A War of Two

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Chapter 14

The seasons changed. They moved from spring into summer and autumn into winter.In the palace Prince Willheardt and his desert Bedouins had a ceremony for each one.They said good-bye to the one and hello to the other.

The meetings continued in the temple. Prince Willheardt did his best to attend them all.He also continued practicing with his personal guard.His garden grew and was harvested.Some of the herbs were dried and he tried to find the time to make the healing potions that his teacher had taught him.The health of the palace staff improved considerable under his care.The spies looking for Prince Alemark and Lord Aleheardt brought back no word.Prince Willheardt had no idea wither this meant that they had actually not found the two men, or wither the spies had been bought off.

Another change was that the Prince got used to wearing the clothing of the people in the city again. Surprisingly, so did Lord Mocmar.“My son,” he confided to Willheardt, “I thought that I would wear the costume of my people all the days of my life.But in this cold weather I find these clothes actually warmer and more comfortable.”

At Lord Aleheardt’s estate the practices slacked off for the winter. But things were definitely tense there.He and Prince Alemark argued.“You must be at the best,” Lord Aleheardt said.“But I have gotten a lot better,” the Prince complained.“But that may not be good enough,” Lord Aleheardt countered. “My information is that your brother continues in excellent health and has had rigorous training from his child -hood.He is strong and healthy.”He did not tell the Prince that his information is becoming dated.It was more than just the difficulty of travel during the winter.The upset in personal and routine at the palace had removed most of his spies and the ones that were left were convinced that Willheardt was a magician and therefore they were afraid of him.

“But I don’t want to practice anymore,” the Prince whined. “It is too cold out side and I am hungry.”They had difficulty getting enough food to feed the household now.After all they were in hiding and did not want to draw too much attention to them selves.So they had to rely on what stores were already in the house and what foragers could bring in.Some of the food already in the house was beginning to go bad.

“You will do it and you will eat this food,” Lord Aleheardt said as he had a spell of wheezing. When he could draw breath again he said, “My information is that your brother has had to make do with less.He eats sparingly and always has.”The Prince sulked and did what he was told.

At the bazaar Cella read her tarot cards for anyone who wanted their fortunes told. During the long winter evenings she sometimes read the cards just for herself.She thought of herself as checking on friends that way.Sometimes she laid them out for Petra.Sometimes she laid them out for Timthé.She thought of Timthé as being something of an older sister.They had spent much time together when Petra was teaching Cella.

One night she decided to lay them out for Prince Willheardt. The cards were not so surprising.They predicted difficulties for him, but also benefits.There was nothing all that unique about them until Cella realized one thing.Almost all the cards had some connection to the direction of north.A lot of them were pentacles which were connect -ed to the element earth.And the direction of that element was north. She thought there might be some significance to this, so she decided to go to the palace.It was already night. She put on her heaviest cloak with a hood ant made her way to the palace.

When she got there the torches were lit. The drawbridge was done but so was the portcullis. She crossed the drawbridge and banged on the portcullis.“Who’s there,” a gruff voiced called from the crenulations.“It’s me,” Cella called to the captain of the guard.She stepped back so he could see her and through back her hood.“It’s Cella,” she called out again.“Aye,” said the voice.“It is and I’ll come let you in.”

He turned to go down and said to one of the younger guardsmen, “Boy you go and tell the prince that the little fortune teller has come. He’s give orders that she is to see him anytime she comes.”

Prince Willheardt met Cella in an anteroom. They were smaller and more intimate.And he was less likely to be over heard there.“What did you want to see me about?” he asked.“Did you read your cards for me?”

“Yes.” She said. “There was nothing so unusual in the cards that came up.That was until I looked at the elements and the directions that they were all associated with.There was a preponderance of cards associated with the earth.You know that direction is north.Have you looked for your brother there yet?”

“The spies we sent to the north have not come back yet,” the Prince told her. “But there are many reasons for that.”

“Lord Sayer,” Prince Willheardt said. “He has as estate in the north.He is also married to my ex-aunt.She was the wife of my Uncle Aleheardt.I discovered that when she bore him no children the priests of the temple allowed a divorce.When Lord Sayer’s first wife died he married her.Now they have several children.”Prince Willheardt thought about that for a few moments.

“Thank-you for coming and telling me that,” he said to Cella. “If you have any other such insights please come and tell me about them right away.”He showed her to the door himself.Then he told one of the guardsmen, “Send me a scribe, and have a messenger standing by.”When the scribe got there he dictated a message to Lord Sayer.“I send greeting to my aunt and to her husband.I hope your time in the north is happy and productive for you.Please keep your eyes open for any interesting developments and tell me about them immediately.Willheardt.”

The note was sealed and given to the messenger. Prince Willheardt put it into the man’s hand himself.“You leave at dawn,” he said.“You are going to Lord Sayer’s northern estate.“I am told that he enjoys visiting there at this time of year.On your way, keep your eyes open for anything out of the ordinary.”

The day that the messenger left, later in the morning, Cella went to see her old mentor Petra. They made some small talk for a while.Finally the conversation got around to the government and what might happen next.Timthé stopped by.

“It is so unfair,” Cella told Timthé. “Who else has to kill his brother?Most men would be allowed to live in peace, twin or not.”

“But we have to know for sure who the Great Deity means to be king,” Timthé reminded her. “If we don’t know that we are weak and may be invaded.That would lead to much more destruction and many more deaths.”

“I still think it is unfair,” Cella said.

“I think you’re in love,” Timthé teased her.

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