roared in protest. “Impossible!”
“My Queen, I’m yours to command,” Mirella curtsied, then glanced at Nan Maura. “Is it possible?”
“Impossible, no. Difficult, yes.” The Queen answered truthfully. “My son is young and used to tender care, but you know the way and the snows have yet to come. Other arrangements will be more difficult. Nan Maura, I’m counting on you to help.”
The old nurse nodded, though she was sobbing. Her mettle had vanished. Mirella knew her anger would return, undoubtedly directed at her, but for the moment she was just an old woman brimming with sorrow.
“It is a night for tears,” remarked Laveth. “All around.”
Mirella said nothing, staring down at the bundle thrust in her arms. The prince stared up at her. He was a good baby, not given to squalling, and though there’d been some trouble with colic, it had cleared up. Soon, she’d be all he knew of a mother, and she barely remembered her own. She tried to look away from the baby’s blue-eyed gaze, but couldn’t.
“Go now to the entrance hall, Mirella, and prepare to act like a lovesick girl,” the Queen commanded.
Mirella turned to go.
“Wait, first give me the child.”