Faintly Anomen heard his name being called. He slowly opened his eyes and saw that he was still sprawled on the floor. To his side he could see Donalus leaning over him. “Anomen? Can you hear me?”
“Surayah?” he whispered.
“Safe. Lie still so I can examine your wounds, lad. I’ve healed you enough to get you out of mortal danger, but I need to see how deep the blade went.”
“Chest. Hit bone.”
Surayah knelt by him and took his hand. She held it to her cheek, gripping it fiercely. She said nothing but he could feel the tears on her skin.
“Son, I am going to leave your injuries partly unhealed. The city guard will need to see them. When they have witnessed your wounds, I will complete the healing.”
After the older priest did what he could to ease the younger man’s pain, Anomen shakily pulled himself to his feet. He nearly lost his already unstable footing when he saw Yusef sprawled upon the floor. Two small daggers were buried in his throat.
He turned wide eyes to his wife. “You?”
“Yes.” She lifted her chin defiantly. “He made me practice every day so I could defend myself against the ‘fiendish Delryns’. He should have remembered that I grew very skilled.”
“Dearest, do you always wear throwing knives in your hair?”
“If I am careful, they make very nice hairpins.” Her courageous mask dissolved as her lips began to tremble. “Anomen…” she whispered.
He pulled his wife into his arms and held her as she sobbed, her face buried against his chest. “Beloved, I am so sorry,” he murmured.
Voices drifted in from the training room as Oisig led several guardsmen into the changing room. He recognized one from when he adventured with Tendel, and the man seemed to know him as well. With narrowed eyes the man said, “I am Lieutenant Aegisfield. What happened here?”
As he held his trembling wife close, Anomen said, “That man is my wife’s brother. He came here to kill me.”
“He sought revenge for our marriage. He had arranged for her to wed a business partner, and we eloped before that could come to pass.”
The lieutenant said dryly, “I remember investigating this lady’s death quite some time ago. Was that wedding voluntary?”
“It was,” Donalus said flatly. “I led their vows myself.”
“As I recall the details of that case, you,” he said with a sharp nod towards Anomen, “killed their father and this young lady. I heard rumors of the two of you running away together but did not credit any truth to it.”
“I know it seems a fantastic tale,” Anomen said in a low voice, “and perhaps later we can discuss it. But for now, may I please take my wife away from here? She is most upset.”
“Yes. You can go into the next room.”
Accompanied by Sir Donalus they left the changing room. A small crowd of people had gathered in the training room, and Oisig was vigorously shooing them out into the corridor beyond. But some, including several of his students, refused to budge until they saw that Anomen was alive.
As he settled his wife onto a bench, Anomen was grateful to see Kirian enter the room carrying a large cup of hot tea that she brought straight to Surayah. “Thank you, that is just the thing. Could you also bring a blanket?”
“Of course, Watcher Anomen.”
Kirian returned with two blankets. He gave her a smile and nod as he draped one around his shoulders. He wrapped his wife in the second and put his arm around her as she drank the tea. When she was done Surayah rested her head on his shoulder. Oisig came to join them and spoke to Donalus in a low voice.
In time the lieutenant came into the room. “Can I see your injuries?”
“Of course.” Anomen stood and lowered the blanket, showing him the wounds upon his back. Donalus described how they had appeared when he first found the younger man, then cast another spell to completely heal the gashes.
Aegisfield gestured for him to retake his seat. “Now, please tell me what happened.”
“We were talking of the day’s events when Yusef came into the room and threatened me,” Anomen said. “We did our best to calm him and to convince him that we wanted to restore goodwill between brother and sister. But he would not listen.”
Surayah nodded tearfully. “No matter what we said, he only grew angrier. When I told him that I had married Anomen because I loved him, Yusef was furious.” She tried to compose herself.
“And you ran from him?” Aegisfield said, looking at Anomen with a raised eyebrow.
“Your injuries are on your back.”
“He became enraged at Surayah. I was attempting to shield her.”
“He stabbed me. I felt two strikes before falling unconscious. I do not know if there were more.”
“There were only the two,” Donalus said.
