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Clouds come in from the west, and we have more snow, but it is big flakes, drifting down gently. Father can’t decide about Alan. For him to be effective, we would have to tell him our conclusions about a traitor seeking the throne, and father does not want to risk losing the advantage of being forewarned without the traitor knowing. He hasn’t talked to mother yet, wants to put it off for another day or two, until the doctors are more certain Lady Aliac will recover.
And he is conflicted about spying on four of his minor lords. Actually, he is only conflicted about spying on three of them; he has no problem with spying on the traitor. Problem is, until we know who it is, Alan would have to watch all four.
“It isn’t fair to the ones who are innocent,” he complains to me.
“Failing to find the traitor isn’t fair to the rest of the country,” I point out. The world isn’t perfect, and now isn’t the time for father to pretend it could be. I distract him with our attempts at long distance communication. And my thoughts about getting Celeste’s warnings faster.
“I can see how this could be useful,” father agrees when I describe our experiment. “If the information were in code, Alan wouldn’t know what we were being told. But I don’t want to go any farther with this without consulting Celeste and Havel, since the danger is mostly hers. But If we arranged two or three more locations, it wouldn’t be too dangerous even if Alan talked.
“But this supposes Alan is going to stay.” Father makes it a statement, not a question, but I answer anyway.
“I don’t know yet.”
I start toward my favorite tower, planning on putting some time in brooding, when I get interrupted again. Lej, one of the historians working with Kels, wants to talk with me. I take him, deliberately, to the same room Alan and I used.
“How is the weapon making going,” I ask, assuming this is his reason for wanting to talk to me.
“Well enough, improving. But that is not why I want to talk to you. There are rumors, many rumors, that you keep claiming Alan is not a Sorcerer despite the fact that even he doesn’t agree, because you want it to be true, not because you believe it.”
“People, can be very annoying,” he adds as an aside. “And they simply do not understand the importance—great importance—of history.
“There are several examples in pre-literate history, recorded from verbal records, of communes that taught and practiced magic that did not divert toward the dark. They died out, of course, or more would be known of them. But they did exist.”
“I have made you a compendium of the three we know definitely existed, with a list of the primary resources providing the information.” He pulls a roll of papers from his sleeve and hands it to me. “I hope this helps you. Oh, and the masters of these studies were called Magus, not Sorcerer.”
“Thank you. You have help me very much.” I hug him, much to his surprise and open the door to send for cheese and wine. “And we have more to talk about.”
“Isn’t one of these communes the one who sent warlord Jmix away, confounded by their philosophy.”
“That is one of the stories. Another, less reported story suggests there was a bit more than philosophy involved. Where did you hear about this?”
I tell him about Mynar’s fourteen volumes and promise he will be allowed to read them, and have copies made, it he wants.
“But why,” I finally think to ask, “Did the communes die out?”
“We don’t know.” Lei sounds depressed about not knowing the answer. “Many people have searched, but nothing has been found.”
We spend the rest of the afternoon going over the research he has provided. “He has put in a lot of work for me, or for history. In any case, it will serve me well.
“This is very useful. What can I do for you?”
“Give me permission to broaden the scope of the historical research I am doing about making flint weapons.” He peers up at me hopefully, as if I can grant his greatest wish.
“Done.” I tell him. “As long as you provide what Kels needs, you can research anything else you want. Would you like a close look at the disk?”
We grin at each other and I tell him to wait for me. The trip to the vault doesn’t take long, but it is nearing meal time before he finishes looking and sketching and measuring.
“And I am correct in believing you would be interested in anything I find,” he asks me. That would be an understatement. After I take the disk back to the vault, I check with the Steward about where Lei is working. Kels has set him up well, but is apparently insisting he keep to the subject of flint weapons. I send one of my guards to Kels to let him know I have broadened the parameters.