Power’s Shadow: Chapter 9, Part 2

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3I should be able to post through Chapter 10 without interruption, after that we’ll see. On to Chapter 9, Part 2.

 

 

Chapter 9, Part 2

The door that Kel led her to was what appeared to be a little-used service entrance, poorly patrolled, and Dena gave a silent acknowledgment of Ke’ls thieving instincts. The door itself was another matter, and while there wasn’t a door in the world that could stand before a proper application of the First Law. However, Dena did not want to leave evidence of her presence, so she turned her attention to the lock itself.

“You’re a thief,” she said to Kel. “How are you at lockpicking?”

“Excellent,” he replied. “And expert enough to know that you’re looking at an example created by Master Polun of Adaria, and I’ve heard of lesser locks placed on kingdom treasuries. The best thief in the world couldn’t pick that lock.”

“You could have just said that,” Dena muttered.

“I believe I just did. Though you can be sure that, although this is an archive, not a treasury, whatever is behind that lock is something this kingdom values very highly.”

That, Dena recognized, was a good point. While proper books in and of themselves had value, such records as were doubtless kept here were not the sort of thing any king would want wandering about for a potential enemy to read. The fact that Kel’s report indicated that Marta and her companion had spent several hours inside only intrigued her more.

I need to know what Marta found out today, and whatever that is will be inside.

“Mistress, I could only watch from a high window. I know that Marta and her companion looked at several books and ledgers. Which ones? Well…one was bound in red leather. The rest were all dark, including what looked like accounts ledgers. Even given that we can gain entry, how do you plan to locate these?”

“I think I will have help,” Dena said. “We will see. As for the rest, I don’t want to break the lock—and believe me, I could—so I must rely on you again.”

Dena was quite aware of the passing of time, and while that section of the building’s exterior appeared to be sparsely patrolled, that did not mean that there wouldn’t be a city guardsman passing by sooner or later. She studied the way the door fitted and found it frustratingly well-made except for the rightmost bottom corner below the hinge, where she saw a small sliver of greater blackness and judged its size.

“Gnat,” she said, and now Kel was a small black insect buzzing the air around her face. “Through that crack,” she said, “and if you’re not through it by the time I could thirty, you’d best be on this side again.”

Kel, even as a gnat, clearly understood her meaning. He landed on the threshold and immediately disappeared into the crack as Dena started counting.

Thirty.

“Man,” she said aloud, and was somewhat relieved that there was no sudden eruption of blood from the bottom of the door. Instead after a short delay she heard a satisfying click as Kel opened the lock from the inside. The door opened just wide enough to admit her and Dena walked through as Kel closed the door softly behind her.

“It was fortunate that this particular lock was designed to be opened easily from the inside,” he said. “Some of Master Polun’s creations require a key on both sides.”

“Luck is one of the many things I’ve never been able to count on,” Dena said.

“Have you ever noticed how very large the world is?” Kel asked. “Especially when spiders are the size of haystacks?”

“Stop talking and look for those books,” Dena said.

“Even in this poor light I see more than a score of them with red covers. Where did you want to start, Mistress?”

Annoying as he could be, Kel had a point. Dena knew they didn’t have very long before either dawn or a guard came by, and the chances of them locating any of the ledgers was next to none, as there were several thousand of them scattered around on the shelves, all bound in a similar fashion. On the other hand, books bound in red leather were finite. “Look for one that appears to have been moved recently, a disturbance of the dust, anything.”

This proved easier than Dena had feared, but in the end the search produced two books which told her absolutely nothing. The most interesting was account of a meeting with a famous dark magician five hundred years in the past, but there was nothing there about the Laws. She’d known from the start that this particular path was likely to end against a wall of stone, but being right did not make her feel any better about it. She’d hoped to feel a pull of the Law when she was anywhere near it,  but that was a foolish idea. Unless she read the same piece of information that Marta had, there was nothing to create the necessary link.

Even assuming that there was some information here of significance to the search for the Laws, I would need to know what Marta knows in order to recognize it.

And there she was, back to the crux of the matter—now as before, at least one step behind Marta. At this rate, Marta would find what she was looking for, and Dena likely would not.

That has to change.

“Kel, we’re leaving.”

“Good. By my estimate, we have but ten minutes before the guard returns.”

“Can we lock the door behind us, or do I need to make you a gnat again?”

“I can set it to lock, if it is all the same to you. I’ve seen enough spiders from the gnat’s perspective.”

Dena understood. She was starting to feel the same way.

((End Part 2))

©2014 Richard Parks

If This is a Race, My Lead is Dwindling

WRITING 02Odds and ends and a few points of information that may or may not be of interest. First of all, I’ve been doing pretty well keeping ahead of the posts on Power’s Shadow, but Real Life (tm, pat. pending) has intervened and there is now what is technically known as a snag. (colloquial, (n)– An obstacle or impediment). Circumstances have persuaded me that it would be to my advantage to acquire a certain technical certification in my (other) chosen field. I won’t bore you with the details, but the reality is that I need time to study, and when I’m studying, I’m not writing. I will continue to put up installments of Power’s Shadow as long as that’s possible, but there may be a hiatus if I can’t keep up. If there is a disruption, I’ll try to keep it as short as possible, but the possibility exists, and so–fair warning. Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 9, Part 1

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Marta and Sela in one of my favorite places.

