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Chapter  I


  Derry didn't often come down to the seashore. It wasn't that he didn't like the water or got seasick when they were out on Rhafallia, but it was not his favorite spot in Corwyn. There was just something unsettling about the closeness of all that water to a man born and raised inland.

This particular morning, however, he had been restless. He wasn't quite sure why, other than the fact that Morgan was deeply involved in duchy business and Derry had very little to do. So he left the castle proper and found himself turning toward the ocean front. The ride down had been pleasant. The morning was bright and warm, and the closer he got to the shoreline, the more he could smell and taste the tang of salt air. He dismounted and left his horse where the animal could still find the tough, scrubby grass growing this close to the ocean to graze on. Scrambling over the lip of a dune, his boots half-sliding down the shifting sand, he approached the edge of the water.

The sky was deep blue this morning, with almost no clouds. It would be hot later. But right now, this close to the water, the breeze was cool as it ruffled through Derry's dark curls. Reflecting the sky, the water itself was a deep blue-green. Gazing out across the white-capped waves, Derry thought that if he stared hard enough, he could just make out the outline of the Hort of Orsal across the bay. He began to walk along the shore, skirting around the rocky outcroppings that marked the shoreline of the Duchy of Corwyn. He breathed in the salty air and listened to the sound of the waves as they rolled in and broke against the rocks. He was watching the wheeling and spinning of the gulls in the air above his head as he approached a long strand of rocks jutting from the shore out into the bay, most of them only visible at low tide. He decided he would turn back to his horse when he reached the rocks.

And then he saw her.




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