There had always been a house there. It was a good site, close to the river but high enough to be out of reach of flooding. There was a big tree for shade and the land about was rich. The highway ran close by, and there was a small town an hour’s ride away.
There had always been a house on the hill above the river, built on the same spot from the same stones. Always, since long before anyone could remember, a house had stood there, a ruin except for one gable wall, waiting to be rebuilt again. The stones were old, some of them carved with strange patterns. The lintels were unworked, the door low, almost like a mouth opening into the earth. The stones would lie scattered on the hillside for so long that no one remembered what the previous house had looked like, who had lived there, nor why it lay in ruins. They called it the Prince’s House, though there was nothing to suggest that it had been owned by someone of wealth and importance.
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