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."Your father's decision has nothing to do with anything Vangerdahast may have said." Filfaeril's voice cracked, but she stepped closer to her daughter and continued in an even harsher tone."The king is thinking of Cormyr.It is time for you to stop being so selfish and do the same thing."Vangerdahast's eyes grew wide."Your Majesty, you mustn't."A small wad of cotton appeared in the wizard's hand, but Filfaeril's hand was clamped on his wrist before he could speak his incantation."Vangerdahast!" Filfaeril's tone was threatening."If you cast that silence spell, even Azoun will not have the power to keep your head on your shoulders."The wad vanished into the wizard's sleeve."Filfaeril, I beg you.You're making a mistake.""Perhaps, but she has had twenty years to find a husband she likes." The queen turned back to Tanalasta."Now she will settle for Dauneth Marliir."Owden Foley stepped to the queen's side."Your Majesty, if I may, there is something you should know.""Owden, no!" Tanalasta grasped the harvestmaster's shoulder and shoved him toward a guard."This man is dismissed.""Not yet," said the king.He gestured to Owden."Is there something we should know about Tanalasta's condition?""'Condition,' father?" Tanalasta said."If there were something I thought you should-""I was talking to Owden," said Azoun.Tanalasta glared at the priest furiously."You heard the king's command."Owden swallowed hard, then looked back to Azoun."Sire, I think you should know that your daughter thinks of nothing but Cormyr.In fact, when Lady Marliir's invitation arrived at Huthduth, she told me that she would be returning to Cormyr to wed a man she did not love.""Then why isn't she?" demanded Filfaeril."I'm afraid that is my fault." Owden looked at his feet."I advised her that she would be a better queen for Cormyr if she waited until she found a man she loved."Tanalasta had to struggle to keep her surprise hidden, for she had not realized quite how effective a liar the harvestmaster could be.The truth was that Owden had wished her well and said that by all accounts Dauneth Marliir was a fine man.Then she had sneaked out for one last hike and experienced her vision, and there had been no need for Owden Foley to convince the princess of anything.Filfaeril narrowed her eyes at the harvestmaster's explanation."Under the circumstances, your advice could be considered treason.""Or sound advice." Azoun cast a stern eye in the direction of both Filfaeril and Vangerdahast."That is for Tanalasta to determine, and Tanalasta alone.What is not for her to decide is the fate of the royal temple.She will announce that Chauntea's priests have been called back to Huthduth."Vangerdahast shook his head vehemently."But Your Majesty…"Azoun raised his hand."And we will trust our war wizards to deal with the blight.Even if they take somewhat longer to stop it, the people of Cormyr will take comfort from their presence."Tanalasta's thoughts began to spin.Filfaeril's harsh words had left her so hurt and disoriented that she found it impossible to concentrate, and she could not help feeling she must have done something terrible to make the queen so angry with her.Nor could she take comfort from Vangerdahast's unexpected support.She had seen his cobra's smile charm too many foes to fall prey to its poison herself.Azoun nodded to Owden."We thank you for coming all this way, Harvestmaster, but you may take your priests and return to Huthduth.Tanalasta will see to an explanation."Owden's face showed his disappointment, but he bowed deeply to show his obedience, then turned and grasped Tanalasta's hands in farewell.As the harvestmaster said his good-byes, his words barely registered, for she suddenly felt her mother's gaze and looked over to see Filfaeril's pale eyes glaring at her.The ice in the queen's expression caused her to recoil involuntarily, and Tanalasta's earlier fury returned tenfold.No matter what her mother believed, the princess was doing the best thing for Cormyr, and allowing anyone to tell her otherwise would bring disaster down on the kingdom.When Owden started toward the stable, Tanalasta caught him by the arms."Harvestmaster Foley, the king is wrong.I am not going to explain your departure."Azoun's face grew instantly stormy."You are defying me?"Tanalasta glanced toward her mother and noticed the queen's lower lip beginning to quiver, then nodded."I must follow my convictions, Sire."Owden's face grew as pale as the king's was red."Princess Tanalasta, there is no need to argue-""But there is, Harvestmaster," said Tanalasta."Cormyr has need of you and your priests-now, and in the future.""I am king," Azoun said in that even voice he used when he was angered almost beyond control."My convictions determine what Cormyr needs.""And what happens when you are gone, father? Am I to have Vangerdahast rouse you from your rest to see what is best for the realm?" Tanalasta shook her head."I must do what I believe to be right-now, because I am certain of it, and in the future, because I will have no other choice."Vangerdahast sighed heavily and muttered something indiscernible, and Filfaeril's hand rose to her mouth.The anger vanished from her eyes, only to return a moment later when she looked in Vangerdahast's direction.Azoun merely stared at Tanalasta, his eyes growing steadily darker as he tried to bring his temper under control.Finally, he said, "Perhaps I can spare you that burden, Princess [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]