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Wrede, Patricia C - Mairelon 02 (27 page)

BOOK: Wrede, Patricia C - Mairelon 02
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"You
took a terrible chance, taking Richard's place in the spell like that,"
Lady Wendall said. "Without
preparation,
and barely
a year into your apprenticeship--the possible consequences don't bear thinking
of."

           
"Well,
it worked," Kim said practically as Mairelon's arm tightened around her
once again. "And there wasn't time for anything else." She looked at
Mairelon. "I'm just glad you didn't give me any real argument about
getting out of the diagram."

           
Mairelon
shrugged. "You'd obviously found out something new, and equally obviously
thought it was urgent enough to interrupt. I trusted your judgment--though I
might not have if I'd known you intended to take my place in the star!"

           
"Just
as well you didn't, then," Kim said gruffly. Nobody had ever trusted her
like that before . . . but then, Mairelon wasn't like anybody else.

           
"It
certainly is," Lord Shoreham agreed. "We owe you rather a lot, Miss
Merrill."

           
Kim's
face grew hot, and she shook her head, unable to find words.

           
"Yes,
of course," Lord Kerring said. "But now let's have a look at this
Mannering fellow. I confess to a certain curiosity, after all the trouble he's
caused." From the expression on his face, Lord Kerring expected his
curiosity to be satisfied, one way or another, and he didn't much care what
happened to Mannering in the process.

           
"Yes,"
said Renee. "That seems to me a most excellent idea."

           
But when
the gag was removed from Mannering's mouth, it quickly became clear that he was
wandering mentally in some other realm, where he ruled all wizards with an
absolute power and even the King asked for his advice and help. After several
fruitless efforts to get something sensible out of him, it was agreed that Lord
Kerring and Lord Shoreham would convey him to the Royal College of Wizards,
where Lord Shoreham could see that he was properly guarded while Lord Kerring
and the duchesse studied the spell that linked him to Mairelon and the other
wizards, in hopes of finding a way to undo it.

           
For the
next two days, Mairelon paced the floor, waiting for news. Only the duchesse's
strict instruction that he was not to interrupt--and the determined efforts of
Lady Wendall and Kim--kept him at home. On the third day, Lord Kerring arrived
without warning and carried Mairelon off, leaving Kim to be the one pacing and
fretting.

           
But when
Mairelon returned two hours later, it was plain from his expression that the
duchesse and Kerring had succeeded in their efforts to return his magic, even
before he bounded up the stairs and swung Kim off her feet in his exuberance.

           
"Put
me down!" Kim said, grinning in spite of herself. "You want to break
both our necks?"

           
"Nonsense!"
Mairelon said, but he set her on her
feet.

           
"I
take it everything worked fine?" Kim asked
,
just
to make him say it straight out.

           
"Perfectly,"
Mairelon assured her, and to prove it, he muttered a rapid phrase and made a
string of bobbing fairy lights appear and circle their heads briefly.

           
"Good!"
Kim said. She hesitated, then added, "What about Jemmy and Wags and the
others? Are they going to be . . . all right, too?"

           
Mairelon's
expression sobered. "Probably, but it will be a tricky business seeing to
it. Kerring's been comparing Mannering's spell to a pile of jackstraws; they
have to take it apart in exactly the right order, or the whole thing will
collapse and damage everyone involved."

           
"How
much time do they have to do the taking apart?"

           
"No
more than a few weeks; if it isn't done by then, the spell will get so unstable
that it will collapse anyway." Mairelon's expression was grim.
"Shoreham is trying to round up as many of the rookery magicians as
possible--dismantling the spell will be quicker and easier if they are present,
and we don't want any more like Ma Yanger if we can help it."

           
Kim
nodded soberly. Shoreham's men had found Ma the day before, in a back room at
one of Mannering's warehouses. After a careful examination, all of the wizards
had agreed that returning her magic to her would do nothing to restore her
mind, nor were there other methods that might help her. Shoreham had set one of
his men to arranging for her care; the costs would come out of Mannering's
property.

           
"Shoreham
will be by later this evening to see you," Mairelon added, studying his
hands with an innocent air.

           
"To see me?"
Kim looked at him suspiciously.
"What for?"

           
"I
believe he wants to offer you a job, of sorts."

           
"What
sorts?"

           
"Much
the same as the one I've been doing from time to time," Mairelon replied.
"He, er, admires your initiative. And this is the second time you've
gotten mixed up in some of his doings; I believe he'd be more comfortable if it
were official."

           
Kim
snorted. "That business with the Saltash Set was your doings, not
Shoreham's, and so was this."

           
"Yes,
well, Shoreham doesn't see it that way. But you needn't agree, if you'd rather
not."

           
Kim
paused, considering. "It sounds a lot more interesting than balls and teas
and morning calls." Another thought struck her, and she looked at
Mairelon. "Am I done with those, now that we're engaged?"

           
"The
Season's only half over," Mairelon said. "But I suppose that if you'd
really rather not--"

           
"Good!"
Kim said emphatically. "Let's go tell your mother, quick, before she
finishes that note she's writing to Renee D'Auber about going shopping
tomorrow."

           
Mairelon
looked suddenly wary. "I, er, believe she has something else in
mind."

           
"No,
she said I needed more gowns." Kim shook her head. "I have a wardrobe
full of gowns already, what do I need more for?"

           
Mairelon
pursed his lips and said nothing.

           
"
Mairelon. . . .
"

           
"Well,"
he said in an apologetic tone, though his eyes were dancing, "we
are
getting married, you know."

           
"Oh,
Lord," Kim said, appalled.
"Bride-clothes!
I'll be stuck at the dressmaker's
forever!
"

           
"Better
you than me," said her unsympathetic bridegroom, and offered her his arm
to escort her down to dinner.

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