Roaring with rage, Brand ran around the tiled walkway surrounding the pool with his sword aloft to pursue the tall woman, who was fleeing through a narrow doorway on the far side of the bath, but Silk was already ahead of him, running swiftly after the woman with a long-bladed dagger held low.

Garion caught up the body of his wife in his arms and struggled toward the edge of the pool. With horror he realized that she was not breathing.

"What can I do?" he cried desperately. "Aunt Pol, what can I do?" But Aunt Pol was not there. He laid Ce'Nedra on the tiles on the edge of the pool. There was no sign of movement, no flutter of breath, and her face was a ghastly blue-gray color.

"Somebody help me!" Garion cried out, catching the tiny, lifeless form in his arms and holding it very close to him.

Something throbbed, sharply against his chest, and he looked into his wife's still face, desperately searching for some sign of life. But Ce'Nedra did not move, and her little body was limp. Again he caught her to him.

Once again he felt that sharp throb -almost like a blow against his heart. He held Ce'Nedra away from him again, searching with tear-filled eyes for the source of that strange, jolting throb. The flickering light of one of the torches stuck in iron rings around the marble walls of the pool seemed to dance on the polished surface of the silver amulet at her throat. Could it have been- ? With a trembling hand he put his fingertips to the amulet. He felt a tingling shock in his fingers. Startled, he jerked his hand away. Then he closed his fist about the amulet. He could feel it in his palm, throbbing like a silver heart, beating with a faltering rhythm.

"Ce'Nedra!" he said sharply. "You've got to wake up. Please don't die, Ce'Nedra!" But there was no sign, no movement from his wife. Still holding the amulet, Garion began to weep. "Aunt Pol," he cried brokenly, "what can I do?"

"Garion?" It was Aunt Pol's startled voice, coming to him across the empty miles.

"Aunt Pol," he sobbed, "help me!"

"What is it? What's wrong?"

"It's Ce'Nedra. She -she's been drowned!" And the full horror of it struck him like some great, overwhelming blow, and he began to sob again, great, tearing sobs.

"Stop that!" Aunt Pol's voice cracked like a whip. "Where?" she demanded. "When did this happen?"

"Here in the baths. She's not breathing, Aunt Pol. I think she's dead."

"Stop babbling, Garion!" Her voice was like a slap in the face. "How long has it been since her breathing stopped?"

"A few minutes -I don't know."

"You don't have any time to lose. Have you got her out of the water?"

"Yes -but she's not breathing, and her face is like ashes."

"Listen carefully. You've got to force the water out of her lungs. Put her down on her face and push on her back. Try to do it in the same rhythm as normal breathing, and be careful not to push too hard. You don't want to hurt the baby."

"But- "

"Do as I say, Garion!"

He turned his silent wife over and began to carefully push down on her ribs. An astonishing amount of water came out of the tiny girl's mouth, but she remained still and unmoving.

Garion stopped and took hold of the amulet again. "Nothing's happening, Aunt Pol."

"Don't stop."

He began pushing on Ce'Nedra's ribs again. He was about ready to despair, but then she coughed, and he almost wept with relief. He continued to push at her back. She coughed again, and then she began to cry weakly. Garion put his hand on the amulet. "She's crying, Aunt Pol! She's alive!"

"Good. You can stop now. What happened?"

"Some woman tried to kill her here in the baths. Silk and Brand are chasing the woman now."

There was a long silence. "I see," Aunt Pol said finally. "Now listen, Garion -carefully. Ce'Nedra's lungs will be very weak after this. The main danger right now is congestion and fever. You've got to keep her warm and quiet. Her life -and the baby's- depend on that. As soon as her breathing is stronger, get her into bed. I'll be there as soon as I can." Garion moved quickly, gathering up every towel and robe he could find to make a bed for his weakly crying wife. As he covered her with a cloak, Silk returned, his face grim, and Brand, puffing noticeably, was right behind him.

"Is she all right?" the big Warder asked, his face desperately concerned.

"I think so," Garion said. " I got her breathing started again. Did the woman get away?"

"Not exactly." Silk replied. "She ran upstairs until she reached the battlements. When she got up there, I was right behind her. She saw that there was no way to escape, so she threw herself off."

Garion felt a surge of satisfaction at that. "Good," he said without thinking.

"No. Not really. We needed to question her. Now we'll never find out who sent her here to do this."

"I hadn't thought of that."

Brand had gone sadly to the silent body of his niece. "My poor Arell," he said, his voice full of tears. He knelt beside her and took hold of the dagger protruding from her back.

"Even in death, she served her queen," he said almost proudly.

Garion looked at him.

"The dagger's stuck," Brand explained, tugging at it. "The woman who killed her couldn't get it out. That's why she was trying to drown Ce'Nedra. If she'd been able to use this knife, we'd have been too late."

"I'm going to find out who's responsible for this," Garion declared from between clenched teeth. "I think I'll have him flayed."

"Flaying is good," Silk agreed. "Or boiling. Boiling has always been my favorite."

"Garion," Ce'Nedra said weakly, and all thoughts of vengeance fled from Garion's mind as he turned to her. While he held his wife close to him, he dimly heard Silk speaking quietly to Brand.

"After somebody picks up what's left of our would-be assassin," the little man was saying in a terse voice, "I'd like to have all of her clothing brought to me."

"Her clothing?"

"Right. The woman isn't able to talk anymore, but her clothing might. You'd be surprised at how much you can learn about someone by looking at his undergarments. We want to find out who was behind this, and that dead woman out there is our only clue. I want to find out who she was and where she came from. The quicker I can do that, the quicker we can start heating up the oil."


"I'm going to simmer the man who was behind this -slowly and with a great deal of attention to every exquisite detail."