“Why shouldn’t it be Thimble? After all, isn’t this a matter that is regarding the headquarters of the Guild of Magicians? Jeneyeru, Lord Magus of the Grand Navigators, as a member of that guild, would have a legitimate and vested interest in gaining the involvement of the Teur Garrison in its liberation. Thimble could be your representative.”
The Ereonis brothers gazed at Y’lanna Sparti as she spoke and for a few seconds after as well. Slowly, smiles spread across the mouths of Ruili and Peino.
“Most sensibly said, milady,” said Peino.
“Wisdom rains from the stars when this lady speaks,” added Ruili with a wink.
“Sensible and wise, indeed, if I may take the liberty to say so, milord,” said Thimble, jumping quickly on his chance.
But Jeneyeru, sizing up Y’lanna as he sized up her argument, with a contemplative frown, got no farther than a speculative sigh, when the very person under discussion interrupted, with his captain at his heels. They listened to Beau’s surprising speech in awkward silence, each of them wondering if he had heard their previous conversation. He ended with a bow to Peino, but it seemed that his words were what finally made up Jeneyeru’s mind.
The wizard in scarlet stood before anyone else could react. A long and elegant hand extended the Staff of Ghosts towards Thimble as he said, adopting a haughty tone he seldom used, “Captain Lafitte, I thank you most gratefully for the loan of your man. Be so good, if you will, as to instruct him that he is to accompany my man, Mister Thimble, who shall act as my representative in this delicate matter. He is to render all possible assistance in all things to Mister Thimble until they return to us.” Jeneyeru ended with a gracious bow and a smile for Lafitte, captain to captain, master-of-men to master-of-men.
“And now, my friends,” he added, “with the good Captain’s permission, let us board and set sail. Mistress O’Tulvar?”
Beckoning for Lotye to gather up their things and follow, Jeneyeru left the table and swept out of the temple and into the blowing storm that surrounded the airship anchored above.
Peino and Ruili quickly adapted to take up where their brother had left off. Peino very pointedly handed the letter of instruction and the High King’s letter of marque to the politely quiet Thimble.
“Mind how you go, old man,” the Prince murmured.
“Yes, Your Highness, and thank you, Your Highness.”
“Here’s the route to Teur,” said Ruili, handing Thimble a hastily sketched scrap of paper. “Take the boat I left around the bend below the temple. It’s not much, just a fisherman’s dinghy, but it will get you there the faster.”
“Thank you, Your Excellency.”
Thimble secured the papers in the inner pocket of his coat, hoisted his bag over his shoulder and set his tricorn hat upon his elderly head.
“All right, you,” he barked at Beau, “put your men and self together, and let’s be off. Time and tide, you know, and don’t you be fancy — we don’t need an army to pick up an army. No more than four and make sure they can row. You’ve been on the water before, I suppose? It’s not like being up in the air.”
As Thimble set about bullying Beau, and Peino gathered up his maps and atlas, Ruili joined Y’lanna.
“How things do turn out in our world, eh, Milady Lavender?” he said. “See here now, I do not wish you to accompany us to the stronghold. I anticipate a fight, much bigger than the one here. You acquitted yourself well against the bandits, I’ll gladly own to that much, but what we face at Isolla…” A rare shadow passed over his face. “It is a different thing by far. I am your guardian, not your master, so I can only ask you to stay here at the temple, with Lady Moonrain, until we return. It would be a great boon to me to know you are safe.”
The cheerful, encouraging smile returned as he waited for her response. Whatever it would be, though, he would soon be on board La Danse Calinda with his brothers, Lafitte, and his crew, flying through a mystical storm towards a mystical mountain, there to battle a mystical foe for a mystical weapon.
Altogether too much mysticism in this quest, he thought as he watched the players and parts moving into their places on the stage.