Author's Note: And here we have… the second new chapter of the day.

Chapter 16

Dakrias Brown, generally much calmer in his post as Chief Archivist than he had been as Weldon Spurlock's aide, was pacing through the archives at such a clip, one might think there were spirits in the room… again. Not that I mind them so much, now that Spurlock's gone. Truly, the company's rather nice, such as it is. Perhaps if I ask politely...

Dakrias had been a man on a mission since his – very – early morning meeting with the King. For all his admitted lack of social skills, the archivist was not a blind man, and could understand why even someone raised to expect an arranged marriage might wish for something more. For the King's sake alone, he would be this dedicated in his work; the archivist had ever been a loyal servant. This task, however, would impact also on the life, well-being and happiness of Rider G'ladheon, and despite her protests, Dakrias felt very much indebted to her.

This was one task that he undertook on his own. Even with the time-sensitive nature of this particular quest, it was far more important that word of it not spread beyond a trusted few. Honored as he was to be counted in that number, Dakrias did not let any remaining ego get the best of him, and had spent the morning searching rather determinedly for the document. He had looked first in the most expected places – Queen Isen's personal documents, Queen Isen's Court documents, Royal marriage contracts throughout several reigns. Those files alone had taken the better part of a full work-day and yet, it did not surprise him that this particular marriage agreement was not so easy to locate.

Now, where else might it be? It's fair enough to presume that if Rider G'ladheon's – Karigan's – status was hidden, those protecting her would wish to hide the document as well. It very well could be with King Amigast's personal or Court documents, despite Queen Isen being in power when it was negotiated. Perhaps it was deliberately misfiled in a location memorable only to the Chief Archivist at the time… three before Spurlock, and that not even two decades ago. Should it worry me that no one holds my post for long? Realizing that his thoughts were running away from him, Dakrias stopped abruptly in one of the darker alcoves of the archive chambers, forcing himself to take several deep breaths.

Enough, Dakrias. Focus. There's work to do yet, and this I must continue to do alone. At least the King was gracious enough to grant me two aides when I took this position. Cyril and Helene have learned quickly and I'm confident in their ability to handle my customary duties while this takes priority for me. As a bonus, they know well enough when I'm not to be interrupted. Very intuitive, those two; they leave me to my tasks, and still manage to make sure I remember to eat. Now, were I the architect of such as document as I'm seeking, where would I have put it? Even if no copy was filed here, shouldn't Queen Isen have had a copy, or King Amigast? There has to be something here; Queen Isen would not have risked having only one copy, or keeping all of the copies in a single place.

"She would have had a copy filed here, but where might they have put it? I'll find it even if I have to look through the entirety of the archives, page by page, but I got the distinct impression that t-time was running rather sh-short, even if the King didn't say it outright. P-perhaps a little help? For Rider G'ladheon's sake?"

A brief hint of a breeze where there should have been none reassured him that his request had not gone unheard.


And again, the steps taken to protect my Heart-Sister have had unexpected consequences… though they may have served to protect the young Lord more than harm. It was a strong working, so much so that I did not know my Sister when first I saw her… and I suspect the young Lord's status as savaile would have been hidden from me as well, prior to now. If his mother was a little cousin to our people, then he could be no less. The lines known to have mingled with mortals are few and far between, but not unheard of, the King's own line aside. Who, I wonder, was this one's tie to the Elt Wood, and does that one still walk among us?

Wordlessly, Somial followed as the children led his Lady to where they'd been staying, a large suite of rooms deep within the shelter of the keep. The children who had run to surround their Chieftain were not all of those he had escorted to this refuge; a quick count showed less than a third of the precious little ones were huddled around her currently.

The youngest in the tiny mob were truly happy to see her, and share every detail of their 'adventure,' not yet realizing just how much their lives had changed. The older ones had a familiar grief in their eyes, one Somial had seen in his own when he chose to look. They knew, but showed only smiles and laughter so they wouldn't upset the little ones. The events of one atrocious day had aged them by decades, and to look at them was to see that in some respects, they were children no longer. He couldn't give them their parents back, but he could safeguard them against further harm.

And I would not object to ensuring that those who stole their loved ones pay dearly for that course of action… I'm certain Gaelith would wish to join me. Somial didn't realize his thoughts and rage had echoed through the Blades until a response wound its way through the Bearer's link.

Myself as well, Brother, his Heart-Sister's voice whispered in his mind, but we need not hunt them. I am utterly certain they will come looking for us, in time. All we need do is wait. You see as well as I that there's rather a lot to accomplish before we deal with them. I'd prefer to have the children safely in the castle before that next meeting, but I suspect those butchers aren't necessarily the patient sort. They will not want us reaching Sacor City save as the honored guests in a funeral procession. I, for one, don't plan to oblige them.