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I try to decide if I want to talk first to Alan or father. As I’m looking around me, thinking, I see the priest on duty with this group of guards, and decide what I really need to do first.
“Sir priest.” He looks surprised, I usually try to ignore my guards if at all possible, to make their constant presence tolerable. “I need ten copies of these documents and some pages from one of my brother’s books. Can you find me clerks? Daver will set them up somewhere to work.”
“Of course, Princess. They will be honored.”
“I’m going to enjoy proving I was right—we were right,” I mutter, but not loud enough for my guard to hear
The wet, white snow keeps falling for two days. The streets get slick and the roads impassable. If there is a third wave of assassins coming, we can hope they will freeze to death, or slip and fall on icy cobbles.
Lady Aliac grows stronger, and is able to eat a little, so mother is sleeping better. And I have ten excellent copies of my papers. I give one to each of my parents, and to Jes and Mynar. Another goes to Alan.
And then I call an assemblage of all of my guards. “You have guarded me, you have followed me to fight demons and to fight pirates. I would not lie to you. I keep telling you, and everyone else, Alan isn’t a Sorcerer, because he isn’t. Historian Lej is now going to teach you some history, so pay attention.”
Lej goes over it in great detail, explaining, calling out sources. It takes over two hours; I enjoy it thoroughly, not so sure about my guards. Maybe I smirk a little, too.
Staff were in an out during the two hours, and I am sure the core of the lecture will be all over the castle by evening, and starting to spread into town by morning. Yeah, I definitely smirk. Then I remember to send copies to Taver and Ekal. Should have thought of that first, but they will still get them before they hear the gossip. And I go to tell Mynar he is going to loan Lej some of his books.
I’m not surprised when father calls me to his library, but I am surprised he doesn’t want to talk about the papers—yet.
“Adava, have you been keeping the Sword in the vault when you are not bearing it?” He clearly knows the answer, but is going to be fair and hear it from me. And then give me a lecture about being irresponsible.
“It’s not necessary anymore,” I surprise him by being offhanded, not defensive. “Things have changed; my blood is now Prime, as is Mynar’s and Lars’. Limits placed by the last Stormborne no longer apply.”
“And you didn’t feel like telling me.” Father is angry, and I’m surprised to find I am even more so.
“I stopped telling you things when you didn’t believe me about Alan. When you thought I was either telling you lies or telling myself lies.” Yeah, I really am angry. They choose this life for me, and then dismissed my judgment. I walk out without permission, afraid of what I might say next. Pity I can’t really fly, I would go into the sky and leave them all behind. I try to anyway—leave behind, not fly—and my guards run to keep up with me as I leave the library, keep and castle. If there wasn’t so much snow, I would leave the city, go to one of the farming villages.
I walk around the town until I am cold and damp from the wet snow, until the clouds and winter sun bring on early twilight. Then I go to my dark bedroom, the window now covered by wood and heavy curtains, and shut the door on everyone. I sit starting at the fire. Several times I hear one of my ladies scratch at the door and ignore them. Eventually I crawl into bed and go to sleep.
When I wake up, I can’t think of any reason to get out of bed. Someone will come get me if another demon or attacking army shows up; I don’t even feel like throwing knives. I ignore my Ladies again. A little while later I ignore Mynar, until he tells me he has cookies. I think about it for a while, and let him in, before I shut the door again and replace the wedge I have been using to keep it closed. No locks for the Princess, no privacy.
He brought more than cookies, but I don’t really feel like eating. “Sometimes being a hermit sounds like a sound life choice.”
“Maybe,” Mynar agrees, “If I could bring my books. Would you have lied?”
“No, I would have just told everyone he was my Sorcerer. Which would have been very stupid,” I admit. “He’s probably more interested in my Sword than me.”
“He didn’t fight the guards to get into the keep in order to protect the Sword.” Mynar sounds certain.
“Father wants another meeting in mother’s solar this afternoon.” He shrugs. “I don’t know why. He and mother have been talking all morning. There is too much snow to run away from home, so you might as well come. Unless you are seriously trying to hibernate.”
I let him out, and think about it for a while. Hibernation sounds even nicer than being a hermit. Then I tell my Ladies I want a hot bath, and different clothes.
I soak in the deep tub before my fire until the water turns cold. I finally put on a heavy robe, and start looking at clothes. I have much more than I remember, and certainly more that I have ever worn. I notice one patterned blouse in shades of green, definitely not in our mode. “Where did this come from?”
“It was a birthday gift from one of the northern villages.”
It’s loose, with wide sleeves gathered at the wrists. “I’ll wear this with a black skirt.” I look around to see what else I have that is different, and for a brief moment think about cutting my hair short. Then I come to my senses, and ask my ladies to suggest a new hairdo. They get in the mood, and start pulling out some lesser jewelry. I have a chest of it, collected over generations. They find some green beads and a wrap to go over the shoulders just the same green as one of the shades in the blouse.
It takes some adjusting to get the wrap on, under the Sword. I stand in front of my mirror, and see that I look pretty much just like me in a different blouse, and a wrap draped over my arms. At least my ladies enjoyed themselves.
As I start to leave, I find Jes in the outer room of my apartments. “I thought I would walk up with you.” He doesn’t comment on my change in wardrobe; I’m not even sure if he notices it. But his company is welcome, it will keep me from deciding I would rather be in the stable—a definite option.
When we arrive at mother’s solar, I’m not particularly surprised her ladies are gone again, but I am surprised Alan is there.
“We have decided,” mother explains as Jes and I walk in, “To discuss the situation with Alan, and see if he might provide and useful information.”
“I’m afraid, I haven’t any opinions or suggestions as to what the disk could be.” He is frustrated. “All of those we have consulted believe it was buried before the warehouse was build, and most before the city. But we can’t prove anything.” He sounds, as if this is a personal failure.
“No that situation,” mother tells him. “We have more than one.”
At a look from mother, Mynar gives a summary of why we believe there is a traitor attempting to take the throne, and what we have done—the little we have done—about it.
“You think Wyson was telling the truth because what he said agreed with what you got when questioning the prisoners.” Mynar just nods.
“How can I help? I have already told Lord Taver all of know of the ShadowWalkers, and that was little enough. I have never heard of this swamp master and his magic—can’t imagine how it works.”
“Adava has suggested that if you used your scrying spell to observe the people we think could possibly be the traitor, you might be able to find some indications where we should concentrate searching for proof.” Father joins the conversation for the first time.
“Four to start with. It is almost certainly one person acting mostly alone, or with a few retainers. It’s an attempt to take the throne by murder and guile, not by force of arms. We won’t find any armies massing or great arsenals of weapons.” Father sounds as if he would prefer to fight an army.
“What do you expect me to see, then?” Alan sounds confused, but not unwilling.
Since everyone else is silent, I answer, “We don’t know.” This seems to cheer Alan up; he definitely likes a challenge.
“So how will we keep this secret; I assume you want to keep what we are doing secret.”
“Definitely,” mother answers immediately.
“It won’t be hard to convince everyone we have found some old documents to translate. Lej might even find some. We will need some reason to set you up in another room, I don’t want steam or boiling water around my books.”
So Alan is going to help, and seems to expect to stay around for a while. As the meeting ends, Mother calls for me to stay behind for a minute.
“I explained to your father that he was wrong to listen to the person who brought him gossip about you, wrong to question you about it. He understands now, and I’m sure won’t do it again.”
“But he’ll let you make his apology.” Mother just smiles at me. I don’t waste my time trying to argue with her, because she won’t. I am surprised she is so wrong about why I was angry. Yes, was, I seem to be over it.