Plesz, on the way to Merchantman House…
Ruili raised an eyebrow at the eager young alien. Her argument reminded him of his own attempts from time to time to persuade his father of various things, investors to back his plays, and even his captains when he first went to sea as a boy to let him do things he was in no way trained or qualified to handle. Sometimes, those attempts had even been successful.
“I don’t know…” he said with exaggerated uncertainty. “It will involve a long sea voyage, preferably at speed, and it may even be quite dangerous. The prudent course would be for you to stay here, though as you say, I couldn’t use my own eyes to make sure of your safety. But then,” he leaned back in the wicker seat as the bicycle-taxi turned up Cherryrose Lane, quiet and peaceful, showing no hint of the recent mayhem across town, “I could send you up to the Citadel, let mums and pa look after you. Then I could be sure. You’d be safe as a miser’s purse up there. Why, they’d never let you out their sight.”
He gave her a sly, sideways look. “Wouldn’t you rather spend your time with Her Grace the Duchess, entertaining nobles in that pretty garden and hearing petitions about school extensions and aqueducts and other domestic affairs of state instead of suffering again the discomforts of the cold, wet ocean?”
“Most likely yes,” said Y’lanna, “but wouldn’t you prefer my company during the journey?”
Ruili threw back his head and laughed. He eased his arm around her shoulders. “I think you can guess the answer to that, but alas, Lady Lavender, this will be no pleasure cruise. It will be hard work and hard conditions, and it will start even before dawn, to put together crew and provisions and — Oh, I don’t even know what ship I’ll take. I can’t use the Wolf. She’s a ship of state and built for war, not racing. Ah, well.” He raised Y’lanna’s hand to his lips for a light, brief, courtly kiss. “I have my work set out for me tonight, but you, milady, shall have until dawn to decide if you want to quit the nice, soft bed that awaits you to tour Aeldreth the selkie way.”
The taxi pulled up to the Merchantman House, and Ruili handed Y’lanna out of the seat and into the house that could yet be her home a little longer, or not, as she would choose.
— — —
Sesus, the Great Hall of the Floating Throne…
“Serene Highness,” Crown Prince Iomeo whispered into Peino Starhand’s ear as the royal breakfast concluded and the nobles and diplomats left their seats, to the applause of the watchers in the gallery, “I know the commander of the Garrison of the North. I went to school with him. A worthy warrior native to the Raurugian mountains. Knows that region like the back of his hand. He could be of great service to you.”
“Indeed, August Highness?” The selkie prince met the eyes of the merrow prince with a raised eyebrow.
“The High Priest of Lyr has already told my father that a darkness lies over Isolla, but even the Eye of the Seas cannot see into it. If a Paladin of Caillech and the Champion of the Navigators are going to investigate, the Floating Throne will surely support them. Allow the Throne to present you a Letter of Marque to make it official.”
A sly old shark is Iviar, Peino thought as he quickly calculated the points this impromptu quest would gain the Sovereign Duchy on the running tote-board of rivalry of favors between the House of Ereon and the Floating Throne.
Smiling, he executed an elegant bow.
“With all the gratitude of my heart, August Highness.”
— — —
Sesus, the Embassy of the Grand Navigators…
“Ah, poor dear,” Jeneyeru murmured as Lotye’s absorption of the news that she may have become the target of a gang assassin was interrupted by a new arrival.
“Captain Lafitte?” He raised an eyebrow at the guard who brought the message. “Yes, indeed, send him up at once.”
And moments later, when the tall, rugged eorman entered the apartment, “My dear Captain, the very man I longed to see. I was just going to visit you, myself.” He linked his arm with Lafitte’s, ignoring the fact that he was still in his dressing gown and sleeping shirt and nowhere near ready to have gone out into the street. “Do come and join us, won’t you? I have something I wish to discuss with you.”