Are you telling me that we were the only ones who thought to capture an officer?" Peregrine asked incredulously.
"Apparently so," Rogan replied, "although I still haven't heard from some of the Americans yet."
"Actually no. Ambassador Schwarzenegger told me this morning that they routed both their incursions without losses, although he stated more than once that that was what his brother had told him."
"Implying that somebody other than the Emperor told him something different," the general muttered thoughtfully.
"That's the Yankees for you," Rogan said. "They don't like to be seen as anything less than perfect, and even a single casualty would shatter that illusion. No, it's the Aztecs I'm waiting to hear from, but you know their views on prisoners."
"The only good prisoner is a dead one," recited Peregrine. "Did I see the Frank ambassador leaving before I entered?"
"You did indeed," the king replied. "She came to demand that we turn over our captive officer to them because 'they have far more prisoners than we do, so one more won't make a difference'."
"Only one? We have several hundred they can have if they really want."
"They're only interested in the one that Miles subdued. Daisharis Gaidal."
"What about the two who were with him?"
"Just Gaidal," Rogan replied. "I think they're more interested in his earthquake trick more than any military information, to be honest."
"I hope you told Claudia no."
"That's all I could tell her, sadly. I was prevented from speaking my true thoughts by an annoying little thing called diplomacy."
"I'm glad I don't have to worry about being diplomatic," Peregrine said with a smile.
"Neither does Taryn. He said, and I quote, 'if you sausage-lovers had wanted an officer to interrogate, you shouldn't have opened the battle by blasting the command group with as much energy as your Kineticists could muster'."
"I can't imagine she liked that, but who's going to argue with the Magister Eternal?"
"I've known a few people who will," Rogan commented. "Family and friends, mostly. And Miles."
"Where is Taryn, anyway? I thought he was with you."
"One of his people brought him some books that he said might be relevant to the Storm. He's taken them to his suite. Did you want him for something?"
"Miles and I were planning to interrogate Gaidal. We were hoping you or Taryn might ensure we get the truth out of him."
"Of course," replied Rogan. "I've been expecting it, actually. I've managed to re-arrange most of today's appointments. I'm free for the rest of the day." He stood and formed a Dimensional Door to the corridor outside the interrogation rooms. Stepping through, he almost bumped into Taryn, who stepped aside just in time.
"Miles called me," he explained, opening the door to the darkened observation room. Stepping inside, the three men were surprised to see that Miles wasn't alone. A tall woman in blue was staring intently at the prisoner through the large window that from the brightly-lit room beyond, would appear to be just a mirror. Miles turned to greet the arrivals with a nod.
"I took the liberty of inviting Lady Talbot to view the prisoner," he stated. "Her Aura Visions may reveal something useful." Rogan nodded and turned to the woman at the window.
"What do you see? Anything interesting?"
"Black chains binding his soul, for a start," she replied. "He's not in full control of his actions. I don't think he has been for a very long time, and he's not the only one. There are others Linked to him. Hundred, maybe thousands. Every one bound in chains, and all are trapped in a cage of black lightning surrounded by dark storm clouds. He's worried what his failure at Wessex might mean for them. Compared to that, we might as well be just the threat of rain on a sunny day."
"Controlled by the Storm, obviously," Miles commented, "although I couldn't sense any other Mindlinks when I subdued him. Not that I was really looking."
"Maybe Taryn will be able to find something?" Rogan turned slightly to the Psion, who stepped up beside Lady Talbot to examine the prisoner. "Please continue, my Lady."
"There's power there, too. The strength to move mountains, held in check by restraints older than the black chains. Older than he is by far. Hmm, that's odd." She paused, squinting slightly "A golden three-lobed leaf falling from a branch onto a sword, shattering the blade. If he had the choice, this man would rather die than cause harm to another, even by accident."
"You got that from a leaf and a broken sword?" Peregrine asked, amazed. Lady Talbot turned to face him.
"Don't ask me to explain how I know what my Visions mean, General Mortimer. I just do, even though the same image for two separate people can mean completely different things, and frequently does. Likewise, different images for different people can mean exactly the same thing in the long run."
"Anything in his future?" Miles asked. She turned back to the figure beyond the glass.
"A Portal Stone; a man in red and black who he greatly respects; broken chains. There's some kind of creature … Miles, it's your brother's Dragon, coiled around his wrist. His descendants will serve yours, and they in turn will protect his and safeguard their way of leaf." She blinked and shook her head briefly to clear it. "I mean life. Their way of life. Sorry. The leaf and sword image flashed up there again for a second."
"Not like you to confuse Visions like that," Miles commented.
"I don't think I did," she replied hesitantly. "It must be in his future as much as his past."
"Anything else?" Rogan asked.
