00 - Chapter ?? - Terms of His Honor
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Terms Of His Honor 




Chapter  15 - Epilogue   





May, 19 years later

Albion heard the watchman's cry as he laid down his practice sword. He grabbed the towel his son tossed him and picked up the tunic he had discarded when they began the exercise. Either he was getting old or this boy was wearing him out.

He managed to pull on his tunic before he reached the courtyard. Three horsemen had arrived, bearing the purple and black colors of the McQuillion household. Connal dismounted in a single movement, the grace of his swordsman's body belying the gray at his temples.

"Connal! Good to see you, man." Albion sent a quick thought to Isolde, warning her the confrontation they had expected was coming. "You should have let us know you were coming. We'd have prepared --"

"Where is he?" Connal advanced on Albion, looking like a thundercloud. "Where is that redheaded scutt you call a seneschal? And where in God's Holy Name is my daughter?"

"Now Connal, settle down." Albion fought to keep himself between his old friend and the door to his castle. "If you will just think about this for a moment --"

"I'm thinking about murder, Cameron. And you'll be next if you don't get out of my way!"

"Connal --"

Albion's son, Jathan, caught Connal's arms and braced his feet hard to restrain the older man. At fifteen, Jathan was a tall and wiry youth but no match for Connal's size and fury.

*Leave him go.* Albion's thought met Jathan's mental laughter. *He'll settle down in a minute.*

*Hugh's in for it now.* Jathan laughed aloud as he released Connal.

Isolde met them just inside the door. From the broomstick in her hand and the expression on her face Albion knew she was braced for combat. "Connal, stop and listen before you do something you will regret."

"The only think I regret is that I did not destroy that damned portal as soon as I knew it existed!" Connal's eyes flashed fire. "Where in Hell is my daughter?"

Isolde sent Albion a frustrated look. He decided to take the problem head on.

"Connal, Alasandra and Hugh were married last night."

Connal spent the rest of his breath in a diatribe foul enough for a sailor. At last he stopped, gasped for breath and vowed, "I'll see her a widow!"

"Think about it, man. I know how you feel. I've got children, too." Albion caught Connal's arm in a friendly grip and sent a mental request for strong wine. Lots of it.

Connal's face was a mask of anguish. "You don't know how I feel. You've still got Isolde. Alasandra's all I have left."

"And you still have her, Connal. She will always be your daughter. But, remember, she is eighteen. She should have been wed long ago, and a mother."

"I will see her wed as soon as I find a man good enough for her. That redheaded barn brat is not it."

Isolde embraced Connal's shoulders gently. "Connal, Hugh has worn a knight's belt for fifteen years. He is the most honorable man I know, save only my lord Albion. And he's managed a duchy as seneschal for five years now, done well at it. What more could you ask for?"

"He could have asked me for her." Connal seized the cup from a servant and drained it in one gulp. The strength of the brandy set him coughing.

"And would you have listened?" Albion helped his friend to a chair. "I think not."

Connal held out his cup for the servant to refill. "They were married last night?"

"They could wait no longer." Isolde's smile bordered on mischief. "Alasandra has been coming to visit Hugh for some months. You're to be a grandfather by next year."

"Look at the bright side," Albion offered. "Hugh is a good man, and without lands of his own he can devote his entire attention to Derry. What's more, he loves your daughter."

Silence stretched awkwardly between them. Then, just as Albion was thinking he would have to break the conversation himself, the couple in question joined them.

Alasandra sank to her knees beside her father. Her golden hair, so like her mother's, spilled around her shoulders in a glorious riot of curls.

"Father?" Her words were a bare whisper. "Please say you're happy for us."

Hugh laid his hand on her shoulder. "I hope you're not too angry, Your Excellency."

"Angry?" Connal looked to his daughter, then up at Hugh. Tears glistened in the wrinkles around his eyes. "Do you love her, boy?"

"I do." Hugh's answer came without hesitation. "And, if I have to, I will take her into the mountains and surrender all I now hold to your justice."

"No need for that." Connal took the hand Hugh offered with a smile. "I want to see my grandchildren grow beside our colts."



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