The sailor gazed at the Aglari for a full minute and took in its beauty. He had never seen a gem from the Crown of Power before, and he imagined how magnificent Argol’s crown must have been. Inhaling deeply, he let the air out of his lungs slowly and felt pleased.
My search is over, he thought. I just have to liberate the Aglari from its confinement and rendezvous with Jormundan using the shack outside Sapilo.
The elf narrowed his eyes and thought briefly about opening the display case.
There are guards present and more outside. I doubt I can disable the wards that are bound to be on the glass case and fight off all the guards. No, it would be better to wait until tonight when everyone is asleep. Yes, that will do.
Next, the seaman considered setting some magical traps. Sleep magic with a trigger that only he could release would speed his recovery of the gem later. He glanced sideways quickly to see who was nearby and noticed one of the guards at the far end of the room. The human was handling a ball of flame in his hand.
A mage with hand fire, thought the sailor. That’s no ordinary guard. The humans are more clever than I imagined; I didn’t think they’d employ wizards to protect the gem. And that will make my job harder. He’ll most likely detect the use of magic if I cast a spell. Better to wait and come back later.
Evan ate breakfast at the Grey Horse after talking with Tindolen. During his meal, the Michaeline priest sketched plans in his head for protecting the Elf-gem. Standing guard in the lobby made the most sense because he would not get in the way of the other guards and it would ensure another level of protection.
Evan finished eating and pushed away his plate with a smile.
Frank came over and picked up the plate and utensils.
“That was pretty good, Frank,” Evan remarked as he handed his friend a few coins in payment.
“Glad you liked it,” the innkeeper said, as he pocketed the money. “Cook is a master with eggs.” Frank was about to say something else when he noticed someone in the foyer through the double doors to the lobby, which were now open. He put down the plate and utensils. “Excuse me.” He walked off toward the lobby.
Evan, meantime, gathered his cloak. Time to go shopping, he thought.
Entering the foyer, Evan saw Frank standing behind the registration counter across from Daniel. They were talking about something, but Evan couldn’t hear what they were discussing. Over by the Inn’s entrance, Evan saw an elf dressed in the dark blue suit of a seaman. The sailor strode into the lobby and proceeded straight to the great hall where the Elf-gem was on display.
Evan’s eyes narrowed. Odd, he thought. I don’t recognize the elf and, except for Tindolen and his family, elves usually don’t come to Clearbrook. Wonder how far word of St. Sebastian’s week has spread and if that has anything to do with this fellow’s presence.
Regardless, this required investigation. Evan stepped toward the great hall when Frank called to him. The priest turned to look and saw the innkeeper waving him closer.
Evan put up a hand. “Just a minute,” he said, before following the elf into the great hall. He entered the exhibition room and saw the seafarer coming toward him. Moving to one side, Evan watched the elf leave the Inn.
Maybe the elf meant no harm after all — at least for now. He might have been scouting for weaknesses in the gem’s security. I’ll deal with that later. Better go see what Frank wants.
“Ah, Evan,” said Frank, as the priest approached. “Daniel has some questions about history, and I figured you could answer them.”
Daniel shook his head. “Not history. Prophecy.”
Evan looked down at Daniel. “Which prophecy?”
“Amelidel’s prophecy about the dukefs, the House of Richmond, and the Aglaril.”
Remembering Tindolen’s words earlier, Evan felt his cheeks redden. Can talking about the prophecy affect it? Maybe, if it affects Daniel’s actions. On the other hand, perhaps Daniel knows something; after all, he has spoken with the Elf-gem.
He looked at Daniel and found him staring, his eyes wide and round, and his mouth open slightly, waiting for Evan’s response. “What do you want to know?”
“Will it come true?” replied Daniel eagerly.
Evan sighed with relief; that seemed safe to discuss. “I hope so,” he said. “However, none of the royal house is known to have survived. Without them, the prophecy cannot come true.”
“But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an heir to the House of Richmond,” Daniel observed. “You just don’t know of any.”
“Yes, but the odds are not encouraging. If King Leonard had survived, he would have made it known to his subjects so that a new capital could be built or plans could be made to reclaim the old city and exact revenge on the dukefs. If his younger sister, Sandra, had survived, I would have expected her to announce herself too, assuming she even knows her lineage. Since neither event has occurred, the best we can hope for is that Sandra lives, unaware of her heritage.”
Daniel listened to Evan, staring all the while. He said nothing and did not react in any way.
“Why do you ask?” queried Evan.
“Well, Aure was telling me about Amelidel’s prediction and said it was time for the prophecy to be fulfilled.”
Evan’s eyes widened in amazement, partially because Daniel had spoken with the gem again and partially because the gem was putting ideas into the lad’s head. “It told you the prophecy would be fulfilled?”
“Did it say how?”
“No, but the next steps seem obvious: locate the other Aglaril and reunite them with Aure.”
Evan smirked. “You make it sound so easy, but assuming the other Elf-gems survived, they’ll be nearly impossible to find.”
Daniel nodded in agreement. “Aure told me that. But he also said he will know when he is within a few miles of one of his brothers. And if he is placed next to another Aglari, both gems will glow.”
Evan realized what Daniel was suggesting; perhaps the challenge wasn’t as insurmountable as Evan had first thought. It might take years, but perhaps the odds of finding the other Elf-gems were now within the realm of possibility. Of course, if any dukef caught wind of this…
Bending over and lowering his voice, Evan whispered, “Daniel, what you are suggesting is dangerous. The dukefs won’t want any of the Elf-gems found unless they are the ones who find them. Therefore, I suggest you keep this to yourself, at least for now. Do you understand?”
“Good,” Evan said and straightened. Then he turned away and went into the great hall to talk with the other guards.