Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Night World : Black Dawn Chapter 15
Maggie shufflight-emitting diode behind chamber-pot Emptier,heading back toward the castle. She was carryingpiles of f ageded linen sheets given to her by Laun dress, and she was doing her best to look equal a slave. washerwoman had smudged her confront artistic anyywith asshole to disguise her. She had also sifted ahandful of dust into Maggies hair to dull the auburn into a lifeless br profess, and when Maggie bowedher head over the sheets, the hair further obscuredher features. The only paradox was that she wasconstantly afraid she was expiration to sneeze.Those are the wild animals, Chamber-pot Emptier whispered over her shoulder. She was a bigb mavend girl with low eyes that reminded Maggieof the calves tethered by Laundresss hut. It had fixn Laundress a while to make her to a reject placestandwhat they wanted of her, just now now she seemed tofeel clear to give Maggie a tour.Theyre brought in from Out grimace, she express. And theyre dangerous. Maggie looked sidew ays at the wicker cageswhere Sylvia and Gavin had walked earlier. Fromone a brown-gray wolf stared back at her with afrighteningly sad and steady gaze. In both(prenominal) other(prenominal) a sleek black panther was pacing, and it snarled asthey went by. in that respect was something kink up inthe back of a third that might nourish been a tigerit was big, and it had stripes.Wow, she tell. I wouldnt want to chase that.Chamber-pot Emptier seemed pleased. Andheres the castle. Its c entirelyed Black Dawn.It is? Maggie tell, distracted away from theanimals.Thats what my grandpa c eached it, anyway. Helived and died in the courtyard with come bulge out ever goingin. Chamber-pot Emptier cerebration a moment andadded, The old people distinguish that you engagementd to be ab permito see the solarize in the sky- non just behind theclouds, you have intercourse. And when the sun came up inthe morning it shone on the castle. barely perchancethats just a story.Yeah, maybe it was j ust a story that you couldsee the sun in the sky, Maggie thought grimly.Every conviction she thought this place couldnt surpriseher anymore, she discovered she was wrong. tho the castle itself was impressive awe inspiring. It was the only thing in meet that wasnt dusty brown or pallid gray. Its walls were shinyand black, almost mirror-like in places, and Maggie didnt adjudge to be told that it wasnt built of anyordinary human stone. How they had gotten it tothis vale was a mystery.Delos lives here, she thoughtasEmptier led herup a stone staircase, past the ground floor which was just cellars and storage rooms. In this beautiful, frightening, impressive place. Not only lives init, but commands it. Its all his.She got just a glimpse of the great hall, whereshed seen slaves setting a long table yesterday. Chamber-pot Emptier led her up other floor andinto a series of winding corridors that seemed to go on for miles.It was dim in this internal labyrinth. The windows were high and n arrow and scarce let any ofthe pale daylight in. On the walls there were candles in brackets and flares in iron rings, but theyonly seemed to add wavering, confusing shadowsto the twilight.His bedrooms up here, Emptier murmured finally. Maggie followed her close-fittingly. She was just regaining that they had make it all the way withouteven being challenged, when a voice sounded from a side corridor.Where are you going? Whos this?It was a guard, Maggie saw, peering from underher hair. A real medieval guard, with, of all things,a lance. There was another one in the opposite cor ridor just like him. She was fascinated in the middle of her terror. only when Chamber-pot Emptier of the not-so-quickwits reacted beautifully. She took time to curtsey, whence she said slowly and stolidly, Its Folder fromthe laundry, sir. Laundress direct her with the sheetsand I was told she could help me. Theres morework because of the guests, you know.Its Chamber Maids work to spread sheets, theguard s aid irritably.Chamber-pot Emptier curtsied again and said just as slowly, Yes, sir, but theres more work because of the guests, you see-Fine, finely, the guard broke in impatiently. Whydont you go and do it, instead of talking about it?He seemed to think that was funny, and he false and elbowed the other guard in the ribs.Chamber-pot Emptier curtseyed a third time and walked on, not hurrying. Maggie tried to copy the curtsey, with her face buried in the sheets.There was another endless corridor, accordingly a doorway, and because Emptier said, Were here. Andtheres nobody.around.Maggie lifted her face from the sheets. Youre absolutely wonderful, you know that? You deservean Academy Award.A what?Never mind. besides you were great.I only told the truth, the girl said placidly, butthere was a smile lurking in the depths of her gentle cowlike eyes. There is more work when guestscome. We never had them before three eld ago.Maggie n peculiar(a)ed. I know. Look, I guess youd fall in go now. And um-Emptier? She couldnt bring herself to say the entire appoint. I really hope you dont get in bring out because of this.Chamber-pot Emptier nodded back, then went toreach under the bed and retrieve a ceramic container. She walked out again holding it carefully.Maggie looked around the room, which was verybig and very bare. It was somewhat better well-lighted thanthe corridors, having several bowl-shaped oil lampson stands. The bed was the only real authorship of furniture in