Jeneyeru Nightwise sipped his tea and awaited the answers to his questions, his smile warming and broadening as they came, each in their turn — Lafitte, then Lotye, then Lafitte again.
“Excellent,” he purred when they were done, “it’s all settled then. As I said, Captain, the destination is Mt. Isolla, at the summit of which stands the Cloister of Truth, home of the Guild of Wizards and Magi. Thimble, a map, please.”
While his valet went to fetch the requested item, Jeneyeru turned to Aeto Arrowwise and her client, Lotye O’Tulvar. “Milady Attorney, have you the necessary papers for us to sign?”
Aeto was already digging through her satchel. “I believe I do… and what I lack I shall write as we speak.”
In short order, one end of the breakfast table was spread with sheets of paper, with Aeto scribbling upon her knees while Lotye signed one page after another.
While they got that sorted, Jeneyeru said to Lafitte, “We shall have to wait upon my brother, the Prince, of course, and he shall have to make some arrangement for the Daughter and her crew and cargo. I must lay in provisions as well. Let us take the day to prepare and set sail with the dawn, or… do you fancy flying at night? Ah, here is the map. Thank you, Thimble.”
“Master Nightwise, if I may interrupt?” Aeto interjected to get Jeneyeru’s signature and seal on a few pages, and when all was as the law required, she rolled the Lotye O’Tulvar papers up and tied them with a string. “Milord, my work here is done. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done on my client’s behalf.” The blue-robed lawyer offered a low and eloquent bow, which Jeneyeru accepted with a gracious nod. “Good day to you, milord, and please accept my best wishes for the success of your journey. Captain, good day. Lotye, will you walk me out?”
“Farewell, Attorney Arrowwise,” said Jeneyeru. “It has been my pleasure to meet you. Please, leave your card for me with Mistress O’Tulvar.” As the women left the salon, he traded the breakfast tray for the map Thimble had brought, spreading the large parchment out on the table between him and Lafitte.
“Behold, Captain, the Royal Providences of Raurugia. Sesus, here on the Arian Sea at the mouth of the Serpent Straits,” he touched his finger to the symbol of the capital city on the tip of the southwestern peninsula of the large island nation, one of the Great Isles of the so-called Shattered Lands of Lyrion.
“And here,” his long, dark finger slid north-northeast through the center of the map to come to rest on a particular point, “Isolla, highest peak in the Mountains of Mists. Between the two points, rather pleasant countryside, as it happens. You can see the rivers and major towns, trains and whatnot, all marked out. The mountains themselves, however, are quite challenging — rugged, wreathed in clouds — hence the name — many areas inaccessible. Port — I suppose we may call it that — may be made at villages in the valleys, but the highlands and peaks belong to bandits, wolves, and dragons. Too far inland for rocs, at least.”
Jeneyeru sighed. “Two years have passed since my last visit there, when I personally laid the Daemon Arcana in the Guild’s vault. Ah, well. Your ship should be equipped for high altitude and ice, as the clouds can be very cold in the upper reaches. You may plot your course as far as this range, where Isolla stands, but then I will pilot you to the Cloister of Truth. It takes a tenth level master at least to pierce the Veils of Crystal Obfuscation around the place.”
As Jeneyeru’s manicured fingertip tapped the point on the map, one might have imagined swirling, snowy clouds shrouding a landscape full of the described dangers. Indeed, the Guild of Wizards and Magi was so far out of the way that relatively few of its members, even the highest ranked, had ever made the trek to the Cloister of Truth, but Jeneyeru’s own master, his mentor from the days of his sutanehl, was one of the Exalted Masters of the Guild, and so the second son of the House of Ereon was familiar with the ways and tricks of that particular Guild House. It was that Exalted Master, his old teacher, who concerned Jeneyeru most at the moment, as his memories of Mt. Isolla replayed in his mind.
— — —
Aeto Arrowwise was also concerned, not for one from her past but for one she’d only just met. At the door of the embassy apartment, she looked Lotye O’Tulvar up and down.
“Well,” she said, “you have your Order of Release, yes? Do not lose it, just in case, at least until you really are out of Raurugia. Until then, do as the Lord Magus tells you and stay out of trouble.”
She paused, looking at the young eorman woman, luxuriant chestnut hair cascading over her shoulders, and she saw the shadow of uncertainty in Lotye’s eyes. The tall, lanky merrow in the robes and woolcap of her profession gripped the girl’s arm.
“Do not fear, but still be careful. The Brothers Ereonis are men of excellent reputation, or else I would have objected to you going with Lord Nightwise. But they are also men of valor, and that means danger follows them. So mind yourself and how you go. Here,” she produced several of her visiting cards, “one card for Lord Nightwise, and three for you. I know I’ve already given you one, but take more. I’ve had them specially enchanted for my regular clients. If you need my help, just say to the card, ‘Get me my lawyer.’ You don’t even have to say it in Atul, Common will do. Then throw the card into the wind. It will fly to me as fast as a thought and tell me where you are and what your trouble is.”
Aeto smiled her wide, flat smile, marveling just a little at the almost maternal feeling she had developed for this little eorman thief.
“Good luck, Lotye O’Tulvar of Farind,” she said. “May the wind be always at your back.”
Thus Aeto Arrowwise said goodbye to her client and to the Embassy of the Grand Navigators, leaving Lotye to return to her new employer in the salon.