An Introduction

You won’t believe me anyway so let’s just call it a lie from the start. A story from the bottom of these tankards.

The Heir
The Spare
The Soldier
The Scholar

That’s how the rhyme goes. And that is what we had. Until me.

I was born nine years after the others. There was talk behind hands and looks from corners of eyes, of course. But it was ignored. I was a surprise, but I was not unwelcomed.

Then I arrived, dark where the others were fair. Now the talk, and looks, had to be considered. My father never had reason to doubt my mother’s faithfulness. But enemies will have their fun. So the mage was sent for and there was hurried discussion.

And when I was presented to the people, I was as fair as my siblings standing nearby. They were told I was fragile and it was accepted. If I was shown only when the ceremony absolutely demanded it while the older children were seen more often, it was understood. And if they forgot about me between times, so much the better.

Not that I was so brushed aside by my family. That I wish made clear. I see the look in your eye, you think this the bigger lie in my lie. But it is true. I was loved no less. The older ones understood the need for the deception. They knew the care taken with me was my burden and not a boon. I was a full member of the family.

It need not be said that the glamour was the first spell I learned. Oh, we all do magic in one way or another, my family. Not spoken of much, of course. And I am the only one on my path.

No, I will not show my other face to you. You don’t believe me, remember.

But I will answer your question and say why I left them. No, you didn’t ask that, you didn’t have to. That look from before, remember? Here, let me pour you some more.

No, I left because even a frail, last-born can be considered a prize by some families. And I was nearing the age that the ‘chance meetings’ would begin.

So we made the announcement that I was leaving. Off in search of better health, to better serve the family line, as it were. Made a festival of it, everyone saw me off. Few expected the figure they saw to return. But they had the four they needed, so I was expendable and there was little real concern.

And now I make my way, far from my home.

I see the look that’s in your eye now. Another one, playing at a title to impress. To give a story instead of coin. Because, you say to yourself, why share such a dangerous tale, when there must be those who would pay for it? And you would be right.

Were you to live long enough to tell it.

Ah, the surprise. Yes, my companions are most noble and would never lower themselves to this. That is why they have me.

For things exactly like this.

Good-bye.