"Quickly," shouted Eioth, pointing toward the side of his House. "The nearest stairs are up to the summer balcony."
Tormin ran in that direction, the other bodyguards followed, aiding Lady Halidan and roughly shoving aside any who would delay them. Eioth could see Lenneth racing after the group and nodded to himself.
Fedoran touched Eioth's shoulder briefly.
"I must attend to her, High King."
"Go. Go,” said Eioth, shifting to permit Federan to pass. “Indeed you must protect her, my friend. Silva must survive. Too much depends upon her.”
Fedoran was off at a run. Eioth turned to face the courtyard again.
"I am High King Eioth,” he shouted to the stunned guardsmen. “Hear me! No one is to raise their hand against high lady Halidan or the adept of light, Silva of the True South. Let no one speak against them, or offer them harm, for my retribution will be swift and permanent!" Turning away Eioth saw he had an audience of several High Lord's of the Synod. "That statement applies to you here gathered as well."
“Who is Silva of the True South?” asked one of the watchers and was ignored.
"High King Eioth," said Trevan, Lord of the True North. "What has happened to your staircase? Your house? How comes this?"
Eioth studied the ruined front of his house without changing expression. Actually, to call it ruined was an unjust accusation. The stone wall exposed was smooth and unmarked. The difference between this morning and now was that the wide smooth staircase, the decorations, the lintels, the crenelation's - all the dignity of the façade of his house was gone. Instead there was the half deflated white mass in the courtyard.
"It appears," said Eioth, "that the legend of this house rising from the Earth in the passage of one night is an exaggeration. However it came about, like as not, a Light magician such as Master Silva did the finishing decorations and created the grand staircase when the house was first built. What an astonishing thing!"
"Impossible," cried Veranti, the High Lord of the South West. "Impossible. This magic you speak of is wrong! Light, no! I do not believe it. All my heart and soul and hope for Unity declare that this cannot be so."
Eioth toward the front of his House, the half deflated dome and then turned to face Veranti.
“What do you reject? There it is before you.”
“That woman they brought out? You would have us believe she did magic, with light? Light? No, that cannot be.”
"And yet, when Master Silva awakens, she will prove it to you." Eioth frowned Veranti. "Whether you say it is impossible or not, you will not commit violence against her, you will not raise your hand or voice against her. This is not how I intended that Master Silva be presented to the Synod but it will have to serve. Master Silva is the single most important magician in the Empire today. The fact of the matter is simple. Her Element rises to her command! What she creates serves all the Empire! Can you say as much for any element you command?" Eioth strode off down a corridor, paused and turned back. "Veranti, remember this as well. Fedoran will kill you if you hurt his Master Silva. He will tolerate no disrespect of his wife."
"Wife!" chorused the High Lords.
"Indeed,” said Eioth, with a smile at their stunned expressions. “They were legally married not four days past and I was one of the witnesses."
"But Fedoran is half mortal already," said someone in the back of the crowd. “How can he take such a risk to his family’s magic?”
"At this time we have two effective magics,” declared Eioth, “– sex magic and light magic. Fedoran is competent with one and his chosen partner, Master Silva, with the other. Know this, keep it in your mind at all time. She is the only light magician in the Empire. Think on that fact, all of you, until the Synod gathers again."
And with that Eioth departed in search of his own Lady.
There was a mortal man, large, square of face and determinded of expression standing at the entrance of Eioth’s private wing of his House. THe man regarded Eioth and his enterage without approval. Altough his arms remained folded over his chest and there was no sign of weaponry about his person there was a distinct air of threat in his manner. Eioth slowed his pace and studied the man.
“You are Tormin, the True South senior guard. Federan told me of your invaluable aid. On behalf of the empire permit me to thank you for bringing him and Master SIlva, safely to me.”
The mortal blinked and took a half step back before making a formal obsence, but made no sound.
“COme, no formality here, friend Tormin,” said Eioth, waving the mortal to stand. “Those of us who know we must be practical and sensbile in these trying times have no time for useless formality.”
Eioth glanced about the corridor. In the usual manner of things there would be servants, but no guards within the House. It was hardly necessary in times of peace and stability. But now he was required to give house-room to those he generally regarded with suspicion - his fellow High Lords of the Synod, as well as their hangers-on and attendants. It was Haldian’s decision to bring in the guards while he lay insensible and clever of her to to so. But now, with the attempt on her life, and the life of the very valuable Master Silva, the need was greater.
