"My lord," Trevleyan said, bowing as he crossed the threshold of Lord Kale's study. Lord Kale looked up from his desk and set his ledger down. He absently patted his dog's head and stood up.
"Trevleyan, you need not stand on ceremony with me," Lord Kale said. "You are my equal, and have been ever since your parents were killed." He gestured for the other elf to take the seat across the desk.
Lord Kale continued, "I am getting on in years, my friend. I would like to know that my House is in capable hands." Trevleyan fidgeted in his chair, unsure of where the older elf was going with the conversation. "My daughter, Lessa . . . you were close to her once, were you not?"
"My lord, what is it that you ask of me?" Trevleyan raised his eyes to meet Kale's intense stare. He didn't like the expression he found there. Kale looked . . . all too duplicitous.
"I want you to marry Lessa," Lord Kale said, point-blank. "I do not wish her to rule the House alone, and she has never shown interest in any other elf. I will not have my House ruled by a single woman."
Trevleyan frowned inwardly. He thought Lessa a perfectly capable woman, a bit willful perhaps, but most certainly strong enough to rule. "What of Elden, my lord? He is . . ."
"Elden is not . . . a moral man," Kale replied slowly. "Do you know how many serving girls I have had to dismiss because of him? I cannot have half breedlings in the line for succession. Trevleyan, you are as a son to me, a true son. I wish you to marry Lessa and rule over House Unicorn after I am dead."
Trevleyan sighed. "I will not promise you anything, my lord."
Lord Kale grasped the younger elf's hand. "You must rule," he hissed. "Elden will not, and neither will Lessa, without you."
Rising from his chair, Trevleyan inclined his head in a half bow, then strode out of the study. Lord Kale stared across the room into the fire. "My children . . . " he murmured.
Trevleyan closed the door to the study softly behind him as he left. He turned to go upstairs, and paused.
"What did my father say?" Lessa demanded, crossing her arms and glaring at him. He looked at her, noticing her angrily set mouth and flashing eyes.
"You must've heard, Lessa," Trevleyan replied coolly. "How long have you been standing here?" She took a step forward and poked him in the chest.
"I won't marry you," she snarled. "Not to please my father, and certainly not in order to rule the House."
"You have no desire to rule?" he asked, surprised.
"Of course I do, you blasted idiot. I just don't intend to share power with you, or anyone else. So you can tell him your little deal is off." She whirled around and stalked out of the hall.
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