In these six paragraphs, the hidden enemy enters.
~ * ~
Kedriq had returned. Although the news of his return had not yet circulated, Imyne felt sure his return would soon buzz through the maze.
Her steps glided in unhurried grace through the austere dark and empty halls of the Assembly House. She kept her countenance unworried despite this late night’s summoning to the Cabinet Chamber. The ends of her cloak flapped behind her. She didn’t tug the lapels together even for the comfort of conserving warmth, aware, even in her deep thought, of outward appearances.
Things fell out much to her wishing. She knew Governor Vitann upset and angered at the careless and indiscreet revelation on the maze. The disclosure abused Talent protocol, but many knew of Kedriq’s departure, so whom could Vitann blame? The governor’s probes discovered no culprits. With the information being passed mind to mind throughout the Talent community nearly insured their continued failure. Vitann was just lucky the revelation was not of some more important state secret. Imyne smiled.
The unheard-of secret journey had engrossed the mental links months ago, but the resulting rumors continued, growing alarming in their portent. Some claimed the action would kill the remaining squad members, then all the Talents tied to Brenna’s squad. Others, more pernicious, charged the governor’s collusion to open Cygna to a Kaereyan invasion. And didn’t both accusations reap Governor Vitann denunciation among Cygna’s Talents?
A Talent bonded to a squad never separated from them, and Governor Vitann ignored that custom at her own peril. The governor’s insistence on Kedriq for this journey surprised many and many believed it would cause his death and the death of Brenna’s squad. It was true Brenna and her squad had been ineffective of late, but Brenna, always obtuse to any fault, claimed her squad performed more than competently without Kedriq’s inept participation. To most, it only proved inherent blindness in Brenna’s attitude. To Imyne it confirmed Vitann’s disregard of Cygnese tradition.
Imyne’s status as leader of the Adepts’ Council insured the guards’ courtesy in opening the doors for her as she traveled the dark corridors of the Assembly House. She imagined anyone serving during the lulling night shifts found any diversion, any labor, welcome. No spoken word disturbed her wandering thoughts. Only the whisper of her gown brushing the granite floor and the faint pad of her slippers accompanied her introspection. Her soft sounds of movement were occasionally broken by the clank of guards’ weapons, the echoing staccato tap of boot heels on stone floors and the soft clink of well-oiled door latches opened in the dark silent surround. The clarity of sound predicted an impending storm moving toward Sidih.