A great deal of what was done by the Lord Marshal was done in his office. It was a rather nice place for its own sake. It was very clean and had a large window in the back wall. A carved desk dominated the area under the window. The walls were lined with books of all the records and reports; law books and heritage books, history and medical book, magic and apothecary, just about anything the Lord Marshal might ever need. In the center of the office was the Great Map Table; the most important tool he had.
At a touch from the Lord Marshal the map came to life. Lines of light lifted to form the lands within all the territory in perfect three dimensions. Jesop could scroll through, snap his fingers on a place to enlarge it and scroll in any direction. He could look at any part of the nest, down to the smallest detail or all of it at once.
Within the map Scouts were brown points, Sats were blue, red dots were Ambassadors the grey were the Wisdoms and the un-bonded dragons were green. He could leave markers, he could see who was where in the nest and he could see where others gathered. The map gave him the power to command and implement a vast amount of control. He could turn lights off and on. He could lock doors and open doors.
He had control of the Nest and all the magics of it from that map table. He could move through it at such speed others could not even begin to follow him as he made marks and notes on reports lists about where his scouts were, where they were going and where they had been. He would compare those with his notes to their reports and know who was honest and who wasn’t. He could learn why they had been slow or had gotten ahead of things. This was how he was able to find Kerik and Dart when they had failed to report in.
There were also marks for the herdsmen, the Jayzic and tiny pinpricks for the civilians. He could follow all the trade routes, watch the growth of villages and the weather patterns through the mountains. Even the Wilds had marks. He could also add his own and he did. He marked all the battle sites of orcs, goblins and now red men as well. He kept them in place for a year unless one in close enough proximity was added.
His scouts were worrisomely far apart and there was nothing he could do about it. Dall would be back today and likely was already. He had sent the man new leathers and his allowance of chits as well as the supplies for his short stay and quick leaving again.
Dall was a decent man. A decent scout with nothing much to say about him either way, why he was what Tarra had taken to was confusion to every man who ever wondered about her at all. She was after all, the youngest Sat alive and the family of Rah. She could have anyone she wanted.
Jesop was getting a lot of work done and was actually doing rather well for the way he felt the day before. He was enjoying Teven being gone. Maybe he had made Teven so mad the man would not come around. On the other hand he had a back eye and a cut across his cheek from Teven’s ring. It didn’t matter, rarely did anyone come up to his office.
The door opened and a young man stepped in. He was dressed in the Gray of a full Wisdom despite his young age. He was the youngest Wisdom Jesop had ever seen. He could not even be twenty years old yet. The young man was a bit flushed and looked to have come running.
“You might want to get down to the cadets hall,” he said before he dashed out. The Wisdoms were not supposed to talk to the others of the Nest and moved through the world as ghosts. They had their own halls and passages locked off to all others. A few were healers and they were allowed to speak but mostly they listened. When they did say something it was for a reason.
Jesop snapped the map off and left the room at a run. He caught the side stairs not the main ones and sat sideways on the rail of carved stone. With a hand to slow him on the wide rail he slid down the spiral stairs past a numbed of those headed up. They jumped out of his way startled, one even cheered him as he flew past.
He took a step between floors and caught the next flight down and hit the lower halls with his wind and walked with long strides to the cadet hall. He had reached it far faster than anyone might have dared hope. Sliding down the rail was a trick he had mastered in effort to escape Teven and his horde of allies.
There was a lot of yelling in the room and the students only stepped aside as they realized who was there.
Treyven was caught in an orb of power. Magic hissed over it and he was inside desperately trying to hold it in. He looked like he was sobbing and on the verge of panic. His brothers had stepped in and were shouting at the crowd that was trying to get to Teven. Including one of the teachers. Bodie held him back despite the rank and anger of the teacher.
On the floor was a shattered chair, amid the wreckage was blood and bits of flesh. Someone had died and did so with a grand blast that had the stone floor still smoking.
Jesop snapped his fingers and the lights went out. The room went suddenly silent. The only light remaining came from the power that howled and cracked about Treyven. The reality of it made the crush of bodies all step back.
