I’m back to pacing my room. Back and forth, back and forth—stopping only to stare at the tapestry of the white boar. My father was proud of me for killing that beast. Not that it was actually white, but we’ll let that pass. And not that his pride lasted for more than a moment, but we’ll let that pass too. And not that there was any reason for me to hunt the damn thing in the first place.
Fuck. Don’t I have better things to think about? Like these priests my father is so determined to kill. Priests I’ve known for as long as I can remember. Priests who helped train me up for the job, before I joined the legion.
Can he bring them all to the block? Yes, if he strong arms our judges or convinces them that these priests really are intent on treason. We might follow the Sages, but judicial murder isn’t unheard of here. Some of my ancestors were corrupt enough to use it in order to get rid of rivals. And my father won’t even see his actions as corrupt. He’s on some righteous mission against these men.
Ruvan and I need to speak again. Soon. We can’t let him do this.
Meanwhile, there’s Shoch to worry about. And whatever plot he’s cooking up with his sister. No. No, that’s not fair. I stop walking and just stand there in the middle of the room, thinking this through.
I should be happy that Shoch wants to see Itzel. Happy that he’s willing to acknowledge his family now. Hell, maybe all this insanity with my father brought that on. Maybe Shoch realizes that he’s lucky to have his twin. She put herself on the line for him by coming forward. I have to keep reminding myself of all that.
And they’re not plotting. Not that I think either of them is above some hare-brained scheme. But to what end? Besides, Ruvan will be there with them. I have faith in Ruv. If they are plotting something, he’ll put an end to it.
The more important question is about our father. Can Ruv talk the man out of this?
I raise my arms up, clutch at my hair and—fuck. I forgot about my shoulder. It still doesn’t like moving that way. But that’s not important. I turn my mind back to my father. He’s known about the barrier. Did he know what these so-called demons were like too? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, he’s determined to end the priesthood before the barrier fails completely. Before the priests can bring us back to blood sacrifices.
Worse, I’ve got nothing better to offer him. I still don’t know how to banish the wyverns except with blood and sorcery. But there must be a way. Some other ancient scroll that we unearth at Crevlock Tower. Or some vision from Veshnic that’s actually useful for a change.
Or maybe there’s more to the wyverns themselves. They’re terrifying predators, yes. I’ve felt their claws for myself. But the one in Shoch responded to me. I calmed it down. Maybe we can learn to tame them? And if we can, does that mean we can get this one out of Shoch? Un-entwine them? If we don’t, that beast will kill him. Maybe not intentionally, but it will.
A harsh knock stops me cold. Just as well—my brain can’t keep rambling. “Yes?”
One of the guards steps inside. One of my father’s guards, that is—not someone I know. Pure Tantzi, this one. And an old-timer with the gritty, formidable look of long experience. “Commander Camaria to see you, my lord.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Ah, right. Show him in.”
Apparently that’s allowed, house arrest or not, because the guard nods and then ushers Jonac inside. He’s fresh from the road—Jonac, that is. At least judging by the dust on his boots and cloak. Not to mention the bags under his eyes.
The guard doesn’t linger. I suppose he’s confident that I can be left alone with my former jailer.
Jonac, meanwhile, takes off his cloak and tosses it over a chair. “Where’s that pet of yours?”
“With my brother. What—”
“Good.” His face softens a bit. No, not softens. It’s more like he’s relieved about something.
“Jonac, what’s going on?”
He shuts up long enough to seat himself. Then he nods for me to do the same.
I snort. Nice of him to offer me a chair in my own quarters.
He ignores that. “You need to keep that demon-spawn under guard—or, better yet, put him down. Though I suppose His Highness can handle him for now.”
I walk over to the other chair, but I don’t sit down. I stay standing instead, right behind it, and fold my arms over my chest. “What’s going on? Did you just ride here from Crevlock?”
“Yes. On a mule who was none too happy with our speed—but that’s neither here nor there.”
He’s right. I don’t care about the damned mule. “What’s this about Shoch?”
Jonac looks me straight in the eyes. “He’s obsessed with protecting you. And I’m pretty sure he means to assassinate your father in order to do so.”