 

 

 

Chapter 9, Part 1 – There is No Past

“Everything is at once simpler and more complicated than one thinks. Yes, this is a paradox, but it is also the way the world works, so best get used to it.” – Tymon the Black

 

There were carefully prepared indexes in King Elion’s library and Marta had every intention of studying them, but she went first to the table where Prince Dolan had been working. There were several old volumes that looked like ledgers, a few maps, and even a couple of old-fashioned scrolls, so old and frail in appearance that Marta was a little reluctant to read them. So, of course, they were the first to draw her attention.

“What are those?” Sela asked.

“I’d like to know that myself. Give me a moment….” Marta unrolled each in turn long enough to give them a cursory inspection. “This one,” she said, indicating the smaller of the two, “Is a traveler’s account of a visit to the Alerian Monastery. The other is a Roll of the Dead for those killed in the Battle of Wyrlos.”

Sela frowned. “Never heard of it.”

“Few people have. It was just one of many, over two hundred years ago. It didn’t settle anything.” Marta surveyed the table. “You start at that end. We’ll meet in the middle.” Continue reading

To Break the Demon Gate – 2nd Incarnation

Yamada-PS-AuthorCopy

This arrived yesterday in a big bag labelled “Royal Mail.” Author copies of To Break the Demon Gate, from PS Publishing. This is the limited edition. It’s a little unusual to have both the trade and limited edition of a new novel out at the same time, but that’s how it worked out. So we have a lovely hardcopy edition, a lovely signed and numbered hardcopy edition, and a colorful trade edition, in both print and ebook, and available in the usual places and B&N.

I have to say it’s a good time to be a reader. Options galore.

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 8, Part 5 – Conclusion

 

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3

 

 

Chapter 8, Part 5

Marta and Sela left the docks again, heading for the center of the city, only this time they did not pause at Count Maton’s residence but continued along the curving street that led to King Garan’s palace. Their goal was not the palace itself, but rather another building nearby that only seemed small in comparison to the palace itself. The white dome that was the Royal Library of Conmyre could have easily fit most of the lesser kingdom’s palaces within itself, and one passing by would never have noticed any difference.

The library was guarded, of course, but Marta and Sela were expected, and were quickly ushered inside. The circular walls were lined with shelves. There were mezzanines at regular intervals giving access to the higher shelves, and tables with stools and benches toward the center of the room. Marta had seen royal libraries before, but nothing on this scale. For a moment all she could do was stare.

I didn’t know there were this many books in the entire world.

“Over here, Ladies.”

Prince Dolan was sitting at one of the tables with several volumes open and spread out in front of him. He rose as Marta and Sela approached.

“It’s good to see you again, Highness,” Sela said.

“I’m glad of that. Not everyone is so keen,” he said, smiling. “And Lady Marta of course. Yes, I was hoping you’d be here as well.”

“Very kind of you, Highness,” Marta said. “This library is incredibly impressive.”

“Second only to the archives of the Alerian Monastery itself, and even the good monks of the order have no idea what is all there despite the fact that there are those who have spent their entire lives attempting to catalogue it. What you see here is mostly thanks to Elion’s great-grandfather, but he carries on the royal family’s traditional patronage. Our own archive at Mataria is not half so large, and it is rightly quite well regarded.”

“I had heard of it, even in Lythos. I hope to visit it someday,” Marta said.

“I am sure that can be arranged. Your mother did so on several occasions, I’m told. I’m sorry I never had the privilege of meeting her.”

“That’s kind of you to say, Highness,” Marta replied, without so much as a blink. “And also to invite me here, though I do not believe I am the one you wanted to talk to.”

The fact that Prince Dolan knew who she was did not surprise Marta in the least. He struck her as the sort of person who would find out such things for certain, if he had reason to suspect, and it was her considered opinion that he didn’t miss very much. Marta wasn’t yet certain if that, where it affected her interests, was a good thing or not.

“Well, the truth is that I did, in fact, want to talk to you. It’s not every day one meets a proper witch—and believe me, I’ve met enough posers and charlatans in my time to understand the difference. But you are right that it was Lady Sela’s attention I most desired today. I think she can help me.”

Sela blushed slightly. “Perhaps we can help each other, Highness. You said you had information…?”

“First, and for my own curiosity, I was hoping you might look at something I brought from home….I’ve made detailed drawing of the three swords in my possession. Do you think you could identify them for me?”

“I’ll try,” Sela said. “I was present when he made each one, but I haven’t seen them in years.”

You’ve been pretty accurate so far, Marta thought, Though it may depend in part on how good an artist his Highness is. Continue reading