Like the rest of the south side of Sesus, the Plaza of Diamonds was flooded by what Lord Jeneyeru Nightwise Ereonis had started calling “Mr. Farseer’s Rain.” Nevertheless, not even the continuous downpour could dampen the mercantile energy of the Feast of the Triumvirate, or the incense rich perfume of one of the world’s premier magic markets, or the hum of concentrated aura that almost throbbed from the shops with their myriad diamond-paned windows.
The water-taxi slid up to one of the floating platforms hastily strung across the waters, and Jeneyeru, dressed for the weather in a rainbow-striped coat and cloud gray rain cloak, leaped onto the pitching boards.
“Come, my little seal pups,” he said to Lotye and Thimble, “let us equip ourselves.”
Having tired of the Sesan fashion for masks — “It cannot be good for one’s skin.” — he had opted for a rain veil draped over his cocked hat and down around his shoulders. He lifted the veil now and handed each of his employees a small purse of coins.
“This is for provisions for the voyage, so spend it wisely. Thimble, you have your list. We shall meet again here, where the taxis congregate.”
“Yes, milord.” The small faerie darted off into the jostling crowd that kept the platforms rolling underfoot. Jeneyeru rode the turbulence with the comfortable ease of the sea folk, and he smiled at Lotye just as easily.
“Do you know, Mistress O’Tulvar — really, we shall have to make a name for you, but for now, may I call you Lotye?” His aristocratic nose crinkled in amusement as the matter was settled. Lotye would have to get used to his habit of stating his intentions in the form of questions. “Do you know, milady Lotye, it occurs to me that we have not decided just what you will do for me. We cannot have employment without duties, can we?”
Standing there among the shoppers, with the rain pouring down and the sea flowing under them, he gestured towards the various signs all around.
“Look about you. What tools do you think you will need in your new position? What piques your interest? There, what about the apothecary, Falseroot & Bane? Potions, philters, diagnostic mirrors and pendulums, purifying vessels. That should be right up your lane, no?”
“Or have you any martial tendencies? That tower there is full of nappers and fletchers offering all sorts of stone blades and points and arrows enchanted anyway you like. There,” he pointed gracefully in another direction, “is a most excellent gallery of booksellers and stationers. Fancy being a clerk? Hm, perhaps not. There, under that fancy awning, Shademouse Tailory, makers of garments enchanted and mundane. Woven by spiders and sewn by mice, or so they advertise. Very fine work. I may stop in for a shirt myself.” He gave her a mischievous wink. “I’m sure one such as you could find something useful there. Clothing, you know, it hides so much and disguises the rest.”
“For myself, I will stop first at the wardsmiths.” He indicated a nearby shop with a golden lock hanging above its door. “Then to a certain maker of mirrors. Perhaps a stroll through the galleries of charmers and amulet-makers.
He looked down at the young eorman woman with that strangely measuring and observing expression.
“You may walk with me, or go on your own, as Thimble does,” he said. “Either way, we return here by the third bell of the quarter.” Three hours to scour the vast market — it was an impromptu test. He needed her on this journey, but he also needed it to be her choice to go. And if she walked with him or on her own, that would tell her much as well.
Waiting to find out what she would do, he lowered the rain veil and made for the ward-casters’ shop.