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Ward dug out the Duke’s letter, now much dog-eared from travel, and handed it over. Frowning, she read it in silence.
“Who is Ward?” she said at length.
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s my name. Ward Ramsden.”
“Ward? That’s the name of a temple orphan. What about your true name?”
He shrugged. “I don’t have one. Ward suits me fine.”
She stared at him for a long moment, one eyebrow arched. “You’re telling the truth,” she observed. “But how can you not know or claim your name? In all my life I have never met a magic user who would willingly be separated from their name. Names have resonance for us. Names bind us, names empower us. We may hide them or embrace them but we never forget them. Even your Duke Cassowy would not dare change his, though he sought to change every other part of his being. Your magic is in your blood, and your blood must sing at the invocation of your name… you must… you must…”
She stopped. She touched his cheek.
“Oh, you poor, poor child,” she said. “You must be very lost.”