Longshadow let out one long scream of rage that echoed throughout Overlook. It brought toadies running, bent with fear he would take it out on them. Whatever it was. “Get out! Get out and stay... Wait! Get in here!”
Calm returned suddenly. He’d always had a facility for gaining control when the crisis was tight. That was when he thought his best, responded most quickly. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise.
“Bring the big sending bowl. Bring mercury. Bring that fetish that belongs to my guest and ally. I must contact him.”
They scurried around in terror. That was good to see. They held him in high fear. Fear was the power. What you feared ruled you... He thought of shadows and a plain of glittering stone. The rage boiled up. He rejected it, as he rejected fear. One day, when the distractions were eliminated, that plain would bend to him. He would conquer it, end the fear of it forever.
They had everything set before he was ready himself. “Now get out. Stay out till I call.”
He activated the bowl and reached for his man. He touched nothing. He tried again. Again. Four times. Five. The rage was about to break through again. The Howler responded.
“Where have you been?”
“Aloft.” Scant whisper, barely perceptible. “I had to set down first. Bad news. She’s tricked our friend again. Slaughtered another several thousand men.”
That went past Longshadow. Shadowspinner’s travails were nothing. “Is she there? At all?”
“Of course she is.”
“Are you positive? Have you seen her? My shadows can’t find her. Last night they couldn’t do more than suggest she might be in a given general area.”
“Not with my own eyes,” Howler admitted. “I’m tracking her forces, though, waiting for the chance to strike. Late tonight, I think.”
“I’ve just had a report from the wizard in Taglios. A desperate effort on his part. All our agents there have been strangled. He says she’s there. With her Shadar shadow. And she knows he’s ours. Before he finished, something demonic burst in and tore him apart.”
“That’s impossible. She was here two days ago.”
“Have you seen her? With your own eyes?”
“Recall. She always favored illusion and misdirection. There was evidence she was regaining her powers. Maybe much faster than she let on. Maybe she’s tricked us into believing she was one place when she was another. The Taglian said our agents were killed to keep them from reporting her presence.”
The Howler did not respond.
Both men thought. Longshadow finally said, “I can’t fathom why she’d send an army to make us believe she was in our territories. But I know her. You know her. If it’s that important to her that we believe her somewhere she isn’t, then it’s lethally important to us. There’s something in Taglios she doesn’t want us to discover. Perhaps she’s on the track of the Lance. Someone carried it away from the battlefield. It hasn’t been seen since.”
“If I go we’re liable to lose Dejagore and Spinner. His skills are impaired. His mind is as dull as a knife used to chop rock.”
Longshadow cursed softly. Yes. Pray come the day when Shadowspinner was no longer needed. When there was no need for a bulwark against the north. But somebody had to bear the brunt now. “Do something. Then go.” The runt could understand that. “Collect her quick. Hell will be a pleasure compared to what we’ll face if she stays loose till all her powers are restored.”
“Consider it done,” the Howler whispered. “Consider her taken.”
“I take nothing for granted where Senjak is concerned. Get her, dammit! Get her!” He slammed a fist into the mercury. That killed the connection.
He let the rage roar through him. He hurled things, broke things, till it was appeased. Then he went up into his tower and glowered his hatred at the night-hidden plain.
“Why must you torment me? Why? Turn away. Let me be.” If that was not out there, ready to burst its bonds, he would be free to deal with these things himself. He would make short work of these problems if he could see to them himself. But he needs must rely on incompetents and agents with insufficient power to get the job done.
He thought of the Taglian wizard. That tool had not done the job for which it had been forged but it had served. Pity it had been destroyed so quickly.