"Wylend sent flowers and a credit chip for a hundred thousand," Dee said, setting the comp-vid in front of Gavril. What do you want to do?"
"Exactly the same," Gavril grinned.
"Wise choice," Dee smiled and went to make it so.
"Farla, this just came, along with another flower delivery," Baretis handed over the envelope, this time. This one bore the newly designed crest of the Campiaan Alliance. Farla sat down to read this one.
Reah and I wish to express our condolences on your loss. Please accept this contribution toward your expenses at this difficult time-Teeg San Gerxon, Founding Member, Campiaan Alliance. Another credit chip, also for one hundred thousand Alliance credits, was tucked inside the envelope. Farla fanned herself with this envelope, attempting to retain consciousness.
Wylend stayed for dinner, and the duck was perfect. "This is the recipe we'll use in the restaurant," I clinked wineglasses with Radolf. Wylend and Corolan spent the night. They took very good care of me, leaving early the following morning. Radolf was there afterward, and we didn't get out of bed for a while.
"My heart's love," Radolf kissed my hand then pressed my fingers to his chest. His heartbeat was steady and strong beneath my hand.
"Where did you come from, love?" I asked him. "You are a gift to me."
"Just what I always wanted to hear," he smiled, leaning down to kiss me.
"Mother, Fes is waking!" Farla had arrived at the hospital to check on her eldest before making final arrangements for Addah's funeral. Rane had come earlier to sit with his brother.
"Thank the stars," Farla was nearly running down the hall toward Fes' room.
A doctor stood beside Fes' bed, checking his vitals. The physician smiled, his green-gold eyes twinkling a little. "He should be fine now. Let the staff know if you need anything." The doctor left the room.
"Mother," Fes reached out a shaking hand to Farla.
"Fes," Farla was in tears as she grasped his fingers in hers.
"Mother, Aldah has gone mad. He killed Father and then turned on me."
"They've already arrested him," Rane said. Farla was sobbing.
"Fes, do you know why he did this?" Rane asked softly. He couldn't fathom why his brother had stooped to this measure.
"He became angry, because father still refused to share some of his special recipes with us. He accused father of keeping all of us under his thumb by withholding what we were entitled to. Father shouted back, of course. All this happened in the car on the way home. Then, when Landor let us out at the front gate, Aldah pulled one of his cook's knives from its case and stabbed Father. I tried to stop him, that's how I got this." Fes held up his bandaged hands. "When Father fell, Aldah stabbed me. Twice."
"We were so worried," Farla lifted her tear-stained face to her oldest son.
"I think I will be fine now," Fes sighed. "Do you think they will allow me some water?"
"Gavril and Wylend will escort you here," I blinked at the vid-map that Lendill had splashed on a wall of his office. Lendill pointed to a spot on the map showing where the family would be and then where I was expected to sit-nearby but not with the family at Addah's funeral. "Lok, Tory, Erland, Rylend and I will provide security, in addition to Gavril's four warlocks. I believe Farzi and Nenzi may also be there with you, Reah."
"I want them with me," I nodded. Ilvan and Edan were also in this meeting, but they were welcome to sit with the family. I'd separated from them, so I was no longer entitled. It didn't matter-none of those there, except for Edan and Ilvan, would likely recognize me.
"I will sit with Reah," Edan said. "If she'll allow it."
Turning to Edan, I nodded at him. Slowly I was getting used to him. Becoming accustomed to the face that was so different now. Before, Edan would get angry over nothing. This one I had yet to see angry. What was your name before? I sent mindspeech. The effort was likely useless, but this was an easier way to ask.
What? How did you? His voice came through clearly.
You have mindspeech. Likely Kifirin gave it to you, I answered.
Come rest your head on my shoulder and I'll tell you, he returned. Blinking at him, I worked to make the decision. Rising from my seat, I went to sit beside Edan on Lendill's sofa. He pulled my head onto his shoulder and kissed my temple. My name was Eldan, he told me. Not far from Edan, don't you think?
No. Not far off, I agreed.
I was nearly two hundred when I was brought here, he added.
I'm glad it's you, instead, I told him. He ran a hand over my hair.
"You are allowed to attend under the bereavement clause," the Warden examined Marzi Desh with distaste. She'd kept the last name against her ex-husband's wishes. Marzi was a troublemaker inside the prison-had most of her neighbors in conflict at all times. Even now, she was blinking her beautiful blue eyes at the Warden. He huffed at her pitiful attempts at flirting-his taste ran to males. Of course, she wouldn't know that-Marzi wasn't bright enough to read the signals. She did know how to keep things unsettled around her, however. Warden Brig Andlen pursed his lips at the thought.
