This is an epilogue we’d intended to use at the end of Grave Mercy, then decided it detracted too much from the story’s closure. So, we offer it now to whet your appetites for Dark Triumph. Enjoy!
Grave Mercy Epilogue
After the coronation we all gather in the private rooms set aside for the duchess. She is anxious to speak with Duval and Francois, and eager also to meet the abbess of St. Mortain. Plus, we must plan what to do about Chancellor Crunard. Captain Dunois’s scouts have returned from Guerande, and we are all eager to hear their report.
“Beast is alive,” Dunois says. “Many saw him taken. He was gravely wounded, but he was alive.”
“How do you be sure they have not killed him?” the abbess asks.
“If so, they would have hung his body on the wall as warning, or stuck his head on a spike. Our scouts report this is not so.”
“Of all the men they could have taken, why Beast? Why alive? What can he do that others cannot?” the reverend mother asks.
Dunois pulls at his chin as he mulls this over. “He is best known for the battle fever that comes over him and makes him nearly invincible.”
Duval’s eyes narrow, realization dawning. “To keep him from rallying the countryside.”
When Anne frowns in question, he continues. “It was Beast who went through the countryside and rallied the peasants and farmers to our cause last time we had no money to pay soldiers. If not for him, we would never have driven the French from our soil. Marshal Rieux knows that. Indeed, he was most put out that Beast could do what he could not.”
“So they took Beast to keep him from raising the peasantry once more?”
“Exactly so. Now more than ever we need every pair of able arms to help fend off the French. With Beast captured, no one else comes close to the popularity he holds with the people.”
“Then why not just kill him?” the abbess asks.
“Because it would raise the ire of those very people Marshal Rieux wishes to keep happy. He does not want Beast martyred to the duchess’s cause, nor does he want to be burned in effigy for killing such a well-loved hero.”
“And so our brave Baron de Waroch will rot in their prison,” the duchess says, “When he should receive a hero’s welcome. Is there nothing we can do?” she turns her distressed gaze to her brother.
Duval is loath to break her heart. “We have no way into the city to get him any aid or break him free,” he explains gently.
At his words, I shift my gaze to the reverend mother who sits oh-so-silently, listening, watching, collecting information to her like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter. Our eyes meet, and still she says nothing. Slowly, I turn to the others. “But we do,” I say.
All eyes in the room look to me. I pause, hoping the abbess will step into the silence, but she does not. So I do. “We have someone in Nantes who could help him, do we not, Reverend Mother?”
Her cold blue gaze meets mine. She is not happy, not at all happy, that I have offered this information, but she cannot say so in front of the duchess and her closest advisors, whom she is supposed to serve. “Yes,” she says at last. “We do have someone inside Nantes. Someone we could use if the cause is great enough. What would you have Sybella do?”
The duchess clenches her fists and leans forward in her chair, her urgency etched upon her young face. “Rescue Beast for us, dear abbess. Break him out of his prison so the entire countryside can rally to his cause and help us drive the French from our country.”
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