Dancing with Shadows, by Charles Matthias

Story name: Dancing with Shadows
Author: Charles Matthias

Date: early June, 706 CR
Location: Metamor Keep

Overview

Charles and Zhypar have a falling-out over exposing Sondecki secrets.

Summary

Zhypar drops the books he is carrying from the library, and Charles stops to help him. He is alarmed that one of the books is written in the special script of Marzac, and that Zhypar can read it. Disturbed, Charles continues to his meeting with Wessex, and is shocked to see the Sondecki symbol drawn all over Wessex's desk. Wessex notices his alarm and asks how Charles recognizes it. Charles says he only knows it to belong to one of several mage clans of the South. Wessex mentions that Zhypar provided him with a book describing the symbol. Charles cheerfully lies that he will help Wessex, and hurries away, biting his chew stick in half.

Charles spends the rest of the day at the Deaf Mule, playing pool games with anyone willing to play, losing several of them. Nahum, Tallis, and Zhypar arrive that evening, and Charles joins them for dinner. Both he and Zhypar leave an hour later, and Charles angrily asks why he is helping Wessex. Zhypar claims that he has not broken his promise, and that Charles will have to reveal himself one way or another. Charles asks how he knows, but Zhypar turns and leaves.

When he returns to his bedroom, Charles slams his fist in a dresser, breaking it. Gradually, he comes to the realization that Zhypar is right. He opens a secret cache in his wall, pulls out his old Sondecki robe, and weeps.

Characters

Main characters:

  • Charles Matthias: A rat morph and headmaster of the Writer's Guild. He is secretly a Sondecki, although only Zhypar knows at the moment.
  • Zhypar Habakkuk: A kangaroo morph and writer. Before arriving, he was a trader specializing in ancient texts. He is now helping Wessex with research into the South mage clans, using his private collection of books. He senses that Charles will be forced to make a dangerous decision.
    • Zhypar supposedly learned the script of Marzac from his father, who learned from his father.

Supporting characters:

  • Wessex: A child morph and wizard specializing in foreign magic, currently obsessed with finding Zagrosek. His only clue is Zagrosek's emblem, a white sword within a hand within a red shield.

Minor characters:

  • Nahum: A fox morph. He knows Alacious. He is sometimes too outspoken for his own good, getting into fights with people.
  • Tallis: A rat morph.

Important mention:

  • Rickkter: A newcomer to the Keep. Tallis saw him earlier that day, swapping tall tales with Misha.

Referenced:

  • Zagrosek: The dark wizard whose Sondecki symbol plagues Wessex's mind.
  • Will Hardy: The Keep jeweler.
  • Alacious: A gerbil morph. He is normally not as good at pool as Charles, yet Alacious won a game against him.
  • Misha: A fox morph who has befriended a newcomer named Rickkter.

Points of Interest

  • The Chateau Marzac is known to have a special script that few can read.
  • Charles's bedroom has a secret alcove where he hides his old Sondecki robes.
  • Charles had a longer than expected visit with Will Hardy just before he encountered Zhypar.
  • Alacious the gerbil morph was not mentioned in the list of rodents Charles gave in Support Group.
  • An ancient book on the Southlands was stuck behind a shelf, escaping Loriod's destruction of those books in Keeping the Lamp Lit.
  • Wessex mentions that heraldry is symbolic of the order's design. In the Sondecki emblem, the sword and shield represent the intention to both attack and defend. A hand represents power, though Wessex does not know whether they meant to possess power, or whether they wielded power through their hands.

Story Connections

  • Charles mentions a poem he read a week ago that read "The stained hand brings the dark cloud." This could be the same poem he read in Busy Schedule, but it is not certain as this line was not mentioned.
  • This story happens concurrently with A Place Where There Is No Darkness, after Rickkter has met and befriended Misha on Monday, but before he had met Charles on Saturday.
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