“Um-hm,” Flagon cleared his throat and stood up in what Denae privately termed his ‘assuming-command’ pose. “Yes, well, madam, speaking of the academy, I think we should assess what were our enemy’s expectation and intents here and perhaps that would provide us greater ability to determine his identity.”
His officious attitude was punctured somewhat by Aunt Lott’s nodding encouragingly, “Yes, that’s very good dear,” in the same tone used to Kole when he was saying his letters, “but, of course it was Ravidan. As for the rest of it, though, that is a very good idea, so maybe we should just start with Ravidan and work backwards with your plan. Yes, I think that will work very nicely.”
She settled back in her chair and waited for the platoon leader to continue.
“Well, uh-hm, madam, uh-hm,” stammered Flagon, finally coming out with, “How do you know it was this Ravidan? You see,” he added self-righteously, “we were taught at the academy never to judge without evidence.”
He was startled by a high-pitched laugh that seemed to come from a green-glowing bottle on a shelf near the ceiling. In the bottle next to it, a blue shape seemed to be moving. He would have sworn they were laughing and talking about him. Flagon rubbed his eyes and stared at them. Now they seemed just like two brightly-colored bottles.
The witch herself made no comment but merely continued rocking for a while. Finally she answered him, ticking the points off on her fingers as she spoke.
“The evidence is this. One, someone tried to kill me by magical means. Now, who would want to kill me? I get along well with most magical folk, it’s the non-magic witch-burning type that usually seem to want to kill me, through no fault of my own. I once told Azura that she was a self-important windbag, but she just sniffed and tossed her silly veils at me. So, I would say, two, the most likely magical person to commit murder would be the one who recently cut off one wizard’s hands, burned another’s apprentices and tried to have demons kill a third. Three, that would be Ravidan. So, there it is then.”
She sat up, brushing off her immaculately clean skirt that she had just put on, and held out her arms to Kole who, having napped through all of the excitement, was just waking up. The little boy looked at Bron in wide-eyed curiosity and asked, “Is he going to have a baby?”
Lott laughed, “No, love, he is just not feeling well today. Let’s get you some juice and crackers, shall we.”
By the time Aunt Lott had returned from settling the little one with his snack and toy animals, the platoon leader was pacing the floor. Denae was sound asleep in her chair in front of the fire, snoring softly.
“So, what have you figured out?” the witch asked, setting herself comfortably back into her rocker.
“Why would this wizard want to kill you?” burst out Flagon.
“Because he is a madman bent on taking over the world,” Lott answered calmly, then smiled at his annoyed expression, “Believe me young man, I take this threat quite as seriously as you do, perhaps more so. After all, I am the one Ravidan deliberately set out to kill, you merely happened to be in the neighborhood. However, I don’t believe jumping up and down and waving a sword is going to help any. And if you keep it up, those imps are going to roll around laughing so hard, they will knock those bottles off the shelf and break, which would quite disturb my plans, since I am not ready to use them yet.”
Flagon jumped, quite startled, and he could see that there were definitely human-like, or imp-like, shapes in the bottles, and they were plainly holding their sides and rolling around laughing. He slumped back in his chair sulking for a while. Aunt Lott merely drank her tea, looked speculative and rocked.
Finally, she explained gently, “It’s like this, dear. Ravidan did not just want me dead.”
Denae opened one eye, as it seemed something interesting might be about to be said.