The ward of castoria, p.20
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.20

           Robin Silverglate


  Around noon on Saturday, Dane was surprised to see Bryn step outside her front door and head down the street. He swapped looks with Beckwyn who just shrugged and then continued to watch the Thorner house. Dane quietly followed Bryn from as far a distance as he could while still keeping track of her. He kept his senses open for any sign of a creature hiding along her path. After about ten minutes, he stopped when he saw Bryn go into a public library. Dane found a bench across the street that gave him a clear field of vision of the building. He sat and continued to watch for any sign of danger.

  Dane’s eyes were immediately drawn to the sight of Castien moving purposefully down the street toward him. The frown on Castien’s face was even more pronounced and did not make Dane anxious to hear what his fellow Protector had to say. Castien sat next to Dane on the bench and said, “Tetari sent me.”

  Dane was relieved Yara wasn’t insisting on his return again. “What’s wrong?”

  “Tetari believes the attack on the father or the daughter will be soon. And she wants me to remind you there will be very little warning to protect them.”

  “Don’t worry,” Dane said while looking around the library. “I have a close eye on her.”

  With an even more determined look in his eyes, Castien said, “I think you should go inside the library. It would be safer for the Ward if you were nearby.”

  Dane was used to Castien’s over-protective tendencies when it came to Wards. He wouldn’t be surprised if Castien went into the library himself in order to make sure Bryn was safe. “All right, I’ll go in there. Can you stop by the Thorner’s house and let Beckwyn know he should probably find some excuse to stay close to James?”

  “I’ll tell him.” Castien appeared to be relieved, yet he still did not move.

  Dane asked, “Is there something else you need to tell me?”

  “Yes. Tetari wants you to know she had a vision of a possible attack.”

  “Can’t you handle it?” Castien was perfectly capable of protecting a Ward. In fact, it was originally his idea to start the Vanguard.

  “It’s not an attack in the Reflection,” Castien said in a tone barely containing his annoyance. “Tetari sees the eldest son of Takaron in Castoria and he does not appear to be a mere visitor. She thinks he is trying to take something by force.”

  This was definitely disturbing news. “Did she see what he is after,” Dane asked worriedly.

  “Tetari’s vision is not clear in that regard.”

  That was unhelpful. “Does she have any idea when he will be in Castoria?”

  “No. Although, she thinks you have some time.”

  Clearly, Dane was going to have to speak with Tetari in person. Once he completed his assignment with Bryn, then he would go straight to her. He would also have to consult with Aubric, the Head Guard of Castoria. However, it would be foolish of him not to take some precautionary measures immediately. “I am unable to leave right now. Do me a favor and tell Aubric I want him to double the guards and I would also like a report on what is happening on the borderlands. Would you be able to relay his information back to me as soon as possible?”

  Castien nodded and said, “As long as I haven’t been assigned a Ward, I will come back and let you know what Aubric says.”

  “Thank you, Castien.”

  Castien left to go find Beckwyn while Dane headed into the library. His mind was now consumed with two issues and he took a moment to get control over them. He told himself there was nothing more he could do to protect Castoria at this point, yet there was everything he could do to protect Bryn. She was his first priority.

  He found her reading a book at a table in the back of the library. He sat down in the open chair next to her and whispered, “Hi.”

  At first Bryn seemed surprised to see him, but then she quietly asked, “Are you working on the European History paper, too?”

  Dane silently thanked her for giving him an excuse to be here. Her father had assigned his students to choose a famous person from the Renaissance and write a brief paper about his or her accomplishments. “Yes, but I assumed you would be working at home. After all, you do have an expert on European history living with you.” Maybe that would convince her to go back home where she would be safer.

  Bryn smiled and said, “I know. But I find it easier to work on my history projects and papers by myself. My dad always wants to help on the history stuff and it ends up with him basically telling me what to do because he claims he knows exactly what needs to get done. I already worry that people think Dad gives me high grades because I am his daughter. So, I come here to the library to avoid his interference and any unnecessary gossip.”

  “Anyone who has a class with you would never think you got special favors from your dad to get your high grades. You are definitely smart enough to earn them,” Dane said sincerely.

  Bryn blushed a bit, which told him she was pleased with the compliment. An awkward lull in their conversation happened in the already quiet library. Finally, she asked, “Which Renaissance person is your paper on?”

  “Uh… I picked Machiavelli. He was the only name I recognized.”

  Bryn squinted her eyes at him. It was clear she was ready to bring up their old argument. Dane decided to avoid that subject and asked, “Who are you writing about?”

  Bryn held up the book that she was reading where he saw a picture of a stern looking woman on the cover. “Catherine de Medici.”

  “I don’t remember your dad teaching about her,” said Dane. “Why is she famous?”

  “I don’t think you were in class yet when he talked about her,” Bryn said as she shook her head. “Catherine de Medici was probably the most powerful woman during the Renaissance. She was a member of the wealthy Medici family and was married off to the king of France. She had many children with him, but basically had to deal with the fact that her husband had mistresses he preferred over her. When the king died, her son was still young, so she ruled in his stead. When her son died young, her next son became king and she continued to rule. He died young, as well, so another son became king. Catherine, of course, continued to rule. Even though she was never an official leader, she basically controlled France for years. I think she enjoyed all that power and had a hard time giving it up when her children got older.”

  “Wouldn’t you want wealth and power if you were given the opportunity?”

  Bryn sat back in her chair and thought for a moment. “I don’t think I would. I have no desire to become president or anything like that. I just want to be a doctor.”

  “But having all that power would mean that you could help more people,” said Dane earnestly. “And you said, the whole reason why you want to become a doctor is to help people. You would be doing the same thing, just on a grander scale.”

  “Good point,” said Bryn. “But I am not ambitious like Catherine de Medici. All I want is to do well in college and medical school so I can become a good doctor. What about you? Would you want wealth and power if you were given the opportunity?”

  “Of course I would,” said Dane in all honesty. “Powerful people have the opportunity to benefit society and wealth gives them the means to do so.”

  “Don’t you think power and wealth can lead to corruption instead of altruism?” Bryn asked. She had the argumentative sparkle in her eyes that he had come to love.

  “In some people,” Dane replied excitedly. “However, I would… I would hope… if I had that kind of power, I would use it to help others.” An elderly man sitting nearby made a loud shushing sound. It reminded Dane that he needed to be paying more attention to his duty even though he would rather continue talking to Bryn. If he stayed at this table, he would be too tempted to talk to her. He lowered his voice and said, “I should probably work on my paper. I’m going to go find some books on Machiavelli.”

  “All right,” whispered Bryn.

  Dane stood up from the table a
nd Bryn went back to reading her book. He found a nearby isle from which to watch Bryn. Periodically, he would pick up a book and pretend to read. During the next half hour, he watched Bryn finish writing her paper and then pack up to leave. She stood up and stretched. Then, she caught Dane staring at her and waved goodbye to him. His heart leapt at her simple gesture. He suppressed a smile, yet did allow himself to wave back.

  She left the library and Dane was relieved to see her head back in the direction of her house. He followed her home and kept a vigilant watch for dangerous creatures. Thankfully, he did not see any, for if he did, that would mean it would be time for him to leave the Reflection and Bryn.
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