“Grateful to Necromancer,” Bander corrected.
“So what do you think about our captor, Necromancer?” Linvin asked in return.
“He has saved our lives,” Bander pointed out meekly.
“To what end?” Rander implored. “Clearly he has some greater purpose for us and it doesn’t sound like anything we want to be involved with. We have traveled all this way only to be prisoners awaiting our deaths.”
In reaction to Rander’s despair Linvin sighed in such a way as to show he’d heard such talk before and was disappointed to hear it again. “If he wanted us dead, Hugon would have finished us. Necromancer has gone to great lengths to be certain we were kept alive. In fact, he wants us to be in fighting shape.”
“Perhaps he heard about what you did in Valia and wants you to serve in their army here?” Anvar asked. “Our imprisonment could be used as leverage.”
“So we are to be hostages?” Rander asked in fright.
“Do stop the drama,” Linvin ordered his cousin. “I am having enough trouble concentrating without you constantly telling me the world is ending.
“To your point, Anvar, it would explain why he wants us but not why he has kept the Emperor uninformed we are here. If my service were required for the army he would likely have told his master of our arrival straight away. Until we arrived here we were called the ‘Emperor’s Prisoners’. That proves he has interest in us as well and yet he is purposefully being kept in the dark about our arrival. It leads me to believe some sort of intrigue is afoot.”
“Then why is Necromancer being so good to us?” asked Bander.
“One thing is certain,” Rander answered. “It is not because he likes us so much.”
“You are right,” Linvin agreed. “He wants something from us. No. He needs something from us.”
“Perhaps it had to do with the key,” said Anvar. “He showed great delight at finding it among our things.”
“Wait,” Linvin said in astonishment. “I remember now. When we were brought in I tried to convince him the key opened my tree. He knew otherwise but would not tell me what it opened. Necromancer also talked about my door not keeping people out of my tree. Could it be the murderers we ran from in Sartan were known to him?”
“Perhaps he knows who sent them?” asked Bander.
“Perhaps he did send them,” Anvar added. “What if they were working for Necromancer? He showed great excitement at finding the key. He must know it is part of the puzzle of the Red Sapphire. If our assumptions are correct, the people looking for the key in Sartan killed Linvin’s mother to capture it. They were the people we ran from in Missandor and Varns. All arrows point to him being behind this plot in an effort to gain the stone.”
“That would mean he had my mother killed.” Linvin noted in a grizzly voice. “He just wanted the key.”
“There is another possibility,” Rander offered. “He may know who sent the assassins and wants to save us from their grasp. Necromancer then helped us so we may fight them and find the Red Sapphire. Consider this. He has made it very clear we are to receive excellent care. If he sent the assassins to kill us before, then why would he protect us now?”
Linvin shook his head. “I am not sure, Cousin. While I see your point, he appeared quite pleased at finding the key. It was as though that was what he sought all along. Even if he did not send the murderers, he wants the gem.”