Black Doubts – Elyriel Winters
June, 2001
Black Doubts – Elyriel Winters

Frustrated, Elyriel threw the lump of cloth and tangled thread back into her sewing basket. The wadded ball was supposed to be a ladies’ frilled vest. But Elly glared at yet another failed attempt as she rubbed the ache from her sore fingers.

It had been what? Almost ten years since she’d sewn more than a few patches onto her cloak and leggings? She was slowly remembering the things her father had taught her as a child, but hands trained to grip a mace and batter down foes were awkward with a slim needle. At best, she could turn out a few simpler pieces, but with summer setting in, the gold was in new wardrobes for Trinsic’s ladies. Her latest attempt looked more like a mouse’s nest than embroidered linen.

Deciding she could use a break, Elly slowly pushed herself up from the chair. Only five months pregnant, the bulge of her belly wasn’t that big – but she felt as awkward moving as her hands did sewing now that she was rapidly gaining weight. Stretching the kinks from her back, she wandered over to the open door and leaned against the doorframe to look out over the tiny bay.

Three days since he last came home, she thought with a sigh. Glancing back over her shoulder into the empty house, she sighed again. Three days alone, and it was only going to get worse.

He didn’t have to say anything – she knew him well enough to read the thoughts he didn’t dare voice. Their last few conversations had all wandered in the same direction. He spent nearly a month longer than she had in Jhelom. And he couldn’t quite hide the loneliness lingering in his eyes as he kissed her farewell this one last time.

He was going to go see them again. And if he could manage it, he’d come home wearing black.

Her hand settled lightly over her swollen stomach. Wraith needed companions – she knew that. She was in no condition to traipse around the world on horseback anymore. And he certainly couldn’t find better people to watch his back. She remembered their ranks resting in Trinsic. Of course there were a few incidents. A fist-fight with a loud-mouthed Yewian here, a tavern brawl with a pirate there. That was to be expected wherever mercenaries went. But they’d shown remarkable discipline too, immediately falling into rank at command. And their leaders were all men she had heard nothing but praise for. Surely Wraith would be safe and happy in their company…. So why was she so worried?

Gritting her teeth, Elly turned away from the door and went back to her chair. Picking the stitches away from the cloth wasn’t easy, but she would salvage what she could. Slowly, she realigned cloth, thread, and needle for another attempt.

With a new family on the way, they both had to do whatever they could – didn’t they?


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