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As Seraphina discusses her flute solo with Orma, a young beggar girl approaches Orma and gives him a gold coin. Orma refuses to tell Seraphina its significance and instead looks around warily. The girl vanishes before they can question her, and the outbreak of a fight on a nearby bridge catches their attention. Seraphina tries to drag Orma away, but he insists going to it.
They find a mob of Sons of St. Ogdo and townspeople surrounding a newskin saarantras, Basind, looking for a reason to beat him up. Seeing their violent intent, Orma activates his earring to summon help from the saarantras embassy. Basind's tactless comment about the taste of human heads sends the mob into a fury, and Seraphina dives into the mob in pursuit of Orma, terrified that he would get found out as a dragon and be attacked as well. The mob scatters when the Captain's Guard, led by Prince Lucian Kiggs, arrives.
Kiggs expresses concerns for Basind's injuries and questions him about the circumstances leading up to the attack. Seraphina steps in to help when it's clear that Kiggs has little experience questioning saarantrai, who are extremely precise and literal in their answers. Kiggs accepts Seraphina's help gratefully, but frightens her when she realizes he knows her name—so much for the anonymity her father has drilled into her—and that he has already figured out that Orma is a dragon.
The guards arrive with a few captives, and Seraphina mentions that although she saw two men jump into the river, she'd only heard one splash. Kiggs's men check underneath the bridge and catch another attacker, impressing Kiggs with Seraphina's keen observational skills.
Just then the help Orma summoned from the dragon embassy arrives in the form of Undersecretary Eskar, who criticizes the Guard's slow arrival to the scene of the mob. It turns out that this attack was planned just to test the Guard's ability to protect saarantrai, especially in the light of Ardmagar Comonot's arrival in ten days. Eskar disparages the human tendency to carry grudges through generations, as humans are still afraid of and hateful towards dragons even after almost forty years of peace.
After Eskar goes aside to talk with Orma, Kiggs praises Seraphina's musical skills, making her uncomfortable enough to excuse herself rudely to go over to Orma and Eskar. Eskar refers to Seraphina as an "it" rather than a "she," insinuating that Seraphina is barren, but Orma firmly tells her to use "she."
Eskar loses interest and leaves abruptly with Basind, and Seraphina scolds Orma for telling Eskar her secret; however, Orma tells her that Eskar used to be with the Censors and thus knew Seraphina's secret from then. Seraphina is concerned that Orma, who has had difficulties with the Censors in the past, is in trouble again, but Orma assures her that he holds no imprudent emotions for Seraphina or anyone else. This upsets Seraphina, who has long wished that Orma could regard her with familial affection, so she changes the subject to ask again about the gold coin delivered to him by the beggar girl. Orma avoids the issue and leaves.
As she watches him go, Seraphina feels great loneliness and reflects on everything Orma has done for her.
- Lavondaville, on the Cathedral Bridge
|Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30 | Chapter 31 | Chapter 32 | Chapter 33 | Chapter 34 | Chapter 35 | Chapter 36 | Chapter 37|