Chapter LII – Revealing Plots

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Sarton is attending Royal Council meetings regularly, trying to figure out the political intrigue in which Lady Gwella is involved. As his assistant magician (not apprentice magician), I’ve gotten my own apartment in the palace. I should be building up strong wards around it. Instead, I’m sitting in the Great Market, waiting for Paviara to appear.

After she came to see me off on my trip to slay a dragon, I figured she’d be eager to see me when I got back. She’s not come, she’s not sent a message, and confidentially, mutual friends, such few as I have left, tell me she abhors me.

The old me would go dashing off to find her and confront her. But I’m a full magician now. I have to act like one. And that means thinking ahead, not rushing off as I did to fight gods. So I do not go to see her, or even try. Instead, I sit in the Great Market, snacking on finger food, drinking weak ale. I’m waiting for her. It’s the third day I’ve spent my time in the market this way.

And here she comes. I avoid looking at her and look down into my beer. I follow her out of the corner of my eye. She sees me, and flinches. And then she walks out of her way to try to stay out of my view.

I wait until she’s past me, and abandon what’s left of my meal to follow her. I’m not going to accost her, no. I follow. I stay far enough behind that she’s unlikely to see me. Fortunately, she’s alone. I don’t have to worry about other eyes, unless we bump into some mutual acquaintance.

She stops by a booth to look at some cheeses. Appropriate conduct for someone who works in the Palace Kitchen. I slowly approach until I’m standing behind her, less than a foot away. After a minute, I leave, and head back to the palace.

That minute was enough to tell me what I wanted to know. Paviara is bespelled. I can’t tell exactly what the spell is, just from standing near her, but I can guess. And now some pieces are beginning to click into place.

The palace guards don’t hassle me anymore. They’ve been told I killed a god who slew the famed mercenary Katrina of Moss. It’s not exactly true, but they started giving me a second look, and decided not to try me.

I go to Sarton’s workshop, or, rather, Sarton’s and my workshop, for that is what it officially is now. I sit at my desk and review the facts.

Witch, n. – A Beautiful young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil. – from “The Devil’s Dictionary” by Ambrose Bierce

Paviara is bespelled. That was almost certainly done by Lady Gwella after she caught Paviara trying to steal dragon’s teeth from Lady Gwella’s husband, Earl Haulloran. It’s the sort of punishment Lady Gwella would think appropriate: forcing Paviara to betray me and then making her hate me.

But Paviara came to me just before I left to kill a dragon. Which can mean only that Lady Gwella wanted her to. That is probably how Lady Gwella found out what I was going off to do. And why she was on hand so she could trap me after I killed the dragons.

It follows that her desire for me to impregnate her was no spur-of-the-moment decision, but part of a plan that she’d been working on for a while. Since I was a person of little account, presumably the plan was aimed at Sarton. But I doubt Lady Gwella means me any good will.

I’ll tell Sarton all this. But I can’t rely on him. That’s what I had to do as his apprentice. Now, I’m a proper magician. Lady Gwella may get the better of Sarton. I need to be prepared for that.

It is time to go find allies. And I know just where to start.

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