Ann met with Merton and Fists in her lab. She’d placed similar shields on her study, but she felt more secure here.
“You want us to guard an empty room all night?” Merton clarified.
“While Jaidu and Shay are unguarded in the catacombs?” Fists added.
“Tercala and I will be there,” Ann assured them. She had told them Shay and Jaidu would pretend to spend the night in the same room and once in there, Ann would transport them down to the catacombs instead.
“Neither of you two is soldiers,” Fists pointed out.
“I’m not the one who ended up hanging upside down,” Ann reminded him.
Fists blushed but said nothing.
“Chormi and Mikna will be there to help with potential distractions. They’re busy at the moment so they’re not here. If there’s a chance, bring them in here to tell them what’s going on. Don’t tell them elsewhere or you might be overheard.
“Once we go into the bedroom do not open either door for any reason. We won’t come back out that way. Have one of the dragons contact us telepathically if you need us.”
“Of course,” Merton agreed.
“Thailyn will be across the hall so you won’t have to go far. He can also raise an alarm.”
“Where’s Ruzi staying?” Fists asked.
“With Pt’this and Sapphire at the home.”
“It seems like everything was thought of,” Merton said.
“We thought that last night,” Ann pointed out.
“Well, hopefully, tonight will be better,” Fists said.
Ann nodded. “I’ll see you after supper.”
Remtani met with Mikna and Chormi in the potions room.
“We’re going to be guarding an empty room?” Chormi asked.
Remtani nodded. “They’ll go out the servant’s passage and down into another room. Ann will seal the door behind them. Once they go in, no one else is to enter until morning when Ann says it’s safe. Keep all doors closed.”
“Fists and Merton will be joining you. They’re currently busy at the moment. Fill them in as you’re able but keep the details private unless you come in here, or Ann’s study. She said you could use her lab, but I don’t recommend that. That place is dangerous.”
“What if there are other issues like last night?” Mikna asked.
“Jo promised to stay in her room. If something else happens, one of you goes. Pt’this will be next-door. If it’s serious and needs more than one guard, tell him and he can raise an alarm. If you need to communicate with Ann or the others, he can do that too.”
“Understood.” Chormi saluted.
“Now, I’m expected at dinner and then I’ll be keeping an eye on Kamlia. She’s going to be my wife and your future queen that you’re protecting. I don’t want a repeat of last night.”
Both saluted and went to their own dinners, which would keep them away from Fists and Merton.
Remtani met Ann on the way to the family dining hall.
“Are you sure this will work?”
“Me? This was your idea prince-general.” Ann looked innocent.
Remtani frowned. “You two are trouble.”
“Keep me out of this,” Drepal said. Remtani hated it when they were both awake. It was confusing.
“This is my pledged, my chosen we’re talking about and her mother, your grandmother.”
“It has a good chance of working,” Drepal confirmed.
“A chance?” Remtani frowned. “If you were still in Lerjao, working for Lyra, would it be an acceptable chance?”
“I would probably put one of the trolls in charge,” Drepal admitted.
“In other words, she has little faith and wants to make sure someone else took the blame,” Ann explained.
“Exactly,” Drepal agreed.
Remtani groaned. “Great.”
“But there’s no better option,” Drepal added. “Grandmother and Aunt Jaidu will be fine. My doubts lie with catching anyone who might attempt to attack. Half a success would be a failure in Lyra’s mind. Catching them would be the part I’d leave to someone else.”
“Do you really think it’s Fists or Mikna?”
“I don’t want to think that. But I don’t know how else the assassin got in. No one knew which room we were using,” Ann said.
“Let me talk to them. I can tell if they’re lying,” Drepal offered.
“Drepal, we can’t do that.”
“I said talk and I meant it, just talking, like we’re doing now. Fists is a friend. He knows what I can do. I doubt he would even try to lie to me.”
“Perhaps after the wedding,” Remtani suggested. “If this doesn’t work and we can’t get anything from the assassin.”
“I don’t want it to be him,” Drepal admitted. It was rare for her to show affection or vulnerability.
“I know. Neither do I,” Remtani assured her.
Shay, Jaidu, Ann, and Tercala, each made their way to Nim’s cave. They were joined by Mishtali, whom everyone thought was going to spend the night in Pt’this’s cave, insisting he needed to help keep an eye on his family.
While a few people approached the room being guarded, no one bothered either location they had told the guards, and no one bothered them in Nim’s cave. In the morning, they returned to Sen-gan to prepare for the wedding. Both Ann and Tercala were sent to get some sleep since they’d been up all night.
Tercala envied Ann having a mate who could keep the nightmares away. He’d had nightmares for as long as he could remember. Since Ann had also had them all her life, it was believed to be a side effect of being a white wyrm. Andy’s presence helped Ann so she could sleep in peace, but Tercala didn’t have a mate. And he didn’t know if he ever would. He struggled to relate to people here, to trust. He didn’t make friends easily.
Instead, he wore a ring that would dampen magic to keep him from casting in his sleep. Then he put on a copper collar and wristbands in case the ring failed. They were lined with silk to prevent burns but were still uncomfortable. He hated them, but they were necessary. Ann preferred lightning bolts to fight her nightmares. They could put up lightning rods to protect from those. Tercala tended towards ground quakes. Even if they could protect the palace, the city would still be at risk. So he wore the protection he’d worn since his magic started as a child. He crawled into bed and waited with dread for sleep in the nightmares to come.