Never Alone No. 4 – The Obvious Choice

“Clearly, it worked,” Alvarsson prompted.

“Yes. I didn’t expect it to go as smoothly as it did,” said Eirik. “Lord Andersson’s retinue made us a camp, and I began to work. Between restoring her body and returning her spirit to it, it was about a day’s worth of work. Yes?”

Baltasar had been endeavoring to put a word in, and he leaped at the opening. “Did it seem out of the ordinary in any way?”

Eirik resisted the urge to sigh. He’d meant the chance for a question as an olive branch, and in typical fashion Baltasar had taken it, lit it on fire, and heaved it back by asking a question which did nothing beyond highlight Eirik’s lack of experience. “I have nothing to compare it to,” he said. “It was the first time I’d ever done a human.” Baltasar sat back with a self-satisfied smile. Eirik ignored him and pressed on. “I understand I slept for two days after I finished. Two of Lord Andersson’s men had taken me back to Joarsgard, while he, his daughter, and the rest of his men and the mages went on to Jötunberg to destroy the draug. When the girl woke up, she told them they didn’t have to worry. They didn’t believe her, of course, but when they reached the town they couldn’t find the draug, or even any imprint on the Weave to suggest it might have been there.

“Regardless, the girl and I were never conscious in the same place, and I heard no more of it until I arrived here this morning.”

“You made no attempt to speak with her spirit?” Alvarsson asked.

Eirik shook his head. “Some of those who passed through Joarsgard were dead when they arrived. It was my experience when I was preparing them for travel that a dead man’s spirit never has anything useful to say.”

“I see.”

There were further questions, increasingly technical and tedious, but finally they dismissed Eirik, and he returned to his seat with a deep sense of relief. Book had done well, and with its guidance Eirik hadn’t put a single foot wrong. Certainly, his questioners had done all they could to point out flaws in his actions, but he was cautiously optimistic, and as he turned the interrogation over in his head he couldn’t see a way to make it look like he was guilty of anything serious.

Several more mages took the floor, talking about Hans Georgsson’s letter and what had happened after it arrived, and it very quickly became clear that nobody had a complete picture of how the politics had played out. The Assembly spent a few hours putting one together, and as the sun set Eirik saw he was not the only one yawning.

It seemed that, for better or for worse, they would be finishing that night. Nobody moved to adjourn, and as the debate shifted to the question of admissions that had sparked the whole thing, the servants unobtrusively brought food around. Eirik had a full meal while most of the others opted for little more than tea and bread, but all of them were paying very close attention. Eirik, on the other hand, had already made his decision to vote with Alvarsson’s side, and doubted that anything Baltasar said could change his mind.

That didn’t make Baltasar any less impressive to watch during his closing argument, though. He paced back and forth, thundering and railing, gesturing grandly. He played the Assembly like a fiddle, and managed to make his point well in the middle of it. Reynir Alvarsson took the floor to a crowd buzzing with growing hostility.

He waited for silence, and then began to speak in even, measured tones. he lacked Baltasar’s fire, but every word he used had purpose, and that purpose was to comprehensively disassemble every facet of Baltasar’s argument. If the girl was dangerous, then it had to be admitted that she herself was in endangered by magic, and if that was the case, he said, the Guild had a duty to protect her, a duty spelled out in its charter. With a few final words to emphasize that point, he returned to his chair.

There was the requisite bickering before the Assembly could agree on a simple up-or-down vote, and Eirik guessed it would have taken longer if the night had been younger. The servants began to tally the votes, and half an hour later, one of them passed a slip of paper to Reynir Alvarsson.

He smiled and handed the paper back. “I am pleased to announce that the Guild of Aendemancers will be offering admission to Anja Grevdarsdottir.”

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