Ch. 41. Two Captains, Two Cards

At the Alderman’s…

Peino’s dagger point remained steady but his eyes followed the card as Lafitte tossed it onto the table.  There it was, his suspicion proved, the drawing of the Blood Larvae, those disgusting beasts, telling him this had to be from his brother’s deck.

Lafitte’s rejection of the thing spoke volumes to Peino.  Perhaps, it was just that, like many eormen, he had little aura sense and no magic and, thus, no appreciation of the card’s temptations, but no, that wasn’t it.  He wasn’t just rejecting an enchanted item but, rather, the evil of its magic.  Clearly he had felt it and resisted its pull, nothing to be scoffed at even with only one card in hand and no knowledge of its true use.  Peino knew how hard that was.  He knew it all too well.

As quickly as it had come out, the ivory-handled dagger was lowered and returned to its sheath on Peino’s hip, opposite its companion rapier.  As before, his action signaled action in his officers, and the other blades retreated as well, though perhaps a bit more slowly.

“Thank you, Landlord,” said Peino to the worried innkeeper, “there is no problem.” As the man, seeming uncertain, withdrew, Peino looked at Lafitte with an apologetic but still somewhat wry smile.  “Liege? I fear I’ve stepped above myself, my good sir.  I’m no king.  The formal form of address is ‘Highness,’ but ‘Captain’ will do among captains, Captain.  I beg a moment.”

Turning his attention from Lafitte, Peino drew the wrapped card from the inside pocket of his coat.  “Milady Watersinger, if you would secure that item, please?”

“Certainly, sir.”  The dark-haired wizard took the small flat packet and laid the cloth, a cambric handkerchief, really, painted with the arcane circle of the Invocation of Nothingness, open on the table, revealing the Two of Blood within.  Tracing a gesture over the Lafitte’s Three, she whispered the ward, and kept chanting it softly, “Ayaziyi-sen… Tzuran-sen… bal,” as she picked it up gingerly by the corners and laid it on its mate.  The easing of tension was palpable as she closed the cloth over them both, ending with a final, sighing, “…bal.”

“The containment is complete.”

“Thank you.”  Peino returned the folded cloth to his pocket.  “I assure you, Captain Lafitte, these will be delivered to a competent authority.  Please accept my gratitude for delivering the second card to me.”  He resumed his seat and uncorked the bottle of mead Lafitte had brought, pouring a fresh glass and refilling his own.  Sliding the new glass towards the eorman, he raised his.  “Your health, sir.”

The selkie leaned back in the wooden chair and regarded the eorman, both of them being watched carefully by their officers.  “Was there anything else you wished to discuss?”

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