Raizel took breakfast in the inn’s bar the next morning, feeling well-rested, content, and ready to face the rest of her journey. Perhaps she’d even hire a coach.
The barmaid leaned over the table while she was refilling Raizel’s mug. “There are opportunities around here, you know, for someone as clever as Esterzon Gorenz says you might be. And if you really destroyed that Black Missive he’s been going on about for years-”
Something about the barmaid, or maybe something about the pixie dust still brushed across Raizel’s eyelashes, was a little strange. She looked closer – closer at the clever decolletage, that looked lower-cut and more dangerous than it was – and realized she could see a spark of divinity hiding in the woman’s chest.
Until then, she hadn’t know she could see such things. Perhaps it was just the dust.
“I destroyed the Missive and the, ah, the multi-hued falcon, ma’am.”
“Oh, not ma’am, just Genya. So you did, mmm? Well then. I think there is something you can do while you are travelling. There is the one, the twilight god. Lady Huleran, she was one of the god’s arms-and-legs, you know.”
Raizel had heard stories of the sort, at the very least. “She seemed like not a very nice person,” she offered.
“Oh, she was the opposite of nice and the opposite of person, but that is a story for another day. When you come back, stop here. Esterzon Gorenz will give you the room for free again, and I will tell you many stories. And, perhaps,” her eyes twinkled, “something else. But for now – for now is the Twilight God. That one has gotten too big for britches. And if you can find the fourth falcon-”
“Oh, no, there’s more?”
“There are five, or were, but the fifth is beyond mortal and god alike and you have destroyed the third. Find the fourth falcon and take it to a place of blessing. You know those?”
“I know those,” she allowed. They were not quite temples and not quite shrines. Maybe the cave with the pixies had been one, once a long time ago. “Where do I find the fourth falcon?”
“Oh, it wouldn’t be a proper quest if I told you. But I tell you this, at least. You will find it on your route, although your route will take you longer than hoped and shorter than it might have, otherwise. And once you find it, you will know it.” The barmaid leaned over and kissed Raizel on the forehead. “Do this or do not, I do not lay on you any bidding of mind. But shall you do it, I imagine that there will be more than a free night in an inn for you. I hope to see you again, Falcon-Killer.”
An imagine was even less of a surety than a lie of fifty sed, Raizel considered, but it was an imagine from someone kissed with divinity. “I’ll look for the fourth falcon,” she agreed. “But I really ought to get going. It’s still a long way to the train station.”
“Esterzon Gorenz has the carriage waiting for you. He is grateful, it seems, and then some. I would get going before his squeeze-sed nature gets the best of his gratitude.” The barmaid made a shooing gesture. “Travel well.”
“Stars guide you and evil avoid you.” She thought Gods watch your steps might be the wrong sort of thing to say to this one, and the smirk she got in response suggested she was right.
The carriage made Raizel feel as if her travelling clothes and sturdy bag were far out-classed. She sat in a corner and hoped she was not getting the upholstery dirty.
The woman and young man sitting across from her seemed to feel the same. They were discussing something between themselves in low whispers, but Raizel caught a glance her way from time to time.
She ignored them and studied the carvings on the sides of the carriage and the rolling scenery instead. She had never been this far from her home-town, and she was still only beginning her trip.
An hour into the trip — it would have taken her twice that to walk, even with the jolting, rolling, bouncing travel — they stopped and picked up another person, a fretful woman who sat next to Raizel and continued to look into a small book she carried.
“What’s wrong?” Raizel finally brought herself to ask.
“It’s… oh, it’s nothing. Well, I suppose it’s not nothing, but it’s nothing you could help with.” The woman looked back at her book. “That man…!” She shook her head.
When Raizel didn’t seem to take the hint, the woman sighed. “I am designing a new building for the Esteronzerain Town Hall That’s what I do, create new buildings. The problem is, there’s this wizard. Well, a would-be wizard, I suppose.”
Esteronzerai was on her way to the train station. Raizel suppressed a sigh. She should have gone with the impression that she couldn’t help. She probably couldn’t, truth be told.
“What about the wizard?” she asked anyway.
“Well, I need him off the site. Problem is, he’s one of the Yederya school of magic. You’ve heard of them?”
“I thought they were a myth,” Raizel admitted.
“Most people did. Well, they cannot be moved unless they’re bound. And I’m very good at building things, but not so much at tying up wizards.
This time, Raizel did sigh. “What’s his name?”