by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold
Snowfire should have been a cliche, with her brilliant face and her ways full of love and thorns. The Rose Knight of the Rose Knights, she strode the world wrapped in laughter and a charisma that could stun stone idols. She needed no sword for her battles. She could smile her way through walls and gates and brambled pits and talk the very monsters from their lairs, soothe the raging ocean, and humble the proudest men.
Snowfire's colors were red-on-white, sanguinary and brilliant both in their scarlet repose. Bereft of her armor, sword and trappings of her station, she would have been a comely woman on the streets of any city. Imperious in her array, she was devastating to look upon.
"I worry," the Red-on-White Knight said one evening over a clearwater beer and a plate of lamb sausages. She shared her words, and food, with one Fortispont, a tradesman and sometime-quartermaster of middle years, a friend from campaigns against the Armies of the Moon. Once they had fought together alongside several thousand of their fellows, among the ivy-riven ruins of ancient days that lined those high valleys. Old magic lurked still in the form of glowering pools and gibbering ghosts. Fortispoint had turned his back on all that, but still they met now and again when she was passing through Fenixtown, or his business took him to Hy Rugosa.
Fortispont licked his fingers of the tangy grease. "Good," he said with a grin, then reached for more beer.