Chapter 8

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Chapter 8 

In which arrangements are made...

When Arna and Soryn returned from Fanndis’ cabin, they spent a while in Ulla’s study to let him know they had found the old snow woman. He asked how the meeting had gone and they replied that they would be returning during the afternoon. After spending nearly an hour or so with the pig, they returned to the tower room above. During their lunch, they discussed their surprise at Fanndis’ mention of Soryn’s mother. They also talked about their interest in the cottage and how comfortable they felt there.

“I wonder if she’ll really teach us the Seidh,” Arna mused, during their meal.

“I don’t know. Maybe she’ll tell us more about the night of the fire,” Soryn whispered.

Arna shivered in the drafty room. They had not had time to make a fire when they arrived. Sitting quietly for a little while, they were startled when Ulla’s voice seeped into their minds.

I think you may want to stop eating. You have two visitors coming down the hallway…

Ulla said no more and Soryn’s and Arna’s bodies tensed. They listened intently to the footsteps moving over the stones of the passageway. Silence and utter stillness overcame the children when they saw Fanndis come into the room with an old man dressed in fine clothing. The woman smiled kindly at them as she had in the cottage and said, “Well, I see we’ve come too late for the noon meal. Shall we go for a stroll in the fresh air instead?”

The man behind her said nothing. Instead, he pulled his cloak more tightly about himself.

“Fanndis…what are you doing here? How were you able to come?” Lord Maslyn was bewildered by her strange entrance into the tower.

“I was as tired of exile as you were of being stuck in the tower. Why not gain freedom for us both at once?” She sat down in one of the chairs at the long table.

“Who gave you the key to the tower?” the boy asked.

“No one— I let myself in,” the old woman replied.

“You let yourself in?” Soryn repeated.

“With the Seidh. It’s not difficult to command a door to open.”

Arna stared at the old man. She knew it was Governor Frey and could not fathom what he was doing with Fanndis. Arna saw him looking at Lord Maslyn with what she perceived to be both kindness and pity.

“You’ve been living in here all these years, Lord Maslyn?” Frey asked as he looked about the stony prison. He shivered even in his heavy clothing. “It’s abominable…and freezing!” the old man added.

“Yes. It’s been…interesting,” Soryn laughed, trying to keep the mood light despite his confusion.

“I am truly sorry that you have had to endure this situation. It was only brought to my attention this morning by your benefactress here. I was under the impression that you had been released many years ago. I received your papers—signed with your seal—and I assumed…Please forgive me.” Governor Frey bowed his head to Soryn and continued, “Let me assure you that from this day forward, you are free to move about the castle and the village at will. You need not remain in this tower any longer. Your father had exquisite quarters in the main castle that you can be moved into immediately, if you wish.”

Soryn’s mind had trouble processing the stranger’s words. He still had no idea who the old man was, but Soryn was sure he had some estimable power. Suddenly it struck him—Governor Frey!

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