The black-and-blue light danced upwards like a geyser and then seemed to be sucked downwards, towards the books.
”No!” Trinner Traln shouted. Raizel glanced at him just in time to see him jerk away from Esterzon Gorenz and dart towards the idol.
The blue-black light seemed to suck him in. No, sucked in a portion of him, a light like that from the idol. It pulled out a Trinner-Traln-shaped shadow of strange mystical light and the whole thing was sucked into one of the tomes.
The specter was there in front of Raizel again. “Finally,” it croaked. It settled atop Trinner Traln – and was gone.
Among the tools in the chest was a flint and steel. Raizel lit a small fire and burnt all of the tomes, watching as the flames danced black and blue, stinking of evil.
“I should go,” she told Esterzon Gorenz. “I am taking the tools and the other things in the chest, but the idols are for him. If he still wants them.”
“Leave him here,” the rotund man told her, sounding worn-out and tired. “Leave him, and he will sort himself out.” He held out his hand. “Here is your fifty sed, mountain ch – Lady. It is getting close to dark; will you take a night at my in as recompense for this old idiot’s idiocy?”
She pocketed the money, not doing him the insult of counting it. “I don’t have much money-”
“I would not charge you. You, mountain lady, you have paid enough that you need never pay for a room or meal in my inn. Pixies! Specters! Evil idols! Trinner Traln has done you a disservice. This is all I can do to balance out that scale.”
“It’s not your scale to balance.”
“Ah… but the Black Missive might have said differently, and that is destroyed, and along with it sins that have long since passed. Come to the inn, mountain Lady. No harm will come to you there.”
“I – I will take your offer. Thank you, Esterzon Gorenz.” She wished she knew what was going on.
I can tell you said a voice in her head.
No. Not yet. She had earned those questions, and she would spend them on something good, darn it.
As you wish. The voice was gone. She wondered how the specter could be both here and in Trinner Traln, but the ways of such things were not her purview. Instead, she packed up the tools and the coinage from the chest, leaving the chest itself and the two remaining falcons for the unconscious Trinner Traln.
He may have been a strange and sometimes stupid man, but Esterzon Gorenz – who was indeed an innkeeper – had a very lovely inn, of a sort Raizel had to admit they didn’t have a half-day’s walk away in her little home town. For one, there was the band, a wild thing with three fiddles and two drummers, and then there was the food, as good as Gorenz’s belly might suggest, and then there were the whores.
There was probably a nice word for them. Raizel knew five or six words for people who sold themselves for sex, most of them from her grandparents, but the only polite words she knew for that were the ones for very expensive people or those that had their own Houses.
These people worked for Esterzon Gorenz, the sort of people that were on par with the waiter and bar-keep he had working for him. And, apparently still feeling like he needed to make something up to her, or wanting to keep an eye on her, Gorenz sent Raizel to bed with two of them, a boy and girl not that much older than she was.
The girl had mountain-red hair and plains-brown skin, and the boy had mountain-speckled skin like Raizel and sun-bleached blonde hair. They whispered stories to her and bathed her, despite her arguments that she had done that quite recently, thank you. They braided her mountain-red hair into a plains pattern and rubbed unguents into her sunburnt skin, and in the quiet of the evening, the boy whispered to her.
“I shouldn’t ask this…”
He had very nice hands, and he smelled warm and cinnamony. He had a pretty face that reminded her a little of Amos and very sweet breath. “You can always ask.” Whores, as far as she knew, did not have the ability to lay a geasa on her.
“If you’re going to Buscontra, could you make me a scented Fox? Everything will be there.”
What was a scented fox? She propped herself up on her elbow and looked at him. “Everything you could ask of me right now and that’s what you want?”
“Please?” His kohl-rimmed eyes were wide and beautiful. She wanted to kiss him again.
“I will do what I can.” She indulged in her urge and took a long kiss from him. “That and more, when I return.”
“Travel safely in the morning,” he whispered. “I worry about the road.”
She worried about a lot more than the road – the specter in her brain, the faint glow of pixie dust on her skin – but Raizel kissed him for the thought just the same.