Learmouth and his sister the Crone were sitting in the newly refurbished breakfast room, a roaring fire in an inglenook fireplace, radiating very pleasant warmth; servants were clearing away the dishes. When they were alone Learmouth moved to small table next to a mullioned window, the edges of which were covered by hard frost that glistened in the winter sun. Satisfied that they were far enough from either door, not be overheard, in a low voice Learmouth asked,
“What news from Valorholm?”
The Crone gave him the details “Charnley and De’Merly, the merchant spies, are still in place, they have prospered under Idris and have become used to, and enjoy their wealth. Consequently they are more independent. But we still have their written oaths hidden under the floor boards in Stafford Manor, a death sentence for them both if we were to expose them.
All the others are dead or unknown to us and Lord Mordridd. Mordridd passed by here on his way to Aaron, he left this word for you. He is still not trusted at the court despite the lack of evidence; he has always suspected that Linnaeus believes him to be one of the ringleaders. He did learn that Linnaeus is working on a system of signal mirrors, he happened across a boy who was helping him to pass signals between Marlton and Valorholm.”
“We must find out what they are for,” interrupted Learmouth.
“Of course we will; Mordridd also learnt that Lord Marlton’s grandson Will is very Wizardly, Linnaeus pays close attention to his progress. Now this is only rumor and part of a second-hand conversation, Linnaeus has not seen the like before in one so young, that said, in these things Linnaeus keeps his own council.”
“Linnaeus has seen Mirless?” asked Learmouth
“Yes twice, once at one year old and again last year. The robe turned grey and the stitching is red wool with coarse rough stitched moons and stars.”
Learmouth rang a bell to summons a servant girl, “Fetch the boy and his mother and his robe,” he said curtly. While they waited he went on, “It’s unfortunate that Jenkins was granted Stafford Manor, still, robbery and murder is not unheard of in those parts. The list must be recovered at all costs! As far as the Wizardly children are concerned it’s still too soon to tell. Linnaeus himself was the first since Merlin left. There is one thing we can be sure of, if Will of Marlton comes of age and is trained by Linnaeus he will be a danger to us. The child should die sooner rather than later,” he concluded, passing a death sentence on an infant, his tone simply matter of fact.