The guardsman frowned. “Then who killed him?”
“I did,” Surayah said in a small voice.
For the first time, Aegisfield looked unsure of himself. “You? Not your husband?”
“When I still lived with my brother he had me trained in the use of throwing knives to defend myself.” Surayah’s eyes filled with tears once more as she looked at Anomen. “He… he seemed to have forgotten me. Yusef was ranting that he was going to hack you to pieces and you were lying on the floor bleeding and all I could think was that I had to make him stop.” She buried her face in his shoulder.
He held her close and kissed her hair. “Do not blame yourself, dearest. I should have used a spell to subdue him when he first entered the room, but I had so hoped we could reason with him. That if he saw how happy you were, he would desist. The blame should fall on me.”
“I should never have told him about Father. He might have listened if I had not been so foolish.” Anomen felt Surayah stiffen as she realized what she had said before the others.
Oisig and Aegisfield said in unison, “Father?” The guardsmen gave the High Priest a questioning look, but Oisig only gestured for Aegisfield to continue.
“Your father? I can understand your brother being upset that you married your father’s killer, but what could you have said to anger him further?”
Surayah gave Anomen a pleading look. “Must I tell them?”
“I am afraid so. I know it will pain you, but it is necessary.”
She gave the lieutenant a fearful glance and said, “I heard my Father order some of our family guards to kill Moira Delryn.”
For the second time that revelation brought shocked silence. Finally Oisig cleared his throat and said, “Why did you not tell someone before now?”
“I was younger then, and did not understand what they were talking about since they used no names. But Father spoke of wanting to… to ‘make sure that bastard died alone’. That he would rather take care of the heir first, but he was traveling and too hard to find at that time. That the girl would have to do for now, and it might lure the son home. It was not until Anomen spoke to me of traveling with Tendel a great deal just before his sister’s death that I realized what our Father had been ordering those two men to do.”
Aegisfield gave her a speculative look. “And when did you have this… revelation?”
“A few weeks before our marriage.”
“And… and you did not tell me?” Anomen said, trying but not completely succeeding in keeping the quaver from his voice.
She turned to face her husband, tears in her eyes. “I said nothing because I was afraid you would not marry the daughter of Moira’s killer. That you could never love me if you knew.”
Her eyes begged him for reassurance, and although his stomach was clenched in a tight ball, he took her hands. “Surayah, we will discuss this in more detail when we are in private, but know that whatever I might have felt then, I love you now and this will not change that.”
Several guardsmen emerged from the changing room bearing a blanket wrapped bundle. Surayah stared at what was obviously her brother’s body, and tears began to run down her face again. “Poor Yusef.” Then a light came into her eyes as she turned to her husband. “Anomen, you…one of you could return him to life, could you not? I know it is asking much of you after he tried to kill you, but… please?”
Anomen winced and exchanged a pained look with the other men. Surayah saw their uncomfortable expressions and said, “What is wrong?”
High Watcher Oisig said gently, “Anomen does not yet have that ability, but even so it is against Amnian law to bring violent criminals back from the dead. The law was enacted to punish accomplices who tried to reverse the courts’ judgments.”
“In a case such as this,” Lieutenant Aegisfield said, “Yusef could only be revived if he was the victim, not the instigator. Are you confessing to murdering your brother?”
“No! I would never… I had to protect…” Surayah bowed her head in sorrow. “I understand.”
The lieutenant gave her a somber nod. “There are still many things I need to clear up, but it seems apparent what happened here today. And the magistrate will be pleased to know that the murder of Moira Delryn has been solved. It is a shame that after so many years it is doubtful that we will catch up to those two guards.”
Surayah said, “I suppose that depends on if Yusef brought them to Athkatla with him.”
“Wait… those two men are still in your family’s employ?”
“Yes. When Father was killed, they were among the few who stayed loyal and tried to defend the house from Lord Cor’s looters, and were terribly injured. When Yusef came out of hiding and reclaimed our home, he rehired them.”
Anomen stared at his wife. “Do you mean to say that when I came to your home, Moira’s murderers were in the same house?”