... those of native blood may hold no office or position of authority within these lands.
— The True and Complete Laws of Gepaul
Linsan sat on a chair next to Brook's head, holding her friend's hand as Brook slept. Even though the healers said that Brook would survive, Linsan couldn't help but worry every time a whimper of pain escaped Brook's lips or she trembled.
Miska sat on the opposite side, her head rested on Brook's pillow as she stretched out across two chairs. Pillows and blankets spilled out underneath her from her attempts to make herself comfortable.
“Miska?” Brook's voice was broken and hoarse.
Linsan sat up sharply.
“Did you get Palisis!?”
Wiping the sudden tears, Linsan nodded. “I got it back. Lord Xasnal was annoyed that I ruined his commission, but he decided that he would look the other way since Tilbin attacked first.”
She gave a rueful smile. “We don't have to even pay for the damage to his hall, but I did have to promise to play for him once everything was rebuilt.”
Brook frowned. “I'm so—”
Linsan held up her hand. “No, it's good. He's going to give me patronage for a year to let everything settle, the investigations to finish up, and your father's trial to proceed.”
Her eyes widened. “D-Daddy?”
“They caught him. He was trying to escape on a boat, but the city guard have a number of water talents and he was unable to escape. And Gabaw…” Linsan voice broke as she struggled with the words. “Gabaw made a deal with the authorities. He said he had proof that Dukan ordered the fire on our woods and was selling off Sterligs over the years. That is why Dukan had so much money, he had been trading our legacy for cash. The captain's men are escorting him back home to get it.”
Tears ran down Brook's face. “Oh, Lin. I'm so sorry. I didn't know.”
“There was… they already seized your… Dukan's assets here and back home. You got a bunch of letters from your sisters while you were unconscious. I can't imagine they are happy news.”
Brook's face fell. “Then I have nothing either.”
Miska looked up through her hair that had draped over her face. “You have us.”
Brook gave a weak effort at a smile. She pushed the hair away and looked at Miska with love and affection. “That's all I really need, right? You two?”
“That's right, Princess.” Miska leaned into Brook's hand and nuzzled it. “The healers said it would take a month or three to recover from your injuries.”
“I hope so. It really hurts right now.”
“You aren't getting out what you owe me.”
At Brook's confused look, Miska grinned. “I get a royal servant for a week, remember?”
Brook giggled and then winced. “O-Ouch.”
“Just because you got stabbed by your own father doesn't let you get out of obligations.” Miska grinned and ran her thumb along Brook's cheek.
“I know! Just don't make me laugh!”
Miska crawled onto the bed and pressed her body to Brook's. “No laughter, but you don't get to escape me.”
Brook leaned back. “I'm caught by my obligations, they are a chain around my neck.” Then she lifted her head. “Yes, I know that's from a play.”
Linsan shrugged and kept her mouth shut.
“And your mother was in it.”
It took more effort not to smirk.
Resting her head back, Brook stroked Miska's hair. “Do you think there is a chance we could seize Tilbin's, Gabaw's, and that other guy's assets?”
Linsan cocked her head. “Mayforn? Why?”
“I heard you talking back when I was upset about losing access to the bank. I thought about it while I was driving. They own the land they stole from Miska's tribe. She can't own it herself, but I know daddy got around that by having some tribal folk own stocks in a company.”
“We can't own a business either, my love.”
Brook grinned and then winced. “Owning stock is not control. If we got those assets, put it into a company, and then you and the other Feil could have their land back. At least on paper.”
Miska sighed. “How would that help? It would still be one of you in charge and that person would still be able to steal from the lands.”
“Pick someone who had your interests. I already know from daddy's… Dukan's work, that the person in charge doesn't have to be the one who makes decisions.”
Miska's face brightened. “Are you offering yourself, Princess?”
“To be your puppet leader?” Brook smiled with a blush. “Maybe. Yes. I mean, maybe.”
“Does that mean I get to stick my hand up your—?”
“No!” Brook said, her face coloring. Then she glanced at Linsan and back to Miska. “M-Maybe? If Linsan is okay with it?”
Linsan stood up. “As I told you before, you will always be my friend and I would be your lover until you find someone more worthy of the role. You've found your champion now, so I can happily go back to being merely your best friend for the rest of your life and leave you in the hands of your lover.”
Brook's eyes watered for a moment. “That's a line, isn't it?”
“I think so.” Linsan grinned broadly. “But it isn't from a play. At least not yet, I'm going to try my hand at writing one just so I can say it is.”