“A splinter.” Maria holds it out to show me. I make a motion to take it from her with my remaining whole hand, and she nods. The splinter is long enough to be one of my absent fingers, and it takes two tries to pull it free. A drop of blood wells up in its path. “My mother used to kiss my cuts.” She stares at her own blood idly, remembering home or food or what I do not know.
“You?” I stood, furious, and as I did the red brazier-light glinted on something behind the throne that I could not see. “Did you not have enough of father’s blessings while he lived? He gave you gifts, and horses, and talked of the great kingdom you would inherit. Meanwhile I sat in your shadow and the heap of your scorn. No, brother. For this once I will have something that you have not had first.”