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Welcome to my column ....

I know, you are wondering how a fu dog got a gossip column, well, just wait on that, let me share the latest scraps.  I've been doing that with the best of inside sources for some time.  Other details can wait.


In this colum I thought I'd start by explaining just what the Bitter King was doing and just what was happening in the Spring Festival, especially as the world is still buzzing with gossip and guesses.

Let's start with Ariel.  Come on, people keep saying, everyone knows she already had the fountain heart of frost (or the fountain of cold as they call it in the south) as a gift from the Queen of the South -- at least if you were in the know.  Sure that is all of my readers knew that, but did everyone know she had it?  Did everyone really know that a sorcerer attached to the Bitter King had brought the real thing back from out of the world, especially just as some of his enemies were thinking of countering the Rukh's regard with cold magic?  

I don't think so. The gift giving was an easy time for him to announce that one of the sorcerers who stands behind him has that key, not to mention that she can seize control of any cold magic in range with it.  Attack him with cold magic, you not only may not freeze out the fire of the Rukh, but a sorcerer in his faction will take your power and use it for reinforcements.  That was what that was all about.

For that matter, don't tell me you believe that old mother hen when she tells you she saw the Lightwalker all along and she wasn't surprised when he appeared out of nowhere, without a ward or a guard or a magic sense fluttering.  No one saw him, nothing barred him, and the surprise was total.  You know how the gossip has been about how the Rukh "favors" the Bitter King. The Lightwalker showing up shows that her favor is an extension of his favor, not to mention that he can bring justice anywhere not better warded than the joint court hall layered with ten thousand years of sorcery.

The gift giving is also a sign that he (and by extension, Ariel's father) approves of Michael and Ariel's building relationship, not to mention, a sept of lumens?  Who has seen a real gift like that?  Might as well have given him five battalions of elvish rangers.  If you had any questions about how the war went, or the status of the Elachi, that pretty much answers it, no one who wasn't winning could give up that much power.  A king would have been happy with the gift.  If anyone doubted that Michael was a real prince (from Tindalasse's antics -- especially that "I was only going to the bathroom" moment), that should answer them.

For his daughter, Amber (hey, she got me into the gossip business), that she received a starstone word, adding depth and power to the word she wore around her neck, shows that she is still their child and headed towards great things.  With the Rukh suddenly appearing out of nowhere, it was a reminder that she can appear like that, not to mention, with the gift she gave Parakyle, a blade of solid flame for his Bardiche, with glimmers of balefire lurking, why the boy can now not only face down a dragon, now he can seriously think of dating Amber. Any young man in his right mind would be careful of Amber's mother, but that gift pretty much is the seal of approval. Not to mention, anyone thinking of challenging the snow dwarves or pitting a champion against the Bitter King has to look twice at a weapon with balefire in it. Hasn't been one of those in a long time.

Tindalasse and Amara (Thalia/Lyra/Arilindalle/many named) received blood gems from their fathers and strands of starfire from their mothers -- typical gifts from kings.  Just a sign that there is normalness somewhere in this group.  Not to mention that the "bath" incident didn't cause any real trouble.

Jean and Marie received a matched pair of heartstone rings.  Significant, that.  I'll have to drop more scraps.

But, what about Indigo and some used trinket. Did you look closelywhen Indigo was given that battered glyph -- it was a blue lodge token that brought tears to her eyes.  If you were wondering, it was supposed to give everyone a reminder that she is a blue lodge assassin, just in case her absence for a while caused anyone to forget. All of those glyphs have secrets, so it wasn't a slight as another gossip columnist thinks. Would you slight her? With the wolf around?  

As for her wolf, he received a word.  Of course, more important, if you looked closely, you noticed that the King blanched -- that word was more favor than the king had received, and a message that the possible marriage of Indigo and her wolf was going to go forward unless he fancied the Rukh favoring the next Bitter King after she ate the current one.  Who knows what he has been playing with in terms of marrying off his left hand in shadow, after all, he is an elf.  This kept him from making any mistakes.    

Then the Court noticed the Kings, the Lightwalker and Rukh and the Hetari and others, in the grand procession, blessing the Spring -- now that was just pure pagent, a last notice that the war is over and the old ways might return.  Not to mention the Hetari hadn't been there to bless the fertility of the Spring in quite some time.

As for the sneak preview below -- you saw it here first.  Not only is Parakyle up to fighting a dragon with that bardiche, but he killed a Dire. You can't see the invisible helm, but it saved him, and the balefire in the bardiche gave that Dire the last surprise in a long and evil life.

War in the far East, kidnappings, and more, plus more gossip, all in my next column.

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Copyright 2005 Stephen R. Marsh and Heather N. Marsh
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