More people. More cards. Great, just what I needed to feel even smaller. What can I do in this whole mess? That feeling grew as she heard the complete story of what had happened to the Marsh King’s Daughter. She had experienced the powers of the cards first-hand, but it had only been three ghosts, not a monstrosity as big as a ship. Yet, the captain’s tale was in a way quite familiar to her. What he described as the cards calling out to him, she had felt, too. Still felt it, actually, if she thought about those cards in the little black box. Lotye told herself that it was just her memory of what she had felt while the cards had been in her belongings, everything else was clearly impossible. A cold shiver ran down her spine. Corrupting souls …
Lord Nightwise continued to question the strange eorman, Lafitte, and asked him about the origin of his ship’s name. Clearly the captain wasn’t from Lyrion, or from any part of the world Lotye knew. That a well-travelled wizard like Jeneyeru couldn’t identify his accent either was a lot more interesting though. Lotye was so absorbed with listening that she was startled when the wizard seemed to turn to her with a question. Quickly she attempted to take a more upright position on the sofa, shaking her head. “No …”, she wanted to answer his question, but then she realised that he had never really asked her. Why should he? It was all just rhetoric, someone like Jeneyeru Nightwise didn’t have to ask an uneducated girl like her.
Still, Lotye tried to look a bit more self-assured, sitting upright and nodding her head whenever her name came up in the discussion. She didn’t say anything, there wasn’t anything for her to add and the Lord did not give her a chance to do so, anyway. Not to seem completely out of place, Lotye poured herself another cup of tea and took slow sips out of it every now and then, just to be occupied with something. The cup emptied dangerously fast.
Taking a sip of tea was also what she did when Prince Starhand looked directly at her. Over the lip of the cup, she looked back at him. Now that he had changed, he looked even more impressive. Clothed in blue silk, he was the paramount example of a young aristocrat. Where before only his attitude was the one of a nobleman, now his attitude combined with his appearance to show his powerful status. I’m sitting next to a hero and prince. If only my old father knew … He wouldn’t believe it.
The meeting came to an end with Captain Lafitte offering his services to the sons of the Duke of the Grand Navigators. It surprised Lotye that someone would actively try to get into these problems. She was all for adventures, normally, but on a smaller scale. This on the other hand just sounded like a lot of danger without any reward. Of course there was a reward for her: Freedom. But without her problems with the law as an incentive, she would have liked to be far, far away from all of this already.
Lotye emptied her cup of tea in one last, long sip and carefully set the delicate porcelain pot down on the table. Then she stood up with the others and for the first time her full voice was audible to everyone in the room:
“I think we should leave soon. I can’t say that my memory of the dealer and the place is very fresh, an we better not lose any more time. Though, before we move out, I’d suggest that we find some masks for everyone who’s part of the group. People will probably still take notice of the illustrious Ereonis brothers, but maybe it will take a little bit more time until word of mouth spreads to the guy we’re looking for. If I tried to sell these cards, …” Yeah, that was what I planned to do, didn’t turn out so well. “… I’d start running as soon as I heard something like this.”