came through, Jill would ask him if he’d ever heard of her father, Cullyn of Cerrmor, the silver dagger. No one ever had any news at all.
The village was in the northernmost province of the kingdom of Deverry, the greatest kingdom in the whole world of Annwn—or so Jill had always been told. She knew that down to the south was the splendid city of Dun Deverry, where the High King lived in an enormous place. Bobyr, however, where Jill had spent her whole life, had about fifty round houses, made of rough slabs of flint packed with earth to keep the wind out of the walls. On the side of a steep Cerrgonney hill, they clung to narrow twisted streets so that the village looked like a handful of boulders thrown among a stand of straggly pine trees. In narrow valleys farmers wrestled fields out of rocky land and walled their plots with the stone.
About a mile away stood the dun, or fort, of Lord Melyn, to whom the village owed fealty. Jill had always been told that it was everyone’s Wyrd to do what the noble-born said, because the gods had made them noble. The dun was certainly impressive enough to Jill’s way of thinking to have had some divine aid behind it. It rose on the top of the highest hill, surrounded by both a ring of earthworks and a ramparted stone wall. A broch, a round tower of slabbed stone, stood in the middle and loomed over the other buildings inside the walls. From the top of the village, Jill could see the dun and Lord Melyn’s blue banner flapping on the broch.
Much more rarely Jill saw Lord Melyn himself, who only occasionally rode into the village, usually to administer a judgment on someone who’d broken the law. When, on a particularly hot and airless day, Lord Melyn actually came into the tavern for some ale, it was an important event. Although the lord had thin gray hair, a florid face, and a paunch, he was an impressive man, standing ramrod straight and striding in like the warrior he was. With him were two young men from his warband, because a noble lord never went anywhere alone. Jill ran her hands through her messy hair and made the lord a curtsy. Macyn came hurrying with his hands full of tankards; he set them down and made the lord a bow.