The meeting, the test, and the Council's action

"If you are not his daughter, I would have your true name." a guard a little older then Brendan said sharply as they walked in. All three of them glanced up in surprise. "My name is Arowyn." was all she said as she took her seat and waited. A man walked in, and looked at Arowyn, then at a small, miniature portrait he carried with him, then back at her. Brendan stood, waiting. "Come in. Quietly." he said, looking at Arowyn. Arowyn stood, motioning to Elysia and Brendan. "Just you." he added. "I would have my friends join me for this moment." Arowyn replied sternly. Elysia stood up defiantly as well. The three of them walked to the entrance to Lord Bennett's office.

The man, who was not accustomed to being told what was what by people like Arowyn, grabbed Elysia's arm. "You will do better then to defy my Lord's wishes." "Stop that!" Arowyn turned around, angry. Brendan drew his sword. "What is the quarrel this time, Janus?" a deep voice called from inside the room. "This one has companions, Your Lordship, and they refuse to wait outside the room." a figure slowly crossed the room. All four stepped back, Janus keeping his hold on Elysia. "Release this one." Lord Bennett ordered his assistant. Janus let go of Elysia. Arowyn stepped forward, tired of pointless formalities.

Ten minutes later, the three of them were inside Lord Bennett's private quarters, waiting for Arowyn's test to begin.  After about an hour, Lord Bennett appeared. All three of them rose, Arowyn between her friends.  "Why do you have companions? I assume you have a good reason for turning up as you do." Arowyn placed her hand on her hip. "I came to see you." was all she said. "You are with the Council, I assume." Arowyn shook her head, forcing a wily smile. "I do not have a seat on the council. I am able to be present, though." "But you were given servants?" Arowyn shook her head.

"Companions, more the like." "And a Cameron boy as well, how peculiar. Your name is Brendan, correct?" "Yes, sir." Brendan dipped his head in acknowledgment. "How do you know of me?" It was Lord Bennett who smiled this time. "Arowyn's mother knows your parents, I believe. They are council members as well, if I am correct?" "As far as I know, sir?" "Who has replaced me?" Arowyn sneered. "An ambitious young man, raised north of Kiros. I can't remember his name for bits." Arowyn held up her free hand, and glanced at her fingernails wistfully. "What else can you tell me, Arowyn? Any council members I should watch for in the streets?"

Arowyn shook her head. "What need have you of names when you were once on the council? You mean to test me, father, and you are the one failing my test. I though you were going to ask me my plans, or test me to see if I am really your daughter." Arowyn shook her head again, pretending to hide a laugh. "And yet the confidence? You tested others because you wished I was alive. Yet here I am, and you are acting like I am here on business, as if I am not real. You do not ask of my siblings, you do not ask where I was all this time. do even believe in me, your own daughter? I expected more."

Trey paced anxiously, waiting for the Protection Council to finish discussing their actions. He, Korman and Darien would say their verdict (well, Korman would to that), explain why they had gone off like that (which was Darien's job), and explain how Arowyn would get back (which, unfortunately, was Trey's job).

"Alright, my daughter, you win. Tell me everything." Arowyn smiled as her mouth launched into a frenzy, trying to tell everything at once. She spoke of her siblings, her mother, her work before the palace, and how she had lived. What she left out, she knew was crucial, even when her mouth was at full speed: that Trey was living, Reverend Martell's name, the inn, and half of the council. If she were lucky, then he wouldn't know of her mother's half-brother. "Father," she asked him suddenly. "Yes?" "Who will be ruling in place of the Virdens?" Lord Bennett shrugged. "Well, the king's sister never had any children, and Lord Gascon is cousin to them both. I am cousin to the queen. Your grandfather has a better chance then me, but if he refuses, then I am king. Then you would be a princess, my daughter. We could find a very prudent match for you, Arowyn. You could be queen of Soori! What would you say to a prospect such as this?" Arowyn looked uncertainly at her two friends.

As they stood before the council, awaiting their verdict to be confirmed, Korman looked to Landon, who winked him and went back to discussion.  Lady Cluere walked to the front of the room, which had been prepared in urgency, and faced the three boys. She turned to Korman, who looked up expectantly, and slapped him across the face. "You will be punished for this, your parents have agreed. Had you come before us, we would have been able to discuss this better." She turned to Trey. "You said Alina was in the east tunnel?" he nodded. "Then what was in the west tunnel?" "I am unsure, Lady Cluere, but whatever it was, it was the only reason Arowyn and Elysia were with us."  Lady Cluere sighed. "Alina of Alvilaid." she called, with out turning around. Alina stepped forth shyly. "Yes, My Lady."  she said quietly. "You followed them through the east tunnel to our emergency exit?" "Yes, My Lady." She turned around.

"Protection Council." she addressed the council. "From this moment on, we will be even more watchful then before. The moment my daughter returns with Elysia and Brendan, a Holding will be called."

Korman smiled and whispered the word with her.

"We are now officially at war with the Norwans."

But who was in the west corridor?

The End

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