The Rains in Sest
By Dorothy Hutchinson
Date: July 28, 2016
Ch. 1212

Clare insisted they visit a history professor she knew, claiming he might be able to help them find Karen.
“Everyone said the king was taking her to the palace.”
“Everyone might be wrong. And besides, the palace guards won’t let us into the palace this late. We can stay at the professor’s house tonight and then try the palace tomorrow.”
Something told him she had no intention of going to the palace, tomorrow or any other day, but he relented. She took him to the professor’s house, which was twice the size of any home he’d seen in Middleton. Even in the dark, it looked exotic, with a tower on each side of the house and carved wooden columns on each side of the porch.
Tommy imaged a history professor would be gray-haired with a long white beard, but this professor was clean-shaven and seemed about the same age as Tommy’s father.
“Clare! What a pleasant surprise. Come in.”
She introduced them, and Professor Brock led them into his study. Animals and people’s faces were carved into some of the furniture, and though some of them looked pretty cool, Tommy couldn’t understand why anyone would take the time to do such a thing. They sat in chairs that were cushier than any bed he’d ever slept in.
After some preliminaries, Clare got down to business. “My sister and I were farmed out to foster parents when we were babies, and until recently, we didn’t know we were related.” She handed the professor the sheets of paper she’d been writing on. “Here are some facts about my sister and me, such as our birthdates, the people who raised us, my tutors, etc. Also included is a list of people who can vouch for much of this information. Please take note of the birthdays and my sister’s name. I believe you might have heard of her.”
The professor studied the paper, raising an eyebrow or two. “Your sister is the Karen that Prince Rigel is about to wed?”
Clare nodded.
Tommy rolled his eyes. Clare was really going to try selling her garbage to a history professor? Tommy figured the professor would kick them out onto the street within minutes.
He studied the sheets for several minutes and then spoke. “The birthdates of you and your sister are interesting.”
“Aren’t they?”
“What you seem to be suggesting, well, I wouldn’t put any credence to it if you didn’t bear a strong resemblance to Princess Tella and if the magistrate didn’t speak so highly of you and your abilities.”
Tommy was taken aback. Was the professor actually buying her crap?
“Is your sister being held against her will?” the professor asked.
Clare nodded.
The professor sighed. “You realize the dangers here, and who we’d be going up against, even if we proved your claims?
“Even the king isn’t above the law.”
“Theoretically, I suppose, child. But he could put an end to this little affair before it got to any court, I’m afraid. A scandal like this, well, the king would stoop to any means to squelch it before it reached the public. I really don’t see what we can do.”
“Professor, I’ve learned that Count Sorfan Crawley has recently been arrested by the king, and that the count’s brother is displeased at the king. Is this true?”
He nodded. “Blackmail is a dangerous game, child.”
“Not if all the blackmailer wants is the release of his son and of a kidnapped girl, and the documents the blackmailer holds are copied and sent to a certain tutor.”
The professor smiled. “A certain tutor who even the king has reason to fear? An interesting plan. I can see your tutors haven’t been wasted on you. But you must realize that even if your sister is set free, she’ll be in flight for the rest of her life.”
“Yes, I know. And if the king captures her, no one will hear of it, so he’ll be free to do with her as he likes. But I suspect she’ll have help in her flight, especially if you can get a message to a certain tutor quickly.”
“I’ll do what I can.”
“Thank you, professor. But there’s something else I should tell you: the king is a wizard, and probably a powerful one at that.”
The professor’s face turned gray. “You’re certain?”
She nodded.
He rubbed his jaw. “And as his blood… I see. Does the magistrate know of this?”
“No, sir, I just figured it out a couple days ago.”
“A king and a wizard. A dangerous combination. I’m not saying he’s necessarily evil, but this definitely raises the stakes for us. Thanks for your honesty in telling me this.”
“It was only fair, sir. You had to know what waters you were wading into.”
“Deep waters, indeed…Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go talk to someone who is connected to Count Crawley, in hopes that I might be able speak with the count’s brother tonight.”
Clare smiled. “I’m most grateful for your help, as I’m sure a certain tutor will be.”
“Please make yourselves at home. There is plenty of food and drink in the pantry. I might be late in returning, very late, but help yourselves to the guest rooms down the hallway.” The professor left.
Tommy shook his head. “I don’t have the foggiest clue what you two were talking about. All your little hints back and forth, like you were reading each other’s minds, or something. Will you please tell me what’s going on?”
“Karen and I are going to be hiding from the king for the rest of our lives. Are you with us, through thick and thin?”
“Of course. Are you saying you can get her freed?”
“I think so. It depends upon whether the professor can convince the count to agree to my plan.”
“Are you sure we can trust the professor?”
“Good. This tutor you mentioned, is he the wizard you mentioned before?”
“Neither Karen nor I spoke of a wizard. Classified information.”
“Okay, but can you tell me what’s going on?”
She smiled. “Okay, plowboy, and maybe now you might even believe me. But you can never tell anyone anything that I tell you, or I could get into a lot of trouble. Promise?”
“Promise. But how can you get into more trouble than having to run from the king for the rest of your life?”
She chuckled. “Believe me, I can always get into more trouble. But anyway, I’ll tell you what’s up in a nutshell.” She paused, probably for dramatic effect. “As you might have heard, the professor said that I bear a strong resemblance to Princess Tella, who is a student of his. The reason for the resemblance is that Tella is my full sister, and Karen’s as well.”
Tommy scratched his forehead. Karen, a princess? If that’s true, would she still want to marry him? The professor seemed to have bought Clare’s story, but did that make it a fact? And maybe the professor was on his way to the nearest psychiatrist to have her committed. “I’m not saying I believe you, but please continue.”
She smiled slightly. “The king is a wizard, and magic is a genetic trait. He—”
“What does ‘genetic’ mean?”
“A trait that is passed from parents to their children. Magic is a rare genetic trait, which is why the king chose to marry his own children—Karen and Prince Rigel—to each other in order to preserve magic in the royal line.”

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