"Malvina, carry these baskets and follow me. I'm going to call on the new
Tortallan ambassadors," Tamana ordered that afternoon. Obviously, the
ambassadors were already there, the gossip only traveled slowly. Malvina
sighed and picked up the two baskets, overflowing with welcome gifts,
fruits, incense, jewels, cloths, and such, and somehow managed to balance
on against each hip. Tamana had prepared them to give to the ambassadors,
hopefully before the other maidens had a chance to deliver their gifts.
They arrived shortly at the ambassador's suite in the east wing of the
palace. Tamana knocked on the door and a short man with a red face and
brown stubby hair opened the door.
"May I help you?" he asked, almost out of breath.
"I come with welcome gifts for the royal ambassadors of Tortall, Lady
Margaret and Sir Tokon of Wellam. "
"Please come in, I am Tokon." The man ushered them inside. Malvina barely
held in a laugh at Tamana's reaction. From the look on her face, she had
thought that this man was a servant! However, Tamana recovered quickly, "I
am Tamana, daughter of minister Linshu."
"Very pleased to make your acquaintance, lady Tamana." Sir Tokon bowed.
"Where might I have my servant place these gifts?" Tamana asked after
returning his bow with a curtsy.
"Please, follow me," they did, into the next room. Malvina breathed in the
pleasing smell of books as she looked at the many shelves.
"Malvina," Tamana said sharply, dragging her attention from the multitude
of books, "place the baskets on the table."
Tokon, who had been gazing at a map on the wall, turned quickly and stared
at Malvina. She self-consciously bowed her head, her long blond hair
falling over her shoulder[i], and placed her burdens on the indicated
table. The next moment a woman, a full head taller than Sir Tokon, swept
into the room. She was introduced as Lady Margaret.
Tamana was invited to have a cup of tea. She accepted telling Malvina to
leave. "Malvina, I will return in an hour's time and I expect my clothes
for tonight to be ready," she instructed. Malvina bowed to her mistress
and to the ambassadors, but as she was turning she caught a surprised
glance Lady Margaret shot at her husband and the small nod he gave in
return. Puzzling over their reactions she did as directed by her mistress.
Carpathos was nervous. He sat at a table in a far corner of the Dancing
Dove, alone, waiting for Myles to appear. He was later than usual.
Carpathos grasped his mug, ignoring the raucous laughter at the other end
of the room. Finally he saw Myles enter. Quickly he stood and walked over
to intercept the knight's path, before he could go to his regular spot.
"Carpathos!" he said with surprised pleasure, "I haven't seen you or
Ariadne in a while."
"Myles, please come sit with me," he said, trying, without success, to
cover up his urgency.
"Certainly," Myles said, slightly startled.
Carpathos grabbed his elbow and just about dragged Myles back to his table.
"Are you okay Carpathos?" Myles asked quietly.
"I need to talk to you privately. Can I meet you at your town house in one
Myles just stared at him.
"Please, Myles, I'll explain everything to you then." Carpathos
"Okay, one hour. But Carpathos…" but Carpathos had already left.
"So?" asked Ariadne as Carpathos walked in the door.
"I asked him if I could meet him in an hour, well, 30 minutes now, at his
"Well, I wasn't about to bring out the Dominion Jewel in the middle of the
Dancing Dove!" Carpathos said defensively.
Ariadne had gone pale. "Didn't you look around you before you came in?"
she hissed, "Men of the King's Own have been patrolling the streets since
dusk, and a notice was just read, curfew is in 15 minutes!"
"Oh, no. That can't be true!" Carpathos stammered.
"Yes, it is. I think they're searching for the stone!" Ariadne said.
"Well, I'll try and slip out now then, before curfew," Carpathos was really
getting nervous now. What if he didn't have a chance to tell Myles? What
if they found him with the Dominion Jewel? Quickly he walked back outside
and, just as quickly, found that the street was blocked off by two of the
King's Own, armed, at each intersection. Everyone was being sent back into
their homes. Carpathos returned, pale and panicky, to the house.
Half an hour later the house by house search reached their home. A knock
came, "Open, in the name of the king!" a voice commanded.
Ariadne quickly opened and three men of the king's Own entered. One
soldier searched upstairs, one searched the downstairs, and the third
ordered Ariadne and Carpathos to empty their pockets, removing everything
except their clothing. Finding nothing, the man upstairs returned to his
Carpathos was almost ready to think they'd get off free, that these men
wouldn't find the stone, when one spoke up, "Take that from around your
neck also," indicating the string the leather pouch was on. Carpathos
sighed, resigned to his fate. With three armed men in the house and even
more on the street outside, running was not an option; he'd most likely get
killed. He slowly handed the pouch to one of the men and immediately bowed
his head in submission. The man, startled at this boy's behavior quickly
checked the contents of the bag and immediately drew his sword, in case of
any resistance, "By order of the King, you are under arrest for stealing
the Dominion Jewel." At that moment, the man who had been searching the
downstairs found the stolen travel bags, containing Numair Salmalin's
papers and other possessions. He quickly walked out of the house and
brought back reinforcements, accompanied by, Carpathos noticed, Lord Raoul
In minutes Ariadne and Carpathos found themselves shackled and marching
down the street, escorted by two dozen of the King's Own. Carpathos was
absolutely terrified. They'd never believe it had been a mistake, or that
he had meant to return the jewel.
