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A chill, early spring breeze tugged at Linwyn’s auburn braids, sending them streaming through the air behind her as she rode through the streets of Belierumar. Her mare pranced beneath her. Linwyn gave her restive mount a comforting pat on the neck. Soon they would be outside the city gates, and they could have a proper ride.

People waved to her as she passed. She flashed each of them an answering grin. Between the sword at her hip and the chain mail that glinted from beneath a surcoat that had been dyed the maroon, black, and dark blue of the city, she was instantly recognizable as a member of Belierumar’s army. Her pale-blue cloak billowed in the breeze, revealing her status as a commander. Only one woman in all the city had been deemed worthy of that rank. It meant every bit as much to her as being the daughter of Belierumar’s Ruling Lord. She sat proudly in the saddle, her hand resting lightly on the pommel of her sword.

Golaron rode behind her. Even without looking, she knew exactly where he was. Her twin brother might not be as outgoing, but he was still well-liked by the people. She glanced over her shoulder to see him returning their greetings with a quiet smile. She took the opportunity to observe him.

Although he seemed perfectly at ease on his dappled gray gelding, she could sense a tension in his shoulders beneath his armor and commander’s cloak. His high cheekbones and stubborn chin were a mirror of her own, but the similarities ended there. The braids beneath his helm were short and dark. Unlike his sister, who had inherited their father’s deep blue eyes, Golaron’s were a murky hazel, a match for the mother they had lost during childbirth. Although he was smiling, there was a tightness behind his expression.

Perhaps Father has been giving him a hard time. Again. No wonder he was so eager to go for a ride.

Not for the first time, Linwyn wished Golaron and their father could get along. She knew their father was to blame for the rift, but that didn’t make matters any easier for her when she ended up caught in the middle of one of their squabbles. She loved her father dearly, but Golaron was her twin. She and her brother shared a bond their father would never understand. Still, it made her wary of siding with Golaron against him. She worried her bond with Golaron might cloud her judgment, or that she would seem to be playing favorites.

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