Roberr closed the door behind Sir Berrn, and dropped the bar into place. With Brother Wend gone, he couldn't be sure that the witch wasn't in the room with them, but unless she could walk through walls, the sheer number of people filing out should have kept her from slipping in. "Mother?"
Lady Langoish closed her eyes and folded her hands. Roberr had never been certain if the gesture was actually a sign of prayer, but it always foretold some some special difficulty. His mother was tall and willowy, beautiful in a way that sharply contrasted his father's heavyset plainness. Roberr had come out somewhere in between, neither as stocky as his father nor as slim as his mother.
He was just on the point of turning away when she spoke. "Your father always had an interest in that child. For a time, I thought she might be his - a sister of yours, from the wrong side of the bed. I made inquiries, but it seems she is not. She was merely a beggar, working small tricks of light in exchange for coins. Your father took her in, had her fed and taught, and turned her over to old dame Naggia. If she knows her own history, she had reason enough to ride out to battle with your father -- and he had reason to order her back, just as he did with you. I do not know the child, but she might well be willing to kill his killers, especially to retrieve his sword."
"You don't believe she's a traitor," said Roberr.
"I wish I knew," his mother said. "No, I don't believe she is. And even if she were what I once suspected, proof of your father's betrayal, we would still need her help. Arkiber's story isn't the only one I've heard; she's strong."
Roberr held himself still while he considered that. His parents had always been together. They had had their disagreements, but they had always been united. The idea that his mother had ever suspected his father of infidelity... but she had confirmed what he would have told her: that his father had always been loyal, that whatever their differences he had always been devoted to her. "Thank you, mother," he said at last. And then, because it seemed to need to be said, he added: "I'm sorry you had cause to doubt him."
"I had cause to question him," his mother corrected. "I should never have doubted him."
His mother had never been demonstrative. She wore the black of mourning garb, just as he did; but she neither collapsed, nor sobbed, nor clutched at her only son. Her untouched stillness spoke of grief more eloquently than a hundred eulogies ever could; and Roberr, who had never known quite what to make of his father, could only stand in stillness with her.