Part XX – Account by Penny Kearney
“You could show that to MacDonald. He could read it, I’d wager.”
I nodded. Dana had mentioned reading old Order texts in his libraries up North. “I may do so tomorrow. He isn’t too pleased with me at the moment.” I ran my thumb over my lip in recollection.
“And how do you know that, my lady?”
I tilted my gaze away from him. “Because I am stubborn. I believe he wishes I would help him in his endeavor instead of thwarting his quest for Set’s blood.”
I quelled the flare of warmth that started inside me and forced my thoughts to avert. I didn’t want to get angry again now. With a small sigh, I opened my mouth to say goodnight.
“Don’t tell him that.” John moved to sit by his tree again.
I frowned, watching him. “Don’t tell him what?”
MacCullen settled before replying. “He doesn’t want to.”
“Doesn’t want to what?”
Tipping his gaze upwards, he met mine squarely. “He doesn’t want to die, my lady.”
“I didn’t say he did…” I managed, unsure of what John was getting at.
“No. You didn’t. Nor did he say he was upset.”
“Were you listening?” I narrowed my eyes.
“Didn’t have to. I know him well enough to tell when he’s angry.”
I considered this. Perhaps I hadn’t been the only one to pass by MacCullen’s post this night.
The old captain leaned back against the trunk of the tree, an ember in his pipe snapping quietly. “MacDonald knows well enough what happens when he goes after Set for blood. Only reason he did it recently was to get you out. Aye, he tried to kill Set. But… for all our sakes, I’m not sure he really would.” He took a long draw on his pipe, gaze flicking to me again as he let it out. “Maybe one way of not letting everyone down is by convincing them this is the only way. After all, if we’re all in one accord, who’s to disappoint, aye?”
I shifted my gaze, letting John’s words sink in slowly.
“That’s one thing his master couldn’t do, because he was still too furious,” John said. “Call his bluff. Give him a reason, my lady, a good one. He’s gone so long convincing himself, maybe even with his Gift, he can’t see proper.”
I looked at the old soldier, studying him hard. I had all but abandoned the hope of convincing Dana to agree there might be another way out. Again the look in Dana's eyes when my blade had halted his flashed through my mind. Could that have been a bluff, too?
“What kind of reason is a good enough one?” I ventured.
“I don’t know, my lady. Any, I suppose. There hasn’t been another reason so far.”
Only a heartbeat passed before I answered, “I’ll find one. Thank you, John. For talking.”
“You will, Lady Kearney. If anyone will.”
A smile turned the corner of my mouth. “Thank you for that, too… Goodnight.”
With a nod, he pulled his hood over his head once again, but not before I caught a glimpse of his own smile. I left him there, his pipe still glowing in the darkness, and silently returned to the tree I had been sitting under before. For another long while I pondered the parchment, and John’s words, but at last I curled up amidst the knobbled roots and fell asleep.