Almost two more calm weeks, well.. except for the minor flurry when I associated back cat with Warrior-Sage. I smile remembering the look on Mynar’s face. Research is his thing, and his older sister isn’t suppose to be able to find out information he hadn’t. I consider it only good to have chipped away a little at his ego; he needs to never again make unilateral decisions about things as unknown as the disk—or at least not until he is much older and king.
Mother is looking much better, providing proof that Sister May’s assessment of ‘too many assassins’ was correct. And as mother’s health improves, so does father’s temper. Mynar’s keeping his promise and his opinions to himself has help with that, too.
And I’m happy, mostly. Mother has allowed me access to the top level of ‘my’ tower (soon, in forty-two days, to be my and Alan’s tower), provided I don’t go into any of the other levels. So I’ve happy followed the stairs winding around the outer walls without even trying to look past the partitions shielding the four floors below.
The top floor has been transformed. The arrow slit windows are now wide windows (covered by Dryn’s grids) with comfortable window seats. Rugs and soft chairs are scattered around the rest of the area, with arches showing where walls once were. The long unused fireplaces host small fires, and there is a stand for my Sword against one wall. I make a mental note to move it to a window. With one window facing East and the other West, there will always be sunlight. Except when it snows. But winter is still weeks away, and the fall day is clear.
For once I am comforted by the shifting of my guards on the landing below, it is good that things are getting back to normal, even irritating normal. Maybe in a few more weeks I will be complaining of boredom. I look forward to it.
“Now all I have to do is convince Mynar that he doesn’t need to fix magic.” I’m mostly talking to myself, maybe hoping a little for comments from my Sword. It says it’s fine, but it has been quieter than usual since confronting Murr.
“I didn’t destroy the disk.”
Maybe the old fables about the evils of getting what you wish for are true. “You told me it was destroyed.” I’m proud I sound calm, instead of panicking or accusing or both.
“It is destroyed. I damaged it, breached it’s defenses, but I didn’t render it inert, Alan did that, with his magic.”
“And?” As usual, that is all I get. Never full answers. I debate asking what the disk was summoning, but decide to save my breath. I have tried that line of questioning. Got nowhere.
I stare out the window, keeping my thoughts to myself, because saying them out loud would make them too real. If even half of the Warrior-Sages’ sagas are true, then something powerful attacked, and the Warrior-Sages were destroyed defeating it. Defeating it with magic, that no long works as well as it did. But that was long ago before the founding of Abalem, if the invaders were not all destroyed, they would have come back long since.
“What would that disk have summoned?” I abandon my resolve and ask yet again.
“Bad.” Is all the Sword answers, also yet again.
My contentment broken, I head for the stairs.
Mother is cheerfully directing the construction of my wedding dress as her Ladies and mine do all of the work. It looks slimmer, sleeker.
“I have decided,” mother informs me, “There will only be one underskirt.”
Guess she has decided to use my wedding as another step in reforming my grandmothers stupid court dress mandates. “How about none?”
Mother ignores me. I join her beside her small fire and watch as pearls are sewn all over the dress. “That is going to be heavy.”
“You are strong.” Mother is looking more energetic this morning, and smug. “We are going to braid pearls in your hair, also.”
“Why does father hate magic so much? Until his argument with Mynar, I though it was just demons he hated.” I don’t try to move the discussion smoothly, no glib way to get from wedding dresses to what I need to know.
Mother looks at me assessingly for a moment. “Do you really need to know. He is slowly accepting Alan.”
“This isn’t about Alan.” I don’t have to add that it is about Mynar.
Mother stares into the distance for a while, clearly debating with herself. “This is not to be shared,” she warns me. “Not even with Alan or Mynar.” She waits for me to promise. I do.
“The Sword rejected him. The magic Sword rejected him. And then accepted his baby daughter.”
Oh. I hadn’t expected that. I decide against my first response, that the Sword says it isn’t magic, and move on to my second. “It didn’t reject him, it just couldn’t accept him. There are rules.” To my mind rejecting and not accepting aren’t the same thing.
“Nayan likes the scrying. And he has to keep fighting against liking Alan. You just need to be patient.”
Yeah, patient, Alan sooo needs to find me a spell. Considering Mynar doesn’t know how to fix magic, and may never know, patience probably works.
“Speaking of scrying, I should go decode this morning’s messages.” I hug mother, and whisper, “I like the dress.” Not going to encourage the Ladies too much, or I won’t be able to stand up under the weight of all the pearls.
“Happy Vision. Happy Vision.” I pause in my decoding and smile, Celeste so rarely sees happy. She told me once that she believes she sees what is needed to be seen. I keep decoding. “Queen Mislei, cuddling a baby and calling it ‘grandson’.”
Tears fall on my translation as I realize what it really means: mother will definitely live through the winter. I feel lighter as the fear I have refused to acknowledge vanishes in the light of Celeste’s vision. I hurry through the other three reports, luckily all simple ‘nothing to report’s, and go hunting father.
I find him in the room he mistakenly calls his library reading reports. He looks up with concern written all over his face; I haven’t brought much good news lately. This time, I leave him smiling as I go looking for Mynar—as if I don’t know he will be in his library too.
I have to break up an argument, and then still can’t tell him the good news because he isn’t alone. Jes wants to hunt the black cat, everyone else doesn’t.
Mynar sums it up best, “The cat killed Murr, we owe it a favor.”
I try to think of a reason to get Mynar alone. I really need a chart of secrets and who knows them. I mentally count: Celeste, bloodlines, talking Sword, Murr. One, two, three…too many.
“It has killed two men, it will kill more.” Jes has more experience hunting than all the rest of us combined—at least I assume Alan has had little time for anything not magic—but I don’t have a problem with it killing two men, considering who they were.
“Maybe it’s selective,” I suggest. “Only kills the bad guys.”
“It’s a cat Adava,” my brother points out the obvious in his usual irritating tone. Then shuts up as he remembers we are on the same side, don’t hunt the cat.
I give up trying to be subtle and just drag Mynar out of the room, and finally decide on the vault as the best place to talk to him. I pretend not to notice his tears once he sees, as I did, the implications of Celeste’s vision.
“So we are going to keep things nice and calm,” I am ordering, not asking, “Until you actually know something useful.”
Mynar gives me the same look younger brothers have been giving older sisters for generations, but reluctantly nods. “I really think it is important, Adava.”
“And is talking about it going to make your research go faster?” I already know the answer, Mynar just likes to lecture.