The Stones of Arcory
Chapter Thirty Five
The Final Fate Of The Margrave Of Bardelaisch

“Did he ever tell you of a such a plan,” I asked her. She sighed once more, ran her fingers lightly down my chest.

“He kept himself apart, his true self,” she told me. “He was always elsewhere in his plans, even when he was present in body. So many plans he had, so many. We are all only left to guess at his final nature. My preference is for one I can know. In all ways.”

I had completely dismissed that possibility. Surely they were too few left to make that possible. I have thoughts just about all of them had been hunted down. And yet there had been demonic, Underworlder activity recently.

I considered all I had heard and seen, then rejected the thought. It was too far from conjunction for that to make sense.

“I think that would be unlikely. There are more than a hundred stones these are merely three. It would take a monumental effort to restore him, far more power than any demon or collection would have without access to their own realm. I am thinking it is something, someone else.”

She withdrew. Stood and walked towards where we had left our robes. She turned back with a long silvery slip in hand.

“Is that all you came for,” she pouted. “Is that all you care about. After all these years. Just to talk about him and his stones?”

“It was you that brought me here,” I reminded her, standing up myself, walked towards her. “If I had suspected I would have earned this reception, I would have sought you sooner. And for different reasons,”

I reached out, took her in my arms again, kissed her rich lips.

She pulled away.

“But you are not all here, regardless,” she accused.

“No, but this is a mission of obligation. Of honor.”

“Oh, very well,” she told me. “You and your honor. I suppose I will not have any true satisfaction until you sate it. Firstly, your Margrave, he became so desperate that he did indeed turn from your Council wizards and seek succor from my sisters. However, it was not they who slew him. Nor was it the demon he was intending to bargain with. He and his fold did not reach the mountains. Forest bandits found them. Near the village of Black River Forks, on the Tell. .He and his retainers were stripped of their valuables and left for the wolves. True, a harsh death, but the forests are not to be treated lightly are they? And he had been warned.”

She continued to dress. I pondered my failure, what I would tell the Margravine. At least it would provide her closure, if not any sort of happiness.

I reached for my robes. Gwynhafer was already dressed, placing back her wreath crown in its place.

“Secondly.” she noted. “There was further reason I brought you to me.”

“Oh?” I asked.

“Yes, I can play this game too. You were followed to the forest where you exercised your powers,” She told me, adding another knowing glance. “Apparently one of your kind desired to put an end to your activities in their own way. And made my sisters all the angrier.”

I narrowed my eyes at her.

“You are without doubt?” Few knew my self imposed mission. “What manner of follower?”

Her expression turned grim.

“Only a kind of entity that wizards can conjure, I suspect send by the one who stole those stones you are so fond of,” she told me, then pointed as I was about to follow her. “You will need her, I should think.”

She was pointing at my staff, which leaned against a low slung branch. It was not a her, I automatically replied in my mind, in reaction to the sole geas I bore. It had not been a ‘her’, not since Gwynhafer’s bargain with Arcory. Still, I did not argue with Gwyn. I merely retrieved the twisted length of bone white wood that was my focus of power and followed the enchantress where she led me.

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