Chapter Fifty
Negotiation’s Cost


The pact struck, my staff turned to aiding me in uncovering the pattern of the glamour her sister had placed, and helped me with it’s transformation and transference onto The Keith and Arbiter El Endnande. Once accomplished, the original intent of our meeting and memory of negotiations were restored. For now, neither recalled what I had done to them.

As the Keith had told me, El Endande was a lover of the Margrave’s special amber brew. After partaking in not a little of it myself, I became more confident my plan would be a success, even if I could not forget what the cost of that success could be. Still, I offered an optimistic front. I had better.

“This is not appropriate. I am ordinarily guided by Council,” she told us, pursed her pale lips. “The manner in which their venerable Wizard should be returned to them was clear in their missive. They desired my personal attention to this task.”

“Well, we are under, at this time, the deepest hold of the Cold Sun in a generation,” I reminded her. “To call upon additional resources, would undoubtedly force claims by those under your purview. You have good work to do, Arbiter. We both know Councils most expedient methods of travel are at their weakest under the Cold Sun. I wouldn’t want that potential cost to fall upon any on my account. It would ease your burdens as well. We all know the responsibilities of the Arbitry are great and always demanding. And the Keith has agreed, as have two of his fellow lords.”

“I have no desire to flaunt Council,” the Keith added. “It is the least we could offer, some small assistance to the venerable wizard on his return journey home, as there is much he has done to aid out lands which remains unpaid.”

“This your suggestion then? That you lords take my place as escort?” She took another sip. She was growing more amenable as the discussion went on. Thank the brew, I offered silently glancing down at my almost empty goblet.

“Well, I would not want to presume on the Arbiter, but we can offer some protective resources to the magister,” 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 as ours, and I am certain that, to provide assurance one of us could accompany the men to ensure you wizard’s safety at least to the one of the citadels of a Greater Kingdom, where Council resources are more prevalent. And my fellow margraves, I am sure, will be happy to assist. There would be benefits to all, in this arrangement, I would think.”

I squinted at the Keith. The more he drank, the more silver-tongued he became. His father had quite the opposite talent.

Then, I nearly blew out a mouthful as he grabbed me by the shoulder and shook vigorously.

“Surely a good company of men to guard this venerable fellow would be acceptable to you and Council,” he told The Arbiter.

I narrowed my eyes at his tone. It seemed altogether too mirthful. El Endande glance my way, offered a touch of a relieved smile. The man clearly knew her. That was exactly the reaction I needed to see.

Go To Chapter 49

Go To Chapter 51

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