PART SIX: RITES OF SUCCESSION
"They're gone," said Eya, entering Wil's room without knocking. The elder Apath was sitting on his bug-infested bed lacing up his boots.
"Reg and Bre. I checked both rooms and the common room downstairs. There's no sign of them."
"Did you talk to the innkeeper?"
Eya nodded. "He says he hasn't seen anything, but I think he's lying. I haven't trusted that man since we ame here. Always skulking around our table trying to hear what we're saying. I wouldn't be surprised if someone was paying him to spy on us."
Wil pursed his lips. "The absence of your brother and Bre could be innocent. Perhaps they went out for an early morning lovers' walk."
"That's not it. Reg knew what time we were leaving this morning and how important this is to me. He would have been back by now."
"So you think something ill has befallen him?"
Eya nodded. "What else? How better to stop an Apath than through her brother?"
"In that case," said Wil, rising to don a cloak, "We'd better get to the palace as quickly as possible."
"The palace? We have to find them!"
"And how do you propose to do that?"
"The innkeeper must know something. We can force him to talk."
"Whatever he knows - if anything - won't be much. Whoever took Bre and Reg will have made sure of that. If they are attempting to stop your taking the regency, they won't be easy to trace. They'll expect you to track them, using up time in the process. The best way to beat them is to act quickly and decisively."
"If I do that, Reg and Bre might end up dead."
"True," admitted Wil. "But the same might happen if you try to find them. Once you're in power, they might back off. As bad as it is to have an wizard after them, it will be worse to be hunted by an Apath regent."
"He's not dead yet," said Eya. "I can feel it. I would know if he had been killed."
"You have to act before they do. Keep them off balance. Don't let them get the upper hand. Once you give in to them on one point, they've won. In that case, you may never see Reg or Bre again."
"We don't know who 'they' are," said Eya.
"We can make a few shrewd guesses. Six of them, to be exact. At this point, it doesn't much matter. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough."
"You advise going to the palace?"
"I've always trusted you, Wil. Now doesn't seem to be a good time to stop. Let's go."
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