Of course Mynar isn’t going to invite a stranger into his library, among his books. Daver just reconfigures one of the lesser state rooms for the meeting with Murr; he didn’t even have to think about my problem, which made me wonder if he had done similar in the past, but I don’t ask.
What had been a long rectangular room with doors on both ends of the inner wall became a slightly less long room with one door and a wall of built in cabinets. The upper cabinet doors were filigree backed by sheer material. With the larger room well lit, and the new smaller room dark, I can easily see and not be seen, after I remove the panel that is the ‘back’ of the new cabinet.
Mynar knows I am here, and all of the guards, of course, but Lej doesn’t—we don’t know how well he can lie. So I sit in a dark room, waiting and bored. I had decided I should be well in place before Murr arrives, since slipping quietly into place after his arrival isn’t an option given my guards obsessive need to search every room before I enter. After two assassination attempts it will be years before they relax back into being just mildly obsessive.
I had invited both Alan and Jes to join me, but they are as involved in their ‘magic cat blood’ research as Mynar is in his ‘fix magic’ research. Alan is reading grimoires, again, and Jes is dream talking to other Shaman seeking their suggestions.
Shuffling noises come from next door, and I start paying attention. I am surprised at how well I can hear.
I half listen to the introductions, to Murr claiming to be a historian. Perhaps he is. He certainly holds his own in the preliminary discussions, and I have to struggle to stay awake. No way did he come here to talk about patterns of migration or theories of differentiation of languages; I silently will him to get to the point of his visit. Yeah, Alan didn’t have a patience spell. And it certainly didn’t help when he laughed at me for asking.
“I came to Misthold to visit the libraries of the Nursing Order. There is little documentation about the plague in other lands. I have a theory that an earlier outbreak of the plague may have been responsible for the dying off of the Warrior-Sages.”
“You believe the Warrior-Sages were real?” Mynar sounds interested, which worries me. “The hero-sagas that speak of them predate all of the realms of the land; predate even the earliest of the ancient manuscripts. They left no artifacts, no buildings, only oral sagas. And their fabled School has never been found.”
“Or was found, and the plague with it. That is why I want to search the nursing records.”
“We know the plague source; an Outland ship wrecking on the coast.” Mynar’s voice is gentle, reluctant. He knows how painful it is to lose a well-loved theory to hard fact.
“Oh.” Murr isn’t as downcast as I would have expected, whatever he is doing here has nothing to do with finding the mythical Warrior-Sages’ School.
He asks the right questions, tries to find a loophole, but his tone is wrong, too analytical. I don’t believe him. He decides to visit the Nursing Order anyway. “Not that I doubt you,” he assures Mynar, “But first sources should always be checked.”
Mynar agrees with him, and they wander off on a different subject, debating a theories about something that happened, or may have happened 200 hundred years ago, and that probably wasn’t interesting even then. I start to doze off again.
“I have heard that Sorcerers fought in the city last year.”
I’m suddenly alert again at Murr’s half-question half-statement.
“And killed each other,” Mynar agrees—it is hardly a secret.
“And a great artifact was found?”
“No.” Mynar sounds amused. I’m not sure if he is acting or if he really is amused at calling a piece of worked flint an artifact. “We were beset with Sorcerers that summer, all because of some stupid rumor.”
“But a chest was found, and old chest.”
Murr and Mynar dance around the subject of the chest long enough to make me want to hit both of them. But finally Murr delicately drifts the discussion back to legends and why he believes the Warrior-Sages were real. A topic Mynar is way too interested in, considering his own theories about lore tales, which he doesn’t seem to have relinquished despite the very sound arguments against them.
“If we could find their School, we might also find why magic changed; became weaker.” Murr smiles depreciatingly. “Oh well, theories remain theories without facts to back them up.”
Murr carefully thanks both Mynar and Lej for their time and their interesting conversation while bowing himself out of the room. I am dismayed to hear Mynar inviting Murr to return for more discussions.
I don’t like the way Murr tossed out that last comment on his way out the door. It would have been easy for him to hear about Mynar’s obsession with magic given his reported interest in gossip, and know just how to interest him, manipulate him.
“Are you insane?” I barely let Murr get out of the hall before I go to berate Mynar. “Why did you invite him back. You did notice he didn’t mention sending Rout.”
“We don’t know he sent Rout, we only know he asked about him. Rout could have more than one friend.”
Well, no, not likely—he was a Sorcerer—but I don’t bother trying to convince Mynar.
Instead we go to report to father, who doesn’t consider the historian much of a threat either. He, Ekal, and Taver are too busy worrying about potential assassins and the swamp-wizard to notice anything else. I just hope Celeste’s courier has more information. Pretty sure it’s a false hope.
I was right; Celeste’s message is two pages describing scenes of death and blood and fire. She had the same vision three nights in a row, which, she assured us, was totally unheard of.
“Whatever is coming,” she wrote at the end, “Is dire.”
Father and Mynar instantly decide the coming problem is the swamp-wizard, and start crafting lies to tell Ekal and Taver as to why they have decided to focus on him. I am silent. It will do no good to talk about Murr again. He has visited twice, and impressed both Lej and Mynar with his theories about using similarities in related languages to try and reconstruct the root languages they diverged from. Mynar thinks his delicate hints about being allowed to look at the chest are simply scholarly curiosity. Both of them would laugh at me if I suggested the pudgy historian as the source of the darkness Celeste foresaw.
I slip out of the room before either of them can suggest I bring mother up to date. For the first time ever, I’m the one wanting to hide stuff from her. She has improved the last week or so, better color, more energy. I’m not going to be the one to bury her under a load of worry again.
I go down to the vault, the only place I can find any privacy, to talk to my Sword, since I can’t talk to anyone else. There are just too damn many secrets.
“Secrets that are protecting people.” When the Sword answers me, I realize I’ve spoken my thoughts aloud again.
“We can trust Alan and Jes. We should trust Alan and Jes.” I don’t know why I’m arguing with the Sword, it’s father who needs to be convinced.
“If the danger is the Wassak, then we will—must—kill him.” The Sword sounds confident that we can. “If the danger is Murr…” The Sword does not finish.
“Well?” I prompt. And get no answer.
I go and set people more people to watching Murr.