"My lord..." Miledha licked her lips, suddenly nervous.
"Please," he said. "Call me Roberr. You've certainly earned the right, and anyway I never had the impression that witches much cared about nobility or titles."
"I don't," said Miledha, and looked back out over the ramparts. Roberr was looking at her, but she found it easier to speak if she was looking at something else. The retreating line of carts and peasants would serve nicely. "I care about revenge. Your father... he found me when I was child, when I was hungry and afraid, and he took me in. He taught me to read and write; he recognized my talents and brought me to dame Naggia to train them. He was... I wished he was my father." She risked a glance at Roberr's face, and saw nothing but attention there: no shock, no disapproval, not even a hint of pity. "I want to protect our lands, but more than that I want them to pay: the soldiers, Captain Dezarr... even the High Lord of the Shadir, if we can manage it."
"I want your help," said Roberr suddenly, not quite interrupting her. "I think we need it. Brother Wend knows many things, but he isn't trained for battle... and the Shadir sorcerers, as you said, are strong."
Miledha nodded. Her next words... she had the impression of stepping out onto a frozen pond, not knowing if the ice would crack underneath her, or whether she could keep her balance. "I know something," she said. "I can't speak of it. It could help you against them; it could make you a champion. Only I can't bring it to you; you'll have to come with me to retrieve it." She drew a deep breath as he looked away. "Yes, I know how lunatic that sounds, and yes, I don't see how you could fail to be suspicious."
Roberr closed his eyes and rested his weight on the cold stone of the ramparts. "Is it nearby?" he asked.
"A day, to get there and back. A little more than half that if we raced."
Roberr leaned his head against the stone. "I can't do it." He straightened, and turned to look at her. "I can't leave the keep. With the enemy sitting just over the border, I can't abandon my post. Not even for something that might help me defend it."
Miledha drew a startled breath. "You don't want to avenge your father?" she asked.
Now Roberr's face looked shocked. For a long moment he didn't say anything. Then he said, "Go away."
Oh gods, did I just say that? "I'm sorry," she said.
"Leave. Now." He placed a hand on the hilt of his father's sword, which moaned in its case on his hip.
She recognized the look in his eyes, the murderous fury barely restrained. It was the same rage that haunted her, the same feral impulse that had prompted her outraged words.