Home > Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1)(13)

Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1)(13)
Jeff Wheeler

Tyrus set down the hoop and waved his hands over several of the glass globes resting in intricate metal stands all over his desk. As his hand passed over them, some flared and flickered. Some dashed against the glass, as if trying to sting his hand. Some glowed brightly and remained lit.

His voice snagged Annon’s attention back. “Then the Romani return and take back what was sold. They are sold again at eighteen. This is when their other ear is marked. Two hoops. They are sold again, ten years later. And again. And again. Each time, the price decreases until they are old. Each time, they earn another ring.”

“It sounds like a miserable life,” Annon said distastefully. “Do they marry?”

Tyrus nodded vigorously. “Absolutely. The Rikes of Seithrall would ban them from Kenatos if they did not. But the marriage only lasts until the term is done. If the husband refuses to pay again, they can be sold to another man.”

“What if the child is a boy?”

“We are not speaking of the boys, Annon. We are speaking about the girls because you need to understand this to understand your sister. Hettie was stolen by the Romani when she was a babe. As you are almost eighteen yourself, so is she. You are twins but look nothing alike. It is time for her to be sold for her second hoop.”

Annon shook his head, astounded. His emotions were simmering now, but he was still incredulous. “You are serious? She was stolen from you?”

“If I had a black ring like the Rikes wear, I would give it to you. Yes, she was stolen.”

“And you are telling me that with all of your resources, you could not reclaim her? You have no small reputation in this city, Uncle.”

“Which the Romani know. You do not understand them as well as you pretend.”

“I did not pretend to know them. I’m only in shock that you could not hire an army or a band of mercenaries or something to reclaim her.”

Tyrus waved his hand over an especially bright globe and a satisfied smile played across his mouth. Annon noticed the thin white scar on his lip. “I really am too busy for all this chatter. Let me be plain with you. She was stolen. You were not. When she was nearly eight, I did hire a Finder to help me track her down. Let’s suffice it to say that they demanded a king’s ransom for her. I refused to pay it. She was being sheltered, fed, cared for. I left. The Finder went back for her later. He paid for her out of his own purse. Not for me. I never asked him to, as they learned. She has lived with him in the woods, wandering near the lowlands of Alkire for the last ten years. She has become a Finder herself. And so she found me. She’s here in the city.”

Annon was amazed. He realized he was gripping the edge of Tyrus’s table so hard his fingers hurt, and he slowly relaxed his muscles. He had met many Finders in Wayland. They were skilled in tracking, snaring, and hunting animals and occasionally, for the right price, people. “Here?” His heart suddenly panged with regret and longing. He had a sister?

“Not my tower, but here in the city. She is staying at the Bhikhu temple nearby, one that I occasionally squander ducats to support. Hettie can buy her freedom, you see. For one lump sum, she can purchase her freedom forever and no longer have to wear the earring. Of course, you understand that the sum will be outrageous. I am rather famous.” He gave Annon a sidelong look. “Here is what I propose. I have no wish to see her sold as a wife or whatever someone may desire her for. But the price is set on one’s ability to pay it. I cannot be involved in the deal or the price will be much higher.”

“But you are involved,” Annon said, frustrated. “They no doubt believe she is here. They will attempt to extort you again.”

“As I told you, I am unwilling to settle the account myself. If I do not bid for her, then the price will be more reasonably set.”

“You would have me do it?” Annon said, a sour smile on his mouth.

“How many ducats do you own, pray tell?” Tyrus chuffed to himself, wagging his finger over a globe as it continued to try and sting him with its spark-like light. “No, I was not thinking that at all. There is another way to buy her freedom. I know many things, being here in the tower. Many things that were whispered of in the past. There was another Paracelsus long ago, you know. A Cruithne, if you believe it, named Drosta. He was a good man. He left a great treasure in the mountains. The Romani learned of it and have been searching for it.”

Again he paused, tending the globes one by one. His eyebrow arched as he looked at Annon.

“You know where it is?”

“I know a man who knows where it is,” he replied cryptically. “And I know the key words that will open the door to it. The man is not in Kenatos, but lives in the east, in Havenrook. I have told your sister about him and encouraged her to seek Drosta’s treasure to buy her freedom. Do not call me sentimental. You know I am not.” He continued to look at the globes and methodically covered each with a velvet shroud. “As I said, she is staying at the temple orphanage, the Bhikhu temple. I have asked the master to send someone to protect her on her journey. I thought you might want to know this, as their journey will require a great deal of travel out of doors. A Druidecht would be useful, so I sent Reeder to find you before she leaves tomorrow.”

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