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“Unpleasant, was it?”

“I don’t know.” She thought for a moment. “I was walking through the old church. I saw the missionaries kneeling and praying at the altar. It was so cold, it began to snow.” Absently she rubbed her hands over her arms. “That’s all I can remember.”

Her scent remained clear and sweet; she spoke the truth. Which meant their injuries were the result of Alys’s sleepwalking…or someone else had come into the chamber while they slept. Beau healed instantly, so whatever had been done to him didn’t matter. The thought of someone assaulting Alys, however, made a slow, burning fury ignite inside him. “Do you feel hurt anywhere else?”

“I don’t think so.” She stood, cautiously stretching out her arms and legs. “I’m a bit stiff, but I think that’s from setting up last night.” She picked up her watch from the lamp table and strapped it to her wrist. “The interns will be arriving soon. I’d better get dressed.”

When she went into the lavatory, Beau pulled on a shirt and his boots before making a complete circuit of the chamber, looking for signs of an intruder. He found no trace of unfamiliar scent in the air, or on anything that might have been used to strike them while they slept. At the same time he felt sure someone else had come inside the chamber.

If the intruder had touched nothing, and had taken the weapon with him…

Beau went upstairs and performed a thorough search of the cloister for trace scent. Wherever humans went, they dispersed tiny amounts of their sweat and other body odors into the air. Unless particularly strong, these traces were undetectable to other mortals. The Kyn, however, could pick them up for hours after the human’s passage. Because all humans had scents unique to them, the Kyn could also follow the invisible trail to wherever the mortal had gone.

The only scents Beau found inside the cloister were those belonging to Alys and himself. Outside the structure, all he could detect were the faint traces left behind by the interns.

A carefully shielded mortal, or a very controlled Kyn, might have invaded the camp while he and Alys slept, but unless the intruder could levitate, he would have left tracks in the dirt. The only footprints he saw belonged to him, Alys, and her team.

Everything indicated they had slept undisturbed, but Beau didn’t believe it. His instincts still insisted that someone had come in the night. Someone who wanted to harm Alys.

Beau’s hand itched for his sword. When I find him, and I will, I will introduce him to his entrails.

The sound of the cargo vans coming down the dirt road diverted his attention, and as he walked to meet the students, Alys caught up with him. “Beau, ah, would you mind not telling the interns about what happened last night?”

“They may have seen someone coming this way when they drove out,” he said.

“You can ask them if they did, but please don’t mention my sleepwalking and getting into bed with you and all that.”

She sounded shamed. Beau gritted his teeth. “Why not?”

“I don’t have the best reputation,” Alys said, surprising him. “With the way that students gossip, it could get back to Hylord and cause you some problems.” She sighed. “It would definitely get back to the university.”

She was blaming herself for this, and Beau couldn’t fathom why. “You did nothing wrong, Alys.”

“Your boss and the tenure board won’t see it that way.” She forced a smile as the interns piled out of the vans and started toward them. “Please. I have to deal with enough people who already think I’m crazy, and I don’t want to be responsible for getting you fired.” In a louder voice she called out to the students, “I hope everyone got plenty of sleep. We have a full schedule tonight.”

The students collectively groaned.

“That’s why they call it a working site, people.” Alys grinned at them. “The good news is that since you did such a thorough job last night setting up, we can begin the grid layout immediately. Chan, you and I will be operating the GPR. Brenda, Charles, you’ll handle marking, and Paolo, you’re on mapping. The rest of you can supply the workstations and set up the lab. Any questions?”

Brenda waved one long-nailed hand. “Can Beau—I mean, Mr. York—work with me and Charles?”

Some of the other students chimed in, asking the same, until Alys made a gesture for quiet. “Mr. York has his own work to attend to, and I’d appreciate it if you let him do it. We’ll break at ten and three for meals. Anything else?” When no one spoke, she nodded. “Let’s get started.”

The interns scattered in different directions, and Beau followed Alys as she walked toward the stable. “I’ve no real work of my own. I would be happy to assist your students.”

“Brenda and the other girls only want a chance to flirt with you,” she told him. “You should try to avoid giving any one of them too much attention. They develop attachments quickly, and at this age their egos are very fragile.”

