The mercenaries are bundled off to a barracks, to be watched by the City Guard, and those released from the cells are sent home as family comes forward to claim them. Captain Conners is carried away by the City Guard, with orders from me to rest and heal and only act as advisor to Kale until his accompanying physician approves him for a more active role. Only five ex-prisoners are left, two unidentified, and three sorely wounded past being cared for by wife or sister. Two of the priests tend the patients, aided by battalion warriors and my guards, to keep Taver in his bed, and to watch Alan sleep. I’m pretty sure the latter is to keep me from worrying, but that’s fine with me.
The other two priests decide the keep needs to be cleansed, and are supported in their task by all of the keep servants as well as a fair number of their kin. Both priests get righteously angry when I will not allow them in either Orsin’s or Destroyer’s private rooms. After a small debate I allow them to fan the smoke from the herbs they are burning through the open doors, but I will not allow them across the threshold. I say ‘poison’ and ‘traps’ enough times that they finally agree, or I just wear them out and they give up. I do promise one of them can accompany us when we enter the rooms. Which will not be until Alan is completely recovered.
I join the battalion Captain at a table to the side of the great hall. “Is there anything else we need to do immediately?” I try to remember, I think his name is Gregor.
He shakes his head. “I have set the guard schedule, and Lieutenant Jeffrs is doing the same at the main gate. We need to examine the trap more closely, but morning is soon enough.”
I find it hard to believe it is still the same day we road through the main gate.
“You should rest too, Wielder.”
I almost agree with him, but I need to talk to Taver, after I check on Alan again. He is still asleep, two new guards watching. Taver has stopped grumbling, but is definitely unhappy.
I sit on the floor beside his pallet, “Think you are going to survive being taken care of?” His warriors have moved back a few steps, so we can talk in private if we keep our voices low.
“My arm isn’t that bad.”
“Your head is.”
“I’m not seeing double anymore.” He accidently moves his head too much, and I can see the wave of pain going through him. “There is so much to do.”
“All of which can wait until tomorrow.”
I sleep well, in one of the wall chambers with two of the female warriors. For once, I don’t protest the paranoia. I don’t even complain when I realize they have let me sleep long past the time the others have been working.
Servants bring me a late breakfast while Captain Gregor reports on what they have accomplished while I slept.
“Taver is sleeping, the priests decided he didn’t need to stay awake any longer just a few hours ago. Alan is still sleeping, and all three of the severely wounded survived the night. I think the priests are surprised. The latter three have been moved into one of the side chambers” He sits at the table beside me, watching me carefully as if he expects me to be fragile.
“You do know my Sword can mitigate the force of a fall, right?” From the look on his face, he didn’t.
“I was afraid you were just hiding your injuries.” He relaxes a little, continues his report. “The two unidentified ex-prisoners are still unidentified. One won’t talk and the other won’t quit talking, but says nothing to the point. Neither have ShadowWalker tattoos. I have sent both of them to the main gate, but ordered they be kept separate from the Shadow Walkers. Since there are guard chambers on both sides of the gate, that will be easy.”
“We could send the four prisoners back to Misthold,” he voices the suggestion, but his tone isn’t confident.
“No, I’m not ready to split my forces yet.” He says nothing, but I still feel his agreement. For a moment I stare off into space, realizing I had said my forces. I try to decide if I am comfortable with who I am turning into. It was much easier being Wielder when all I had to do was watch priests clean up dead sorcerers. Even that wasn’t necessary, priests outside of Misthold manage just as well without me.
It isn’t as if I have a choice, I tell myself, and try to refocus on the Captain’s report. Something nags at me about his phrasing. No ShadowWalker tattoos. Not ‘no tattoos’. “Did one of the unidentified have other tattoos?”
“Yes, a number of them. Words.” The Captain is uninterested. Of course he is, we kept our knowledge of the swamp-magic tattoos secret, didn’t we. “Bring him back after lunch, I want to talk to him.” The Captain looks confused, but he will do as I command. Going to have to re-think how useful secrecy is. But then, if Orsin had known a fall wouldn’t hurt me, he might have tried something else.
I can’t do anything about it right now, so I finish eating my breakfast, while the Captain goes through the long list of what to next.
I stare at Alan, still asleep, still watched by two of my guards, then go to Taver, who hasn’t slept nearly long enough. He is propped up in a nest of blankets and pillows at the other side of the great fireplace.
“Gregor seems to have almost everything under control.” I can see him start to nod in agreement then think better of it.
“A good start, at least. We should burn the bodies in the front of the keep, so people can watch. We don’t need rumors that Orsin isn’t really dead.”
“Why would anyone…no, never mind. As I keep reminding Mynar, don’t try to apply logic to rumor. I’ll ask one of the priests to arrange it.”