"You will have guards around you constantly, you will be cuffed and should you do anything other than what is directed by your attendants, those cuffs will be activated. Do you understand?"
"Of course I do." Marzi's voice was low and sultry as she drew a pattern on her knee suggestively. Brig was thankful she was chained for the interview.
"Spare me-I find it insulting," Brig snapped. "You will have suitable clothing provided, but you will not be allowed to keep it. You will attend the funeral only, and return to the prison upon its conclusion. Do you understand?"
"Yes." Now she was angry and nearly spat the word at Brig.
"Get her out of here," Brig nodded at Marzi's guards.
Marzi called Brig an extremely unkind name as she was escorted to her cell. "There's one on the top floor that sends his greetings," the guard on her left whispered carefully. "He says that the white-haired bitch needs to suffer. He wants you to get close enough." Marzi, who'd done favors for both her guards, smiled.
"I'll owe you," she said sweetly. "Both of you."
"You'll have a heavy coat issued-winter is well-established," the other guard said softly. "You'll find what you need inside a pocket. And we'll expect the usual. Tonight and for the next six moon-turns."
"You'll get that and more," Marzi promised with a smile.
Former Master Cook Vyn Bralnon paced across his cell. The men's prison was located two floors above that of the women's. He wasn't without resources, and he'd watched every bit of news available, as soon as Aldah Desh accused Reah of killing his father. Aldah was the murderer as it turned out, but Vyn still blamed Reah for his imprisonment. He hated her. Would always hate her. Plus, he had ways of acquiring what he wanted. His mother still lived, and anything she could do for him, she would.
Vyn's mother, Stria, had bribed guards too many times to count, just to get a treat or some bit of contraband inside. This time, however, Vyn had two particular guards bribed-or at least his mother did. Reah Desh would attend Addah's funeral-that had somehow been leaked to the press. Marzi Desh, two floors down in the women's prison, would also attend.
Vyn didn't care what happened to Marzi-he only wanted Reah dead. It would be simple-supply Marzi with a weapon and Reah would die. Rumors abounded inside prison walls, but it was no secret that Marzi hated Reah just as much as Vyn did. Vyn smiled. His plan was perfect. Reah would die, Marzi would likely be killed onsite and since the guards would keep their part in this secret, Vyn would achieve his objective with no repercussion. His mood was nearly gleeful as he flopped onto his narrow bed. Now, if he could just find a way to speed through the next few turns of his sentence, life would be so much better.
"We'll wait until after the funeral to have our meeting," Lissa sighed. Kiarra had come to give Lissa information regarding the mentally ill Ra'Ak. "Reah took that one down on Tulgalan, thankfully. She needs to hear this, too."
"Yes, she does," Kiarra agreed. "And we must all be more watchful. Invite everyone connected to this, regardless. The more who know, the better we'll be at recognizing the signs."
"Lendill, Norian and Lok have been investigating more of the sites where children disappeared. So far they haven't learned anything new," Lissa said.
"We need a liaison between the ASD, what Gavril has in place and the Saa Thalarr," Kiarra said.
"Plus Wylend's warlocks," Lissa agreed. "You know, Denevik may be interested-Garde says that he's bored, most of the time."
"I'll consult with Pheligar. If he agrees, then we'll approach him," Kiarra nodded.
"Reah, I realize you may never wear that dress again, but you are beautiful in it." Corolan had a hand at my back as we were escorted into the temple for Addah's funeral. It looked to be a lavish affair. Erland walked ahead of us, Wylend behind with Ry. Cory looked more the part of King of Karathia than Wylend did, and that was by design. Cory was offering himself as a target, allowing Wylend to stand at his side and appear to be a guard.
Teeg was behind Wylend, with all four of the Starr warlocks guarding him and Wylend. Farzi and Nenzi, dressed finely for the occasion and looking quite handsome, walked on either side of Teeg. I pitied anyone who tried to harm the founding member of the Campiaan Alliance. Lok and Lendill had already gone inside; just to make sure all was well inside the temple before we arrived by hover-limo. Edan and Ilvan were walking on either side of Corolan and me-Ilvan would break away and join the family at a prearranged seat, Edan would remain with me.
Love, what do you think they'll find to say about the old bastard? Teeg's voice was in my head.
I don't know, other than he knew how to cook, I replied.