By noon the hall was empty except for Dom Elric's house servants and a few stragglers gathering up their children and possessions. Alanna drew Gwennis with her to bow before the lord's high seat. "Vai Dom, I have a boon to ask of you in private."
He frowned, though not forbiddingly. "I cannot call your name to mind, mestra."
"I am Alanna, wife of Piedro, your chief herdsman. The need concerns my eldest daughter here."
Gwennis, still muzzy with headache, wondered how her mother could think of appealing to the overlord about Piedro's harshness. Any man's power over his own children--short of murder--was beyond interference. Gwennis felt Dom Elric's pale gray eyes upon her, as if he could strip off the front of her skull and stare into her brain. With a momentary shiver, she thought perhaps he could. Didn't all the Hastur kin have sorcerous powers?
After a moment's thought, he said, "Very well. I will speak to you in the coridom's office."
Minutes later, an obviously disapproving steward escorted mother and daughter to a small, plain room furnished chiefly by a desk and a pair of low couches. Dom Elric took a seat and motioned the two of them to do the same. "You needn't stand, in private. Now what is this important matter of yours? It had better be enough to justify this nonsense."
"I only sought to spare you embarrassment, vai dom," said Alanna. Gwennis was astonished at the sly insolence, quite unusual in her mother. "This is my daughter, Gwennis. She was festival-got, on Midwinter fifteen years past. That night I lay with several men, including my betrothed. Only one of them could have given her this." She clutched a lock of Gwennis's flame-colored hair.