Jesop moved toward Trey and made the young man shift focus to him. Treyven looked at his foster father seeing him only as Jesop drew close. Trey caught his breath. As he did the power dropped a little.
Jesop didn’t bother to talk. Treyven would not be able to hear him. All Jesop needed to do was hold Treyven’s focus and hold it calmly. Strom could help with the rest.
The power began to drain out. The young man sank to his knees, weak and white faced, soaked in sweat and shivering in a fever. Jesop moved to him the moment the power had dropped away enough to not burn. Only when he had a hold of Treyven did he turn the lights back on.
He helped Treyven up as two old Wisdoms appeared and took the young Rah into their arms and all but carried him out.
Jesop turned back to the room. Teven was just running in and came to a slow stop as he saw the floor and his son being hauled out.
“Bodie what happened?” Jesop asked.
Bodie let go of the teacher and turned around to look at the Lord Marshal.
“Sall Cammen picked a fight with Trey and lost,” Bodie said in his slow deep voice.
The room half exploded with yelling and Jesop lifted his hand to snap the lights off and they all fell silent.
“Trey did this?” Teven breathed.
“Andrew?” Jesop asked.
“It is a rather mean prank to stab a scale needle into people and Cam thought it funny to do so to Trey after making him so mad Bodie and I had to hold him back.”
Jesop nodded. “Witness it,” he said softly.
“It is witnessed,” Teven said not too happy about it.
“Rah Treyven has been nothing but trouble and has pushed every rule and to say he was justified in any way to even throw a swing at a fellow cadet for a little bit of razing is injustice,” the teacher half shouted. Jesop knew Trey and had a good idea what was said and about whom.
“You care to tell me what was said?” Jesop asked.
The man faltered. “Boys tease each other.”
“Do you care to tell me what was said?” Jesop asked again just as calmly. “No? I didn’t think so.”
“You would not be so forgiving if he was not a Rah,” the man half snarled.
“Slang will pass the judgment on the matter.”
The man nearly snarled. “There is more to being worthy than a name.”
“I suggest you stop now,” Jesop said softly. He ever so slightly leaned his head toward Teven who was about to rip the man apart. The teacher’s eyes darted form Jesop to Teven and back.
“I am tired of reckless self important names. I will not have any of them back in my classes.”
He got a shocked look as his Wing told him something. “No,” he breathed. “The vote of the council…” His face went white. Whatever his Wing had told him he didn’t like it.
“I don’t think who is your class again will be a problem.” Jesop said softly. Already Wisdoms were moving in to clean up the mess with magic, mops, and brooms. The other teachers began ushering the cadets out of the hall. The room was getting cleared rather fast.
That was one teacher who would never teach again. Jesop was half temped to send him out to cover Kerik’s route at once. He would mention the idea to Slang and see what his own Wing thought about the matter.
He watched the Wisdoms cleaning up the blood and soot. Jesop felt a little ill. He knew all too well how it felt to waken power of that level in such a manner. He swallowed the taste in his mouth and looked to Teven.
“You might want to have Tohke keep an eye on Cammen’s father for awhile. He might not be real pleased he just lost a son.”
“It is witnessed,” Teven said softly before turning on a heel to follow after his own son.
Treyven looked awful, his eyes were black and his face was white. He sat on his couch with a cup of tea. He wore soft bed-robe and a blanket about his shoulders.
The old man who sat near him was a Wisdom that Jesop vaguely recognized but couldn’t place. The old man stood and turned to the Lord Marshall who entered the room. He met the him near the door with a worried look.
“There is good news and bad,” he said softly. “The good news is he is a Rah, thus very strong, and will be a wizard of some power. The other is that there is a rumor that he will wear white one day and someone is so unhappy about that they poisoned that needle.
“They meant to kill him and if he had not flared out as he did he would have seemed to have a spider bite on the shoulder and just an allergic reaction. As it was, the flare sent it all into Strom who is rather ill for it. He will molt once he gets through the toxin out of his system.”
“Is there any way you can find out who set it up?”
“We will look into it.”
