“So why can’t the Clairvoyants see you in visions?” I’ve traipsed down to the vaults again, determined to get some answers, or, more likely, to really frustrate myself.
“I didn’t know they couldn’t.”
I fight the urge to bang my head against the nearest wall.
“Tell me something useful,” I demand.
“I would like to know if Alan’s lightening would have harmed the…disk…if I hadn’t damaged it first.”
“That’s asking for information, not giving it. What were you going to say before you substituted disk?”
Silence, of course, silence. Finally, “I bend the rules as much as I can…for you. Never for the Stormborne.”
For the first time, I consider the possibility the Sword is as frustrated as I am. “Let’s go visit Thunder.” Cause Thunder never gives me any problems, unless I forget his apple.
Surprisingly the Verkalan Courier is leaning against one of the paddock fences watching the stallions in the yard.
I nod in response to his greeting, since I can’t call him by name. Way too many people not using names. His eyes still look haunted as he turns away from the horses to look at me. I wish again I could reassure him.
“All of the visions were before your leaders sent out warnings, right?”
“Well, maybe the warnings will change things.”
“Perhaps.” He agrees, but I think he is just being patronizing. “It is good of your King to share information about this person in the swamps. Another day of rest and we will be ready to leave for home. Do you think the information will be ready by then?”
Yet another Verkalan ready to go home. I can’t blame him, if trouble were coming, I would want to be with my family too. And I liked that he said ‘we’, including his horse in being rested. “Before then, probably, we don’t know that much about him.”
Later father summons me to review the documents he is sending to Verkal, and I am pleased at no mention of black cats.
“We should add that not all of his men are volunteers, some are forced by blackmail and threats.” I don’t know if the Verkal Oligarchs will care, but at least we can try.
Father agrees. “We will also add how to remove the tattoos, and include samples of the herbs.”
I raise my eyebrows, far more forthcoming than I had expected of father. Father just shrugs. “No use knowing not all are willing if they don’t also know how to free them.”
The next morning I wave good-by to the Courier, representing protocol and good manners and thus relieving father of the task.
Days blur in their sameness. I walk around town and castle as I have always, Jes and Lej pursue their timeline, and Alan stops limping.
I attend the weekly court even though it is Mynar’s turn, because I’m pleased he has managed to keep his promise and stop lecturing about ‘fixing’ magic. Court is sparse, most still finishing the harvest, and the problems are just irritations, not real issues, but sometimes the smaller things are the ones where people are most intransigent, because the cost of losing is payable. Father is patient, unraveling tangled testimony and leading them to the obvious solution they should have been able to see for themselves.
Duties done, I raid the kitchen and take my loot to Mynar’s library. I’m surprised to find Alan still working there; his foot has healed enough I had expected him to be out trying some other method of injuring himself. Instead he is looking as interested as Mynar at whatever Jes and Lej are expounding even if he isn’t bouncing around the room the way Mynar is.
“We have proven,” Lej is just bubbling over with satisfaction, “the Enchanters arose to power in the same time period the sagas show the Warrior-sages, and thus magic, declining.”
Oh, another of those very interesting but useless pieces of data. I carefully keep my thoughts off my face.
“And what does that mean,” I ask, hoping I’ve missed something useful. “Were the Warrior-sages keeping the Enchanters under control?”
“It is unlikely the Warrior-Sages ever heard of Enchanters.” I look more closely at Jes, surprised that he sounds involved instead of his usual ‘bystander’.
“Our hypothesis is that whatever weakened magic strengthened Enchanters.” Lej looks as if he has said something important. I keep my mouth shut because I can’t think of anything useful to say.
Alan puts his arm around me and moves us toward the door. “Jes is going to dream-talk with the other Shaman day after tomorrow and get their opinion. But for now, how about a walk on the castle walls.”
I agree, thinking that it is going to be winter soon, and our walks will be curtailed. But my mood improves dramatically when I realize it won’t matter, in twenty-nine days we will be married and can lock everyone out of our tower. We can be alone.
“Research is slow, Adava.” For some reason Alan’s lectures don’t irritate me as much as Mynar’s. “It takes a lot of digging and putting pieces together—pieces that you have to hunt. Sometimes what you find turn out not to be pieces at all. It takes patience, and the ability to find joy in a new finding, even if you don’t know where it fits, or even if it does. Otherwise, you won’t keep going long enough to find all of the pieces and form the picture.”
“I wouldn’t have said anything negative to Lej.” I am mildly annoyed he thinks I might.
“Mynar’s my little brother, it’s my duty to pick on him. Especially since he is the heir, and has way too many people who will agree with him just because of who he is. And, if true, this actually could be useful. If Mynar should find a way to fix magic, father would be much easier to deal with, if the process also diminishes Enchanters.”
“It’s entirely possible even Mynar will die of old age before an answer is found.” Alan doesn’t seem too dismayed by the prospect. “The important thing is to have enough pieces to be sure Mynar’s child or our child will continue the project.”
I try to hide my surprise from Alan. I had thought he was vaguely amused by Mynar’s obsession; now he seems to be in agreement with it.
Alan grins and hugs me, so maybe I didn’t do a good job of hiding my reaction. “If something was taken from us, we need to try and take it back. Just on general principles.”
Well, yes. But… “If anything was taken, it was over 1700 years ago.”
“Then it is high time someone did something, isn’t it.”
I have this sudden blinding realization that Alan is as crazy as my little brother, just less bouncy about it. Fortunately a minor uproar at the castle gate interrupts my first impulse to share my revelation. Lej and Mynar are boisterously welcoming an arriving group that can only be their greatly anticipated translator.
So instead of telling my beloved that I now realize he is crazy but I still love him, I suggest we go meet our visitors. Much more prudent.
Emrinalda, the translator, turns out to be a tiny woman about Lej’s age, with silver hair and light grey eyes.
“No, I don’t want to rest, or eat; I want to see the rubbings.” She is definitely going to fit right in with us.
“Take her to your library,” I advise Mynar, as Lej tries unsuccessfully to perform formal introductions, “and I will advise father of her arrival, and bring food to the library.”
Mynar hugs me, and mutters something that sounds like ‘thanks’, as they head for the library. Alan looks at me, torn. I wave him after Mynar, and am rewarded with a breathtakingly lovely smile. Yeah, keeping him, even if he is crazy.
I’m humming happily as I go to find father to tell him the translator is here, so he will understand why I’m coming to all of the weekly courts and meetings.