Stellia stares at Tylvanor in disbelief.
She suspected that he was more than just an urchin. But of noble blood?
“Anyone could claim that,” Garroth grumbles. “Where is the proof?”
Tylvanor does not protest. Tears trickle down his cheeks, leaving trails in the grime covering his face.
“If what you tell us is true,” Sedwin says, “then you have all the proof we require. You need but show it to us.”
Tylvanor looks up, a deep frown cleaving his brow. Still, he does not speak.
“I heard a story some years ago,” Sedwin continues. “From a man who once met the margrave, and had the great honor of sparring with him. He told me Lord Ellyan was an accomplished fencer.”
“It was an understatement.” Tylvanor runs a stained sleeve over his eyes. It soaks up the tears, but leaves his face even more smudged and mottled. “In all of Baramond, none knew how to wield a backsword more skillfully than my father. He would not have wasted his time fencing with just anyone. Where would you have met the kind of man he would have sparred with?” His eyes dart to Garroth, then back to Sedwin. “Who are you?”
“We are travelers, as I told you before.” Sedwin smiles. “Travelers who are good at meeting people, and listening to their stories. If you want this dagger back, you will tell me a story as well.”
Tylvanor wrinkles his nose. “You will find that I’m telling the truth, in the end. And when you do, you will regret the insolence with which you’ve treated me.”
“The truth comes often at the price of regrets,” Sedwin says. “I’ve always found it worth the expense. Now, the man in question told me it was summer when he and the margrave sparred, and they broke a mighty sweat. After their training, they removed their armor and jupons, and stripped to the waist to refresh themselves at a fountain. He noticed then that Lord Ellyan had a curious birthmark on his chest, underneath the spot where his heart would be.”
“And now you’ll ask me to describe it to you,” Tylvanor says. “But what would that prove? The man in your story could do the same. It would not make him my father’s child.”
“True,” Sedwin says. “But there’s more to my tale, and it may yet provide us with a path to certainty. Now, Duke Ellyan’s sparring partner could not help being intrigued by the peculiar mark, and his gaze must have lingered on it overlong, for the margrave noticed. Ashamed to have stared so, the man apologized, but the margrave smiled, and put him at ease, and assured him that he was quite aware of the striking nature of the birthmark. He went on to explain that it was a curious thing indeed, for it was hereditary, and passed on to him by his father, and his father’s father, and so on, and that it always appeared in the same spot on the inheritor’s body, and that it was the same with both of his children, as well.” Here, Sedwin pauses. “Surely you see now why I am telling you this?”
“Only a fool would fail to see your intent.”
“Well, then!” Garroth looks expectantly at Tylvanor. “Being no fool, and having so keenly understood, show us.”
NEXT: Red In Color Like Rich Wine