“He is going to be alright though?”
“Yes. He will have to take classes in magic right now. And likely one on one as you did. I fear he will not fit in with his peers after this.”
Jesop glanced to the young man. “But nothing else was hurt?”
“No. He will recover fully. Just,” he touched Jesop’s arm in a way only a friend would, “it was an assassination attempt.”
Jesop looked back to the Wisdom, feeling deeply he should know him. He didn’t want to think about it too hard as I likely went back to the days after he flared out himself and that always made him feel ill and uneasy. Most of his memories from before that had been burned away and nearly all the event itself was gone. “Is it always a rumor with the Wisdoms who will wear white?” he asked a hint of hope in his voice.
“He won’t wear gold if that’s your question and he won’t wear it so long as you are Lord Marshal,” he said with a little wary smile. Jesop was rather disappointed and felt a bit tense about it. For a moment he had hoped his dual role might be drawing near an end.
“Don’t despair. Now is the time of change and it is not the first time our numbers have so dropped but then, like now we came out the stronger for it.” He put a hand on Jesop’s aching shoulder, the pain easing almost instantly. He gave a reassuring squeeze before he moved toward the door.
“I do despair,” Jesop whispered. If the Wisdom heard he made no sign of it. Jesop walked to the miserable young man and sat across from him.
“You want to tell me what pissed you off so much?”
“I had a bad day. First the girl I have been trying to charm; I got her in bed last night and she calls me Teven. Once; I can let it go but then she tells me that my father has the better body but I kiss better. Great. Great!” He threw his hands up in the air. “So fine, she slept with dad, who hasn’t right.
“Well I get to class and several of them are over there comparing notes between him and I and that sets me off. Then Cam starts in laughing about it. I get to follow in my fathers shadow not just in rank and sky but in bed as well. Ha ha ha,” he said bitterly.
“So I went from bad to worse,” Trey continued. “Then, Storm is all rowdy with some scout wing and got out-flown and is all pissed off in the back of my head and snarling about it. At lunch Cam starts it up again and he is going on and on about things; making jokes about you and dad, and I got a little upset. Bodie made me sit back down and I was about to calm down when he stabbed me with that damn thing and said something in my ear and I blew up. .. literally.” A hurt look crossed his face and he was lost a moment. “I didn’t mean to. I would not just hurt someone let alone…kill them… for something so petty,” he said looking up.
“I know,” Jesop said. “Two things: one is that they should make it clear that the wizard lines can and do blow up and come alive with a flash. The other is it was not so innocent. The needle was poisoned. He tried to kill you Trey.”
“Kill me? Why?”
“I am not altogether certain. Maybe it was to make your father attack someone or to make me do so. After the way I dealt with Ballus and Turner I am sure their friends think very little of me right now. So try not to feel bad about it. Your instinct saved your life.”
Trey took a sip of tea. “You wake up with a flash or you just sort of come awake like I have with empathy?”
“A flash,” he said after a serious debate as to what to say to Trey.
“What happened?” Trey asked. Jesop didn’t talk about it and he never had. Then again they had just hinted that Trey would wear his leather unless he lived a rather long time. It was only fair to let him know Whites did not mean things were perfect or pretty or that it made you stronger or better than everyone.
“I am not sure if Slang blocks it, if I do, or if the Wisdoms did it, but I don’t really remember all the details. I remember certain things up to a point, then I sort of have things shift back into light and I sort of wake up a wizard. I don’t even recall my lessons much. I was barely awake when I got put in Whites.”
“That bad huh? And no records of it?”
“I don’t know Trey.”
“But you’re not mad at me?”
“No. Only an idiot would pick a fight with a Rah,” he smiled reassuringly.
“The dumb thing is I am still so damn mad about the girls comparing me to dad. They get us both and make it a game. I could hate him,” he said just as his father entered the door.
“I feel that way at times.” Jesop said as calmly as if Teven had not been the topic of the conversation, “but, I don’t think it for the same reason.”
“How are you?” Teven asked his son.
“When did you sleep with cadet Sarna?”
