Name: Nancy S. Brandt
Title: Sword & Illusion
The bedchamber on the top floor of the mountain hermitage was dark and he was almost overwhelmed with the heavy odors of incense and lemon weed. Several Monks of the Tinaldor Order, charged with caring for the dying and unwanted, hovered around the opulent bed, praying and waving smoldering sticks over the woman lying there.
Prince Varian, ruler of Tellan, entered the room and stared at the thin, weak figure who lay there.
His illusory disguise slipped a little when he recognized the face of Princess Violetta Eugenia Francine. As grief and regret overwhelmed him, the minimal concentration required for the spell was disrupted a bit. Fortunately, the monks attending her were not looking in his direction when it happened.
As far as they knew, he was Emory, Duke of Wellsbury, an elderly relative of Violetta's from Andarnnon.
He grabbed the door frame to steady the trembling that shook him. The urge to turn and leave this place was strong, but he had to talk to her, had to find out why she'd left him, why she'd stayed away and let him think she'd died.
Memories of seeing another wife, and an infant son, lying dead in their bed were still fresh in his mind and his heart ached to escape, but Varian wanted to be as strong as possible to hear whatever she had to say.
He took a deep breath and pulled himself together.
"I am gratified you came, Your Grace," Violetta said as he walked farther into the room.