"Just two more images. First of all, he's going to die in bed of old age, surrounded by a dozen grandchildren. The other image is … odd."
"Well there's a gravestone, his without doubt, bearing a three word epitaph: 'Caballein misain ye,' although I couldn't tell you what that means. Beyond that there's a golden horn with writing around the rim, but it's too faint for me to read. The odd thing is that the horn is behind the gravestone. Not the other way round."
"It makes a difference?" Peregrine asked. Lady Talbot nodded.
"A big difference. It means that his death will come before the horn. It's his, but not in his lifetime. I know that doesn't make much sense, but there's no other way to interpret the vision."
"I'm sure there's a logical explanation for it, Minerva," Miles said. "Thank you for coming. You've been a big help."
"Any time, Miles," she responded. "Are you and Clara still coming over tomorrow for lunch?"
"Clara certainly will. She's been looking forward to it, and I know Alice wants to see her cousins. I might be detained, however, but I'll try to be there."
As the door closed behind Minerva Talbot, Taryn turned to the others.
"I found the links she mentioned. I'm not surprised you missed them, Miles. One is Metapsionic. The others are more akin to the bond between twins."
"Can you break them?" Rogan asked.
"The Metapsionic Link, certainly. As for the others, I don't think I should even try. If they're connections to his people, who are all controlled as he is, we might be able to gain their trust by freeing them from the Storm's Domination, but not if we start breaking them apart before we talk to them."
"So you think the Metapsionic Link is the Storm's control?"
"I'm certain," Taryn stated. "It has a very familiar feel to it." Rogan nodded, ignoring the puzzled looks from the other two men, who hadn't been present when Taryn had disclosed what he had learned from the Ogier. Both king and Magister had agreed that the Storm's identity should remain secret as long a possible.
"Can the Storm establish a Clairsentient contact through that Link?" Miles asked.
"Probably," Taryn replied, "although I don't think he has yet. Other than the Link itself, the only psionic activity in that room is your Mindtrap, Miles."
"Sever the Link," Rogan ordered. "I don't want the Storm learning any more about us than is necessary. Then you and I are going in to talk to Gaidal, Miles." Peregrine opened his mouth, but Rogan held up a hand to forestall him. "I'm going in because I want Taryn here in case anything happens, and Miles can protect me better than you can. He's already subdued the prisoner once, after all." The general nodded reluctantly as he turned back to the window.
"It's done," Taryn said, after a few minutes concentration. "You can bring him back any time, Miles."
Without a word, the Telepath walked round to the prisoner's room and began to unravel his Mindtrap. Rogan hurried round to join him as the captive's eyes cleared and focused on the two men.
"Daisharis Gaidal," Miles began. The bound man interrupted with a hollow laugh.
"I have no right to that title," he said bitterly. His voice had none of the echoing quality that Miles had heard in his mind. "There is little glory in defeat."
"There's no shame in losing to a superior foe," Miles replied calmly. "You couldn't have anticipated me, could you?"
"I couldn't," Gaidal shook his head, "but the Emperor will likely see matters differently."
"I'm sure he would, but he's not here, is he?"
"The Emperor sees all. The Emperor knows all," recited Gaidal. "He is always with me."
"Not any more," Rogan stated. "Our Magister broke the Link before you woke."
"That's impossible!" Gaidal's disbelief was obvious. "Nobody's that powerful."
"Not in your world perhaps," replied the king, "but this isn't your world. It's ours, and there are many here with great power."
Gaidal lowered his gaze, focusing inward. At a telepathic suggestion from Taryn, Rogan stepped closer.
"What does 'caballein misain ye' mean?" he asked. Gaidal's head snapped up to look at him.
"Where did you hear that phrase?" he demanded. Rogan was silent for a few moments, wondering how much to reveal.
"One of my people saw it written down in a vision," he finally replied. "One that relates to you. Her visions never lie. So what does it mean?"
"It means 'I am a free man'," Gaidal murmured, lowering his head again, "and it seems you're right about the Emperor's link being broken." Straightening his shoulders, he looked back up to the two men before him. "But I cannot be free as long as my people remain bound. We are One."
"Then let us help you free them," Miles said quietly. "Your Emperor is our enemy as well."
"I need time to think about this. To commune with the …" he broke off abruptly, and closed his eyes. Miles looked questioningly at Rogan, who turned to face the mirror concealing the observers. After a brief mental conversation with Taryn, he turned back to Miles.
"Let him consider, Miles." He glanced down at the prisoner. "We'll be back later, but know that you are under surveillance, Daisharis Gaidal." With that he turned to leave, Miles following close behind. As the door began to close, the sitting man stirred.
"Matteus," he said quietly without opening his eyes. "My birth name was Matteus."