Once they were safely away, Raj said, “You should stay away from him. Girald. He’s not safe.”
Samir knew that. Samir knew that very well, but it was an interesting thing for Raj to say. “Has Lysander had a run-in with him?”
“No, I—” Raj broke off, sighed. “It’s just that I’ve…heard things.”
It was an evasive answer, but considering Samir wasn’t about to volunteer his own knowledge of Girald, he could hardly take Raj to task for hiding things. “Don’t worry. I have no interest in getting anywhere near him.”
The question was, would Girald leave Samir alone?
Samir knew things about Girald. Girald knew things about Samir. Samir didn’t know just how much Girald knew, either about what Samir had done, or what Samir had figured out. That was what would determine just how dangerous Girald was, and Samir had no way to find out the answers to those questions without giving everything away.
Samir, the outside Samir, cringed, knowing that Varajas and Ruan were here with him, could hear these thoughts.
Everybody’s keeping secrets, it seems, Varajas said drily.
Ruan was silent, and Samir wished he could actually turn to look at the man, or anything to get some clue what might be going through his head. This was Samir’s magic, and he was in control, but right now, he felt anything but.
Especially when Raj’s next question was, “Why are you here, Samir?”
Samir pressed his lips together, said nothing.
So Raj kept going. “I know, it’s none of my business. I get that. But it’s dangerous here, even more than I expected. Between the strangeness at the castle, and Girald, there’s something going on I don’t like at all.” He took a deep breath, seemed to be struggling with the next words. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
Samir had to fight down an utterly inappropriate urge to laugh. “Too late.”
“Yeah. I figured that out too. But still…whatever’s got you here—is it worth all this?”
If it had been any one thing, probably not. If it had been just about his favor to Sheluna, or just about facing down his own nightmares, or just about seeing if he could actually operate in the world again—but it was all those things. All stuck together.
And now the question of what was happening at Ulek. What magic that was powerful enough to make the entire castle seem to fall out of everyone’s minds, and subtle enough that Archwizards, Princes, and the Brotherhood’s High Father hadn’t noticed it happening.
“I can’t leave. Not yet.”
Raj sounded resigned when he asked, “Can I at least help?”
Samir appreciated the moral support, and it was certainly nice having Raj at his side, but this was magic. Raj wasn’t equipped to deal with it. He’d only get himself hurt.
“Let’s find Lysander’s camp and get settled in. I’m not making any decisions about anything until I’ve had some dinner and a chance to think.”