For the second time, lords of the House of Ereon found themselves staring in surprise at the wizard of La Danse Calinda, only this time it was three identical expressions, not just two. Ruili blinked at the young Tuathan and began slowly to smile at the amazing set of characters with which his brothers had somehow become involved, while Jeneyeru, gingerly dressing himself with Thimble’s fussy help, sighed in exasperation at the manners of some people.
Peino, however, listened with a slight but growing frown, the adding board of his mind clicking away as he regarded her. She added her hurried “My Lord,” just as the faerie messenger returned, eager to deliver the word of Haug Handslayer and Captain Lafitte in answer to Peino’s summons.
“His efforts are appreciated, lady,” the Selkie lord said, “as are your words. Jeneyeru, can you walk? Let us repair to the Great Hall for the parlay, brothers. Mr. Farseer, Mistress O’Tulvar, will you come?”
He helped Jeneyeru up and stalked off up the rough stairs without another word. Jeneyeru followed, leaning on his staff and followed by Thimble. Ruili paused to step close to Tayliana with an interested smile.
“You must forgive my lord brother, milady,” he said. “He has a great deal to occupy his mind at the moment. I am Windwolf. I would be most interested to hear of this gentleman’s exploits. With my respects to this other gentleman,” he nodded towards Ionas Farseer, “it always pays to hear all versions.”
A little way off, Y’lanna Sparti was in conversation with faerie priestess. As they parted, Ruili called to his temporary ward, “Lady Sparti, we are going upstairs, if you will join us.” Then he held out his arm to Tayliana. “Milady,” he said to her, “pray walk with me and tell me all about it. I know nothing as yet, and I am all ears.”
So the group who would attend Peino’s parlay to plan the assault on Isolla began to move from the healing sanctum in the caves below this regional Temple of Flidais, Goddess of Beasts, Love, and Birth, up to the Great Hall, just liberated from the blasphemous desecration of the late Baugl of Caernith. The body of the temple was housed within the hollow trunk of the ancient and palatial oak tree that grew over the rock hill, and the perfumes of earth and living wood were its sacred incense. Where the tree gapped, breezes puffed and light sliced through the gloom. Mica and silvery tree mushrooms glimmered over the tree-walls, giving the hall a dreamy, mystical air. The faerie temple devotees busily cleared out junk left by the bandits and set right the various stalls, nests, perches and roosts that traditionally served as furnishings and to arrange fresh flowers, pine cones and other forest offerings around the alabaster image of the hunters’ goddess with her sacred doe deer.