Faint Heart, Foul Lady: A Novelette: & Bonus Story: Night Life
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In "Faint Heart, Foul Lady," Bran achieves his knighthood and has a mission: find the knight who killed his father and fight him to reclaim the family's honor. But Bran is clumsy and cowardly; his only real skill is with a harp. Still, he sets out in search of his destiny, and finds surprises, a dragon, a princess, and a companion on the way.
"Night Life" explores the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" from the point of view of one of the princesses.
that however dull daytime life was, it still had the power to invade the nights. We were all twelve nodding over our embroidery frames the next afternoon when my sister Aprilla poked me with her needle hard enough to draw blood. I jerked awake and looked at her, my needle raised, ready to cross needles with her, but she said, “Hist! I have it from the cobbler’s boy that Father has been searching for a spy again, inviting anyone to come and catch us in our journey. He promises marriage to one of
us and half the kingdom to the man who discovers where we go at night.” I tapped Maya on my other side, and whispered the news to her, and she tapped Junia, until we all knew the same thing. Yarnmistress Teazel was sleeping and noticed nothing. My father had recruited spies before, but we had always defeated them. Usually it was as simple as having whichever of us caught the spy’s eye offer him a sleeping posset before we went to bed. Once or twice a spy resisted, and then Septima practiced an
frowned. He was not allowed to question my choices, but I could nearly hear his thoughts. The light lance, not tipped with iron like the heavy lance, would not even pierce the monster’s hide, should I be lucky enough to land a blow. I held out my hand, and he put the light lance into it. I thought fondly of my lady Amicia, in whose honor I had vowed to fight. I couched the lance and charged, my heart pounding faster than my horse’s hooves. I pointed the tip of my lance at the damsel’s head.
yellow fires within. She leapt on me then. There had been no challenge, and I was unarmed and surprised. But still, by my greater size and my small skill in hand-to-hand, I would have thought I could overmaster her. It did not thus transpire. Soon she sat atop me, her hands crushing my wrists to the floor despite my struggles. “Yield,” she whispered between clenched teeth. I fought to flip us over, and could not. Her muscles had set like iron; she sat unmoving on my stomach, heavier by far than
battle right,” Nix said. She rode to the pack mule and took the heaviest lance we had. “Knight! For all the evil you have done, repent you, and prepare to die!” “I do not fight children.” “Call me a dwarf then, and have at you!” The Knight of the Pearl laughed. Nix sat her pony, with her lance couched, and waited. Sir Wulfric turned three shades of purple. Eudo spoke softly to him and they both rode to the side of the ground. Tegwen stared long at me, then bit her lip and looked away. I