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.It made sense, Markwart had to admit.I will go to Je'howith this verynight, he agreed, but then his tone changed.You are to take no decisiveactions on any matter without my permission, he warned.The times are toodangerous, and our positions too tentative for me to trust the judgmentof one as inexperienced as Marcalo De'Unnero.But concerning Baron Bildeborough,De'Unnero responded,am I to assumethat you approve?Markwart broke the connection immediately, his spirit flying from thatplace.He came back into his body in a few minutes, wearing a wide smile.He should have gone to bed then, for such a long use of the soul stonewas terribly draining, but strangely, the Father Abbot felt rejuvenated,hungry for more information.Instead, he sent his spirit west and south to the one city in all Honce-the-Bear that was larger than Palmaris.St.Honce in Ursal was the second largest Abellican abbey, smaller onlythan St.-Mere-Abelle.It was joined to the palace of the King by a long,narrow hall known as the bridge.The abbot of St.Honce traditionallyserved as spiritual adviser to the King and his court.Markwart knew theplace well.Here, he had been anointed as Father Abbot of the Order byAbbot Sherman, who had been succeeded by Abbot Dellahunt, who had beensucceeded by Je'howith.The ceremony had been formalized by King DanubeCole Ursal, the father of the present king.Markwart had little troublefinding the private rooms of the abbot.Je'howith's response to the spiritual intrusion, once he had gathered uphis soul stone and gone out of body, was absolute delight.What wonderssuch quick communication might bring to the world! his spiritexclaimed.Think of the gains to warfare if captains could so communicatewith their field commanders! Think of-—Enough,Markwart's spirit interrupted, knowing the man's hopes to benothing more than illusions.None but he could so powerfully spirit-walk—no abbot, no master, and surely no secular soldier!I have a task for you.You have heard of the death of Baron Bildeborough, and that he waswith-out heir?Word reached us just this day,Je'howith replied somberly.Truth, fatherAbbot, I have barely found a moment's rest.I only returned to Ursal thisweek, and now—Then you know of the vacancy in Palmaris,Markwart interrupted, having notime for Je'howith's blabbering.A problem that King Danube considers wearily,Je'howith answered.The poorman is near to breaking, I fear, though the war is finally won.He hasfaced so many problems these last few months, after years of peace.Then let us lessen his troubles,Markwart offered.Convince him to givethe barony to Abbot De'Unnero and let the Church handle the troubles ofPalmaris.The abbot's surprise was evident in the posture of his spirit form.KingDanube does not even know this Marcalo De'Unnero.Nor do I, if the truthbe told, except we met once at the College of Abbots.Take my word as recommendation of his character and his ability to rulePalmaris,Markwart instructed.And understand that even in the combinedposition of baron and abbot, called bishop in past days, MarcaloDe'Unnero will answer to me—and to you, if you do not fail me in this.That last thought was too much bait to be ignored.You do remember that the Church once ruled beside the King,Markwart wenton.Je'howith's spirit was nodding and smiling.Convince the King.Perhaps I could go and meet Abbot De'Unnero through the soul stone, muchas you— Je'howith began, but Markwart cut him short.You could not attain this level of clarity,the Father Abbot explainedhonestly—and angrily—for he did not believe that Je'howith could performthis level of magic.This is my magic, and mine alone.It is not to bediscussed, nor initiated, by you, though I may come to you often in thefuture.The humility and submission that came back from Je'howith satisfied theFather Abbot, and so he soared back across the miles to St.-Mere-Abelle.There, despite his tremendous expenditure of magical energy, he was stillrestless.He paced for more than an hour, trying to gain perspective onthe new routes of power that suddenly seemed open to him.Just thatmorning, Markwart had thought his reputation in Church history settled,the only possibility of elevating it being the retrieval of the stolengemstones.But now the issue of the stones seemed almost trivial.De'Unnero's claim that the Church had once played a more active role ingoverning was true enough: a king of Honce-the-Bear, in ages long past,had actually been anointed as Father Abbot of the Abellican Order.Butfor hundreds of years, the balance of power in the kingdom had heldrelatively stable between Church and state: separate, but powerful,entities.The king saw to the secular activities of his subjects, managedthe standing army, and handled disputes with the neighboring kingdoms ofBehren and Alpinador, but claimed little lordship over the powers of theChurch.In many reaches of the kingdom, particularly the smallervillages, the Church was far more influential than the distant King,whose full name many of the subjects did not even know.But now, because of Markwart's wise and prudent actions in Palmaris, theelimination of Connor Bildeborough and Abbot Dobrinion, and because ofthe subsequent death of the Baron, the balance of power in the kingdommight be shifted in favor of the Church.Danube Brock Ursal was weary, byJe'howith's own words.If Je'howith managed to wrest Palmaris from him.Obviously, neither Markwart nor Je'howith had many years left to live—they were both in their seventies.Suddenly the Father Abbot wasn'tsatis-fied with that place he had secured in Church history.Suddenlyhisambition went far higher—and so had Je'howith's, he believed.Togetherthey could use men like De'Unnero to change the world.Father Abbot Markwart was immensely pleased by such a prospect.Not far from the quarters of the Father Abbot, Brother FrancisDellacourt stood in his candlelit room, staring at his reflection in amirror.The dark shadows about him seemed a fitting frame to thebeleaguered man.For most of his life, Francis had placed himself on a secret pedestal,above the average man—above any man.He never consciously told himselfthat he was the chosen of God, but he had believed it, as if all theworld were merely a dream played out for his personal benefit.Francishad believed himself without sin, the perfect reflection of the perfectGod [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]