Logan Gyre was sitting in the mud and blood of the battlefield of Pavvil’s Grove when Terah Graesin came to him. It was barely an hour since they’d routed the Khalidorans, when the monstrous ferali forged to devour Cenar- ia’s army had turned instead on its Khalidoran masters. Logan had issued the orders that seemed most pressing, then dismissed everyone to join the revelries that were sweeping the Cenarian camp.
Terah Graesin came to him alone. He was sitting on a low rock, heedless of the mud. His fine clothes were so spattered with blood and worse they were a total loss anyway. Terah’s dress, by contrast, was clean except for the lower fringe. She wore high shoes, but even those couldn’t keep her entirely free of the thick mud. She stopped before him. He didn’t stand.
She pretended not to notice. He pretended not to notice that her body- guards—unbloodied from battle—were hidden in the trees less than a hun- dred paces away. Terah Graesin could have only one reason to come to him: she was wondering if she was still the queen.
If Logan hadn’t been so bone-weary, he would have been amused. Terah had come to him alone as a show of vulnerability or fearlessness. “You were a hero today,” Terah said. “You stopped the Godking’s beast. They’re saying you killed him.”
Logan shook his head. He’d stabbed the ferali, and then the Godking had left it, but other men had given it more grievous wounds than he had. Something else had stopped the Godking, not Logan.
“You commanded it to destroy our enemies, and it did. You saved Cenaria.”
Logan shrugged. It already seemed long ago.
“I guess the question is,” Terah Graesin said, “did you save Cenaria for yourself, or for all of us?”
Logan spat at her feet. “Don’t give me that horseshit, Terah. You think you’re going to manipulate me? You’ve got nothing to offer, nothing to threaten. You’ve got a question for me? Have a little respect and just fucking ask.”
Terah’s back stiffened, her chin lifted, and one hand twitched, but then she stopped.
It was the hand twitch that captured Logan’s attention. If she had raised her hand, was that the sign for her men to attack? Logan looked past her into the woods at the edge of the field, but the first thing he saw wasn’t her men. He saw his own. Agon’s Dogs—including two of the astoundingly talented archers Agon had armed with Ymmuri bows and made wytch hunters—had stealthily circled behind Terah’s bodyguards. Both wytch hunters had arrows nocked, but not drawn. Both men had obviously taken care to stand where Logan could see them clearly, because none of the other Dogs were clearly visible.
One archer was alternately looking at Logan and at a target in the woods. Logan followed his eyes and saw Terah’s hidden archer, aiming at Logan, waiting for Terah’s signal. The other wytch hunter was staring at Terah Graesin’s back. They were waiting for Logan’s signal. Logan should have known his streetwise followers wouldn’t leave him alone when Terah Graesin was near.
He looked at Terah. She was slim, pretty, with imperious green eyes that reminded Logan of his mother’s. Terah thought Logan didn’t know about her men in the woods. She thought Logan didn’t know that she had the stronger hand. “You swore fealty to me this morning under less than ideal circumstances,” Terah said. “Do you intend to keep your troth, or do you intend to make yourself king?”
She couldn’t ask the question straight, could she? It just wasn’t in her, not even when she thought she had total control over Logan. She would not make a good queen.
Logan thought he’d already made his decision, but he hesitated. He remembered how it felt to be powerless in the Hole, how it felt to be powerless when Jenine, his just-wed wife, had been murdered. He remembered how disconcertingly wonderful it felt to tell Kylar to kill Gorkhy and see it done. He wondered if he would feel the same pleasure at seeing Terah Graesin die. With one nod toward those wytch hunters, he would find out. He would never feel powerless again.
His father had told him, “An oath is the measure of the man who gives it.” Logan had seen what happened when he did what he knew was right, nomatter how foolish it looked at the time. That was what rallied the Holers around him. That was what had saved his life when he was feverish and barely conscious. That was what had made Lilly—the woman the Khalidorans crafted into the ferali—turn on the Khalidorans. Ultimately, Logan’s doing what was right had saved all of Cenaria. But his father Regnus Drake had lived by his oaths, through a miserable marriage and miserable service to a petty, wicked king. He gritted his teeth all day and slept well every night. Logan didn’t know if he was as much of a man as his father. He couldn’t do it.
So he hesitated. If she raised her hand to order her men to attack, she would be breaking the covenant between lord and vassal. If she broke it, he would be free.
“Our soldiers proclaimed me king.” Logan said in a neutral tone. Lose your temper, Terah. Order the attack. Order your own death.
Terah’s eyes lit, but her voice was steady and her hand didn’t move. “Men say many things in the heat of battle. I am prepared to forgive this indiscretion.”
Is this what Kylar saved me for?
No. But this is the man I am. I am my father’s son.
Logan stood slowly so as not to alarm either side’s archers, then, slowly,
he knelt and touched Terah Graesin’s feet in submission.
Late that night, a band of Khalidorans attacked the Cenarian camp, kill-
ing dozens of drunken revelers before fleeing into the darkness. In the morning, Terah Graesin sent Logan Gyre and a thousand of his men to hunt them down.