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Two weeks later, the goldsmith guild does exactly as father predicts. Ankr has retired to a manor in the country and turned all of his goldsmith business over to his sons. The jury met continuously, judging the work of all those Ankr had denied. Most of them are admitted as journeymen, including Desee.
The remaining masters apologize prettily to the king and to the citizens. Since their apology includes a large donation to the contemplative monastery at Kaskl in support of their charities, even mother nods at them. But she doesn’t smile.
I take the sword up to the high tower and we sit in the sun. After a while Mynar joins me. I can hear our guards shifting on the stairs below.
“Politics is scarier than a real ghost would have been.”
“Yeah.” I agree with him. I wait for more, but that is all he says.
We sit, look out over the city to the river beyond, and I wonder, as I have before, what it would have been like to have a childhood. Neither of us know, all of our earliest memories are of training for the task before us. At least we have each other, father had been alone.
I go to the vault to talk to the sword. I don’t talk to it anywhere else—still avoiding having ‘crazy’ added to my description.
“Have you talked to other wielders?” I’m looking for proof this isn’t just my imagination. Which leaves open the possibility that any answer I receive comes from my imagination.
“Not for a long time. Not since Ryka.” Ryka was our one rogue Wielder. “He bade me keep silent.”
I think this is all I will get. The sword is not talkative. One whole sentence is a large conversation for it; usually I only get single words. I am surprised when it adds, “Then one day you said How are you doing, sword. A question. Questions require answers, thus carry implied permission to speak.” I wait, but it says no more. I sigh. So I brought this on myself.
I pick up the journal I’m currently reading. It’s slow going, with a lot of lists like the average bushels of corn yielded per acre. I keep hoping for something interesting, and I keep having my hopes dashed.
I hear a dull thumping. It takes me a few seconds to realize someone is beating on the vault door. I draw the Sword before I answer—I am never interrupted here.
It is Mynar; it has to be Mynar, or an attacking force, no one else would dare. Well, except, of course, father or mother, but since they ignore my relationship with the Sword, they wouldn’t. Unless maybe the world was ending or dragons attacking.
“Hewet has returned.”
I refrain from saying something snarky. Instead I silently sheathe the Sword and follow my brother to the council chamber.
“Hewet is travel stained, tired. Father calls for wine and food, breaking long habit. Lack of comestibles and uncushioned chairs have been tactics used to keep council meetings short for generations.
“The tribes were grateful for the knowledge we brought them. They were unaware the Enchanters had weakened their warding, and they assured me their precautions will be strengthened. Alys’ ashes will help.”
“Warding?” father asks.
“They didn’t tell me much, just that the Enchanters who will not bind themselves by harsh oath are externally bound to a linked series of valleys. Outcome of a long ago feud between Enchanter and Shaman.”
I can practically hear father’s thoughts, the Shaman know where to find the Enchanters. We could send an army. But if they are bound, the army would only serve revenge.
Father pours himself a goblet of wine and stares morosely at Hewet while he drinks it. The rest of us wait his decision.
“I will not spend my soldiers lives on revenge.”
“They did send a young Shaman back with us. He can recognize Enchanters at sight. Or so they claim.”
“Can he teach this skill?” father asks.
“Sometimes. It is a born trait like blue eyes or curly hair, those that have the trait can be trained—Jes thinks Leum has potential, but Leum will not accept training without permission. His position on the guard is precious to him.”
“How long will Jes stay?” one of the councilors asked. “Long enough to find and train such skills?”
“Well,” Hewet tries to explain, “Forever. Jes now considers himself one of our ‘tribe’ and his old tribe considers us allies.”
There is an intense silence at this.
Hewet continues, “From their point of view, ‘allies’ means sharing information. And we have credit in that area.”
“It won’t be too hard to set up relay messengers,” Lord Ekal suggests. “Having a way to detect Enchanters is well worth the expense.”
Father agrees, but Hewet interrupts. “Not necessary. We just tell Jes. The Shaman can talk to each other in dreams.”
Father looks as if his headache has come back. He much prefers politics to magic. I can do without both just fine. Except the sword, I mentally amend. I am getting fond of the Sword and its dry comments, minimal though they be.