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Splintered: The Society Book 3 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 12611

Updated: 2019-06-11 13:12


Chapter 4

Several hours later, Ivy still had no idea why Hamilton thought their library was remarkable. She managed to fill several shelves and empty a number of the boxes. The empty boxes were opened so they could lay flat and now sat in a pile by the door. Bugsy long since abandoned her for someone doing much more interesting things someplace else and she was left to work alone. As Ivy bent to retrieve the stack of empty boxes, she felt a stiffness in her arms and back which let her know that come morning her upper body would be stiff and sore.

"Still had to be done, " she said. Her arms full of folded boxes, Ivy surveyed the library. It was still a shambles, but the floor looked a little clearer. "It's a work in progress."

She moved towards the door and turned off the light with her elbow. Ivy carried the empty boxes down the hall and down a set of stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, she turned right and headed into one of the storage areas. There was already a stack of flattened boxes and Ivy added the ones she carried to the top of the stack.

"The stack looks shorter, " Ivy said.

"It is, " Alex said. Ivy looked around and saw her brother's head peeping over the top of plastic storage bins in the back of the area. "We used some of them to line the bottom of the raised beds. We put them on top of the wire mesh and then covered them with dirt."

"Won't they just decompose?" Ivy asked as he navigated his way around the bins to where she stood.

"Eventually, but for now they will keep down the weeds."

"And the wire mesh?"

"To keep out little digging creatures."

"Makes sense, " Ivy said. In her mind she could see a cartoon where carrots were pulled into the ground from below, being stolen from Elmer Fudd's farm by Buggs Bunny.

Alex smiled as though he knew what she was thinking. He looked at the boxes. "So someone finally started on the library then? I thought we were just dumping any box marked books in there."

"Hamilton made a comment, " Ivy told him.

"I heard he was by, " Alex said.

"Did you?"

"I also heard he brought Howard Carlson." His voice was cold and flat.

"He did, " Ivy told him.

"I don't suppose he came by to apologize?" Alex asked. None of her brothers took the news of the Seers leaving before seeing to the injured, especially as both Rose and Ivy were listed among the injured.

"No, he came to demand that I turn Irina and Nick over to him instead of keeping them as adherents to our house."

"That's…, " Alex started. "Wait, what?"

Ivy walked him through the conversation. She felt somewhat vindicated when he was just as surprised as she was by the fact that the old laws were now in effect.

"So you were looking for a copy of the old laws in the library?" he asked. Alex shook his head. "I don't know if we even have a copy."

"I don't think we do, " Ivy confessed. "I was in the library because Hamilton called it remarkable."

"Remarkable? How?"

Ivy shrugged. "I didn't get clarification. And I didn't see anything remarkable while I was in there."

"Well, we have a remarkable number of conspiracy theory books because of the Uncles, " Alex said after a moment of thought. "Mostly UFO cover-ups and Bigfoot related stuff."

"True, but how would Hamilton even know that?" Ivy asked.

"Clearly, he'd have to see, " Alex said. He frowned. "Those books are still packed, or they were when I was last in there. Which means if he saw them…"

"He saw them at Gran's house, " Ivy finished. "But when would he be at the house?"

In general, the Chambers family steered clear of anything to do with the Shadow Council. Given what she learned of her family background, Ivy considered it a wise move. It didn't help much in the end due to Lila Perkins, her husband and her brother spying on them and reporting false accusations back to the council, but it was still a smart practice.

"Maybe something will come up in the archives, " Ivy said.

"You are going back to the archives?"

"I have books to return and Hamilton said he would have a copy of the old laws waiting for me. He wants me to continue compiling a list of those who were compromised by the Brotherhood." Ivy's quest for more information led her to several people who were paid to falsely accuse others of misdeeds, the accusation leading to their deaths. "I think he wants to know how many people they were able to pay off."

"So he wants you to search for the information because he knows you weren't paid off by The Brotherhood? I guess that means you can be trusted."

"Or that since I already know the information, they won't have to tell anyone else if they are to continue researching, " Ivy said.

Alex nodded. "Yeah, I can see why he wouldn't want that to spread."

"He said I could conduct my own research as well. I apparently still have access to the archives."

"They are letting you continue poking around in the archives?" Alex asked. "I didn't know they allowed people to do research down there without focused and intense supervision."

"He told me what I looked up was my own business as long as I reported back what I found about the payoffs."

"Really?" Alex asked.

"I think it was a bribe, " Ivy told him.

"For continuing to do the research?"

"For squelching rumors among those who don't trust the official report of recent events." Ivy shared Hamilton's comments about rumors which made her brother smile in amusement.

"I'll agree Hamilton probably doesn't have the best reputation among those groups, but even if you talk to them he has to know you won't just be his mouth piece."

"That's probably why he didn't actually tell me what the official story was, " Ivy said. "The ones I know might listen to me, but I'm not sure the others will if that's what Hamilton expects."

"He didn't tell you what to say?"

"No, just that he would like me to talk to the people I know who normally don't trust the Council."

"Which is most of your friends, " Alex said.

"True." Ivy replied. "And I do need to talk to Irina and Nikos about Carlson."

"And about being your adherents under the Old Laws, " he mocked. Ivy frowned at him and he held up his hands in mock surrender. "Don't get mad at me, I am a simple adherent to your hou

se."

