WebNovel Incarceron Part 5

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Incarceron is a web novel completed by Catherine Fisher. This lightnovel is currently completed.

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Read WebNovel Incarceron Part 5

“Claudia, I’ve been thinking about your theory. I want you to tell me about how your engagement was arranged.”

“Well, you were here, weren’t you?”

He smiled his gentle smile.”It may seem to you as if I’ve been here forever, but I actually came just after your fifth birthday. The Warden sent to the Academy for the best Sapient available. His daughter’s tutor could be nothing less.”

Reminded of her father’s words, she frowned.

Jared looked at her sideways.”Did I say something?”

“Not you.”

She reached out to the fox but it turned away from her, tucking itself tidily into Jared’s arm.

So she said sourly,”Well, it depends which engagement you mean. I’ve had two.”

“The first.”

“I can’t. I was five. I don’t remember it.”

“But they betrothed you to the King’s son. To Giles.”

“As you said, the Warden’s daughter doesn’t get second best.”

She jumped up and prowled around the observatory, picking up papers restlessly. His green eyes watched her.

“He was a handsome little boy, I remember.”

Her back to him, she said,”Yes. Every year after that the Court painter would send a little picture of him. I’ve got them all in a box. Ten of them. He had dark brown hair and a kind, st.u.r.dy face. He would have been a fine man.”

She turned.”I only really met him once. When we went to his seventh birthday party at Court. I remember a boy sitting on a throne too big for him. They had to put a box for his feet. He had big brown eyes. He was allowed to kiss me on the cheek, and he was so embarra.s.sed.”

She smiled, remembering.”You know how boys go really red. Well, he went scarlet. All he could mumble was, *h.e.l.lo, Claudia Arlexa. I’m Giles.’ He gave me a bunch of roses. I kept them till they fell to pieces.”

She went to the telescope and sat astride the stool, hitching her dress up to her knees. The Sapient stroked the cub, watching Claudia adjust the eyepiece and gaze through it.”You liked him.”

She shrugged.”You’d never have thought he was the Heir. He was just like any other boy. Yes, I liked him. We could have gotten along.”

“But not his brother, the Earl? Not even then?”

Her fingers turned the fine dials.

“Oh him! That twisted grin. No, I knew what he was like straightaway. He cheated at chess and tipped the board over if he was losing. He screamed at the servants, and some of the other girls told me things. When my … when the Warden came home and told me Giles had died so suddenly … that all the plans would have to be changed, I was furious.”

She sat up and turned quickly.”What I swore to you then still goes. Master, I can’t marry Caspar. I won’t marry him. I detest him.”

“Calm down, Claudia.”

“How can I!” She was on her feet now, pacing.

“I feel as though everything’s crashed in on me! I thought we’d have time, but a few days! We have to act, Jared. I have to get into the study, even if your machine is untested.”

He nodded. Then he lifted the cub off and dumped it on the floor, ignoring its snarl of dismay.

“Come and look at this.”

Beside the telescope the monitor nickered. He touched the control and the screen rippled with words in the Sapient tongue of which he had never, for all her pleading, taught her a word. As he scrolled through in a bat whipped through the opened room and vanished back into the night.

Claudia glanced around.”We should be careful.”

“I’ll shut the windows in a moment.” Absently Jared stopped the text.

“Here.”

His delicate fingers touched a key and the translation appeared.

“Look. This is a fragment of a burned draft of a letter written by the Queen, retrieved and copied by a Sapient spy in the Palace, three years ago. You asked me to find anything that might support your absurd theory-“

“Its not absurd.”

“Well, your unlikely theory, then, that Giles’s death was-“

“Murder.”

———-

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