It feels as if the whole world has taken a deep breath and calmed down. Even father has stopped muttering under his breath. I moped and looked sad, my Ladies became militant, and Mother gently arranged things. Alan and I are to be married on the first day of Winter.
I am so happy to see Mother looking better, despite the weather getting colder, that I have even tried to help with the wedding tasks. One afternoon while we are deciding on the material for my wedding dress, I bring up my promise to Mychl. Mother looks troubled, and I regret saying anything.
“You father…” She doesn’t finish her sentence. “No.” She suddenly looks resolute. “If her husband tries to kill the person who sent assassins after my children, then he is welcome here, Sorcerer or not. And Nayan will just have to live with it.” After a moment she adds, “Of course, there must be no demons.”
I make a mental note to speak to Sister Mays about another oath, and then let one of my Ladies interrupt us. Mother has been warned, and I have her answer. No need to dwell on it when it is far more likely that none of the four will survive to come to Misthold.
“No, Wielder.” I can hear my Swords response to my Lady’s suggestion even though it is leaning against the window casing behind me.
“No.” I echo the Sword aloud. “We will not be tying a white bow on my Sword for the wedding.”
Lady Ckel convinces Mother she should rest for a while, giving me an opportunity to slip away and steal goodies from the kitchen.
Alan, Mynar, and Lej have spent the last few weeks buried in Murr’s papers—historical papers—I remind myself. Don’t even think ‘Murr’. An undertaking father believes is keeping them out of trouble, since he doesn’t know where their ‘historical papers’ came from. Every so often I look in and let them excitedly tell me about very boring things. Today isn’t much different.
“Look at this, Adava.” Mynar hands me a piece of thin paper with a charcoal rubbing of…maybe chicken tracks.
“Amazing,” I lie to him as I eat a cookie.
“Yes, it is,” Mynar agrees happily, almost bouncing around the room. Alan is looking at me sardonically (make a note that he is harder to lie to successfully than my little brother) and I stick my tongue out at him when Mynar isn’t looking. Lej is ignoring all of us, starting at a stack of similar papers as if he has just found the one thing he has wanted all of his life. Well, he is a historian, so maybe he has.
“They are rubbings of clay tablets with early lneform writing.” Alan decides I need to be enlightened. “And very likely contemporary with the time of the Warrior-Sage myths.”
OK, maybe they are exciting. “Can you read them?”
“Not yet, but we are going to send for an expert. She should be able to get here from Leas before hard winter sets in.”
“Do you realize,” Lej’s voice is reverent, “This find triples the number of lneform tablets that have been found.”
I almost say ‘if they are real’ but don’t. It would be like kicking a puppy. Instead, I help by arranging for a courier to carry the invitation, dragging Alan with me just because I want his company
“They could be real.”
I decide to kiss Alan before I answer. We have learned that my guards will ignore one kiss, but start shuffling and coughing at a second. “Does it matter?”
“We won’t know until they are translated. Murr found out how to summon and control demons from them.”
“Not demons. Invite, not summon. And definitely not control.” My Sword joins the conversation, or at least my side of it.
“He was wrong about control.” Alan doesn’t ask me how I know this, so he probably figures it’s my Sword’s contribution. He accepted that the Sword will only speak when it wants to much easier than Mynar did.
“Maybe he let what he wanted influence his translation. He wouldn’t be the first one to have made that mistake.” He thinks for a moment. “I’ll tell Mynar and Lej he got that part wrong.”
The courier dispatched, we wander up to the castle walls again. If we get far enough ahead, we can almost have privacy.
“Mother is willing for Rage to stay. Father probably won’t be; I’m not going to talk to him unless Rage survives.” It occurs to me for the first time to wonder if Alan will mind if Rage stays. Sorcerers aren’t particularly social. But he is just looking thoughtful, not annoyed.
“The swamp-wizard defeated both him and Dker once.”
“But not at the same time,” I remind him.
Alan nods. “By the way, I’m not going to summon miniature fireballs as part of the wedding celebration.”
“Who…” I start to ask and then change my mind. “Never mind, just keep telling them ‘no’.” I have a sudden thought, “And no blowing up stuff either.”
He just laughs at me.
Alan goes back to his research and I decide to go into the city, rather than being pulled in and told ‘interesting’ things. Well, it’s really the lecturing tone of voice that gets on my every nerve.
I wish I could come up with something they didn’t find, just to annoy my annoying little brother. Over the last few days he has read me all of the Warrior-Sage sagas, each and every verse as transcribed by some very famous historian I have never heard of.
Humm. The historian may have transcribed the sagas, but his source was bards. I start walking faster, now that I have a destination. The Bard’s Guild isn’t located in one of the better neighborhoods, and my guards are getting nervous. I ignore them, and ask for the Guild Master.
“I am Master Bard Jakab. How may I be of service to Your Highness?” He is a striking man, his silver hair in long braids and his wise eyes almost green. But I forget all of that when he speaks, his voice rich and smooth and sweet.
“What can you tell me about the sagas of the Warrior-Sages?” I finally manage to stop staring and ask.
He smiles with delight, and offers me wine and a comfortable chair. And tells me all sorts of things without lecturing. I finally send one of my guards back to the castle to let everyone know I will be eating with the Master Bard, because I really want to hear it all. Even though most of it I had already heard from Mynar. I might listen to my brother more, if his voice was as beautiful as the Master Bard’s.
“And, of course, there are the discredited stories of the Wandering Bard Dashel.”
My ears almost twitch. This is a name Mynar hasn’t mentioned.
“They were supposedly lost for eons, until discovered and translated by Vernas of Isal. But they were labeled forgeries because it was proven he had forged what was suppose to be an arm-guard from one of King Canners bodyguards.”
“The historians have never been interested in the difference between forging a metal brace and a saga. I have always believed the translation was based on something real, even if enhanced by Vernas.”
“I would love to hear this cycle.” Which, judging from the smile on the Master Bard’s face, is exactly the right thing to say. Two hours later, when he finishes the last stanza, we are both grinning.
It is very late when we finally started back to the castle, and my guards insist on forming an open square around me as we walk the dark streets, the sliver of the early moon not really lighting our way. I let them, it has been a long day.
Alan, Mynar and Lej are all still busy in Mynar’s library, although Alan is studying one of the grimoires instead of the pages of rubbings that so fascinate the other two. Jes is sitting in a corner with, judging from its color, a well-watered glass of wine and a slightly amused smile. I am glad they are all here.
I toss a sheaf of papers on Mynar’s desk. “You might want to look at the sagas of the Wandering Bard Dashel. The historians made a mistake in discrediting them.” Yeah, this is as much fun as I though it was going to be. “According to Dashel, the Warrior-Sages were sometimes accompanied by black hunting cats.”