Time passes, as it always does. There were more evening audiences with the young scions of the houses. There were more lessons in magic, and exercise with Jordan. There were more audiences in the throne room with Queen Meralina. But Catheryne felt strangely that Jordan had withdrawn from her, had sealed himself off. Of course, he was never anything but polite and formal with her, calling her Lady Gabriele or Your Highness or any of those other honorifics--but that was really the problem, Catheryne thought. There was nothing else between them--not the occasional, halting sharing of pasts and futures; not the restrained, dry banter with Moya Tilmitt. Just... Pure, cold professionalism.
Even Davina could see it. "Catheryne, what did you do to him," she hissed, pulling her aside one night. "When you sent him alone I felt like we actually made some headway--that he was beginning to open up a little. Now all the windows are shut and the doors are barred. What happened?"
"I don't know," Catheryne said helplessly. "He doesn't-- I don't think he knows about that."
"About what?" Davina asked. And so of course Catheryne had to tell her about the night with Paitr.
"You did what??" Davina said. "And this was that very night? Catheryne, that was three weeks ago and you haven't told me yet?"
"I haven't told anyone yet," Catheryne said unhappily. "Except maybe Moya Tilmitt. He knows I was... I was with someone... But I don't think he knows who."
"Why haven't you?" Davina giggled. "How was it? You should've told me immediately! Isn't he dreamy? Paitr Domenicos! How was it?"
"It was..." Catheryne hesitated. Then she admitted to Davina what she hadn't yet dared to admit to herself. "It wasn't very good."
"Why not? Is there something wrong with him? He's only twenty-one, isn't he?--he hasn't already gone flabby, has he? Or is his tree only a twig?"
Catheryne reflected. She'd been dodging this path of thought for nearly a month, but now it opened to her without bother. "He thought only of himself. He just wanted to leave his sap and go."
"So you didn't like it," Davina said.
"What was there to like?" Catheryne asked.
"And... Does Jordan know about this," Davina asked.
Catheryne blinked at her friend. "Jordan?"
"Yes," Davina said, her eyes direct and level. "Jordan. Or Marcus Demitri if you prefer. Your First Lance. The man who is going to get in your way for the rest of your life. That Jordan."
"How did you know his private name?" Catheryne whispered. Had she accidentally spilled it? Loduur only knew how many times it had nearly slipped off her tongue in the past few months--
"He told me, silly," Davina said, beaming.
Catheryne breathed a sigh of relief. "Kyrei be blessed. At least I didn't slip it."
Davina eyed her critically. "Why would it bother you if you did?"
"Well... Look at him." They both glanced down the hall, where Jordan sat in polite conversation with Davina's parents. "He's so... I mean, he's so good at hiding. He can be polite, he can be formal, he can even be personable, but... He doesn't let things go much. And you know what power there is in a name. It'd be betraying his confidence to tell someone he didn't want told."
"So," Davina said, "it would bother you because it would hurt his feelings."
Feeling suddenly embarrassed, Catheryne laughed. "Well, right, if he, you know, has feelings."
"What's Paitr's private name," Davina asked.
"I can't tell you that!" Catheryne exclaimed.
"Because you're keeping it a secret or because you don't know," Davina said.
Catheryne said nothing.
"Catheryne, if this is bothering you, maybe you should listen to yourself," Davina said. "Paitr hasn't shown a lot of regard for your feelings. But you've shown regard for Jordan's. He likes you, you know that."
"I know it."
"And I can almost guarantee you, Catheryne: he knows. And that he closed up like this the night you slept with Paitr."
Catheryne thought. When had it started? About... Yes, about three weeks ago.
She covered her face with her hands. "Well, now you know why I haven't told you about it yet. What a disaster. Jordan's going to hate me."
"Only if you keep him hanging like this," Davina said. "You need to talk to him, Catheryne. You need to tell him what happened. That you made a mistake. Then he'll open up again and maybe we can get some actual conversation out of him."
"Easier said than done," Catheryne said. "I don't see why he was that hurt anyway. It's not like we were promised to each other or anything. Loduur's depths, he even told me we shouldn't get involved. But now he's..." She trailed off. Men. Such bizarre creatures. One was everything she'd ever wanted and yet nothing she'd ever want, and the other was... Purely incomprehensible. "I wish he'd make up his mind."
"Maybe he will, if you do," Davina said.
