Had I tested the glamour too far? Could the stones be breaking it down. I had dismissed their potential effect on moon magicks, but I could have been wrong in my assumptions. The fire that was burning in his eyes told me I may very well be. I was fearful for a moment he would act on his anger and strike down Omar then and there. I had to respond before he acted on his fury.
“Then you will have to slay me as well,” I told him, moved to stand between him and Omar who fell to a crouch, moaning with his head down on the mud and straw.
“You are mad,” the Keith decided. “I should have never agreed with this quest. All you wizards are ever concerned with is protecting you own kind.”
“This is about honor, which I am certain you are familiar with, Keith. You have well retained you honor to this point,” I told him, locking his gaze with mine. “You can still keep it. Return to your men, to the younger Reidweither. And let what is between wizards remain between wizards. It is what we have all agreed.”
He let out a breath. Then offered a curt nod, spared a glance at Omar, then spat. The Keith then turned to go, glanced back twice as he walked away from us, a scowl still on his face.
Omar looked up at me, confused, pained . Well, how could he have possible expected Elowyn to fight him with her own power when I could no longer. Such a thing does not happen.
“There is just one thing I want to know before I send you to exile,” I told him, gripping his collar as I pulled him up to his knees. I was feeling stronger, surprisingly stronger. “Whose idea was the sending of elemental fire? You or her?”
He glared at me.
I struck him with my staff. She clearly aided in the blow. When Omar turned back the skin was broken blood had begun to drip down his bruised cheek.
“I was hers,” he confessed. “I thought the risk was too great you would uncover the source any summoning made against you. Gwynhafer was not pleased at my refusal.”
I let out a breath. It was true, she had been behind this. I looked down on my former apprentice, then held out a hand to him, helped him back to his feet. His grip was a solid one. He knew the cost of losing his battle with me.
“And who are your other allies?” I wanted to know, and at his silence, “Do I have to call back the Keith. He will happily take your head. With me you will at least retain your life.”
The names he spoke of were not a surprise. Even in Council there were those who debated past promises, even if in whispers. With this knowledge, I would be able to reclaim as least something of my lost authority. For a time.
I handed him back his staff, pointed to the black stallion waiting in its stall.
“Go,” I told him, “Before the Keith decides his honor doesn’t matter so much to him. And know, regardless of what allies you think you have, theft of the stones will make you a pariah of Council and Kingdoms. I will have no choice but to make that so.”
“You do not understand what you have done,” Omar told me, still shaking. “This will end far worse for you, than for me. Can you stand against both my allies in Council and Gwynhafer?”
“Perhaps not,” I told him. “But I do so now. I have stood against greater powers, as you well know.”
Omar reluctantly mounted his horse and rode it out of the gates. Would he find a way to strike back at me? Even from whatever place of exile he ultimately found for himself? It was possible; he had already tried to slay me, with staff if not with elemental fire. But, even if there was some support for his deeds amongst Council, his public disgrace ensure distance, for at least some years, and as such would limit his ability to direct any rage at me. Not even his allies would publicly stand against Council’s highest edicts. What I had uncovered, what I would further uncover, would likely evoke unprecedented scandal within the collegiate, and that would keep them occupied. I should be free from vengeance, for at least a few seasons, providing I undertook the necessary steps.
I shook my head and turned back. It had come to this again. Arcory had warned the years before a conjunction were the most dangerous. And I had disregarded that warning once again.