“Of your kindness, friend Tormin, meet with Lady Regent Halidan’s bodyguard. The four of you should share the responsibility of guarding this door.”
Tormin’s mouth worked then he coughed, covering his face with both hands and nodded. “My honor,” he finally managed to gasp out.
“My thanks,” said Eioth. He stepped toward the door that Tormin hastened to open then paused and stepped back and added with a smile, “I leave it to the four of you to arrange the schedule as seems right to you all, and advise you not to permit Cris Dracolan to bully you.”
And leaving the majority of his guard behind Eioth entered his private chambers.
The rooms assigned to Federan and Silva were nearest to the entrance of this wing. On their arrival Eioth’s only thought was to have them near at hand to question regarding the state of the empire, to explore Master Silva’s astonishing magic. It had not occurred to him that Silva would need as much, or more, protection than the High King himself.
Eioth was not surprised to find Halidan supervising the care of Master Silva. Nor was he surprise to find all three of her personal body guard clustered about her. The Water Priest, Lenneth, rose as Eioth entered and guestured toward a small mortal woman, currently bent over a small pot of steaming water.
Eioth waved the guards from the room, accepting that they all looked to Halidan for consent before obeying.
“May I present Ionia tor Diath, High King?” said Lenneth, rising. “She is one of the herb-women Lady Halidan has employed to prepare your headache medicine. She also cares for the refugee families.”
The woman rose but before she could attempt any form of obeisance Eioth waved her back to her task.
“My thanks tor Ionia. What you medication lacks in taste it more than makes recompense with effectiveness.”
“The other members of the synod are less tolerant,” said Halidan, with a slight smile for the herb-woman. “Poor Ionia recieves complaints daily, particularly since she has proven that putting the medication in wine decreases its effectiveness.”
“Continue your good work despite their complaints, tor Ionia,” said Eioth turning his attention to the still, pale, mortal barely breathing under the weight of her blankets. “And, if you will, assure me of Master Silva’s return to health.”
The herb-woman glanced first to Lenneth, then to Halidan before moving to SIlva’s beside and beginning a gentle examination.
Fedoran stood clutching the bedstead and did not take his eyes from Silva's unmoving form.
Eioth came to stand behind his wife and slipped his arms around her resting his chin on his shoulder.
"My dear one,” whispered Eioth into Halidan’s ear, and smiled when she shivered at that puff of warm air. “I am so pleased you are alive."
Halidan smiled, pressed her body back against his and patted his hands where they rested over their child-to-come. "High King, I do not doubt that."
"Tell me what happened."
"We were escorted to the execution grounds by one of the archivist's assistants. He instructed the execution squad to fire, claiming that mortals who do magic are under sentence of death. It troubles me that the guards, our guards, were so quick to act with no proof of your approval or any other authority than the archivist’s declaration." Halidan hesitated, pressing a hand to her abdomen. “To slay me! Do they truly hate me? Have they secretly hated that I am your regent? I was not aware.”
Lenneth and the herb healer both glanced across the room but said nothing. Eioth tightened his embrace.
“I have heard no rumors hating you, Halidan. I came as a surprise to me, also.” He considered. “There was some muttering amongst the High Lords in general but nothing of significance. But the guards, our guards, that I did not hear.”
“I shall ask my bodyguards to investigate,” said Halidan, then continued. "Before the archers could fire Silva pointed at your house and the façade seemed to turn to liquid and flowed towards us, cresting like a wave up and over our heads and we could see nothing. The dome shaped itself as she directed. It looked so fragile and yet when the arrows fell it was strong enough to deflect them."
"Strong, yes," said Fedoran. "Strong enough to support people fleeing for their lives when informed into a bridge. Unyielding, light and watertight when formed into a canoe. I am yet to see its limit. Except," he paused to walk around the bed and take up Silva's hand. "I worry for Silva’s strength. I have been watching her fade these last weeks. When first we met she was strong, sturdy. These weeks of poor food and little rest, and endless magical demands, I hope this sleep is little more than exhaustion for I fear magic is stealing her away."