As the procession made its way through the lower city, more men joining the
ranks at each intersection, Ariadne caught a glimpse of Sir Myles. She
slowed and tried to catch his eyes, she succeeded. His eyebrows shot up in
surprise at the entourage and he quickly guided the horse he was riding
over to Lord Raoul. The two held a short conversation in which Raoul
quickly told him that Carpathos had been arrested in possession of the
They were led to the Citadel and into a cell with two cots and a lamp
sitting on the floor. The door was closed and locked, a sentry standing
"Now see where this has gotten us!" Ariadne was almost hysterical.
"Don't worry, I'll tell them that I stole it, you didn't do anything wrong.
They'll let you go," Carpathos answered with more confidence than he had.
It was mid-morning but the sun was already beating down on the pages in the
training yards; it was unusually warm for fall. Taro was waiting his turn
at the quintain when he saw Sir Myles walk over to Lord Wyldon. The
training master's face went red and he yelled "Taro of Wellam." Taro
trotted over quickly.
"Leave your horse, the servants will take care of it. Go with Sir Myles."
Taro could tell that Lord Wyldon did not like interrupting the training
Following the knight into the castle, Taro wondered what it was this time.
"Ah, Taro, there you are," Numair said as Myles led him to the causeway
entrance that led to the Citadel, "I assume you want to come also Myles?"
"Yes. I know he boy."
"Who are we talking about?" asked Taro.
"The boy who stole the Dominion Jewel. It was found last night, but the
young man refuses to talk and, for some reason, neither my truth spells nor
the king's seem to work on him. I remember what you said, that he might be
immune to magic, but you were able to break through his spells and find the
stone before, you might be able to help now." Numair explained as the trio
walked into the fortress.
A few minutes later they were in a cell that was occupied by the king, Lord
Raoul and one prisoner. "Page Taro, thank you, I believe you can help us,"
Lord Raoul said.
"Wait a minute, where is Ariadne?" Myles asked.
"She had nothing to do with this," spoke up the boy, who looked like he had
Bazhir ancestors, "I promised that I'd cooperate if he let her go."
"Page Taro, I will need you to do a truth spell." The king started.
The prisoner spoke up, "I said I'd cooperate if you let Ariadne go. You
don't need to use a truth spell."
"Well then," the King said in an icy tone, "tell me why the Dominion Jewel
was found on your person."
"I didn't mean to steal it! I meant to return it, that's why I asked Sir
Myles if I could talk to him at his town house; I was going to give it to
him to give it to you. Do you think I want you dethroned by some tyrant,
like Ozorne, who gets his hands on that?"
"Myles?" the King asked.
"It's true, sire, that he asked to speak to meet me at my house. When he
didn't come I went to his house, because he had seemed so desperate to
speak to me. I came across them as Raoul was escorting them here."
"What do you know of Ozorne, boy?" Numair asked.
"I know he was a tyrant. I lived in his kingdom for seven years as a
slave, until I escaped with the help of your own Lindhall Reed. Too bad I
didn't get to see him die and his castle crumble. And I'm not called
'boy,' I do have a name, it's Carpathos, for your information."
Page Taro, whom everyone had forgotten was in the room, started having a
coughing fit. Myles turned, concerned, "Something wrong?"
"Your highness, may I ask what your ruling is in this matter?" Taro said,
ignoring the odd looks he was getting for his fit.
The King studied the dark boy and then sighed, "I believe his story that he
meant to return the Jewel, but the matter of the thievery still remains. I
set a fine at five gold nobles, to be paid before he is released from
Carpathos' heart dropped. He didn't have that kind of money, not since
they had re-confiscated Master Numair's belongings.
"Sire, I would like to pay the fine for Carpathos." Taro said.
Everyone, including Carpathos, stared at him.
"Might I inquire as to the reason why, Page Taro?"
"Yes, I owe Carpathos all that I can give him. His brother saved my life
three years ago. I'm sure my parents told you the story about how I was in
the castle when it collapsed."
"You…you know where Wiglafan is?" Carpathos jumped up.
Numair, who remembered the story quite well, frowned, "Wiglafan…died saving
Taro's life in the castle that night."
Taro solemnly nodded his head.
[i] I know, in the books the slaves are bald (at least I think they are)
but Malvina is not, she has long blond hair.