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The five of us sit in Mynar’s library getting our stories straight. Alan had magicked us back into workroom and vault, and Lej had concocted a believable story about Mynar, a stool, the top shelf of a book case, and the floor. Jes had just walked back in the gate. It almost looks as if we have gotten away with it.
“What about Murr’s body?”
“Burned. And Jes preformed the rites the tribes use to dispel evil. Murr might not have been a Sorcerer or a demon, but he was most certainly evil.”
I stare at Mynar, silently daring him to second-guess us; he started this whole mess, believing Murr just because he wanted the things Murr said to be true. If Murr had gotten away with the disk, father would never have trusted Mynar again
“Murr knew something about the disk; expected to find it here; knew to break it open. We need his papers. They may still be in his rooms.” Strangely enough, it is Lej who suggests this, not Mynar.
“He didn’t know I was going to show him the disk,” Mynar admits, “So he wouldn’t have been ready to run.”
Alan sighs deeply. “I’ll go get them.” He is very tired, although finding out the Sword talks to me had proved to be invigorating for him. Even taciturn Jes found it exciting.
“I’ll help,” Jes offers, and is seconded by Lej, who probably doesn’t trust them to recognize what would be valuable to a historian. Alan looks at me, realizing yet another person is going to find out about our nifty little ‘don’t notice me’ spell. We had already shared with Jes, and with some nudging from me, Jes told Alan about dream-talking. Turns out, Alan already knew about it, and had assumed Jes had the skill since he was a Shaman.
“We need to make Murr disappear without causing rumors. Father is already angry with Mynar; he can’t know about this mess.” Everyone nods agreement with me, but no one offers suggestions. We stare at each other for a while. I am depressed at the lack of disagreement, but all of them have been audience to father’s yelling, father’s vehement assertions that we do not need magic.
“Perhaps.” Lej hesitates until Mynar urges him to continue. “I was just thinking about what I would do if I had been searching for something for decades, and got a new lead. I would leave immediately, even if it was the middle of the night. Maybe not even search for the innkeeper, just leave money in the room.”
“And a message to be delivered, telling Prince Mynar good-by,” Jes adds. Looks as if we have a plan. Not necessarily a good plan, but one which will raise no questions from father. A dead body would have definitely have raised questions. I am more focused on hiding Mynar’s mis-adventure from father than finding out what the disk was, since it is definitely was and no longer a problem.
“And Adava should stay out of sight until her face is less puffy and her eyes aren’t so red.” Trust a younger brother to be less than tactful.
“Nope,” I contradict him. “I have a plan.”
I go and let my ladies soothe me with cool a poultice on my red, puffy eyes.
My chief lady gathers her courage and asks me why my eyes look as if I have been crying.
“Because I have been in the vault, and I have been crying.” Both true, just not simultaneous. “I don’t want to wait a year to get married, but I have to just so everyone can have their parties. Fighting demons isn’t enough for them, fighting pirate Sorcerers isn’t enough for them, oh no…I have to wait another whole year just so they can have parties.” My voice lifts to a definite wail on the last part, mostly from just being so tired, and I find it easy to burst into tears again. This time, instead of sitting on the ground, I’m tucked into a warm bed with a glass of mulled wine, and a whole room of Ladies indignant at the selfish them.
I wake from a light doze to find mother sitting beside me.
I grin and don’t deny that I am scheming, hoping devoutly that she doesn’t realize I am using one scheme to hide another. “Not going to wait a year.”
“It does seem as if we have provided more than enough excitement lately.” Her words might not say that she is going to help me, but her smile does.
Father barely reacts to Murr’s fake good-by letter; a new message from Celeste—‘visions have stopped’—overrides everything. Mynar feels guilty enough to promise me to keep quiet about his theories. (He doesn’t feel guilty enough to drop his theories.) Given father’s attitudes, I am sure he isn’t going to start any discussions about magic, and we can hope for a few days, possibly even a few weeks of quiet.
Mother seems unaware of our plotting, too. Which really worries me; if mother were her normal self, I wouldn’t be able to fool her for even a moment. But still, her color is slightly better, and she seems to have a little more energy. I don’t believe I’m deluding myself with hopeful thinking.
Alan, Lej, and Mynar immerse themselves in the journals and map and sketches comprising Murr’s hoard. Lej and Mynar with excitement and interest, Alan with determination. Jes consults when asked, but shows little interest otherwise, of course, he is Shaman, and doesn’t call on magic. He is more interesting in watching the skies for early winter snow. I try interrogating the Sword, uselessly. I don’t have the right questions, just variations of ‘what just happened’ and ‘what was that silver disk’, no version of which receives an answer. The only answer I do get, which I repeat aloud for my audience, is when I ask if the disk could summon demons.
“A long time ago, it would have summoned worse. Now…I don’t know.” And then it goes stubbornly silent.
I decide I need to be alone for a while, and feel like snarling at the impossibility. With my tower inaccessible, the only option for privacy is the vault, and I have pretended to be busy in the vault too many times the last few days. I grab my Sword and walk around the parapets ignoring my following guards and myriads of people who seem to have reason to also be on the castle walls. I move briskly in the weak fall sunshine, keeping far enough ahead of my guards to risk a whisper or two.
“Sword? How are you doing?”
“Almost completely recovered, Wielder.” I can feel the presence I had never consciously noticed until it was gone, so I am comforted. But there are still too many loose ends. Too many unanswered questions. I walk endless loops around the walls, trying to dispel the nervous energy that keeps urging me to action even though the current danger has passed.
I ask questions. The Sword does not answer. At least that much is back as usual.