it. It was huge, with a heavy wooden frameand carved bedposts. Piled on top of it were quiltsand what looked like fur coverlets, and hanging allaround it were linen curtains.Im probably vatical to take all that stuff off and put the clean sheets on, Maggie thought. Shedidnt.The succour of the furniture seemed to be largechests made of exotic-looking wood, and a somebenches and stools. Nothing that offered a hidingplace. But on one side there was a curtaineddoorway.Maggie went done it and ar range a small anteroom-the wardrobe Jeanne had mentioned. It wasmuch bigger than shed expected, and seemed tobe more of a storeroom than a closet.Okay. So Ill just sit downwardly.There were two stools beside a figure thatvaguely resembled a dressmakers dummy. Maggie dropped her sheets on a chest and pulled one ofthe stools close to the doorway. Through the spacebetween the linen curtains she could see almost theentire bedchamber.Perfect, she thought. All I progress to to do is wait untilhe comes in alone. And then She stiffened. She could hear voices from somewhere beyond the vast bedroom. No, she couldhear a voice, a musical girlish voice.Oh, please, she thought. Not her.Dont let him come in with her. Ill have to jump out and hit herwith something I wont be able to stop myself .But when two figures came in the room, she hadno proneness to jump out.It was Sylvia, all right, but she wasnt with Delos.She was with huntsman Redfern.Maggie felt ice down her spine. Now, what werethe se two doing in Deloss bedroom? Whatever itwas, if they caught her, she was dead meat. Sheheld herself absolutely withal, but she couldnt tear herself away from the curtain.Hes out riding, and he wont be back for another half hour, Sylvia was saying. She was wearing a dark holly-green gown and carrying a b gestateet.And Ive sent all the servants away.Even so, huntsman Redfern said. He gently movedthe heavy wooden door until it was almost shut.Not all the way, but enough to screen the bedchamber from anyone outside.You really think hes spying on our rooms? Sylvia turned in a swirl of skirts to look at the tallman.Hes brightmuch smarter than you give himcredit for. And these old castles have spy-holes and listening tubes built in I remember. Its a stupidprince who doesnt make use of them.He remembers, Maggie thought, for a moment too full of wonder to be scared. He remembers thedays when castles were built, he means. Hes reallybeen alive that long.She studied the handsome face under the bloodred hair, the aristocratic cheekbones, the mobile mouth-and the quick flashing eyes. This was thesort of man who could fascinate people, she decided. same(p) Delos, there was a sort of leashed tension about him, a withstand of power and intelligence that made an ordinary person feel awed. He was a leader, a commander.And a hunter, Maggie thought. All these peopleare hunters, but hes the Hunter, the epitome ofwhat they are. His name says it all.But Sylvia was talking again. What is it that hesnot supposed to know?Ive had a message from Outside. Dont ask how,I have my ways.You have your little bats, Sylvia said demurely.Ive seen them.There was a pause, then Hunter said, Youd better watch yourself, girl. That mouths going to getyou in trouble.Sylvia had her face turned away from him, butMaggie saw her swallow. Im sorry. I didnt knowit was a secret. But whats happened?The biggest tonics in your short life. Hunter Redfern laughed once and added with apparentgood humor restor ed, And maybe in mine. Thewitches have seceded from the Night World.Maggie blinked. It sounded impressive the wayhe said itbut more impressive was the way Sylviafroze and then whirled breathlessly.What?Its happened. Theyve been threatening for amonth, but most people didnt believe theyd reallydo it.Sylvia put a hand to her middle, pressed flatagainst her stomach as if to hold something in.Then she sat on the fur-covered bed.Theyve left the Council, she said. She wasntlooking at Hunter Redfern. Theyve left the Council and everything else.All of them?Hunter Redferns fine red eyebrows went up.What did you expect? Oh, a few of the blackestpractitioners from Circle Midnight are arguing, butmost of them tot with the liberals in Circle Twilight. They want to save the humans. Avert thecoming darkness. He said it on the nose the way Maggie had heard lumberjacks say, Save the spotted owls. HaSo its really beginning, Sylvia murmured. Shewas still looking at the stone floor. I mean, theresno going back, now, is there? The Night World issplit forever.And the millennium is upon us, Hunter said,almost cheerfully. He looked young andpersonable, Maggie thought. Somebody youd vote for.Which brings me to the question, he said smoothly, looking at Sylvia, of when youre goingto nonplus her.What her? Maggies stomach tightened.Sylvias face was equally tight. She looked up andsaid levelly, I told you Id regard her and I will.But when?You do understand how important this is?Of course I understand Sylvia flared up. Herchest was heaving. Thats why I was trying to sendher to you in the first place-Hunter was talkingasif he didnt hear her. If it gets out that Aradia, the Maiden of all the witches,is here in the valley-IliknowAnd that you hadher and let her slip throughyour fingers-I was trying to bring her to you.I thought thatwas important, Sylvia said. She was bristling and distraught. Which was exactly what Hunter wantedher to be, Maggie thought dazedly. He really knows how to play people.But the abstract was faraway, in the shallowestpart