“Tanith!” Eva yelled.
“In here!” Tanith called back from the library, where we sat with Virgil, Drago, Manny, Bede, and Euclid.
Books on diplomacy and books containing copies of hundreds of treaties lay open around us. We seven would be taking care of the treaty business, but only Tanith had any idea of what to do, which really wasn’t much. It was the day before King Adam would arrive with his army and we still had a lot to do.
Eva appeared at the doorway and we all looked at her in varying states of exasperation and frustration. The preparations were not going well.
“Look!” Eva cried out, holding out a muddied White Sword to us. “Just look at what those two did!”
Tanith sighed and rose to go to her. She took the sword from the ogre and turned to beckon to me.
“Gina and Gray?” Tanith guessed.
“Of course. Only those two nuisances would argue over such a thing. I don’t know how, but it ended up in a nice big mud puddle!”
“Calm down, Eva,” Tanith said with a sigh. “Shane and I will get it all cleaned up.”
“We will?” I asked.
“Certainly. You’re supposed to be the guardian of this thing until we return it to Father. It’s your job to clean it.”
She had that look in her eyes, the one that told me to not defy her. I had no choice; I had to go with her.
So, we walked down a long winding staircase until we came to a little wooden door. Tanith pushed it open and we stepped out onto a concrete platform. Before us swirled the moat.
Tanith turned and thrust the sword at me.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked, closing my fingers around it.
“Stick it in the water, of course,” she said, putting her fists on her hips. “How else do you expect to clean it?”
I held the sword and looked at the steaming water dubiously. But who was I to defy Tanith?
“Well? Hurry up.”
I knelt and stuck the sword into the water. My fingers brushed the surface and I jerked them away, barely keeping my grip on the sword. I had thought the moat would be boiling water. Instead, it was freezing. If it had been any colder, it would have been frozen.
“Of course it’s cold,” Tanith said in exasperation. “The water comes directly from the glaciers. Look, the blade is clean. Just stick the hilt in now. We don’t have time for this, Shane.”
Cautiously, I took hold of the blade and stuck the hilt in. In a matter of minutes, it was clean and Tanith was yanking me back inside, chattering about all the things we still had to learn about diplomacy.
My head was spinning. There was no way I would be able to remember everything. And there was certainly no way I could imagine Euclid facing King Adam’s councilors without running and screaming from the room, though Tanith had instructed Euclid to scream a few pleasantries as he went running out. And we could only hope that the table was made from one of the few woods that Drago refused to eat. There was also the matter of Bede’s genius. Tanith was certain he would talk above everyone’s heads, but she hoped it would prove they were intelligent creatures worthy of a treaty. And as long as everything was neat and orderly, Manny would be happy. We were most confident in Virgil. He didn’t rhyme when speaking, which would make understanding him very easy.
Tomorrow would be very interesting. I was not looking forward to it.