Teven thought about it and had to ask Tohke. “A few months ago.”
“Stop it! If I get your seconds one more time I am going really resent it.”
“Sorry. How are you?”
“Alright,” he said letting it go. “Fevered and my head hurts but alright.”
“He’ll come out rather a strong wizard for it,” Jesop said standing.
“What could they have been saying to make you so mad?”
“What can I say? I guess I have your temper too,” Trey muttered bitterly.
“I can’t say I have reduced anyone to a stain on the floor,” Treyven said.
“I guess your father wasn’t sleeping with your girl friend and some smart-mouth mocking you about it either,” Treyven shot at his father with disgust that he didn’t bother to hide.
Teven considered it a moment then went to the kitchen corner. He turned his focus on looking for what to make for his son to eat.
“I’d stay Trey, but I still have a pile of reports to go through. I expect you’ll get some lessons and be out of classes for awhile.” Jesop pushed himself up. “Try not to be too angry at your father,” he said softly. “You know he loves you.”
Treyven smiled a bit ruefully at Jesop using his own words.
“Yeah I know,” he relaxed a little. Jesop kissed the top of Treyven’s head to help him forgive his father and make peace in the Rah household. He knew Jesop had not used empathy on him but the Lord Marshal had always had a calming effect on him. Jesop meant safety and always had.
“Rest, I’ll come see you later,” Jesop said.
Teven didn’t say anything until Jesop had left. He brought Treyven a small plate with a variety of things for him to eat if he got hungry.
“Could we not talk about my sex life in front of Jes please,” he said to his son with a half wounded expression.
“Every one talks about your sex life,” Treyven said pulling the blanket tighter about himself. “It’s rather impressive, and add to it you’re supposed to be celibate its almost open rebellion.”
“Rather like, don’t you think,” Teven said with a faint smile. Treyven knew his father resented the Black and hated being Keeper but there was no choice in the matter. It was simply what it was.
“I have a question,” Treyven said as his father returned with fresh tea for them both.
“What was Jesop doing right before he was put in Whites?”
Teven was a little taken by surprise. He took the seat Jesop had been in and ran his hand over the arm of the chair trying to think.
“He was really ill for awhile. They cut him out of classes and he was gone. I caught sight of him a few times and he looked pretty bad. He didn’t go anywhere alone. He had a Wisdom or the Keeper with him all the time. I guess they knew even then he was going to be King.”
Trey could tell there was far more to it. His father was not telling him everything. He also felt the slip of use of rank in a way he had never felt before. It was as if the word itself had a power his newly awaken empathy felt. “He’s not king.”
“What?” Teven looked up.
“You said they knew he’d be king.”
“Oh. Well I meant he’d be in White,” he gestured vaguely. “It’s all the same for now. Why?”
“Was he a wizard before that?”
“No,” Teven said.
“Well you know he is one now right?”
“I thought he gained that in the battle stuff he did and as part of the leathers he got.”
“He just said he was doing classes and things before that.” Treyven shrugged and let it go or seemed to. Teven didn’t buy that. His son was far too smart and quick to just let things go.
Treyven always had a second agenda when it came to Teven and Jesop. Trey had been out to make peace with them since he was born and in ways had. In other ways Trey made it so much worse.
“He has a black eye, dad.”
“Yeah I saw that.”
“You do that?”
“Yeah,” he admitted after a long time of no answer. “But it wasn’t about the pills. He knew exactly what I would do for what he said and I just popped and hit him. I didn’t mean to. He’s Lord Marshal and I am supposed to take care of him not crack his cheek bone.” Teven shook his head at himself and picked a piece of cheese from the plate.
“Well, you suck at your job.” Treyven said shifting painfully. He groaned. “Damn I hurt.”
“Why don’t you go soak while I cook something a little more substantial than this,” he gestured to the little plate.
“I might pass out if I do. Better I stay here. I will eat anything you make. I am a decent cook but I can’t compete with you or Andy,” he muttered.
Teven made the meal and put it away. He covered his son up with a blanket on the couch, smoothed Treyven’s hair, kissed his forehead and left him to sleep.