dreams of his father, Jarred, who is being questioned by an agent
of the Shadow Lord.
"It is said that a boy of about your son's age is one of the three
criminals who are roving the land, trying to overturn the Master's
plans," Fallow said slowly. "With him are a girl and a grown man.
A black bird flies with them."
"Why are you telling me this?" The man on the floor moved restlessly.
He seemed to be merely impatient. But Lief, who knew him so well,
could see that he had been listening intently. No doubt he was wondering
furiously about this mention of a girl and a black bird. He knew
nothing of Jasmine and Kree, or what had happened in the Forests
"This boy," Fallow went on, "could be your son. You are crippled,
and may have sent him on some useless quest in your place. The mancould
Lief's father laughed. The laugh sounded completely natural. As
of course it would, Lief thought. It was absurd to think of Barda
being mistaken for the delicate, cautious King Endon.
Fallow's thin lips set in a hard line. He lowered the flame of
the torch till it flickered dangerously in front of the laughing
"Take good care, Jarred," he snarled. "Do not try my patience
too far. Your life is in my hands. And not only yours."
The laughing stopped. Lief ground his teeth as he saw his father
once again bow his head.
Fallow walked to the door. "I will be back," he said in a low
voice. "think over what I have said. The next time I come to see
you, I will come expecting answers. If you have done what we suspect,
mere pain will not make you tell the truth. But perhaps the pain
of one you love will be more persuasive."
He lifted a fist and thumped on the door. It opened and he went
through, banging it behind him. The key turned in the lock.
"Father!" Lief cried to the figure slumped against the wall. "Father,
do not despair. We have four of the gems. And now we are going to
Dread Mountain to find the fifth. We are moving as fast as we can!"
But his father sat motionless, staring unseeing into the darkness.
"They are alive," he whispered. "Alive, and succeeding!"
His eyes glowed. Chains rattled as he clenched his fists. "Oh,
Lief, Bardagood fortune! I am fighting my fight here, as best
I can. You must fight yours. My hopes and prayers go with you!"