Mother and father are busy deciding exactly how much to tell Lars. (I get the impression they really don’t want to tell him I talk to the Sword.) Mynar is working on his plan to use the assassin, and the Sorcerers are my problem.
The sergeants and I talk it over and agree any effort we make toward getting them to leave will only convince them there is something to find. The sergeants are rather more impressed with my invention about killing the demon before he could kill Falchen more than I believe it deserves. But I agree that Bevin can talk to Tmal, who he met when he helped Jes search Dire’s rooms, and try to bribe him to spread the story.
I end up getting involved in the negation with the mercenary. He doesn’t just want gold, he wants to come back to Misthold to retire. We agree on the itinerary he is to travel, and I promise him an empty house. Actually, we will give just about anyone an empty house—it would be one less the crown has to maintain. We don’t want our capital to be filled with derelict houses falling to pieces, there is enough of that in the country side; entire villages empty, as surviving populations merged.
I have almost three weeks of relative peace. No assassins, no demons. The guards are searching for the seller of ‘demon ashes’ and watching the Sorcerers, but all I have to do is read their reports, and summarize them for father. And listen to father’s ranting against both. He feels it is presumptuous for non-native Sorcerers to get eaten in his capital city. Actually, the priests and cleaners who deal with the mess have more right to be upset, but I don’t mention this to father.
Mother’s rooms are oppressively hot—sure sign her bones are aching. She’s not even pretending to do needlework, and the first snows have only been flurries. I worry about her, and try to hide it while she hides her worry about me. Neither of us is fooled.
I walk about the city each day, making my presence felt. Most days Jes walks with me. The rest of the time he plots with Mynar. I almost forget Jes isn’t our cousin by blood; our family is so small, it is nice to have another relative, even by adoption. Jes seems equally content.
The translation my brother has been expecting finally arrives, confirming what Kymr told Jes. Neither of them are talking to anyone else yet.
So I read the city guard reports and wait. Rout is digging up the empty lot that once was the location of Falchen’s house. The guards watch, make ‘helpful’ suggestions and write reports. We all agree that a Sorcerer digging holes is a Sorcerer not summoning demons.
The second one, Blight, just walks around town. Alan is talking to a blacksmith. Which is strange enough that I send one of my guards to invite the blacksmith to visit. I want to know what a Sorcerer wants from a blacksmith.
My Sergeant and I begin a discussion about the possibility our ashes salesman had conned Rout into believing something was buried. We didn’t get very far before the guard returns with someone he introduces as blacksmith Dryn.
“He was already coming in the gate,” my guard explains.
“I wanted to talk to someone about that Alan person.”
I offer him a seat and a mug of ale. As usual, what I wanted was almost instantly available; sometimes I wonder if the palace staff has perfected clairvoyance more than Verkal has.
“Alan wanted me to forge a staff for him while he ‘put the magic’ in it. I told him that if I decided to commit suicide, I would drink myself to death, not conspire with a Sorcerer.”
“He lectured me,” Dryn sounded disgusted, “About the value of knowledge and how we are just animals if we have no knowledge, content to eat and sleep curled in our warm dens. He was almost poetical. Pity he’s stupid.”
“Yes,” I agree with him. I thank his for his information, and for his good sense in not helping Alan.
Bevin and I look at each other, the same question in our eyes, “What the hell?”
“What?” Jes has just wandered in the door. “Are you interviewing smiths to see who will be allowed to fit Thunders’ first shoes?”
I don’t think he’s joking. We tell him what we’ve found out.
“Alan is dangerous.”
“You think this might work?”
Jes shrugs, “Sorcerous magic works sometimes, that’s why they keep trying. If he created a staff that he could throw his spells through, then the force of a failed spell would rebound on the staff. But the staff is as likely to burst apart into deadly shards as it is to reabsorb the energy.”
“I don’t think anyone will help him in Misthold. Not with the memory of a rampaging demon only months in the past.”
Jes looks as if he agrees, but Bevin shakes his head, “Never underestimate the power of greed, your highness.”
Bevin and his squad finally capture the ‘demon ash’ seller, which causes another long discussion at what to do with him.
Father forces the trial to the royal court by charging him with aiding and abetting a Sorcerer in summoning a demon.
“But they weren’t real demon ashes,” Mynar objects.
“Then his council should be able to prove it. And since he proved it, not us, it may be believed,” father explains.
“I suppose we are going to make a big spectacle of this too?” he asks, still disgruntled. My brother simply can’t understand why people won’t just be logical.
“Yes. We want everyone to know there are no demon ashes to be found in our realm. And I want anyone who thinks it’s clever to sell fake demon ashes, blood, or any other demon part, to think again.”
So the inventive crook is consigned to a cell, screaming his innocence, and a council assigned.