That had been almost a month ago and Catheryne still had not managed to screw up her courage and confront him. And she discovered something about herself as she did: she, too, was scared of loss. She had already been rejected by Paitr, in some way--whom she had not seen since that fateful night; she didn't want to see him. Wasn't sure she could trust herself near him. But she didn't want to lose Jordan either. Was scared that the divorce would be complete--that he would turn to her, "No, milady, you needn't apologize, there was no need for concern," all in that flattened monotone voice he seemed to be so enamored of lately--no, that would be too much to be borne. Better to keep silent. Better not to find out. Better to hope.
And now today was a special day--Jordan's nameday, his sixteenth. Catheryne's own fifteenth had passed while they traveled home from the Spring Lands, nearly three months ago. But a fifteenth wasn't as significant as a sixteenth--once you had sixteen years, you were, by tradition at least, old enough to marry. It was not a hard-and-fast rule by any means, of course; some, like Catheryne's own parents, had waited for some years before tying the knot, and others got married earlier. It was simply a custom, some vestige of earlier times and ways.
Jordan, of course, had been given fine new clothes to wear, probably tailored specially for the occasion; Jordan, of course, did not wear them. He dressed in the silver and black of the Guardsmen. Catheryne wondered which fool had commissioned him the new suit; she was pretty sure Jordan hadn't asked for it himself. Catheryne was in another tablecloth, but she had had a word with the seamstresses and at least this time her dress was fit for a small table instead of a banquet hall.
It was, of course, a public event; there must be honor to the First Lance, even if no one particularly liked him. Everyone was there: the Queen, her father, Moya Tilmitt, all the ministers, Master Talten, Master Jaine, Mistress Daravon, Mistress Stelmarine... And of course Master Paitr Domenicos, whom Catheryne was not particularly pleased to see. But she had no choice in the matter--nor, really, had Jordan. This was no private gathering, that they could invite people to at their discretion; these affairs were public, and any Eretrian at all, from the highest noble to the meanest beggar, could come into the palace and be treated with hospitality. It was, again, custom. This one, at least, Gabriele thought she saw the wisdom in: in welcoming everyone, the Queen reaffirmed her love and loyalty to the people. Gabriele thought it was wise and kind-hearted. Catheryne wished some of them would take a bath.
Jordan was moody and ill-tempered that day--which, of course, could be considered rather usual; Catheryne was pretty sure she was the only one who had picked up on it. She wasn't entirely sure what had caused it; in fact, she had no real idea at all. They'd had lessons that day but nothing had gone particularly wrong in them; and she'd seen him act much more polite at social functions before. Why was he all put out now?
"Gabriele," someone breathed at her elbow. She recognized the voice, the hands. Paitr. "How are you, my love?"
Please don't call me that. "I'm all right, thank you, Paitr, but, I'm a little bit busy now. If you'll excuse me..." And for that reason she missed the look of utter confusion on his face as she left.
Jordan was being congratulated by an elder couple, the Lord and Lady Mirastelan. "Imagine," Lord Mirastelan was saying. "Your whole life ahead of you, young man. I remember what it felt like to be your age. I thought I could conquer the world," he chuckled.
"I have no worlds to conquer," Jordan snapped. "Only a grave to fill. If you will excuse me." With that he marched off.
Catheryne covered her face in her hands and followed him. "I say," said the Lady Mirastelan behind her. "Has he always been so... Snippy?"
"Jordan, what's going on?"
"Nothing you need concern yourself with, my lady. Excuse me."
"Hmm, not very well house-broken, is he? Of course, it's only been eight months..."
"Yes, well, I prefer followers who don't trail me around like a lost puppy, Mistress Daravon."
"Oh, well. So do I! It's the breaking them that's the enjoyable part. Isn't it, my dear David?"
"Mmmmm," said David Alckerson.
Catheryne controlled her expression with an effort. "Excuse me."
Davina was conversing with Cardinal Demarcaine and Lady Fentrin, but she came away obediently when Catheryne beckoned; and, because she was Davina, she did so with a laugh and a smile. "Oh, dear; my monarch calls. Yes, my princess, I'm coming!" And Catheryne laughed too--a single bark of nervous frustration.
"Davina, you have got to help me. Jordan's in a snit over something, Paitr's here and I think he wants to get his hands on me, and--"
"Have you told Jordan yet," Davina asked.
Catheryne fidgeted. "No."
"Well, then, no wonder!" Davina exclaimed. "Do you realize that you could've solved both those problems with about five minutes of conversation? Kyrei's hands. No wonder he's in a snit. He's turning sixteen, Catheryne, it's the age of marriage, of course he's thinking about you. Who else would he be thinking of?"
