“An eye for an eye, Fianait.” Belgair toasted the painting. “No one does it better than a Doherty.” He lowered the glass of whiskey to the table after draining it.

Belgair realized he had had too much of the potent liquor when sleep overcame him, and he slipped into dreams guided by memories.

Once more he was sixteen. Tremayne was in his prime then, a mere forty-six years old. Mael, Belgair’s only full brother, was fourteen.

Belgair and Mael were the stoutest of the brothers, bigger boned and heavy through the shoulders. Tremayne. Selyv, and Ysgonan were full brothers, born to their father’s first wife, and true to the Doherty blood by being slender blondes.

Rumors had been running rampant that Selyv had murdered his wife when she failed to give him a son.
It was not entirely true, but true enough. When the temple refused to grant Selyv a divorce, Tremayne had suffocated the bitch one night. Belgair had held her down while Tremayne covered her face with a pillow and held it there until she stopped breathing.

As the breath of memory blew across him, Belgair found himself once more in the darkened room. Shadows lay thick about everything, blurring the outlines of the furnishings until only the huge curtained bed remained clear. A blood red light limned it as dreams impinged upon memories to alter the landscape to the edge of unreality. The bed had haunted Belgair. Belgair vividly remembered the dark amber velvet of the curtains. A whisper of lucidity imposed itself, murmuring that it should have been pale green, that the amber draperies belonged to his brother’s third wife, not his first.

He stared between the curtains of that heavy bed, large enough to sleep four myn, and made out the sleeping form of Morrin Doherty. Tension twined through his body, rising from his gut to his throat. Her blonde hair lay about her face in curls that slowly shaped themselves like vines and flowers until they became a forest of daffodils. White as death, the blooms of Asphodel lay sprinkled amidst the yellow sprinkled: asphodel, which bloomed most heavily upon the battlefields, drawing its sustenance from the blood of the slain.

Belgair made out the forms of his four brothers watching her as silently as himself. Tremayne gestured, tight-lipped and emotionless. The eldest brother, leader in all they did, was obeyed. Fourteen-year-old Mael moved to the door to watch for anyone who might approach.

Gaunt Selyv stood with his arms crossed, waiting for his moment. Belgair climbed onto the bed from the left and Tremayne crawled across it from the other side.

Morrin stirred as the bed creaked under their weight. “Selyv?”

Belgair siezed her arms and Ysgonin lunged to grasp her ankles.

“Yes, darling Morrin.” Selyv unfolded his arms to stroke her face. “I’ve come for my divorce.”

Fear flashed across her features and, before she could cry out, Tremayne pressed the pillow over her face.

Morrin bucked and writhed, but could not free herself.

Belgair’s heart raced and a flush of adrenaline lit his face, speeding his sensations and salting them with feelings of power. His member hardened and giddiness stained his perceptions.

Her struggles grew weaker and finally stopped entirely. Belgair started to release his grip on her arms, but Tremayne shook his head and continued to hold the pillow in place.

The eldest brother studied her chest for movement, smiled, and lifted the pillow away. The color had faded from her face, her mouth gaped open and her eyes stared sightlessly.

Selyv laughed. “Well that’s done. Now, excuse me, my brothers. Gleda is waiting for me to fill her hole with something friendly.”

Belgair slid off the bed, with a nervous giggle. “That was so easy.”

Tremayne threw him a contemptuous gaze. “You sound like a nancidawg.”

Belgair sobered. “I–I meant it surprised me. That’s all.”

“It shouldn’t have.”

Belgair wilted under his brother’s contempt. “It went well, Tremayne. That’s all I meant.”

“I know what you meant. Enough of it, Belgair. Examine her nostrils and mouth for fibers. That’s the first thing the Guild would check for. Make certain she’s clean.”

The scene faded into another. Belgair and his brothers stood in the home of Morrin’s father. They had killed the servants first and then the adults. There would be no more rumors that Selyv had murdered Morrin.

Belgair stared down into an infant’s crib. The two month old boy was crying. Belgair held his knife ready, and yet he hesitated.

Tremayne glared at him. “Do it.”

Belgair glanced up and then down at the child again. “I–I–”

“Damnit.” Tremayne seized Belgair’s wrist and forced the blade into the infant’s chest.

Belgair flinched, earning himself a slap across the face from Tremayne.

“You’re a Doherty, Belgair! Show some spine.”

“I’m sorry, Tremayne. I won’t ever hesitate again. I swear it.”