“Is the lot guarded.” I interrupt father’s daydreams of a quick and easy solution.
“A full company,” the Captain answers me.
“Then we had better dig the rest of it up tomorrow, and see if there is anything else.”
“You think there is more there?” Alan looks excited.
“I think that we need to know for certain that there isn’t.”
“You are right,” father agrees with me, clearly wishing that he didn’t have to. “Now where are we going to put this? I won’t have it in the keep.”
Alan looks as if he wants to offer to take it home with him, but knows better than to waste his breath.
“You can help with the digging tomorrow,” Mynar offers him. You would think Alan had been offered a treat instead of the opportunity to get wet and cold and muddy looking for something that probably didn’t even exist.
“First he needs to help search both Sorcerer’s rooms,” Jes adds. “We only put guards around them for the night.”
“The dissipation spell is a little draining,” Alan explains. “I didn’t feel confident I would find all of the traps without rest.”
“You expect traps in their rooms?” Lord Taver asks Alan, but he is looking at the chest. He has been looking at it ever since it was brought in, and fingering his sword as if he is waiting for it to do something so he can kill it.
“They are Sorcerers; there will be traps.” Alan sounds as if he is explaining water is wet or fire is hot.
“We don’t have time for this.” Father is still irritated.
Alan looks confused, but he is the only one; everyone else in the room knows what is going on.
“First, I want this,” father points toward the chest, “Out of the keep. Hide it somewhere outside the inner castle wall, but still within the castle.” He looks at Alan, “Would you be so kind as to make safe and pack away the contents of Blight and Rout’s rooms, so they can be brought here and studied, to help me decide if the chest should be opened.”
Alan clearly doesn’t understand why there should be a decision; can’t imagine not opening the chest.
“If I do decide to open it, you have earned the right to be present.” Father promises him.
I think that we will have to open the chest, but I decide to wait until after the upcoming battle to tell father. I also decide to leave, before anyone thinks to ask me why I went tearing down to the vault, they don’t need me to decide where to secure the chest.
“I thought you would be there.” I didn’t realize Alan had followed me out until he speaks.
“I can do a lot of things, but being in two places at once isn’t one of them.” Let him make up his own story about what I was attending too, I’m too tired to make up a good lie. I take a closer look at him; he looks worse than I feel.
“You look bad—really bad.” He doesn’t disagree. “I think we should find you a warm room for the night.” I look at my Sergeant to see if he disapproves, but he has only his blank guard face on, so he approves, but it’s the priest with this duty section of guards who speaks.
“And I will go with you tomorrow. After you have packed and emptied the rooms, I will cleanse and bless them.”
“Good suggestion,” I agree, giving Alan no choice in the matter. For a moment, I consider suggesting that the priest throw a little blessing in Alan’s direction. “Why don’t you find him a room tonight and breakfast in the morning,” I say instead.
I head toward the vault, thinking more about my own bed; letting the priest and my Sergeant decide where to put Alan.
“No.” The Sword’s command is so loud I’m surprised my guard doesn’t hear it. “Keep me with you.”
I stop in the hallway, move to a window embrasure as if checking on the snow, with my back to my guards so they can’t see my lips moving. (I am certain the Sword cannot read my mind, I will not even consider the possibility that it can read my mind.)
“I won’t risk having you stolen while I sleep.” I mutter, far too silently for even the closest guard to hear.
“That won’t happen; I’m not crippled anymore.”
I lean my head against the hard glass of the window. I’m arguing with a sword. I’m very close to not worrying I’m crazy, but instead hoping I’m crazy because that would explain things much better than admitting I’m arguing with a Sword.
I give up, and take it with me. Maybe someone will steal it while I’m asleep, and then it can drive them to hoping they are crazy.