"But-- But... But what if... He--"
"Had turned you down?" Davina finished. "Well, at least there wouldn't be that wall between you! And you could hide from Paitr with him. Catheryne, you have no one to blame for this but yourself."
Catheryne glared at her. "You are not helping."
"Who is that he's talking to now, anyhow," Davina asked, pointing. "I've never seen that man before."
Catheryne glanced over--and then again, surprised. "That's... Bron Wynngarde," she said. "He's another Night Blade. Jordan was asking him for help with..." She glanced at Davina.
"With finding who killed his parents?" Davina finished.
Catheryne gaped. "What exactly did you do to him? He told you all his secrets!"
Davina beamed. "That's my great talent. I open up my friends like books."
"How far along do you think he is?" Davina asked.
"Is in finding out who killed his parents, silly!"
"Well... I don't know, it isn't exactly something we discuss." Certainly not nowadays. "The day I was... With Paitr, we went to meet Master Wynngarde for the first time, and he promised information as soon as he could get it, but I don't know if he's gotten any yet, much less if Jordan has received it."
"It was smart of him to come. Actually, they were worried about passing messages to each other, because neither of them can exactly just walk up to the other and start chatting. This way they can meet inconspicuously."
"Why don't you talk about it?"
"Well, because... I don't know. I think... I think he doesn't want me involved in that. Because, I mean, you know, he's going to, he's going to kill the people who got his parents. Just... Do them in in cold blood. I think he doesn't want me involved in that. And also, he's... He's just so sure that... He's going to die, you know? How do you face that? I can't. He gets so bleak when he thinks about it, he gets so..."
"Like now," Davina observed.
"Yes. Exactly." Catheryne sighed. "Like now."
"I wonder what Master... Wynngarde? Wynngarde. I wonder what he's telling him."
"I don't know," said Catheryne. "It may also have something to do with that... With whatever it is has been killing people around the city. Jordan asked him to investigate that as well, and he might have brought news."
"What is the news on that," Davina asked.
"Not a whole lot," Catheryne said. "Jordan says he's moving up the ranks of political power, or at least affluence: first a poor grocer's wife, then an innkeeper's wife from the Mid-district, and then a Palace servant. We think the next victim may be from one of the noble houses."
"And then... Moya Tilmitt used a spell, which... He said something about seeing into the person's heart. Whoever it is, thinks he's getting stronger by doing... What he does."
"Why?" Davina said. "Why does he think that?"
Catheryne gave a bitter laugh. "We don't know. Light of the Skies, it'd be so much easier if we did."
"I mean, what could possibly make someone stronger by doing--"
"Wait," said Catheryne. She clutched Davina's arm to silence her.
"What?" Davina said. "What's going--"
"Someone's touching the Flow," said Catheryne. "Someone near--" She looked around. The only Gifted she could see nearby were Jordan and Moya Tilmitt, both of whom seemed as confused as she was. "Excuse me a minute."
They all reached Father and the Queen at the same time. "Forgive me for-- Well, forgive us for interrupting, Your Highness, but-- My lord, are there any of... Kind-mine in the vicinity right now?"
"No, not that I am aware of," said Father. He chafed his arms with his hands. "Most of the Gifted tend to stay away from these functions, and... I think, after we exposed Gabriele and Marcus, many of them may have left to... Avoid a hostile backlash. Why do you ask?"
"What spell is it," Jordan asked.
"I have no idea," said Moya Tilmitt. "I've never felt anything quite like it."
"Is there trouble," Father said, his hand on his sword.
"I... Am not sure, my lord," said Moya Tilmitt, squinting into the distance. "Let me... Excuse me. Let me investigate. I'll report to you as soon as I have an answer."
"He has no weapon," Queen Meralina said. "Will you be safe?"
"Oh-- Oh, well-- I'm sure that I'll be all right," said Moya Tilmitt. "After all, I--"
"Very well," said Father. He gestured, and suddenly two Silver Guardsmen were at their side. "Solos, Midaen: go with Master Tilmitt and keep watch over him. Make sure he comes to no harm."
Moya Tilmitt drew himself up. "My lord, I must admit-- I had... Hoped that I would have, by now, earned trust-yours--"
"You mistake me, Master Tilmitt," said Father. "Our lives--all of them, every single person in this Palace--are now in your hands. And since we cannot exactly protect ourselves, we will at least protect you. I would go myself if we could slip out unnoticed. No one else can do what you do. So, go, and do what you do best."
