I’d had enough revelations for one day. In my duties, I seen some of the worst depravities humans were capable of, and some of the greatest kindnesses. Nothing in my experience matched the truths I’d learned regarding my mother or the efforts to save my life. Part of me already knew the next set within the declaration wouldn’t be any more comforting.
“If you don’t wish
to be my witness, I’ll wait until Luc is finished with supervising trade
negotiations.” I poked at the chicken pie a few times before I shoved it aside.
Kam grunted as he
laboriously climbed to his feet once again. “No. You’re right. I swore my
oaths, and this is too messy to leave to a junior priest. One of them would
surely bollox the matter. Come.”
I snatched the
scroll and shoved it back into my pocket. We might as well deal with this pile
of manure and get it over with. He extended his arm to me, and I took it.
Under my hand, he
trembled, and pale green sweat beaded on his forehead. “Kam, if you’re not
feeling well, I can wait.”
“No.” He patted my
hand again as we shuffled down the hall to the main portion of the temple.
“Just an old man’s anxiety that the sins of his past have caught up with him.”
“I would hardly
call saving an innocent babe a sin.” I chuckled. “Though it’s difficult to
imagine me as a babe, much less innocent.”
“How do you feel
I missed a step at
his abrupt change of topic. If I hadn’t been holding his arm, I would have
fallen flat on my face. “Where does that question come from?”
We resumed our
slow shuffling pace. I didn’t think Kam was going to answer me when he said,
“You remind me of Thalia. It was the one part of her duties she hated.”
“I’ve read the
stories and heard the songs. What was she really like?”
His smile was lost
in the past. “Beautiful, brilliant. I know how bad my jokes are, but she’d
always laugh at them. Or me. I was never sure which. Anyone who fought her
thought she was sighted. She always knew what strike an opponent would use
before he was in motion. I think she had a touch of precognition, though she
would have denied it with her dying breath.”
him. “It’s been twenty years, but I still miss her every day.”
I wanted to
comfort him. I didn’t know how. This wasn’t like Marco and Katarina. I couldn’t
fix the past.
We entered the
sanctuary. A handful worshippers knelt before the altar. At the opposite end, a
few farmers and the retinues of two traders either milled and murmured to each
other or sat on the pews, looking bored out of their minds. Three wardens paced
through the sanctuary as a precaution.
I didn’t envy Luc.
Mediating trade negotiations would be tedious enough to make me want to slit my
Kam and I claimed
one of the small consultation rooms that lined the walls between the altar and
the main doors.
With a flick of
his forefinger and a murmured word, he lit the wall sconce. The glow would
shine through the thin alabaster to show the room was in use. He swiped the
sweat from his forehead with his sleeve before he circled the tiny room, laying
his warding. I sat at the small table to stay out of his way. The familiar
tingle of magic in a tightly enclosed space prickled along my skin.
He took the seat
next to me, and with a flare of his power, he lit that lamp as well. Since the
priestly glows didn’t emit heat as a traditional oil lamp or a torch did, I
didn’t need to squint against the painful brightness.
Kam held out his
I blew out a harsh
breath as I took his clammy palm. “No, but let us proceed anyway. Lady of
Balance, show us the will of the one who has passed through the veil.”
The feeling of
someone peering over my shoulder always accompanied my invocation of my goddess.
Never was the impression stronger than it was right now. With a jolt, I
realized this was the first time I’d done the opening of the declaration with
someone other than Luc. Was that the difference?
“May the Lord of
Light confirm the truth of the one who has passed Death’s door,” Kam answered.
energy spiraled around the edges of the parchment until they joined at the
seal. The wax cracked and parted.
Any priest or
priestess from the any temple could bind a declaration of last wishes. According
to Luc, the color symbolic of the temple colored the edges of the scroll. Only
when Balance and Light opened it together was the declaration considered valid.
I asked him once
what the edging looked once the seal was released. He whispered that it was black
twined around gold.
Like us in bed.
I shook my head to
clear the distracting memory.
We unrolled the
scroll, the ink record in front of Kam, the raised dots and lines impressed
into the parchment in front of me. I ran my fingertips over the special code my
order used. My heart skipped a beat, and I touched the name of Gretchen’s heir
again. I hadn’t misinterpreted.
Lady Alessa DiMara.