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1] Tarrant Struggled
2] Serpent Orb
3] The Founding of a Clan
4] Dragon Law
5] The Coming of the Wolf
6] Yukio's Time
7] Strangers Visit
8] Meeting of Clans
9] Blackbone's Trust
10] Lord Hideo's War
11] Whispers of War
12] A Hero Returns
Chapter 9: Blackbone's Trust

After much argument and persuasion, it was agreed that one of the old Lotus Clan scholars would be sent to tutor Blackbone's son, Brighteye, as Lord Zymeth had once done for Hideo. The Wolf Clan sought little contact with outsiders, but eventually Hideo had persuaded him that there was little harm in it, and possibly much advantage. Despite all the posturing, growling, and ill-will, peace had been kept for another year, and all parties returned home semi-satisfied.

Two months later, Hideo was out riding when the news came that fighting had broken out between the Clans. A messenger caught up to him and told him the story as they rode back to Serpentholm. Four days after the meeting of the clans, Brighteye's new tutor had arrived, a Master Warlock named Errelth. There were many in the Wolf Clan, especially among the shamans and druidesses, who did not welcome him, but Blackbone allowed it, reluctant to reverse his own decision.

However, three weeks later the shamans were proven right. Two guards had discovered Errelth crouched outside the boy's door in the dead of night, whispering and chanting in some harsh unknown language. There was no pause for discussion. With a howl of rage, one guard had assaulted the tutor with an enormous club, while the other ran to rouse the household. Brighteye awakened from troubled dreams to find a pitched battle in progress outside his bedroom, as at least thirty Wolf Clan soldiers, including Blackbone himself, engaged a lone Master Warlock. In the end, eight Wolf Clansmen had died and a third of the building had been demolished, but Errelth was dead. After an enormous brawler named Heartsclaw broke his skull open, the tutor's body had wasted away in seconds.

Or so the Wolf Clan version had it. When Hideo reached the castle, he found that another messenger had arrived from Lord Zymeth, with a different version of events in which drunken Wolf Clansmen had assaulted an aged scholar without provocation.

Already there was scattered fighting between Lotus and Wolf troops near the disputed mining camps. A third messenger had arrived, from the Serpent Clan lookout garrison near the Throne: should they stay neutral, or choose sides? And whose? But there was really no choice. Lord Zymeth had been his friend, really a second father, since he was a child, and had taught him everything he knew of statecraft. Clearing decisions with him had long since been second nature. He had no reason to distrust the Wolf Clan, but he had never particularly liked them. The way Blackbone looked at him coldly, seeming to judge him. No, there was no question about who he could trust.

Chapter 10: Lord Hideo's War