Beau felt amused and annoyed. “Do you speak from experience?”

“Me? I don’t bother with romance.” She took out her flashlight and switched it on. “Emotional attachments are time-consuming and unpredictable, and the results are often disappointing. I don’t think I’m very good at them, either. Would you carry out that big blue case there?”

Beau retrieved what she wanted. “Matters of the heart are not experiments, Alys.”

She considered that. “I’ll have to take your word on that. I’ve never loved or been loved by anyone.”

She said it so matter-of-factly that he frowned. “What about your parents, your family?”

“My parents died in a car accident shortly after I was born. I spent my childhood at boarding schools. They were all excellent learning institutions, but growing up in a purely academic environment doesn’t encourage much in the way of personal bonding. I liked my schoolmates, and admired my teachers, but they weren’t effective substitutes for siblings or parents.”

Although she used unfamiliar words, Beau understood what she was saying. During his childhood Harlech’s family had been kind to him, and he had responded with steadfast loyalty, but he had never truly felt part of his foster brother’s boisterous, happy clan. “Who sent you away to school?”

“My guardian. He knew my parents, and when they were killed, he took care of me.” She shouldered a pack. “I didn’t see him very often, and he died last year.”

“I am sorry for your loss.” Beau picked up a second case she wanted before she could lift it. “Why didn’t your guardian bring you into his home and foster…raise you as his daughter?”

“We never discussed it,” she admitted, “but Robert was a bachelor, and he had to travel extensively for his work. Sometimes he sent postcards to me from different countries.”

Back in the processing area Alys gave Chan the task of assembling what she called “the trolley” while she set up a monitor screen, computer tower, and wireless transceiver.

To Chan she said, “Mr. York hasn’t worked at a site using ground-penetrating radar. Why don’t you explain the system to him?”

“Sure.” The intern turned to Beau. “The GPR transmits a signal into the ground, which bounces off subsurface features and objects. The receiver collects the return signals and displays them on the trolley’s LCD unit as a graphic. It also transmits them to the computer, where our software processes the time it takes for a signal reflection, and calculates parameters and depth. If the scans are clear, we should be able to construct a 3-D map of the area, which gives us precise coordinates.”

“We’ll need to use a lower-frequency signal out here,” Alys added. “Chan, please calibrate the emitter for two hundred megahertz to start. We’ll adjust it after we see the initial test scan.”

Beau eyed the trolley unit, which appeared to be little more than a four-wheeled cart. “How deep can the signal travel?”

“With this equipment, depending on the frequency we use, up to a thousand meters,” Chan said.

“The saturation of the ground will help.” Alys came over to adjust one of the switches on the trolley. “Dry soil doesn’t reflect signals very well. When it’s saturated, the moisture interfaces with buried objects, retaining or pooling on them, and that acts like a mirror. The more water present, the better the signal and the more details we can see in the reflection data.”

Beau studied the equipment as he sorted out what they had told him. “So you push this over the ground, and the echoes of the signal it makes creates a picture of what is beneath the soil. They tell you where you should dig, how deep, and what you will find.”

“It doesn’t take all the fun out of it,” Chan said as he attached the U-shaped push handle to the trolley. “We have to create image maps from the amplitude time-slices and interpret them. Spatial correlation is very objective as well. What we think looks like a Grecian goblet on the screen might turn out to be a big fossilized turd once we excavate.”

“A coprolite, you mean,” Beau corrected, and winked at Alys.

Jayr rose early from her rest, easing out of Aedan’s strong arms to silently dress and slip out of their bedchamber. Keeping the Realm running smoothly always required a great deal of time, and now she had only a few weeks with which to finish the renovations and finalize the arrangements for the new performance schedules. The innumerable details and conflicts involved proved a constant challenge; she felt for every task she accomplished, two more cropped up in its place.

Jayr first paid a visit to the administrative offices to call the Realm’s answering service and pick up the inevitable dozens of messages her mortal vendors left for her during the day. This time, however, the operator informed her that the messages had already been relayed to her assistant.

“Would you like me to read them again to you, ma’am?” the woman asked.

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