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She shrugged.  If we succeed, I will have swords to back my words. And if we
do not, no legal niceties will make them stand. Let them be plain and clear.
Begin . . .
A grueling three-quarters of an hour of lip-biting concentration resulted in a
clean draft, which Iselle signed with a flourish and sealed with her seal
ring. Betriz, meanwhile, had finished collecting and inventorying the little
pile of coins and jewelry.
 Is that all the coin we have? asked Iselle.
 Unfortunately, yes, sighed Betriz.
 Well, he ll just have to pawn the jewelry when he gets to Valenda, or some
other safe place.
Iselle wrapped the silk around the gauds and shoved them across the table to
Cazaril.  Your purse, my lord. Daughter grant it is enough to get you there
and back.
 More than enough, if I am not cheated.
 Mind you, this is to spend, not save. You are to put on a good show as my
representative in Ibra.
Remember to dress. And Royse Bergon is to travel in a style befitting his rank
and mine, and no shame to Chalion.
 That could be tricky. I mean, without the army. I will bend my thoughts to
it. Much will depend on, well, a number of unsettled things. Which reminds me.
We must have a secure means of communication.
Dy Jironal or his spies will surely be making all efforts to intercept any
letters you receive.
 There is a very simple cipher that is nonetheless nearly impossible to break.
It depends upon having two copies of the same printing of some book. One goes
with me, one stays with you two.
Three-number sequences pick out words page number, line number, and rank in
the line which the recipient then works backward to find the word again. You
do not always use the same numberings for the same words, but find them on
another page, if you can. There are better ciphers, but there is no time to
teach them to you. I, uh . . . have not two of any book, though.
 I will find two such books before you leave tomorrow, said Betriz sturdily.
 Thank you. Cazaril rubbed his forehead. It was madness to undertake to ride,
sick and maybe bleeding, over the mountains in midwinter. He would fall off
his horse into the snows and freeze, and he and his horse and his letters of
authorization would all be eaten by the wolves.
 Iselle. My heart is willing. But my body is occupied territory, half- laid
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waste. I am afraid I will fail in the journey. My friend March dy Palliar is a
good rider and a strong sword arm. May I offer him as your envoy instead?
Iselle frowned in thought.  I think it will be a duel of wits with the Fox for
the hand of Bergon, not a duel of steel. Better to send the wits to Ibra and
keep the sword in Chalion.
Beguiling thought, to leave Iselle and Betriz not unguarded after all, but
with a strong friend to call upon . . . a friend with friends, aye.  In either
case, may I bring him into our councils tomorrow?
Iselle glanced across at Betriz; Cazaril did not see any clear signal pass
between them, but Iselle nodded decisively.  Yes. Bring him to me at the
earliest possible instant.
The royesse pulled another piece of paper toward her and picked up a fresh
quill.  Now I shall write a personal letter to the Royse Bergon, which you
shall take sealed and pass to him unopened. And after that  she sighed  the
letter to my mother. I think you cannot help me with either of these. Go get
some sleep, while you can.
Dismissed, he rose and bowed.
As he reached the door, she added softly,  I m glad it shall be you to tell
her the news, Cazaril, and not some random Chancellery courier. Though it will
be hard. She drew a deep breath and bent to the paper. The candlelight made
her amber hair glow in an aureole about her abstracted face. Cazaril left her
in the pool of light, and stepped into the darkness of the cold corridor.
stumbled out of bed and went to unlock it he found not the page with some
summons that he d expected, but Palli.
The normally neat Palli looked as though he had dressed in the dark, by guess;
his hair was bent with sleep and sticking out in odd directions. His eyes were
wide and dark. The yawning dy Gura brothers, looking sleepy but cheerful,
smiled at Cazaril from their station in the corridor as Palli shouldered [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]