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Wedding bells part 3



One last partial chapter dump, so I can clean my brain out and move on to other things. Woohoo! I won't be leaving this story alone (alas the action parts come later and earlier, but aren't actually written) but it is getting set aside for now so I can work on the earlier parts of the series.


This is the third in the set of three I posted. The first one was the middle, and the second the beginning (yay for discontinuity) if you want to go read those. They're all chapter starters and get maybe halfway into the chapter before they stop, leaving the setup but no good stuff, alas. Just big teasers, I guess.


Wedding Bells, part 3


William sat on the rough wood bench and leaned back against the rough-hewn wall behind him. The stones were cold and damp, and the cell stank of urine. He could hear small creatures scrabbling through the moldy straw scattered on the floor, and didn't want to think about what might be living in the bedroll on the pallet in the corner.


One full wall of the cell was open, iron bars criss-crossing the space. The doorway was only a small part of it, just large enough to get a man through, not offering enough space to do anything that might give a prisoner a chance to escape.


William looked at the bracelets locked on his wrists. Five inches long, made of a silvery metal, with eight oblong gemstones set around each. There was a ridge at either end of each bracelet, with a spiderwork tracery of lines covering the metal surface. Both bracelets fit William's wrists snugly, as if they were made for him. There were no seams or signs of joining.


He knew what they were, dampening bracelets used to keep anyone with talent from using magic to escape the jails. The constabulary had been using them for as long as anyone could remember, seven hundred years or more. In all that time there had never been any record of someone prisoned with them using magic to escape. William gave a wry smile, thinking it unlikely that someone would have admitted if it had happened.


Ben? He thought out. Are you OK?


A moment went by before he got an answer. I live, came the thought. William felt a flash of discomfort with it, answered by a surge of his own anger. His husband had been injured somewhere along the way. He fought down an impulse to find out who had done it and hurt them badly.


Do you need any help, he asked instead.


He felt the chuckle in his head. I don't think the guards are likely to be too sympathetic, Ben replied. And there seems to be something between us.


William smiled at Ben's wry observation. He let his Sight slip in and his mind wander, searching for Ben. To his surprise he found him, in the cell next to his, only a foot or two of stone separating them. Sloppy work, the guards were supposed to keep people who had been captured together separated, to prevent them from working together to escape.


The wall had been spelled, traceries of the magic glowing bright in William's Sight, resembling the linework on the bracelets meant to keep him from Seeing, and keep him from working any magic. The wards felt like old friends or an old quilt, comforting in their familiarity. He let his will loose, warping the patterns and shifting the stone. He had never been good at earth magic, but the walls had been spelled so long they were as much magic as physical. A portal the size of a large man shimmered and opened in front of him. On the other side was Ben, watching the wall melt with a little smile on his face.


"Fancy meeting you here," he said, as he stepped through the opening. Once through William let go his control. The magics shifted back and the wall reappeared, unmarked, showing no signs that moments ago there had been a hole in it.


"We really have to find a higher class inn to stay at," William replied, moving in to kiss Ben. For all that the cell was nasty, it wasn't the worst place the two of them had shared since they'd been together.


When they broke the kiss Ben stepped back and sat on the bench.


"I'm surprised," he said, "that you could do that. From what I've heard of this place, I would have expected the jails to be slightly more difficult to get out of."


William sat next to him. "Yes, well," he said, holding up his wrists, "these stop prisoners from working magics, and the walls are well warded." He took Ben's hand in his, twining his fingers together. "Look if you like."


Ben's eyes unfocussed as he stared at the wall next to him. Despite the injury he'd had years ago that took his own Sight, he could share William's talent and shift his vision to higher planes when the two were in close contact. Ben raised his hand into the air, tracing out lines that weren't there.


"Interesting," he said. "A good, solid ward, worked through the wall. It's been there a long time, from the look of things." Ben turned, his eyes focusing on William. He lifted their intertwined hands up, looking at the matching bracelets they both wore.


"The wards and these bracelets are linked somehow," he said. "The resemblance is strong."


William smiled. "Very. The spells on the locks of the door are similar as well. Care to take them off," he asked. "They're fetching, certainly, but they don't suit us."


"No," Ben said, smiling at the man next to him, "the stones don't match your eyes."


Still holding their hands up, he traced the lines of the bracelet on William's wrist, muttering softly, brow furrowed with concentration. A moment later the bracelet shuddered, then fell off William's arm in two pieces. The bracelet on his other wrist gave way at the same time.


"Now that's interesting," William observed. "You shouldn't have been able to do that."


"Oh? And why not," asked Ben, as he traced lines on his own bracelet. His too opened and fell off. This pair had taken less time than the first, even with Ben speaking as he worked the magic that loosened them.


"Well, they're supposed to be effective on anyone but the royal family," he said, looking at Ben. The corner of his mouth ticked up, a half-smile working its way out, "and their consorts, of course."


"Of course," Ben replied, matching the smile. The implication was very clear. "The wall trick was impressive," he said, switching topics. "I hadn't realized that you were so adept with earth magics. That would've been handy when we were dealing with the D'zgan tunnel worms.


William blushed and ducked his head, feeling embarrassed like he'd just been caught cheating. "Um," he said, "I'm not that good." He looked up and caught Ben smiling at him. He knew he'd just been caught out, though Ben was far from angry. "The walls


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