of her mind. Most of her consciousness wassimply stricken into paralyzed amazement.Aradia.The Maiden of all the witches.So it wasnt Arcadia at all, Maggie thought. She might have mentioned that,after Ive been calling her Cady for days. But then she hasnt been conscious much, and when she was we had more urgent things to talk about.Aradia. Aradia. Thats really pretty.The name had started an odd resonance in hermind, maybe bringing up some long-forgotten mythology lesson. Aradia was a goddess, she thought.Of um, sylvan glades or something. The woods. akin Diana.And what Maiden of all the witches was, she hadno idea, but it was obviously something important.And not evil, either. From what Hunter was saying, it was clear that witches werent like other NightPeople.She was the maiden Bern and Gavin were talkingabout, Maggie realized. The one they were supposed to deliver. So Sylvia was bringing her toHunter Redfern. But Cady her self told me-I mean, Aradiatold me-that she was already coming tothis valley for a reason.Before she could even properly phrase the question, her mind had the answer.Delos.In a coincidence that lifted the hair on Maggiesarms, Sylvia said, She wont get to Delos.Shed better not, Hunter said. Maybe you dont realize how persuasive she can be. An ambassador from all the witches, coming to plead her case she just might sway him. He has a despicable softspot-a conscience, you might call it. And we know hes been in converge with the human girl who escaped with her. Who knows what messages the little vermin was carrying from her?No messages, Maggie thought grimly. Not withthis vermin anyway. But I would have carried themif Id known.Gavin said Aradia was still unconscious fromthe truth potion-that she was practically dead,Sylvia said.I don t think she could have given any messages. Id swear that Delos doesnt know shesin the valley at all.Hunter was still brooding. The witches have one wondr ous Power on their side already.But they wont get another, Sylvia said doggedly. Ive got people looking for her. All the nobles are on our side. They wont let her get toDelos.She should have been killed in the beginning,Hunter mused. But maybe youhave a soft spotfor herlike you do for that human boy.Behind the linen curtains, Maggie stiffened. equal you do.Not like you did.And who else couldthe human boy be?She gritted her teeth, listening so terrible she couldhear the blood in her ears, willing them to talkabout Miles.But Hunter was going on in his smooth voice,Or maybe you still have some loyalty to thewitches.Sylvias pale face flushed. I do not Im finishedwith them, and you know it I may be a spellcaster, but Im not a witch anymore.Its good to see you havent forgotten whattheyve done to you, Hunter said. aft(prenominal) all, youcould have been a Hearth-Woman, taken yourrightful place on the witch Council.YesLike your grandmother and her mother beforeher. Theywere Harmans, and s o was your father.What a pity the name isnt passed through the maleline. You ended up being just a Weald.I wasa Harman, Sylvia said with muted ferocity. She was staring at the floor again, and sheseemed to be speaking to herself sort of than toHunter. I was. But I had to stand there and watch my cousins be accepted instead of me. I had towatch half humansbe accepted-be welcomed.They took my place-just because they were descended through the female line.Hunter shook his head. A very sad tradition.Sylvias breath came raggedly for another minuteor so, then she looked up slowly at the tall man in the center of the room, You dont have to worryabout my loyalty, she said quietly. I want a placein the new order after the millennium. Im through with the witches.Hunter smiled.I know it, he said, lightly and approvingly, andthen he started pacing the room. He got what hewanted out of her, Maggie thought.Almost casually, he added, Just be sure thatDeloss power is kept in take care until every things decided.Sylvia bent and lifted the basket, which Maggiehad forgotten about.The new binding spells will hold, she said. Ibrought picky ingredients from one of the oldestMidnight witches. And he wont suspect anything.And nobody but you can take them off?Nobody but me, Sylvia said firmly. Not eventhe Crone of all the witches. Or the Maiden, forthat matter.Good girl, Hunter said, and smiled again. Ihave every confidence in you. aft(prenominal) all, you havelamia blood in you to balance the witch taint.Youre my own eighth-great-granddaughter.Maggie wanted to puncher him.She was confused and frightened and indignantand furious, all at once. As faras she could tell,Hunter Redfern seemed to be manipulating everybody. And Delos, Delos the prince and Wild Power,was just another of his puppets.I wonder what they plan to do if he wont join their new order? she thought bleakly.After a few minutes, Hunter turned in his pacingand walked by the door. He paused brieflyasiflistening, then g lanced at Sylvia.You dont know how happy it makes me just to think about it, he said, in a voice that wasnt strained, or overly cheerful, or too loud, or anything that rang false. To finally have a true heir.A male heir of my own line, and untainted by witchblood. I would never have married that witchMaeve Harman if I had known my son was still alive. And not only alive, but out having sons Theonly true Redferns left in the world, you mightsay.Maggie, with her teeth set in her lower lip, didntneed to guess who was on the other side of thedoor. She watched tensely.And Delos came in, right on cue.