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   Chapter 13 Keeper of the Crossroads

Keeper of the Crossroads By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 8431

Updated: 2018-03-13 10:55

Chapter 13

The High Talbot stared at Jamie. He had gone completely still with Jamie's pronouncement. He looked like a statue. Jamie could not even see the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. Del wheeled in a small cart containing a tea pot with the appropriate gear for two and a plate with a variety of sweet and savory offerings. His appearance broke the High Talbot's statue like stance.

"I hope you do not find this too presumptuous Keeper, but I believe you are mistaken."

"No, " Jamie said as Del began to pour the tea. "I don't believe I am. Someone tried to kill me this morning. Quite early this morning actually." Jamie looked at Del as he took the offered tea cup. "Thank you."

"You are serious?" The High Talbot said. Jamie nodded.

"Quite serious." The High Talbot's eyes shifted to Del. Del nodded.

"It is true your Lordship. The Keeper isn't exaggerating. It happened shortly before dawn."

"Who would do such a thing, " the High Talbot said. By the tone of voice Jamie though the comment was just voicing a thought rather than a question but he answered it anyway.

"I believe it is the same person or people who killed the Keeper before me." Jamie took a sip of the piping hot tea. It was brewed nearly as strong as coffee. The High Talbot reached for his own cup. He poured a small measure of cream into it and used the tongs to add a sugar cube. Jamie noticed as he moved that his hands were shaking slightly. When the cup was fixed to his satisfaction the High Talbot took a deep sip. It seemed to steady him. He looked at Jamie his blue eyes bright and piercing.

"You believe Keeper Albrecht Fulton was murdered."

Jamie met his gaze. "I do." The High Talbot exhaled an impossibly long breath and took another sip.

"This will not do, " he said. Jamie quirked an eyebrow up in surprise. "There are rules." He told Jamie firmly. "The Keeper maintains the balance. One does not kill the Keeper. It simply won't do."

"I appreciate the sentiment, " Jamie said dryly. From his position by the door Del quirked his mouth up in a half smile. He was too polite to do more than that in the presence of such a high personage. Jamie got the impression that he would have retreated out of sight and back to the kitchen quickly if her weren't needed to confirm earlier events.

"Yes, this is most distressing to you as a person I am sure sir, but you are the Keeper. As reprehensible as killing one person may be it is magnified exponentially when your position i

ingly. Jamie could see the High Talbot's jaw clench and he realized that whatever was happening took effort.

The High Talbot followed the smoke back in the room. Whatever was happening was silent and beyond Jamie's line of vision. He had the feeling Del would not let him walk over and peek inside. The brownie was doing his own statue imitation and taking up more of the hallway than Jamie thought possible. They waited and Jamie's breath sounded loud to his own ears. He was beginning to wonder if someone should go into the room to check on the High Talbot when a hand gripped the door frame. The High Talbot stepped into the hallway, leaning heavily on the door frame. His hair was askew, his suit rumpled and it looked as though he had bitten through his own lip.

"I believe that has done it, " he said. Jamie relaxed.

"Thank you, " he said.

"Not at all, " he replied. "I don't suppose you have somewhere I might use to freshen up a bit?" He eyed his rumpled suit with distain.

"Of course, " Jamie said, wondering which of the guest bathrooms would be suitable.

"This way your Lordship, " Del said taking the decision out of his hands and leading the High Talbot away. Jamie followed, glancing into Albe's bedroom as he passed.

The wooden floorboards were scorched in a vaguely circular area about three feet wide. In the center were two hand prints of unburned wood. The air had an acrid smell that snuck into the back of his throat and lodged there like a stone. He coughed, wanting to spit the taste out. Wondering if he should put some water on it to make sure the house didn't burn down he followed the two people who might know the answer.

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