Banner of the Hawk 56

“You are not my friend. You are not quite my enemy, but you are almost my enemy.”

“I do not wish to be your enemy.”

Marquart made a motion not unlike avert, shoving the statement aside. “You and I stand eye to eye, adversaries, wanting the world to go very different ways. You will not change and I will not change so we are enemies — almost.”

Dymal spread his hands in a motion of surrender. There was too much truth in what Marquart said for him to deny it.

“I have made mistakes,” Marquart admitted, “and one of them was Weikata. I chose him because I would not let my almost-enemy be mentor to my son. I was wrong.”

Dymal nodded and retained a respectful silence. A lesser man would never have admitted the error.

“Nothing between us changes. That must be completely clear!”

“Go on.”

“You are my adversary, but you are not my son’s adversary.”

“No, I am not.”

“Tidac has no friends. Two or three of my men love him like a son, but he is so much more than they are that there is little they can teach him.”

“They teach him humanity — but I know what you mean.”

“I can’t touch him in any way that matters. He is respectful and obedient, but I have no idea what goes on in his mind.

“He needs a powerful adult — who isn’t me. Someone he will talk to. He also needs someone who will teach him to harness his ai.”

Silently, Marquart finished the sentence, as no one ever taught me. Dymal read the unspoken words on his face and once again regretted his silence on the matter.

That moment was the closest Marquart ever came to understanding himself.

Marquart kicked back his stool and paced the room. During these quiet minutes with Dymal, he was fighting a fierce battle with his rage and distrust, fighting for the soul of his son. Finally he stopped and faced the priest. He sought to make his face calm, but only made it implacable. Marquart’s ai was a raging flame about him. Dymal saw it; Marquart did not.

In a voice brittle with forced calm, Marquart said, “Tomorrow, I will send my son to you for training. You may have him only a few hours a day. I will monitor his progress closely. Treat him well, and we will see where else we might work together. Harm him, or try to turn him to your thinking, or try to turn him against me, and I will destroy both you and your temple.”

# # #

The guests arrived and were seated. Three chairs remained empty at the head of the table. There were three matching chairs at the foot, with Dymal seated alone in the center. The other guests were arrayed in scrupulous order along the long sides, with a few of the lesser guests at smaller tables off to the side.

None of the guests were armed. Six men-at-arms stood at attention, three along each wall so that they were behind the guests.

There would be little celebration at this feast.

Tidac came in after the others, uncomfortable in the finery he rarely wore. His smallsword was sheathed at his side, and Clevis accompanied him. Since Melcer had recently shown himself, Marquart trusted no one else to stand by his son. Clevis moved to stand behind the head of the table and Tidac seated himself at the right. The chair at the left was for Dael. Marquart had ordered it be present, and empty, to dare anyone to comment.

Marquart came in last, dressed in furs and new wool, with his lancette at his side. He took the center chair and raised his cup in an opening toast. His guests moved to comply and froze halfway through the motion. more Monday

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