Moya Tilmitt bowed deeply and was off, following the tingle of someone using the Flow. Catheryne felt the urge to salute her father.
"And I'm supposed to be the one who deals with the people," said Queen Meralina with dry amusement.
"Well, I," said Father, looking pleased. "I suppose I kept the common touch. At least a little bit."
Catheryne turned to Jordan. "What did Master Wynngarde talk to you about?"
"Nothing you would care about. If you'll excuse me--"
"Jordan, what's going on here?? You've been snooty to everybody all night. I know people have noticed. You're not exactly making a good impression here."
"On the contrary. I know what they say of me. He's cold, he's brusque, he's brutal. Well, now I am simply proving them right."
"Jordan, is this about... Is this about... Me and Paitr? Because... Because that was a mistake. That's not going to happen again."
Jordan looked at her for a moment, his face unreadable.
"No," he said finally. "That is not it. That is not it... At all."
"But... How can that be? Jordan, you've been... Distant. Ever since that night. You know it and I know it. Whatever it was I..."
The tingling on their skin redoubled; it was a little hard to concentrate, with it going on. "What is that," she whispered.
"Hopefully Moya Tilmitt will be able to tell us soon," Jordan said.
It ebbed away again, returning to the former trickle, but not ending entirely. Catheryne squinted. "It... It feels like it's... Drawing me."
Jordan said nothing. He too felt the strange allure of the tingle of Flow, like something sweet and seductive, beckoning to him. As if he didn't have enough of that standing right in front of him.
"It's not more than one person, is it?" she asked.
"I don't think so," he said.
They were silent, searching for clues. Who would be channeling the Flow, here in the Palace? Who, and why?
"Milady, if there is anything you need to say, say it and be done," Jordan said.
Catheryne brushed hair from her face and regathered her thoughts. "Jordan... If there's anything that I did to offend you, I'm... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, and I was wrong, and..." Funny how easy the words were, now that they were finally there. Funny how easy it was to just speak her mind. "I don't want us to just be princess and lance. I want to be..." Friends? That seemed so plain, so mild. "I want to be trusted again. Please. Tell me what happened."
"That was it once, my lady," Jordan said, his eyes made of ice. "But now there are other things at stake. Please, excuse me."
She squeezed her eyes shut. Oh, Light; why was this proving to be so difficult? She looked for Davina but couldn't find her.
Paitr approached, looking hesitant. "Hello, Gabriele," he said. "Is... Is everything all right?"
"Loduur strike me if I know," she said. "I'm losing friends left and right, I don't know where Da-- Where Mistress Hester is, someone's trying to seduce me using magic, and Marcus is--"
"Excuse me. Excuse me." Queen Meralina stood on a dais, pitching her voice above the crowd. "Excuse me. We have an announcement to make.
"Today is Master Marcus Demitri's naming-day; he has turned sixteen. This is an auspicious day for him, and for all of us; the next generation is coming of age, and we all of us must be ready for the day when we are succeeded by our children. And it is auspicious because both Master Demitri and Princess Gabriele have done great things already for us, though they have been in our service less than a year. This is indeed a time of celebration." She initiated applause, and all and sundry followed her example.
Jordan stepped up onto the dais beside the Queen. "If I may, Your Majesty, I'd like to say a few words."
Catheryne's surprise was mirrored on Queen Meralina's, but she nodded graciously and stepped down. "Of course, Master Demitri. Go ahead."
Marcus took center stage. She was surprised that he didn't look more uncomfortable. Then again, nothing ever seemed to throw him out of phase. Public speaking always made her nervous, though, and somehow she didn't think that was a problem only she suffered.
Then again, maybe it was just that trickle of the Flow, aching in her mind, singing, beckoning. What was that? Who was doing it? Where was it leading? What if she followed?
What if Jordan started speaking?
"I am afraid that I must temper the celebration with some ill news," he said, "but this seems as good a time to announce it as any. I have just discovered that, soon, I will have to depart my post as First Lance to the Princess-Heir of Eretria."
Father stared up at him, clearly shocked. "And why is that?"
"Because I will most likely be dead," said Jordan.
The hush that fell was absolute. Catheryne felt it in her bones. Oh, Light... It has to be now, it just has has has to be now.
"As you all know," Jordan said, "my father died when I was a child, and my mother not long after. For my entire life, I have suspected foul play. It was common knowledge, after all, that my father was a Summer, and I believe that this was a motivating factor. My mother's death of despair was a purely secondary concern.
