Though at first mildly reluctant, the Arbiter had been turned around. We had provided her exactly what she desired; a quick and painless end to the problem Council had presented her with. She could return to her work, assured I would be returned to mine.
The next day, she met with the both of us in the Keith’s hall. He sat in his chair, watching us parlay the final details, his sheathed sword by his side, as it always was. I had begun to wonder about his wife’s view of it.
“Allow me to send a missive to council,” El Endande told me. “We will discuss the details with the other lords at their convenience.”
She turned to the Keith.
“How long do you think it would take for your fellow margraves to join us here?”
“Oh, “The Keith smiled, then clapped his hands. “I am sure within the day, should missive be sent shortly. You know we all are eager to help, given our appreciation for all Council affords to us.”
A page came running. The Keith then started with his missive that the girl wrote on her parchment.
“The morrow then,” the Arbiter offered. Then left us to our own devices.
I turned to the Keith after she left, watched his face, his movements for any possible weakening of the new glamour my staff and I had rewoven. They seemed as strong as they had been when recast.
“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 and head filled with drink. Your father would be proud. You honor him. As has your brewing.”
“I will thank that as much as anything else,” he told me, then turned serious. “Strangely, it is when I feel closest to him. But still, I must ask why you chose to hide your plans from your fellow wizards. It does make me still wonder at your motives, magister.”
“And my loyalties?” I knew the direction he was going. Even the young remember Arcory. To many songs have been written to keep count.
“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 all the properties of those stones, Lord Keith,” I admitted. “And I more than any other attempted hard to unlock their secrets. If this has to do with Arcory’s dark madness, I will uncover it. If it is another’s madness, I will uncover that as well.”
“He was your master, more than that my father would whisper,” he continued. “So, I know better than the others. And even I know something of how Wizards are with their apprentices. There was a time when my father said that he would have had you staked, even after Arcory’s sacrifice, even after your acts of contrition.”
I twisted my lips. Power is a double edged sword. The people remember the two ways it cuts.
“There are still times, Margrave, I have that effect on people,” I agreed. “But understand why I am acting on this with such gravity. The stones were placed where they were for more than just your and your fellow’s benefit. And I will not have those reasons 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 beyond judgment. It is my duty to ensure they are not. To him yes, and to you and every single man woman and child who lives on all these marches. Never forget that.”
He gave me a look of appraisal. I decided it would be wise for me to see him as ever bit as perceptive as his father had been.
“Oh, I will not, Venerable Amberglass,” he told me evenly. “Of that you can be assured.”