We are meeting in mother’s solar again, just the family, her ladies sent away. This is too important to risk them overhearing even a few stray words. Mynar tends the fire, Jes makes sure the doors are firmly closed, and I pour wine. Mother has finished her list of possible traitors
Father points to one of the names, “He couldn’t possibility wield the Sword.”
“Probably none of them could, else the old king would have found someone during the search for a Wielder. The names on the list are those who might deceive themselves into believing they were able.”
I lean back, letting father and Mynar read, sitting on each side of mother; I have already seen the list. Jes doesn’t bother, he doesn’t know most of the people. I mutter, “Could any of them be a wielder?”
“I can’t tell, unless they touch me,” my Sword answers.
“These five interest me the most,” mother points out. “All of them are related, through both mother and father, to men the old king allowed to try the Sword, in the days when there was no Wielder. And the sixth and seventh on the list are the sons of men the old king denied access to the sword. The two on the top of the list were the sons of marriages arranged within weeks of the sword rejecting their fathers.”
“And of the seven, only three live in Misthold.” I still believe the man who instigated the pirate attack would not have been in the city at the time of the attack. Sometimes Mynar agrees with me, father has not yet offered an opinion.
“Whoever it is, needs to have some contact with the pirates,” father points out. “Are there any rumors that whisper the names of the merchants who set up their tents on the shore and await customers in boats. And are those names linked to any of the names on the list?”
“The rumors are not even whispers, just the ghost of whispers with no names.” I can answer this confidently, I have been talking to Webb. “Possibly the merchants guild has better information. If this rumor proved to be true, it could sully the entire guild, so they would be interested.”
“Very likely,” Mynar agrees, “But less likely they will share.” He is still annoyed at being asked to swear he had not made his own copy when he returned their code book, despite having promised just that before he received it.
“Then they will have to be persuaded,” father decides.
“But quietly. If we have lulled the traitor into compliancy, we do not want to do anything to warn him.” Mother is right, but I suddenly see her mistake.
“You have only looked at men.”
Mother looks embarrassed, “You are right. I need to start again.”
“And I will talk to the head of the Merchants guild. Perhaps he will give me the information he has just because his king asks.”
Yeah, right. But I suppose it is worth father trying.
This time I’m the one setting morosely by the fire as the tables are assembled. Facts: someone sent three assassins after me; the pirates uncharacteristically attacked in winter; a traitor opened the sally port. Things we can’t prove: the pirates were urged, possibly paid, to attack; the Sword was to go to some third party. Assumption: my family was all suppose to die in the attack.
If all of these are true, then there is a traitor seeking to take the Sword and rule. If the things the pirate captain told us are true, our assumption is also likely true. It all comes down to was Wyson telling the truth or lying.
I could flip a coin.
Alan distracts me by pulling up a bench and handing me the disk. It looks sleeker, better finished. He smiles slightly when I tell him so.
“When are they going to let you start working on things with sharp edges?”
“Not soon. Dryn put the final finish on this.” He seems pleased rather than annoyed. “I am thinking about trying to get it to hold a spell.”
“No inside the city walls.”
“But that will mean waiting until spring.”
I don’t bother answering, he knows what the parameters are. “So why did your father disown you?” I hadn’t exactly planned on asking that. Sometimes things come out of my mouth prior to thought. He doesn’t seem to mind.
“I was the son of the wife his father picked for him. After mother died, he picked his own wife, and she didn’t want a step-son.” His tone is matter-of-fact.
“Bitch.” Mother wouldn’t approve of my language. Or maybe she would only consider it accurate.
“So what are you going to put in the disk?” He seems glad I’ve changed the subject.
“I haven’t decided between open-lock, which hasn’t failed on me for over a decade, or ‘move cloud’ which almost always fails. The only benefit to having open-lock in the disk would be to prove I can embed a spell. But move cloud could show me what would happen if the spell failed.”
“Are the spells that always work or rarely work the same from Sorcerer to Sorcerer?” I wonder if there is a pattern. I’m good at seeing patterns.
“Sorcerers are secretive, and never share information, so I don’t know.”
“Then how do you learn to be a Sorcerer?”
“If you have a bag of gold given to you to clear your father’s conscience before he throws you out, you find a Sorcerer who is willing to teach you, knowing that he will only teach you part of what he knows. And if you are careful with your money, and young enough, three years later you do the same thing in another country. But you can’t do it a 3rd time, because you are too old to make a believable apprentice.
“I have also heard of grimoires of dead Sorcerers being offered for sale, but always only as rumors. Most are burned.”
As we did Falchions. Wait… “What about Rout and Blight’s grimoires?”
He shakes his head, “They wouldn’t have carried them on the road, open to theft or damage. They will be secreted somewhere.”
I look at him, thinking he carries his with him, a wanderer would have no safe place.
“Someday you should make lists of the spells which never fail you, and which always fail you, and let me and Mynar look at them.”
“What could you see that I don’t? You aren’t Sorcerers.”
“You aren’t either.” He shakes his head in disbelief again.
“Do you want knowledge or power?” He doesn’t answer, doesn’t have to, I already know the answer. “Have you ever met a Sorcerer who didn’t want power?”
This time he says nothing because he’s busy thinking.