"I intend to root out whoever commissioned this death, and revenge myself upon them."
"And you expect this to bring you death?" Paitr asked.
"Almost certainly," said Jordan. "Any noble house that could commission such a deed must be very powerful, for murder and assassination is mostly unknown among the noble houses here. But, if that house is in attendance here today, do not rest easy on that knowledge. Everything I have done--my training as a Night Blade, my presence here--has been towards this goal, and the mere fact that I know my enemy's strength will not be enough to stop me."
"So you are not a First Lance in heart," said Father in tones of steel. "You would betray my daughter Gabriele and the throne she is heir to, for the sake of your personal little crusade."
"No," said Jordan. "A Night Blade's word is his life. I swore to protect her, and I will. First Lances have fallen in combat before; this time, you have the lance's forewarning. I have even picked what I feel is a suitable candidate for my replacement."
"And who is that," Father asked.
"Paitr Domenicos," said Jordan. "He is a very good swordsman, he has been blooded in the Spring Lands, and he and the Lady Gabriele are on very good personal terms. You could find no better, I assure you."
Catheryne felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. He was right, of course; Paitr was almost certainly the best candidate. Except for that last bit about the personal terms.
"And what, o Lance of mine," she said aloud, "made you come to make this announcement today?"
"The final piece of the puzzle," said Jordan. "A contact of mine--of my kind, if you will--has provided me with a list of names. The Palace servants who attended my mother and father the night before he died. From there I believe I can discover the truth of my father's death."
Catheryne looked around for Bron Wynngarde, knowing that he must be who Jordan was referring to; but the mountainous man was nowhere in sight.
"So," said Jordan. "That is what I leave you with on this day. That, and my wish that, a year from now, and evermore, you will find a more suitable man standing beside Princess Gabriele than I."
Instantly, before he had even cleared the doors, the entire hall was abuzz with conversation. Father and Queen Meralina were deep in discussion; all she could see was heads bobbing close together, muttered exchanges, questions, derisions, confusions.
"Isn't this exciting, Gabriele?" Paitr was saying. "We'll be together from now on!"
"Yes, I suppose we will," she said absently. He can't just leave like that. When will Moya Tilmitt figure out that Flow and turn it off! "Excuse me, I need to have a word with my First Lance while he still is my First Lance."
"You'll come back to me," Paitr said. "Won't you?" But she was already off.
"Jordan!" she yelled, running as fast as she could in that giant cocoon of a dress. "Jordan! Jordan. You cannot-- Jordan, please, stop and talk to me for just one second!"
He whirled. "What, my lady."
"Jordan, you can't do this," she said. "You seriously cannot. This isn't worth your life."
"It is," he said, with such chilling finality that she could not answer.
"I have been dead for ten years, Gabriele. I should have died ten years ago, when my parents did, when everything I had ever known or loved died. But I didn't. I lived. And now it's time to correct that little mistake.
"Look at me. I don't belong here. I'm not one of those court sycophants, I'm not a soldier, I'm not a nobleman, I'm not anything. I never should have been, and I only came to bother you because doing so would help me never be again."
"That's not true," she said, "you do belong here."
"Kazrec," he said. "Tell me one thing I can do that Paitr can't."
The trickle of the Flow, far in the distance, flared and strobed and whined again.
"Magic," Catheryne said promptly.
"Fine," he said, "tell me one thing I can do that you can't."
"Play stones," she said.
"Fine, tell me one thing the two of us do that you and Paitr can't." He was getting angry--he actually seemed to be getting angry--but, really, she wasn't in much of a position to care.
"Be good to each other in bed," she said.
He blinked at her for a moment.
"Jordan, that's why what Paitr and I did was a mistake, and won't be happening again," she said. "Not even if you die and he replaces you. He's not for me. We tried that, once, and we found out. He's not for me."
"And you'd pick me," Jordan said, "instead of him."
And that was the question, wasn't it.
"Yes," she said.
Jordan stared at her for a moment.
"That," he said, "only shows just how stupid you are."
"No, that just shows how smart I am," she said. "Jordan. Don't tell me you wouldn't pick me. Don't. Because you can't. And we both know it.
"Stop. Give it up. It isn't worth it."
What he would have responded, they never knew; because suddenly the flare in the Flow became evident and real, and they felt the racing malice in the siren call, and turned and ran towards it. It was in the residential wing of the Palace.
