Within three minutes, Seymour found himself outside the dining hall, walking briskly with both Alasdair and Mialina MacQuarrie through a drafty, torch-lit corridor.
“I need you to tell me,” the Alt-Mage ordered in a low growl, “exactly what happened and why.”
“I can’t do that,” Seymour informed him through clenched teeth. “I can tell you the end result, but little more than that.”
“And why not? What do you stand to lose?”
“More than you can possibly imagine, mage. Either I tell you on my own terms, or I tell you nothing at all.”
MacQuarrie caught him by the shoulder and jerked him around to face him. “You listen to me, Aechyed. You are my guest, and in my house, I, not you, set the rules. You will tell me everything. Willingly or unwillingly, you certainly will tell me. I have ways of dragging the truth from a person, and none of them are particularly pleasant. Do you understand me?”
Seymour shook off the hand and glared at its owner. “Do I look like an idiot?”
“No, but you’re acting like one.”
“Am I? Since when has the act of self-preservation been considered idiocy?” He drew in a sharp breath and braced himself against the wall, trying and failing to blink back tears. What was with all this emotional nonsense recently? He had cried more often during the course of the past week than he had in the preceding five years. “I don’t think you understand, sir. If I tell you, I put my life into your hands. And I don’t want to do that. You’re a good man, and I’m fairly certain you would show me mercy, but I…I don’t think giving my existence over to your judgment would be beneficial to either of us.”
Mialina put a hand on her husband’s arm. “Let us move on, d’tharlink. It is better dzat vay, no?”
Alasdair sighed and drew back. “Very well. Just tell us what happened to Henry, no need to go into motives or details. Agreed?”
Seymour nodded and sniffed, drying his eyes with the heels of his hands. “Agreed.” He was silent a moment then, trying to wrap his tongue around the correct words, eventually settling for, “I—I think he’s gone mad. That’s what it seemed to me, at least.”
“Vhat d’thid he d’tho?” Mialina asked quietly.
“He, well…he drew his sword against Seoc, put it right up against his throat…and…and he told…he said…no…he…he made him listen to…to how Owen died…about a cannibal in a cell, and how the guards just watched, and he had this…this maniacal glint in his eye, and a terrible leer on his face, somewhere between a snarl and a-a…a grin…I don’t…I don’t know how to describe it, all I could think was that he was either drugged or had had some sort of schizophrenic break or something…I…I-I…I…”
But he had nothing more to say, really, so he just trailed off, feeling as if he hadn’t done the situation justice and wondering if the MacQuarries had even managed to make out most of what he had said.
Silence reigned for a minute or so, disturbed only by the sounds of laughter from the dining hall and the chants of the mob outside the gates. Everything seemed very cold, very dark, and very still, as if waiting in rapt attention.
Alasdair was the first to speak. “He threatened Seoc? Did Seoc knowingly provoke him?”
“No…He was…he was just there, hadn’t even said anything.”
“Do you have any idea where Henry went?”
Seymour shook his head miserably. “He ran off down the corridor, then down the stairs, I guess. I heard his feet clattering on the steps. Seoc and I went down a few moments later and there was no sign of him, though I didn’t look very thoroughly.” He had been more concerned with finding the nearest exit through which he might bundle Seoc before the young man could decorate the floor with his semi-digested lunch. “I’m sure I could track him down, though. I’m a detective, after all.”
“No, that shouldn’t be necessary. I’ll just ask the staff to search the castle and grounds for him. He couldn’t have left, not with that horde at the gate.”