Spire: Chapter 32

(Click here for links to previous chapters.)

Mynar and Alan are still buried in the library, sleeping when they can’t stay awake any longer and eating when one of the castle staff puts food in front of them.  I think they are crazy, and I would tell them so, if I thought I could get their attention long enough.

I’m locked in the vault, bringing my journal up to date, including all of the things I haven’t told anyone yet.  It looks even crazier written down on paper, but I have decided it needs to be done.  At least this way, if I kill myself doing something stupid, they will be able to console themselves that I did it because I am crazy.

Father has been busy dividing the ransom between the families of the dead and the wounded.  Taver has strict watch kept, but no ships have been seen on the river, and everyone seems to have calmed down, or at least to be more worried about leaks in their roof, as the snow melts, than raiders.

When I finally get caught up, I put my journal behind some of the ones I know Mynar has already read.  I don’t want him reading this until I am ready.  Writing it down was bad enough—made it that much more real—I don’t need to have to discuss it with Mynar, until I decide I am ready.  It won’t be soon.  Of course, it will be very difficult to get his attention until they are happy with their translation of the encoded documents, so I don’t have to worry about the immediate future.

I find out I am wrong when I finish and leave the vault.  A guard brings a message to come to Father’s library, and I find Mynar already there, and complaining.

Father’s library doesn’t really deserve the name, with only one bookcase and it not completely full.  Comfortable chairs, rugs and wall hanging make it an inviting place to sit and talk, but there are no tables or supplies of paper and ink to facilitate serious study.  I join Jes in a window seat and watch Mynar pacing.  When mother joins us, Mynar stops finally stops complaining about being interrupted, and sits down.

“I have been considering,” father begins. “All that has been happening.  There is no reason to want the Sword unless you think you can use the Sword.  And that requires Stormborne blood.”

I nod in agreement; exactly what I had already decided.  I also notice Jes doesn’t look surprised.  I make a mental note to ask what rumors he has heard, and where he heard them.

“I believe the assassination and attack were arranged as part of a plan to usurp the throne.  Mislei, Mynar are I were suppose to die in the attack, as well as the Sword looted.  With the royal family dead, anyone who could wield the Sword would have a good chance of being confirmed King.”

“If the intent was to kill all of you, why send assassins only after Adava?” I am glad that Jes is starting to feel like family to the point that he will speak up instead of just quietly listening.

“If all of the royal family is assassinated, and one comes forth to claim the throne, most will suspect him of sending the assassins.  Adava had to be killed in order to lay the kingdom open to attack, but our deaths would be blamed on the raiders.”

“And it’s likely,” I suggest, “The new Wielder of the Weapon would have some deeply heroic story about how he recovered the Sword from the Outlands.

“And because of that, I don’t think he is the one who opened the sally port to the attackers.  I think the person behind this plot would be careful to arrange the attack when they are not in the city.  If they were in the city, and wanted at some time in the future to claim the throne, they would have to be seen very visibly defending the city.  And that could be dangerous.”

Father agrees, and Mynar starts to look as if he is paying attention.  Mother looks as if she wants to kill whoever is threatening her family.  Having lost one family, she is even more fiercely protective of her second.

“So we are looking for someone with Stormborne blood with ties to Caeel and to the Outlands.  Someone who wants to be king.”  Father summarizes the little we know.  “The traitor could be almost anyone among the nobility.  We can’t trust anyone, Adava’s guess about the traitor not being in the city during the attack, it is just that—a guess.  It could be wrong.”

“And the Enchanters were an entirely separate matter?” Jes asks.

“Yes, their goal was to provoke Halft and Abalem to attack the tribes.” Mother answers.  Father does not like to talk about Enchanters, now that he has decided he cannot attack them.  And even that desire has lessened when the headaches stopped.

“And we don’t know about the chest.”  Of course Mynar will bring up the chest, he’s probably been using at least half of his attention thinking about whatever translation he was pulled away from.

“Are  you sure we need to open the chest?” father asks.  “Couldn’t we just dump it in the ocean, as we did the real demon ashes.”  Father doesn’t like magic.  If he could find some way to just make it go away he would.  For a moment I lose track of the conversation, wondering… what if someone in the past, someone like father, had found a way—or almost found a way.  I file this thought away for later consideration, and try to focus on what Mynar is saying.

Father doesn’t look convinced.

“I am going through the genealogies to see who might think they could Wield the Sword,” mother decides to get us back on the, to her, most important topic.  Someone tried to hurt her family, and that someone wasn’t a chest.

“There are rumors,” Jes begins.  “Only rumors, that merchants sometimes rendezvous  with Outlanders on the beaches of Mysk, and trade.  We…The tribes”, he amends.  “Have never caught them, but there have been signs of camps that were not ours.  It was deemed not that important.”  He seems embarrassed by that admission, although I would guess the nomadic tribes would rarely be raided.

“I have heard similar rumors,” mother surprises him by agreeing.  “Some of them might even be true.  But it would take a vast army to interdict the coast line.”

“We might be able to trust Alan,” she continues, ignoring the looks of surprise on father’s face.  I don’t think she can see my face, for all the good that will do me.  “He is from Isal, so would have no Stormborne blood, and we know he did not open the sally port, he was with Adava.”

“I don’t mean that we should tell him everything, simply that he might have some insight into the power in the swamp.  It would do no harm to tell him of the assassins, or the Enchanters, either.  They would interest him.  Our conclusions about who is behind all of this should be kept in the family.”

I look to see how Jes feels about being included as ‘family’.  He is so pleased, he lets his emotion show on his face.

“After,” I interrupt, “They have completed their translations.  If we want to have more than half of his attention, that is.”  Mother and father both look at Mynar and I can see agreement on their faces.

“Finish your list,” father tells mother, “and I will think on who has seemed overly ambitious, or overly annoyed at some constraint the throne has put on them.  I do not think this is a new thing, I think it is a long seething grievance.  Perhaps with nothing planned, only wished, until the power in the swamps arose and seemed to provide an opportunity.”

“And we will give a ball.”  Everyone looks at mother in surprise at her change in subject.  “That will lead people to think we believe the matter is over.  And the traitor will be lulled by thinking we are still unaware of him.”

Mynar starts to protest.  “You too,” mother informs him.  “And Alan.”

Mother has made up her mind, there will be a ball.  Mynar leaves first, rushing back to his papers and code book.  Jes escorts mother back to her solar, and I go to delight my ladies by taking an interest in clothes.