Breakfast is too early and too crowded. Leumr had believed Gregor’s ‘first light’ command and had beat on the keep door until the guards let him in despite that it was still a good hour before dawn. Of course, this woke up Alan. Three of the priests are there too, watching Alan with suspicion, and Gregor is yawing and staring at all of them.
“First light?” I mutter as I walk past Gregor to my table. He takes this as invitation, and walks beside me.
“On second thought, that may have been a mistake,” he agrees, “But I thought an impatient Sorcerer might be an bigger mistake.”
I don’t agree, but can see his point. Alan immediately follows me and the priests follow him. And my guards follow all of us. I hope someone has started breakfast.
Leumr just stands in the middle of the hall looking mousy until I send one of my guards to get him.
Everyone sits and stares at me as if they expect me to do something. I ignore them. Eventually the keep’s staff serve breakfast and Taver joins us. I could almost get to like everyone waiting for me to speak first, but I’m sure it won’t last.
“So,” I divide my attention evenly between Alan and the priests, “Do you have a plan?” To my surprise, they do. Even more to my surprise, I agree with it. But refuse to let them start until full day light, which pleases no one except the master carpenter and the master stonemason, who don’t arrive until it really is first light, and get to eat another breakfast because of my enforced wait.
It’s more exciting this time, Alan dismantling magical traps, the priests purifying the results, and the just plain weirdness of the room. During the show my Sword whispers ‘Interesting’, but, as normal, doesn’t explain.
My guards try to drag me away, until I threaten to resolve the trap situation by walking into the room, setting them off and letting my Sword protect me.
“Not a good plan, Wielder,” whispers in my ear.
“I’m lying,” I almost-whisper back.
It works, and I get to watch priests chanting, burning nice smelling herbs, and Alan staring rigidly at various objects doing nothing I can see. After two hours, the four of them are happy, and Leumr is allowed (dragged) in to hunt for poisons. He looks around like a mouse checking for near-by cats before inspecting one of the tables as if he knows what he is looking for. He carefully sets two bottles and a small box to the side, and removes everything else from the table. There are twelve boxes, fourteen bottles, and a small bag of roots on the table when he finishes searching.
We end up with poisons, magic things everyone thinks needs to be destroyed, and magic things the priests and Alan are still arguing over. I’m impressed by Leumr, he ignores everyone else, and is writing a list, which he brings to me.
“I would like to check this with Zale, get his advice.”
“And ‘this’ is?” I ask.
“How to best dispose of the poisons.” He answers as if it should be obvious to me. He seems to gain confidence working in his field of knowledge.
“I was thinking we could just dig a big hole and bury them?”
He is appalled by my suggestion. “We should send the Lieutenant with him.” Gregor joins the conversation. “Zale had a relapse after the meeting of the Guild Masters, he wife may not want to let Leumr in.”
I agree with both of them; then disrupt the argument going on around us. “Is there any reason we shouldn’t burn the furnishing?”
“Why?” Good, I’ve confused all four of them, maybe they will stop yelling.
“Because no one in their right mind would want to sleep in a bed carved with poisonous snakes twining around the bed posts. Not to mention the symbology on the two tables.” I roll my eyes at the sudden silence; not that they hadn’t noticed, there were just hoping I hadn’t. I point to a pile of material that has been pushed into a corner, lighter spaces on the walls marking where they once hung, “And are those tapestries magic or pornography?” All I get in response is silence, which is all the answer I need.
A sudden ‘yep’ from the carpenter distracts their horrified attention; he has found a secret panel. Alan is there before anyone else, spending only a second in concentrated muttering before grabbing the book. From the complete delight on his face, I know what it is. And from the disapproval on their faces, so do the priests. Then, with a look of amazement Alan pulls out a second book. And a third.
He stands cuddling the books in his arms, silently daring anyone to try and take them.
“You promised, Princess,” he reminds me.
“Call me Adava,” I tell him, surprising him so much he lets me drag him to the window embrasure and take one of the books. I hear several of my guards gasp, and pause long enough to throw a ‘don’t you dare’ look over my shoulder, while wondering vaguely if his shock is because I told Alan to address me familiarly or because I am holding a grimoire. Given that it’s my guards probably both. I page through the beginning of the book, and then do the same for the other two. “The books are in different handwriting.”
“Of course.” Alan seems surprised I consider it worth mentioning.
“So ‘Destroyer’ killed two other Sorcerers?” I still can’t say that name without putting quotes around it.
“That would be the only way I know of to get another Sorcerer’s grimoire,” Alan agrees. “He was likely very powerful.”
“And yet I killed him.”
“You are very powerful, Wielder.”
Alan is looking down at me seriously. I don’t answer him. I don’t know what to answer him. The Sword is powerful, I’m just well trained. I don’t want to deal with this, so I, my mother’s daughter, change the subject.
“Would it hurt the grimoires to be ritually cleansed?”
“No, they aren’t magic themselves, they just have information about magic written in them.”
“This is what we are going to do. You will keep the grimoires, which the priests will cleanse, and everything else will be burned.”
“But much of Destroyer’s belongs could be useful.”
I interrupt Alan’s protest, “Do you think I want to see you using items belonging to the man who almost killed me? To be reminded constantly?” Maybe I let my voice quiver just a little.
“You are lying to him,” my Sword comments completely unnecessarily. Nope, not a lie, can’t lie by asking a question. An opinion I don’t share with either of them.
I smile from the head table as I look around. Staff is busily feeding everyone a late lunch. Alan is glum because goodies he wants are going to be burned, the priests are glum because they can’t burn the grimoires, and Taver is beyond glum. He made the mistake of trying to explain to me that I should not allow Alan to become too familiar.
“We,” I tell them in my perkiest Princess voice, “Are going to have a spectacle.” The warriors look interested but my guards, who know me better, look worried. “We are going to have a massive bonfire in the central square, and burn all of ‘Destroyer’s belongings.”
“All?” One of the priests asks.
“Yes, all,” I agree. “The three books are now Alan’s property.” I had to give Alan points for not smirking.
“All of the magic items need to be destroyed.” The priest is adamant.
“They aren’t magic items,” Alan protests. “They are just tools. They hold no magic of their own, only help the Sorcerer better use his intrinsic power. There is only one known item in the world that holds its own magic.”
Well, Alan doesn’t have to name that item. Not going to tell him he’s wrong, either. I swear I hear an exasperated ‘huff’ in my ear, but ignore it. Long acquittance with my brother lets me detect an impending lecture. I decide I can’t adopt my usual tactic of just tuning out, I may have to mitigate between Alan and the priests.
“A lot of the items are scrolls. They have no magic of themselves, they just help the Sorcerer concentrate; but he has to be able to throw the spell intrinsically or the scroll is no help. Same for the bronze scrying bowl, it only enhances the image, and maybe lets you shift focus a few feet. It also enhances failures; a bit of spying isn’t worth molten bronze flying around the room. If used enough some of the user’s aura may attach to the tool, but it will fade in time.”
“So we are agreed, everything in the room except the three books will be burned.” There are mutinous looks and mutters from both sides, so I clarify, “I have decided everything in the room except the three books will be burned.” Surprisingly, Taver nods in agreement, backing me up.
It’s been a long day, and it’s only half over.