Chapter 25

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Leaving Erin at the house to rest, Ted and Faith rushed to sanctuary. Upon arriving, midmorning just hours away, Ted called his temple assistants to his office. The young men and women, trained Oathtakers all, stood at attention.

Ted cleared his throat. He paced. His eyes betrayed his concern. "Thank you," he said, "for your regular and consistent efforts on behalf of sanctuary. I commend you all for your fine work." He took a deep breath. "I have a serious assignment for each of you—that is, for all of you. I believe the people of Polesk are in grave danger."

The young men and women remained at attention.

"I have much to explain to you, but for now, I must send you all out on a mission. Time is of the essence, so I ask that you follow through with my request with great haste. I know there's no way we'll see it through to a full and satisfactory result, but we must do what we can."

He focused on each Oathtaker for a few seconds before turning his gaze to the next. "As you may have heard, Lilith of the first family is on her way to Polesk. Sources tell us that she intends to hold an event in the town square just short of midday today.

"What I'm about to tell you may seem contrary to your understanding of the Select and of our duties to the first family. Rest assured, I don't take my responsibilities to them, nor to any of you, lightly."

The young men and women stole glances at one another.

"I'm not asking you to do anything directly contrary to the Select," Ted said as though having read their thoughts.

Heads nodded, eyes squinted, as the young people watched on.

"I have good reason to believe that Lilith is acting contrary to the interests of the people of Oosa."

The young Oathtakers became visibly agitated. Feet shuffled, heads tilted, and eyes narrowed.

"But whether or not I'm correct, I've decided that there are things we must do for the safety of the people at large. If I'm right in my expectations, you'll all know before the day is out. If I'm wrong—and I sincerely hope I am—there will have been no harm to the Select, to sanctuary, to the people of Oosa, or to you as Oathtakers."

The young men and women visibly relaxed.

"I have reason to believe the infant daughters of Oosa are in grave danger. Therefore, I'm sending you all out to bring every person you possibly can who has an infant daughter, back here to sanctuary with her child." Ted could see the questions on the faces of his audience. "Jack, you have a question."

"How old do you want the children to be?"

"Let's say . . . any infant girl too young to speak."

"We're to bring them here?" a young woman asked.

"Yes, Sarah, if possible."

"But there are hundreds. Perhaps thousands!" someone exclaimed.

Ted nodded. "That's right, Faye. I can only ask you to bring all those you are able."

"But all the city is in an uproar over Lilith's coming visit," another young man reasoned.

"Yes, I'm aware of that. We can't force the people to bring their daughters here, and I'm sorry, but we also can't say why we want them to do so."

"Excuse me, sir?" a young man interrupted.

"Yes, Ben."

"You said that you wanted us to act quickly. Shouldn't we know what this is all about?"

"I'm sorry, Ben, but the entire city could be in turmoil if my concerns are shared and I want to avoid spreading fear. So this is the plan. Begin with any Select of which you're aware. Once done, move on to the families of members of sanctuary." Ted shook his head. "I don't like to have to do things in this manner, but we have to have a plan of action and this is the one I've decided upon."

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