The pact struck, my staff aided me in uncovering the glamour her sister had placed, and helped me in it’s transference to The Keith and Arbiter El Anande. Once accomplished, the intention of our meeting and negotiations were restored. And for now, neither recalled what I had done.
As the Keith had told me, Arbiter El Anande was a lover of the Margrave’s special amber brew. After partaking in not a little of it myself, I became quite a bit more confident my plan would be a success, but not forgetting what the cost was, and as I was not a forest witch, would need to be regularly re-stoked. Still I offered an optimistic front. I had no other choice.
“This is not, as I am normally guided by council,” El Anande told us, pursed her pale lips. “The manner in which their venerable Wizard should be returned to them. They have expressed my personal attention.”
“Well, we are under, at this time, the greatest hold of the Cold Sun,” I reminded her. “To call upon additional resources which would undoubtedly require some claim against local jurisdictions should there be further problems. We both know the councils most expedient methods of travel are at their weakest under the Cold Sun. I wouldn’t want such potential cost to fall upon this region at my account. And it would ease your burdens as well. We all know the responsibilities of the Arbitry are great and always demanding.
“There is some wisdom to that,” the margrave suggested. “And I am certainly willing to offer some small assistance to the venerable Wizard, as there is much he has done to aid out lands which remains unpaid.”
“What is your suggestion then,” The Arbiter grew more amenable as the talk had gone on, Thank the brew, I offered silently.
“Well, I would not want to presume on the Arbiter, but perhaps myself and my fellow March lords could offer some of our protective resources,” the Margrave glanced over to me, then back to the Arbiter “During the season of the cold sun, there is less need for such soldiery, and I am certain, to provide assurance one of us could accompany the men to ensure you wizards safety at least to the point of one of the citadels of the Greater Kingdoms where there are greater council resources. And my fellow Margraves, I am sure would be happy to assist. There would be benefits to all, in this arrangement, I would think. Surely a good company of men to guard our venerable fellow would be acceptable to you and the council.”
I narrowed my eyes at his tone. El Anande glance my way, offered a touch of a relieved smile. It was exactly the reaction I wanted to see.
At first mildly reluctant, she had been turned around. We had provided her exactly what she desired. A quick and painless end to the problem I had presented her with.
“Allow me to send a missive to council,” she told me. “We will discuss the details with the other lords at their convenience. How long do you think it would take for your fellow margraves to join us here?”
“Oh, “The Keith smiled. “I am sure within the day, should missive be sent shortly. You know we all are eager to help, given our appreciation for all The Council affords to us.”
“The morrow then,” the Arbiter offered. And then retired for the evening, with a full flagon, I might add.
I turned to the margrave after she left, watched his face, his movements for any possible weakening of the new glamour my staff and I had rewoven.
“I remember your father had a silver tongue back in the dark days,” I told him. “But to see it put to the test, against an arbiter no less. Your wit and tongue have aged most well. You honor him. As has your brewing.”
“I will thank that as much as anything else,” he told me. “But still, I must ask why you chose to hide our plans. It does make me still wonder at your motives.”
“And my loyalties?” I knew the direction he was going. The young are taught to remember Arcory still.
“My father told me much of your master,” he acknowledged. “And the many suspicions of the nature of the stones which protect our lands.”
“Even I do not know those stones, Lord Keith,” I admitted. “And I more than any other attempted to unlock their secrets. If this has something to do with Arcory’s dark madness, I will uncover it.”
“He was your master,” he continued. “I know better than the others. I know at least something of how Wizards are with their apprentices. There was a time when you were doubted. Even after your acts of contrition.”
I twisted my lips.
“There are still times such as that, Baron.” I agreed. “But understand, the stones were placed where they were for a reason. And I will not have that reason belittled for convenience or for others gain. If one of mine or ours has taken it upon him or herself to break that agreement then whoever it may be believes they have sanction or are above judgment. And I will search it out. It is my duty. To him yes, and to you and yours. Never forget that.”
He took a finally draught from his stein.
“Oh, I will not, Venerable Amberglass. Of that you can be assured.”