“Very well then,” said Jeneyeru Nightwise, smiling.
In short order, Lafitte’s pistols were secured in the strong-cabinet in the apartment, one of many vaults and safes throughout the embassy building. Only the immediate family of the Dukedom and the Lord Ambassador had the ward-charm to open this iron box built into an interior wall. In it were stored cash, weapons, magical objects, and vital documents of the Sovereign Duchy – and for this night, it would also hold the incriminating crossbows and the borrowed Box of Nothing.
When Captain Lafitte was satisfied with the safety of his property, the brothers bid him and Ionas Farseer goodnight.
“We have done all we can this day,” said Jeneyeru. “I shall accompany my brother to wait upon the King in first quarter. Let us meet again after the audience is done. Sleep well, my dear Captain Lafitte.”
Later, when Lafitte and Farseer were gone and Thimble had shown Lotye O’Tulvar to the small room prepared for her, Peino stopped into Jeneyeru’s bedchamber. He found his brother cleansing the pixie dust from his face in preparation for bed. Peino leaned against the wall next to the mirrored dressing table.
“So, my brother, have you a plan for tomorrow?”
Jeneyeru patted a damp cloth over his cheeks. “I haven’t worked it all out yet. While I awaited your arrival, I sent psychegraphs to various parties, in particular to several Masters at the Guild House at Mt. Isolla. The answers have been disturbing.”
“What do they say from Isolla?”
“Nothing. That is the most disturbing answer of all. I must scry upon the matter tonight.”
Peino nodded, frowning. Jeneyeru watched his face closely.
“What happened in the alley before I came out of the enchanter’s shop?” he asked.
“That eorman happened,” said Peino, his voice tense. “The usual sort of scuffle began, and out of the clouds, he shot one of the Sesans, right there in the street. ‘Pon my oath, I think he is as mad as a drunken troll, and as trustworthy.”
“Why did you bring him to me, then?”
“Because he stated his intent to come whether I brought him or no. I wanted my eye upon him and judged it better to travel with him than be chased by him and to introduce him to you rather than have him spring upon you unawares.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Jeneyeru with a sly grin, “that might have been amusing.”
“You like him.”
“He has a certain charm. I suppose it is too much to hope that he…?”
“I wouldn’t know, Jeney,” Peino laughed shortly, “but have a care. I suspect he is a traveler. Did you not notice the strangeness about him?”
The wizard nodded, gazing into the mirror before him. “Yes, I did. That is no accent of any land of Aeldreth I have ever heard.”
“And his ship, which you have not seen. It is a flying vessel.”
“No, far madder. A hot-air float, similar to the cargo carriers they use in central Aria, but … different. Very different. And crewed by dregs and outcasts.”
“And that Lord Farseer of Ymuin. Perhaps we should look him up in the Register.”
“More on my mind is his first mate, another eorman. He put the wind up old Longblade as well as our cousin Nyora when we met him in Kledy. He has the air of an assassin about him, or a brigand. Perhaps both.”
Jeneyeru took his turn to laugh. “And these are the odd-men you thought to bring to me? Ah, well-a-day, perhaps we may have a bit of fun with them yet – or at least I may. You have the pretty Mistress O’Tulvar. What is the roster so far, a pirate, an assassin, and now a thief? I may as well take on a mad eorman. I shall not be outdone in scandal by my own brother.”
“Two assassins,” Peino corrected Jeneyeru, “but I have no plans with regard to Mistress O’Tulvar.”(“Of course not,” said the wizard with a wink.) “Speaking of oddlings, why did you bring her in?”
“She awakened one of the cards by accident. The Arcana have her blood. It could be of help.”
That brought the shadow of trouble to Peino’s face again. “I see. Well, I shall leave you to your scrying. I must rest for the rigmarole tomorrow. Goodnight, Jeney.”
“Good night, Pei.”
At the door, Peino hesitated. “I thought I would never see those cards or their beasts again. What do you think happened at Isolla?”
Jeneyeru sighed. “I dare not imagine. Perhaps I underestimated the Beings, or else over-estimated the Masters.”
“You will go to Isolla.”
It was not a question, so Jeneyeru merely nodded.
“I will go with you.”
Jeneyeru nodded again.
The brothers parted, Peino going to his own chamber. As the stormy evening became night and the hours of the day’s fourth quarter slipped away to the rhythm of rain clattering against the windows, Lord Nightwise sat up, seeking wisdom in the smokey crystal of the Staff of Ghosts.
Lord Starhand sat up as well, writing the account of the day in his log book. They would go to Isolla, but who or what would follow with them – the Flying Eorman and his ship-load of miscreants and misfits, the storm-cursed son of the House of Ymuin, the chestnut-haired thief caught in a web of law and magic – that was uncertain to him. In his notes, he began to calculate the many possible contingencies.