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Duke Rorrick Vihrea wanted to tear the parchment he held into two. And then he wanted to shred it into a million tiny pieces. Instead, he settled for crumpling it in his fist and tossing it to the floor.

And then he let out a sob.

It was the first time he'd been alone in days. And it was the first time he had finally allowed himself to process what had happened in those weeks prior, when Conal had betrayed them, Ripley had been taken hostage by his cousin, and Blayre had disappeared from Emares without so much as a trace.

Twelve hells, everything sucked right about now.

Wiping at scruffy cheeks – he hadn't cared much to keep himself clean shaven these past few weeks, and his beard had grown in even more copper-red than his hair – he took a deep breath and reached for the paper again. Rory smoothed it out against his thigh and folded it carefully this time, placing it in his breeches pocket.

A knock sounded at the door to his room at the townhouse in Port Roubeles and though he didn't respond, it creaked open anyway, a head of raven-black hair poking inside.

"Are you coming to eat?" Said Alessa.

The savory scents of delicious food wafted in through the open door. Rory's stomach growled in loud protest of the fact that he hadn't eaten in hours.

Instead he'd spent every waking moment scoring the city of Port Roubeles for Blayre. And so far, all he'd come up with was that this was the last place she'd been seen – and even that fact had been difficult to dig up. And after that – it was as though she had vanished into thin air.

But with a dragon egg. How did one go unnoticed with a giant, colorful dragon egg?

Alessa said it was the rebel mage. Caval. Rory clenched his teeth.

He didn't disagree with the cause of the rebels. In fact he was quite on their side. No matter what Briannon thought of it. That day that he had gone to her, requesting permission to go after Blayre, he had seen a side of his cousin that he had never expected. Briannon was a cunning, powerful, deceitful ruler.

And now she had Ripley. And now, even if he had wanted to, Rory had to bring Blayre and the egg back, or Ripley's life was forfeit. An unmarked mage who had been willingly hiding his power for as long as Ripley had would be marked a criminal and – Rory did not want to think of what the consequences would be. He had turned the other cheek to too many other trials of unmarked mages.


He looked up again. "Sorry, Alessa. I will be right down."

"I will come back up here again if you're not," She threatened, dark eyes glinting. In the friendliest way possible. She left the door cracked behind her.

Rory rubbed at his face, taking a deep breath. Twelve hells, he was frustrated. He just wanted to figure out where Blayre was and to bring her home. The thought of her in danger made him crazy. And if she had such a valuable object then she was in danger.

"So kind of you to join us for a meal, your grace." was Duke Lonan's snide remark when Rory had finally worked up enough energy to go to the dining room.

The others glanced around uncomfortably. Blayre's brother Seaver, in particular narrowed his eyes at the duke. And Ainslee, once part of Blayre's triad of seekers flashed a look of disgust.

None of them were thrilled by Lonan's presence. But so far they had not been able to shake the tiresome man.

"Lonan, are you only here to take shots at me? Because if you are not going to make yourself useful, there is always the option of returning to the capital. I'm sure my dear cousin would be thrilled to have you back at her side."

Stunned silence followed. Rory felt Alessa shake slightly beside him – holding in laughter perhaps? He knew he should have kept his mouth shut. But twelve hells, he could not hold back with this infuriating man.

Duke Lonan, for his part, gave no reply. Simply resumed eating.

Alessa turned to Rory, "We should go out tonight. Let's do something fun. I think you could use a change of pace."

Rory's initial reaction was to say no. He'd rather sulk in his room sleeplessly all night, and then get up tomorrow and start all over again.

"Oh, there was a place that we went to – back when we were here last." suggested Ainslee "It was..." she glanced nervously at Lonan.

"I've no interest in going out," the older man said, glancing at his wristwatch. "He knows the repercussions if he does anything stupid," He jutted his chin at Rory, who resisted every urge to tackle the man to the ground.

"Well it's set then. We'll all go to the Lair tonight and have a little fun." Smiled Ainslee, though to Rorrick, her smile seemed forced.

When dinner was over, Rory excused himself, ready to rush up to his room and hide behind the false security of that door again.

"A word, your grace?" Said Lonan.

Fury welled up in Rory's chest. Everything this man did infuriated Rory.

"Yes, Lonan?" Even though their titles were the same, Rory technically outranked the other man, and he refused to address him as "your grace".

"We have been here for weeks now, your grace. You may want to start thinking of where we should go to next – if anywhere."

"Are you advising me to admit defeat?" Rory demanded, "Briannon won't allow it."

Lonan shrugged, "She'll just send out a new search party. I'm sure she already has. One better equipped to find your... wayward Seeker."

Rory narrowed his eyes at the pause in Lonan's words. "We will leave when I say we are ready to leave." He said tersely, and walked away, hands clenched at his sides.

That man really knew how to get under his skin. 

A/N: I am SO EXCITED to be writing from Rory's POV! We kind of left things with him open ended at the and of UNMARKED and since his storyline is currently taking place across the ocean from Blayre's, I decided we needed to have a peek into what's going on with him and the crew. I hope you enjoy! And I hope I got his voice down right!

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