"Hamilton used the term vassal, " Ivy told him.

"Oh, that's even better." Alex swept an imaginary hat off his head and executed a deep bow. "I am ever your loyal vassal my lady." Alex straightened. "Wait, why do you get to be the lady and I'm the vassal?"

"Because you won't wear heels and remember to keep your pinky finger lifted when we have tea, " Ivy replied. Her stomach growled and Alex laughed and looked at his watch.

"It is that time isn't it? Shall I escort you to dinner?"

"I think dinner would be divine, " Ivy said. "And we can see if Simon is still scowl-ly faced. If he is staying for dinner that is."

"Why is Simon scowling?"

As they moved towards the dining room, Ivy filled Alex in on what little she knew of the wolves and their current issues.

"Never a dull moment, huh?" he said as they pushed open the door to the dining room.

While they still ate breakfast and lunch in the kitchen, for dinner they were banished to the dining room so they were out of Winston's way. The table was slightly bigger, but not really any fancier than their large kitchen trestle table. Thus far once the basics were complete no additional details were added in the dining room. The freshly sheet rocked walls were painted primer white and the floor was bare wood. The dining table and its accompanying chairs formed the only decorative touch.

"Someone really needs to paint those walls something before we all go blind, " Ivy said.

"It's on this week's list, " Alex told her.

"Thank god, " Rose said as sat down on a seat on the other side of the table. "I feel like wearing sunglasses to eat in here."

Russell and Eric stepped into the door on the opposite wall. "I'm still not sure why we can't eat in the kitchen, " Russell said.

"Because we are in Winston's way, " Ivy said. "And if this helps him manage things, this is what we do." She looked around the room, taking stock of who was dining as she slid into her seat. Hackett and Jerome slipped in behind Russell and Eric, but there was no sign of Simon. Alex came in with her, while Danny and Melissa were followed by Rose.

"Anyone seen Max?" Ivy asked as everyone took their seats.

"He is out at the barn, " Rose said. "We will soon have several new lambs in our flock."

"I'm going to assist and/or keep him company after dinner, " Danny added.

Ivy nodded. In addition to being a veterinarian, their brother Max was an earth mage. He had an affinity with animals that made Ivy suspect he could actually hear their thoughts. She wondered if it was a holdover from the mixing of shifter blood in their family tree, but hadn't found a way to test the theory.

"We should probably take him some sandwiches and coffee or something, " Ivy said. "Or at least check on him." She wasn't certain what assistance he might need during lambing as occasionally refilling food and water troughs were about the extent of her animal related chores. 'At least when they are alive.' On many occasions she was the one tapped to end the animal's life prior to bringing it into the kitchen to prepare it for eating.

"I took him a tray earlier, " Winston said as he wheeled a tray to the door. Danny and Russell both stood and helped bring bowls and platters from the cart to the table.

"Thanks Winston, " Ivy said. He nodded and wheeled the empty cart back towards the kitchen. No matter how many times they invited him to join, he politely refused and ate in the kitchen. Ivy suspected he had a much more rigid sense of formality than they did and didn't push him.

"And Max said you are to stay out of the barn, " Danny said as he sat back down. "He doesn't want the animals stressed and thinking their doom is upon them."

"I never threaten them, " Ivy said as Russell handed her a bowl of mashed potatoes.

"They just sense the presence of a fire mage and know you are thinking of cutlets and sausage, " Danny teased.

"You have killed nearly as many as I have, " she reminded him. As a water mage, Danny often assisted in the end of the life cycle process with her, especially if the animal was large enough to require more than her strength to manage. The other three did the tending; she and Danny did the killing and processing.

"True, but they mostly see me walking out to check on irrigation. You go with a scythe into the fields to collect plants and animals for the house. You are the grim reaper."

Ivy frowned. "I cut the plants with a hand held sickle or a pair of scissors."

"Maybe if you didn't wear the long black robe, " Alex added.

"Humming the funeral march under your breath doesn't help, " Rose added.

"I don't, " Ivy protested. "I hum Wagner. That is totally different."

They argued good naturedly, then broadened the conversational topics to include other aspects of the agricultural elements of Wildwood. By unspoken consent they avoided discussing Ivy's visitors and the not so impromptu pack meeting.

"We've started hardening the seedlings, " Alex told them as the dinner plates were cleared away and Russell started slicing one of the pies. Ivy long since stopped worrying about any leftover deserts, knowing the odds of them surviving the night were slim.

'And any that do will become breakfast, ' Ivy thought. A few days prior she heard the argument of fruit pie being the perfect substitute for toast with butter and jam.

"I thought we had another week before that, " Ivy said.

Talk ranged over the details of daily life, even Jerome kicking in small anecdotes of the late frosts of yesteryear. When dinner was finally done and the dishes cleared, Danny went to the kitchen to fill a thermos of coffee before joining Max in his barnyard. Hackett and Jerome bid everyone goodnight and were already unbuttoning their shirts as they moved to the front of the house to strip and begin their fur coated run home.

"How about a walk outside?" Russell suggested to her as the others wandered off to various destinations. "It's not too cold."

"For you or me?" Ivy asked.

Russell smiled. "You might need a jacket, " he conceded. Ivy nodded and went to their suite of rooms to get her jacket.

"Maybe I'll get some answers, too, " she said as she slipped it on and went to meet her husband by the door.

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