We leave my parents happily basking in front of the fire. “Five days.”
“And then we can sit in front of our own fire—alone.” Alan finishes my thought for me. But for now, we head to Mynar’s library on the way to talking to Rage.
“It is definitely ‘enhanced’.”
“It could just as easily be ‘enriched’.
Lej and Emrinalda are politely arguing with each other.
“What difference does it make, they mean the same thing.” Mynar doesn’t seem to understand the argument either, which makes me feel better.
Since Lej and Emrinalda just glare at each other, Alan answers the question. “One implies improving something that already exists and one implies adding something new.”
“Precisely,” Emrinalda approves, “And the proper translation of the word will determine if the Black Cats already contained magic and were made more magical, or the Black Cats had no magic, and it was added.”
This time Lej decides to answer. “One of the rubbings tangentially references the ‘enhanced/enriched’ magic of the Black Cats; they were definitely magical, and from what Rage told us, they likely still are.”
“Then it’s good Jes didn’t go hunting the one who killed Murr.” Even as I’m making this observation, Jes comes into the library—or more accurately stumbles in.
He sits in the first chair he comes to, and looks at us out of tired, black-circled eyes. “The tribes will be glad to offer Flower and Canor a place around the fire. A clan will be near the headwaters of the Clearflow in three weeks, and will wait as long as they can before they leave for the winter ranges.”
And so we enact modified pandemonium, gathering everyone necessary to discuss the plan—basically family, Ekal, Taver, and Flower, Canor and Rage, and definitely Daver—and sending to the river to find if there is a barge leaving for the riverhead. Since they will be heading to the warmer north, they will be moving ahead of the winter storms, so can easily make it to the headwaters in time if they leave in three or four days given the slower moving currents of the late fall. And Jes is sent to bed; he will need to be rested in order to do whatever he is planning on doing to hide Flower’s trail.
By the time we are all gathered in the council room, the guard dispatched to the river has returned with not one, but three, barges planning to leave in two days. They had all planned on traveling together on one last trading trip to the borders of Mysk, expecting to find one or two clans. The barges would then go back to their homes in Styfe for the winter.
“Do we send guards, or depend on stealth?” Father probably expects Taver to answer, but instead Alan does.
“Between Jes and I, we can thoroughly hide two people, but not a battalion of warriors. What about you?” Alan looks toward Rage
“I can hide two, maybe three or four, but not enough to make that much difference if it comes to fighting.”
“Aren’t we getting a bit ahead of ourselves,” mother gently interrupts. “Canor, do you and Flower want to go live with the tribes?”
“Yes,” Canor speaks for both of them. “A moving target is safer than a sitting one.”
“And can you speak for Flower?” Mother’s tone is still gentle.
“Flower is my grand-daughter, even though her grandmother has never been my wife.” Canor looks at mother as if waiting for her to condemn him. “Her step-mother sold her to The Wassak’s steward. We can’t go back to her village—that’s the first place they will look for her, and if we stay here, we are just targets. If Flower can be hidden, she will be safer constantly moving with the tribes.”
Flower can see that Canor is upset, and reaches for his hand, turning to frown at mother.
“If you are going north, then we should lay a false trail toward the west, and have you disappear there,” Rage suggests.
“No.” Father’s tone is brisk. “They should disappear from here.”
“You will draw their trackers here,” Rage explains as if he thinks father doesn’t understand.
“And Flower will not be here for them to find. If they are subtle, and we miss them, then no harm done, because, Flower isn’t here. And if they look for her too vigorously Taver and Alan and Adava will deal with them, and there will be one less party hunting her.”
“Do you leave me out of consideration because you think my damaged leg makes me less of a Sorcerer?”
“Because I have no reason to expect feudal service from you,” father ignores the heat in Rage’s tone, and simply answers his question.
“Oh.” Rage’s anger vanishes.
“Then we are decided,” father says, indicating that he has decided. “Two days from now Alan, Jes, and Rage will cloak Canor and Flower and they will leave on one of the barges.”
“And I,” mother adds, “Will provide a diversion. But first Daver will get them suitable clothing for both winter and summer in Mysk, and with trade goods—fine blades, I think—so they do not arrive at the tribes as suppliants.”
Father nods his agreement, and we all scatter to our various tasks.