Today is the release of “The Duke’s Daughter”, a prequel to the Wyld Magic series. It’s a novella about Korinna before the events of A Flight of Marewings. I hope it helps to shed some light on her hopes and feelings before the death of her father overturns her life.
Korinna is the daughter of the duke’s mistress. She and her mother were sent to a farming estate in the country to avoid political complications for her father. Her mother hopes that someday, the duke will bring them to the capital and marry her at last, but he keeps putting them off with excuses. But he has his own plans to arrange a marriage for Korinna when she comes of age.
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The healer, an old woman named Nysa, lived in a little tower on the wall, with her own herb garden in the courtyard below. Since they didn’t know what kind of illness had struck the tanner and his wife, she brought an entire healing kit along with her, a heavy basket stuffed with packets and jars of medicine. Korinna offered to carry it but the healer clutched the basket as if it were more precious than gold.
The tanner’s cottage was easy to find in the village, standing some distance apart from its neighbors to keep the smell of curing hides from disturbing the other villagers. But when they were still some yards down the street from the home, Nysa put her hand out and stopped the rest of the group.
“Don’t go any closer,” the healer warned. “This is no ordinary sickness.” She pointed at something along the ground near the cottage.
Korinna looked where the healer was pointing and saw a creeping black fog across the ground, despite the sun high in the clear blue sky. “What is that?”
Nysa’s face had turned pale, and she cupped her hand to her forehead, invoking the gods’ blessing. “Tryphaestos save us,” she said in a shaky voice, praying to the god of healing. “It’s miasma, bringing the Black Death upon us again. You must fetch the priest and pray that he can drive it away before it spreads any farther.”
Korinna had never seen miasma before; the last time it had struck, she was only an infant, but she’d heard stories about the destruction that followed in its wake. “Where is Father Isokytres today?” she murmured to Aeson. She knew the local priest traveled out from his shrine on a weekly rotation, visiting all of the villages under his protection, but in her moment of panic, she couldn’t remember which one he was scheduled to be at.
Aeson licked his lips nervously. “Um, Sestyn, I’m pretty sure.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “Take the boy back to the manor, and I’ll go.”
Korinna put her hand on top of his, grateful for the comfort, but she shook her head. “I’m a better runner,” she said with a faint smile. “I’ll get the priest. Go tell the guards to quarantine off this area—if anyone needs shelter, they can come to the manor.” She stepped closer, craning her neck to whisper in his ear. “Try not to let my mother hear about this yet.”
Aeson bent toward her, and his eyes locked on hers as if he was trying to convey some message to her by look alone. The air between them was charged with something Korinna had never felt before. But when he finally spoke, he only said, “Yes, my lady.”
Korinna forced herself to clear her mind, tied her skirts up at her waist to be out of her way, and took off running without another look back. She stretched out her legs and took deep breaths, pacing herself as she followed the road north. Sestyn was only the next village up the river, but it was five miles, and she needed to save her strength to make it the whole way. Slow and steady would serve her better than an all-out sprint.