“We had a bargain. Iona for the tiles. You broke your word!” M’Lady felt the old hatred rise from her belly. This was the man who stole everything from her and gave her nothing in return. Her mother, only the mistress, had been displaced when his lordship’s father married another. Now she was little more than a bastard in the eyes of the islanders. It hurt that she was M’Lady only in the confines of the Temple. She stood, confronting her half brother but was careful to leave her desk between them. He seemed calm now, but M’Lady had seen him enraged. Even when he was but a small child, it had scared her. No, best to have distance between them.
“I told you I would bring them to you if I had them. Until now, I did not have them. Brachaia, enough squabbling.”
“M’Lady. My name is M’Lady now. Call me M’Lady.”
“Brachaia, do you want the tiles or not? If you do, the price is the return of my daughter.”
“What makes you so sure I have her? Didn’t I hear she was taken by the crocodiles?” For a moment M’lady rejoiced in the pain she saw on her brother’s face, but he kept his gaze steady, staring her straight in the eye.
“I did not come here to squabble with you. Are you trading my daughter for the tiles, or must I use force to get her back?”
“I do not believe you have the tiles.”
M’Lady watched as his Lordship reached into his pocket and pulled out a wadded handkerchief. “If I have the tiles, do we have a bargain?”
His lordship opened the handkerchief, careful not to touch the tile. “Take it,” he said.
M’Lady grabbed the tile hungrily. Was it real? What of Toko’s vision? Was it buried or was this it?
“How many more are there?”
“I did not count them.”
“How do you read them?”
“There is a parchment folded in the box. It has the meaning of all the pictures.”
M’lady inspected the tile more closely. An erupting volcano. “What does this mean?”
“Is it not clear? Destruction. Do we have a deal or not?”
M’Lady sent her senses out to the wooden tile, asking only if his lordship had told her the truth. The earth rumbled beneath her. A good sign.
“I heard they were buried on the shore,” M’Lady said.
“Were buried on the shore.”
“How did you get them?”
“Nanna brought them to me.”
“I do not know. Do you want them or not?”
“Can Nanna read them?”
“No! Enough stalling. Do you have my daughter?”
“I might know where she is.”
“Do we have a deal?”
M’Lady inspected the tile again. Again the earth rumbled beneath her. She would not need Toko to read the tiles. They were talking to her, she was sure of it.
“Perhaps. I will see if I can get her back for you.”
“I am confident that you can. Tomorrow night bring Sonsee-array to the shore beneath the Temple. If she is alive and well, I will give you the tiles.”
“How do I know you will not have your men there, ready to ambush me?”
“How do I know you will not bring sorcery to the meeting?”
“You do not.”
“And neither do you. Brachaia, I am Lord of the Island now, not my father. Do not toy with me. I made a promise to you. I have found the tiles after all these years and I shall honor our bargain because I am an honest man. I only ask for my daughter in return. Do you accept, or shall I have my men come and take you?”
“On what grounds?”
“I am Lord here. I do not need grounds. ”
M’Lady knew that was true. Her choices were obvious. Kill Toko and dispose of her body before his Lordship searched the temple, or trade her for the tiles. She wanted those tiles.
“I know who has her. I can get her here. Tomorrow night. Bring the tiles and I will have the girl.”
“I will be at the shore below the temple. We have a deal then?”
“We have a deal.”
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