"What do you mean, she's wandered off?" Derrick demanded. "Gwendolyn isn't so stupid as to run away when she's sick!"
"This is ridiculous." Roland echoed. "Three of my trainees can hardly keep Theat under control for long, even with assistance. I need to get back. I didn't come all the way out here, ignoring my duties, to find my now ill comrade missing from her home. Was she even that sick?"
"She was sick when I left, and she's carrying our child. She couldn't have just wandered off. But she's gone now, and I have no idea where!" Alexander replied, his voice thick with worry. "I do know that she has been ill for more then a week and she thought she could get herself out of it just fine."
"And I thought my wife was stubborn." Derrick snapped. "Well, you and Roland can look for her and I'll take that troublemaker back to-"
"No need." a voice behind them said.
"Why- who are you?" Derrick whirled around.
"My name is Avantra. I know where your Gwendolyn has gone, and that she is no longer ill."
"But how?" Alexander asked, panic filling his voice. "What has happened to her-"
Derrick held a hand up to silence him. "Stop it, Kahner. She must have used a Command spell. Where is she now, Avantra?"
"She has gone to the palace. I was listening when her companion convinced her to go."
"Companion?" the two men exclaimed.
"The son of Vand and Jordan Aquos."
"Who?" Alex asked, his face blank.
Derrick gasped in surprise. "That's impossible."
"I cannot lie." Avantra informed him. "I have a magical contract. I am bound to tell the truth or risk fire filling my lungs in an instant. Thomas was brought here through time. You must find him and help him."
Derrick, Alexander and Roland stared at the woman for a long time.
"Let's go." Derrick said.
"What?" Alex and Roland exclaimed.
"Roland, you can keep Theat in a cell until I'm finished. We'll meet at the Academy tomorrow. Until then, I have things to deal with."
"Like what?" Alexander demanded as they exited the hut.
"Like finding the location of Thomas, dealing with whatever I was supposed to do this morning and explaining to my wife why I was late when I told her that we would dine together alone tonight. You're not the only one with a family."
Alexander glared at him. "Do you even care that one of your friends is missing?"
"I wouldn't argue with him." Roland replied, straight-faced. "He won't thank me for saying so, but Derrick is more obsessed with Kiandra then you are with Gwen. He'll go home for supper unless lives depend on it, especially when they dine alone."
"Excuse me being consistent after the war is over." Derrick retorted. "Thank you, Avantra!" he called over his shoulder. Alex and Roland echoed their own thanks as they jumped onto their horses and began the ride back to Vastrom.
"Did someone come here today who didn't belong here?" Derrick asked an emissary. "It's important that I know." he added breathlessly.
"Yes, some lunatic showed up and burst in on the council." the emissary replied. "You will find Lord Pelastor and Advisor Falcain with him in the infirmary if you choose to go there. You will also find your lady and a friend of hers."
"Kiandra is here?" Derrick exclaimed. She had been rather fond of Thomas. "Take me to them." the emissary nodded and turned swiftly on his heel.
In the infirmary, he did indeed find his friends and his wife there, with Kathering helping attend to him.
"Lord Keane." a servant announced as Derrick pushed past him.
"What's going on?" he demanded, approaching the cot a laying a hand on his wife's shoulder.
"It's Thomas." Kathering replied. "But you'll be surprised when you see him. For now he should rest." she motioned the group to a space a short distance away and closed a curtain whick surrounded the cot.
The group moved away, Derrick offering help to Kiandra to her feet.
"I can still stand on my own!" she snapped, taking Derrick's help anyway and resting a hand on her swelling stomach. "I'm not so hindered in movement yet. It's only been seven months."
"Did you see a healer today?" Derrick demanded, ignoring her complaints.
"When I asked, Gwen said that the baby is fine. I do keep my promises you know.."
"From what I know, Gwendolyn shouldn't be out of bed." Derrick replied, sending a sharp glance in her direction. "Sorry about dinner." he added quietly.
"Gwendolyn was forced to heal herself and go find Thomas, thank you very much." Gwen piped up. "And at least I was there to help save him from falling on his head."
"Would someone care to tell me what is going on?" another voice demanded.
"Alex!" Gwen rushed over to him. "I'm so sorry, I can explain everything! Just wait until you hear what happened today. . ."