"Someone's being hurt," she said.
"I'll go in first," said Jordan, his sword already free of its scabbard. "You follow immediately after and I mean immediately. That way my entrance will distract them and you'll be able to enter unmolested."
Catheryne wished she was wearing her silte.
The room they found was dark, lit only by the guttering twilight of the day. In the shadows they could see nothing, only feel the Flow being wielded--strangely, oddly, weirdly. They poised themselves on opposite sides of the doorway, preparing themselves to lunge in. Jordan held up three fingers, and then nodded three times, a countdown. On the third he slammed into the room.
Catheryne, tumbling in on his heels, reached out blindly with the Flow. Something worked: the candles in the room roared to life. Of course, so did much of the furniture, but that was just as well--it startled the man standing in the center of the room.
He was tall and well-built, broad-shouldered, with a face that was handsome in a bluff, savage way. His rich brown hair was fading to grey at the temples. The sense of the Flow that he held was oddly warped.
Before him, suspended in midair, was a slack-limbed woman in an ivory dress. Catheryne gasped. "Davina!"
The man's face turned to her at the sound of her voice, and she saw rage there--and also, strangely, tears. "No! Go away! Leave me alone! Don't-- Leave me--"
"We will when you surrender our friend," Jordan snapped.
"No-- No--" said the man, his voice choking. "I have to--"
A sudden clatter, and Moya Tilmitt burst in. "Your Highness, get back!"
The man's face turned to look.
Jordan lunged, sword blade flashing. Catheryne felt the change in the Flow a split second before it happened: Davina dropped like a ragdoll, and Jordan doubled over in midair as if he had run into an invisible bar, and flew three feet and bounced to the floor.
Catheryne smashed at him with the Flow, and the floor under the man burst into sudden flame. He roared and swiped at his clothes, dancing away from the burning patch--how come he didn't just magic it out? She formed the Flow into a giant sweep of flame, and slashed at him with it, advancing, he falling back, howling, crying, whining-- Until suddenly there was a burst of deafening energy and he jumped--she could see the Flow twining around him, augmenting his strength--and he arced straight out the window and was gone from their sight.
She rushed to the window and watched him go.
"Your Highness!" cried Moya Tilmitt. "We must circle! Hurry!"
She turned. Jordan was croaking, gasping; blood dripped from his mouth.
"Form the circle!" Moya Tilmitt said again.
It was a form of magical healing, one of the most practical--but it required, strangely enough, two people working in concert. And not everybody could do it, either, or at least not all pairs of people; Moya Tilmitt said that the two of them were almost incompatible. But they weren't, and now they could keep Jordan from bleeding to death of internal injuries.
Even Solos and Midaen could see the whitish glow that formed around Jordan's body, as Moya Tilmitt and Catheryne joined hands and made the ritual incantations. Then Jordan's eyes opened.
"Davina," he said.
Her face had been laid open; wide slashes crossed it in several directions. They had missed her eyes, thankfully, but that was about the only mercy to be found. Bone gleamed bare white and sickly red.
Catheryne and Moya Tilmitt joined hands and formed the circle; and white light bathed Mistress Hester Stelmarine's body--and Jordan, too, even though he had never had the gift, even though he could barely heal even if Catheryne were leading the circle. But Moya Tilmitt frowned and said, "Some strange magic was used to inflict these wounds. I don't know if we can heal them fully."
"We can't just leave her like this," said Catheryne. "We have to try."
Afterwards her body was borne out on a pallet, and they retreated into the hall, where Queen Meralina and Lord Basingame already waited. "It was our man," Jordan said. "He almost got Mistress Stelmarine, but we were lucky enough to catch him in the act."
"I was trying to learn more about the spell-strange he cast," said Moya Tilmitt, "so I didn't report back immediately, but what I learned was that he uses a form of hypnotism to keep his targets unawares. That's how he gets in and out. That, and his augmented-magically mobility."
"So..." said Father, his voice heavy. "This fellow... Is also of the Gifted."
"No," said Moya Tilmitt. "Not-absolutely. He's one of the ones I told you about. The ones who have the spark but are not trained. Most of them die. Few survive. He is one of the survivors. But he is not trained, and he may not even use the Flow consciously."
"Does this make him more dangerous or less," Father said.
"Less," said Moya Tilmitt. "Far less. Because, now that we know his signature when he holds the Flow... We can find him. And we can catch him."
"And catch him," Jordan said, "we will."
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