Blaming it all on his overly optimism, Windrell never expected to get caught. Though he was well into his seventies, he still thought it rather funny being imprisoned in Shael, his own country of birth, with a boyish grin on his face. All he hoped was that Graydon and Angeline were okay and already on their way to the Sacred Isle. Please don't come looking for me, were his thoughts when the door was opened.
Having expected being put into one of Yeanth's many dungeons, he was surprised when the guards took him to the Palace itself and locked him in a small room with one window overlooking an inner courtyard three stories below. He watched the sun set and night set in and refused to speak with anyone.
"Come." A stern voice said from the open doorway.
Windrell stared at the muscular guard looking down at him. There was a time in his life when he could have walked down the path this young man had and been his brother guard. Fate had decided on a different career for him, though.
"And where is it we are going?" Windrell asked as if being locked away and held prisoner were an everyday occurrence.
"Don't make me carry you, old man."
Smiling, Windrell stood and followed the guard through the halls and rooms of the Royal Palace of Shael, home to the ruling family when in the southern border town. He had been here once, but that was long ago. He was led into a great hall and standing at one end of the room, in front of two large chairs upholstered in darkest green, was a young lady he had not expected to meet this night.
"Ah, little Brigitte, though not so little any more."
Windrell noticed a slight falter in the lady's confidence, but she quickly gained it back and merely narrowed her eyes at Windrell.
"What brings you into Shael, Holy One." Brigitte spoke in a clear, crystalline voice. She was dressed in a very richly decorated outfit, with emeralds and gold thread on the hem lines. Her red hair was styled high atop her head and a small coronet crowned it all.
"Ah, a visit into ones homeland isn't a crime these days, is it?" Windrell smiled. He had never fought a war of words with this young woman, and was surprised that he had lived to see her reach full maturity.
"A visit to ones homeland is not a crime unless under false pretenses. Someone might accuse you of subterfuge."
"Would that someone be you?" Windrell raised a dark eyebrow. "Where are your parents, dear child?"
Noticing a flare of anger in Brigitte surprised him. "You know full well they are at Aisling, else you would not have attempted to sneak through Shael like a common thief. But they have left me in place of them, to rule according to how I see fit. Now I ask you once more," Brigitte took a step closer, "What brings you into Shael."
Stalling for time was all he really wanted to do. If the guards of Shael had himself locked away they perhaps would not be so concerned with finding Graydon and Angeline, giving them ample time to get into the mountains. But revealing his mission was not an option.
"I was scouting, that is all. With the new decrees throughout the many lands it is so hard to find Temple workers. We are living in dangerous times, and I am afraid I resorted to disguises to go about my business."
Brigitte thought on this a moment, her left hand stroking one of the emeralds sewn onto her dress. "Who are your companions and what is your destination?"
"A mere country boy and farm girl, that is all. They were to be taken to the Sacred Island and tested. I am afraid they were somewhere in Yeanth, alone and afraid."
"Do not lie to me!" Brigitte lost the calmness of her voice. "I know you traveled this way with the man who is no farm boy, but some warrior who carries a blade, and the girl was picked up in Barthon somewhere. Do you not know, Windrell," Brigitte lowered the tone of her voice so that Windrell had to strain to hear, "The Barthon leaders want your blood. They say you attacked two guards unprovoked. They do not condone the worship of Sconis, and those in Barthon who do, do it in secret. Now is not the time for made up stories. They demand you from me, and I can only keep you here because you broke our laws first."
Bringing his hands to his face, Windrell tried to let out some of the frustration he was feeling. He was caught between two countries, one thirsty for his blood, the other afraid to help, neither willing to hear reason.
"Remember when you came to the Temple, you were just seven." Windrell saw Brigitte tense as she tried to shut out the memories. "You were so afraid, practically trembling. It was I who was to perform the ceremony of induction into Sconis's Kingdom. I took you aside and asked about you, telling you I was also from Shael. Speaking of familiar places made you feel better and you were no longer afraid. You were so trusting then. Sconis asks all his children to trust in his wisdom."
"Sconis has left us!" Brigitte called out, her voice echoing off the rafters. "We are all alone now with nothing but our wits and strength to see us through."
"Sconis leaves no one. It is us who have left him."
Sensing the strain this conversation was having on Brigitte he was not at all surprised when she had him sent away from her. There was no doubt in his mind that a letter would be sent to Brigitte's parents at Asiling and that Brigitte herself was somewhere in this castle, casting in her mind a way to solve this problem before they returned. He knew her history, he knew them all. Too many of the prophecies were be realized all at once.
Windrell spent the rest of the evening in deep mediation, asking Mighty Sconis for guidance and direction and above all protection for Cortha's only hope, Angeline Winters.