Home > Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1)(11)

Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1)(11)
Jeff Wheeler

And there was Tyrus, seated at a work desk that was crowded with globes of glass of every size and shape, river stones, and glittering gems. There were vials propped within iron stays. Some orbs of glass seemed to contain trapped smoke that writhed and seethed. The room was lit by smokeless orbs and one ornate window, which was open to allow in natural light. There was a cushioned window seat, full of stacks of worn leather books that prevented anyone from sitting there.

“Hello, Uncle,” Annon said as nonchalantly as he could, hoping fervently that his uncle would not notice his trembling hands.

“Don’t you believe that there is in some men a deep so profound as to be hidden even to them in whom it is? I believe this for I know those who are called by their order—Paracelsus. Even they cannot fully explain how they understand the arcane lore that they have recovered. Only that they know it in their bones. The very first known of their order was a deep and brilliant man called Celsus, a Cruithne man from the deserts beyond the mountains of Alkire. The record he wrote is still contained in the Archives of Kenatos.”

– Possidius Adeodat, Archivist of Kenatos

Tyrus looked up from the globes on his worktable, meeting his nephew’s eye. Annon thought he saw a glint of satisfaction—like one a fisherman would display after discovering a fish had swallowed the bait.

“Annon,” Tyrus said, dipping his head slightly while fingering a vial and setting it back on the ironwork. He looked almost exactly as Annon remembered him from the last time they had met, the same amber-brown hair and beard flecked with gray. He was a rawboned man, a giant of a man, his very presence intimidating. His hands looked strong enough to crush Annon’s, yet they handled the glass with a deftness that belied his size. His eyes were piercing and greenish-gray, a mix of dawn and grass that probed Annon instantly, measured him, and found him lacking. “Get the door, will you?” he commanded, returning to some work on his desk, sorting a tray of gemstones by size.

Annon’s temper began to simmer at the contemptuous greeting. But he was eighteen, not eight. A man now. He pushed at the nicked door and it slid shut with a firm thud.

The floor was made of stone tiles, arranged in a complicated succession of angles, but Annon noticed obvious scorch marks throughout. It was swept and showed no dust. He expected the air to smell musty, but instead it contained a strange mix of fragrances—like cooking spices and flowers he could not name, as well as the hint of wood wax. The books on the window seat were of various sizes, but all bound in leather with ornate gold fluting at the corners. Some were quite hideworn and others relatively new. Annon could not discern a speck of dust except for on the windowsill.

Annon approached a bronzework brazier, admiring the craftsmanship. “Your accomodations are lavish. You’ve actually managed to seclude yourself from the city, which is not an easy feat. I don’t think I can even smell it up here.”

Tyrus smiled at the remark, intent on a glass globe containing a wraithlike substance, and then he rose from the table. He was taller than Annon, but only barely. There was no sign of pain in his expression, no stoop to his back. He looked hale and strong for a man past his prime.

The curtains by the window were velvet with threaded tassels that secured them to tall iron rings. The room would be quite dark if they were closed. Other than the brazier, there was no fireplace, but narrow vents in the ceiling above the room. A section of wall was pocked, as if something heavy had smashed into it, and ribbons of cracks ran through it. Annon had no idea what sort of work his uncle really did. Another door in the wall behind the desk probably led to his sleeping chamber. There were no gouge marks in it.

“You already know that I’m a terrible uncle,” Tyrus said matter-of-factly. “I faced those limitations a very long time ago. You look well. Did you have any trouble along the way here? The taverns are ripe with tales from the kingdoms beyond. The dangers that walk the land…”

“There was more danger within the city than without,” Annon said. He waited for Tyrus to explain. He did not want to appear overly anxious to hear Tyrus’s news or too eager.

“What news in Wayland? Any new treaties signed?”

Annon shrugged. “I would not know.”

“You do not keep abreast of politics in the King of Wayland’s court then?”

“I am a Druidecht, Uncle. My place is the politics of nature. I can tell you about a beaver’s dam that was disturbed by woodcutters. Does that interest you?”

“Not really.”

Annon knew his uncle was testing him. He did not want to play games. He knew if he waited long enough, the truth would come out. He was not disappointed.

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