She missed the carriage immediately, but there wasn’t such a thing going from Esteronzerai to the train station for at least two days. In two days, if she made good time, Raizel could already be on the train.
She and the Diamond Raven joined a small group of people leaving the fanciest hotel in Esteronzerai, all seeming to have the same thought she had. It was a strange and mixed group, including a tinker with his cart and his apprentice, a furrier carrying what seemed like a whole forest of furs on her back, a woman who introduced herself as a librarian who was going to the capital to pick up some new books, she with a bodyguard, and a small retinue of courtiers gathered around a person wearing a broad hat ans swathed in veils.
They were, one of the courtiers explained, from Mipodek to the south, and they were also travelling to the capital, although they were taking their time about it. It was supposed to be a trip of exploration for their young Prince – which was something like a Tzarin – to learn more about the lands around Mipodek. Their Prince, it turned out, was the one in all the veils.
Was he very pale? Raizen asked, because sometimes when you got too far north, you got people with skin that could not stand the sun. “Or very modest?” That, too, she had heard of from time to time.
The courtiers tittered and did not answer, so Raizel turned to attempting to chat with the Diamond Raven.
He, in turn, kept touching the very thin gold line around his neck. “I should go back,” he told her. If she had a sed for every time he had said that, she would already have her twenty forn twice over.
“No. You should walk with me and keep up the pace. You should be calm, if you can. Because we are going to the capital.”
“You don’t need to take me with you.” He eyed her sidelong. “You’re not planning on dumping me in a lake or down a deep, deep hole, are you?”
“No. No, I’m just getting you out of Esteronzerai for a little while. It will be good for you. Get some sun on your skin. See other places, learn other things.”
“You know that a Yederya is powerless when bound, correct?”
“No, I know that a Yederya wizard can only be removed from a place when bound. And that I signed up to remove you from a place. So here I am, removing you.” She took his arm and gave it a little tug.
“You know she just wants to tear down the old chapel.” He moved along with the tug, not quite looking at Raizel.
“I know that the deity-touched said that it was fine. I know that power resides in places, not buildings.”
“You didn’t know that until the one that said they were god-touched told you that.” He tried to tug away from her grip – but, she noted, he didn’t try all that hard.
“It never said it was deity-touched. I can see the power.”
“What, you?” He sneered a little. She resisted the urge to push him down a hill – or maybe a well. She needed the gold cord around his neck, and she wanted her name on that new building. Carved in stone. That was a good way to be remembered.
“Me. Cursed by a pixie, blessed by a spirit, given a quest by not one but two touched by a deity, yes, me. And all I want to do is get to the capitol.”
“Then let me go!” He yanked away fruitlessly again.
“Are you kidding? Twenty gold forn. I might sell my own great-grandfather for that much – and he would tell me I was a clever girl for doing it, too!”
“You mountain people-”
“Stop with the mountain people nonsense!” Raizel glared at him in sudden fury. “What, like we’re not still in the mountains?”
“Don’t you know? When people say mountain people-”
“Pardon me.” The courtier who had spoken to her earlier, the one with hair like straw and freckles like a mountain person, tapped Raizel on the shoulder. “I was wondering, since you seem to know the area so well, if you might be willing to sing to our Prince? He wants to know all of the local traditions, you see, and he’d heard that, ahem, mountain people had beautiful songs.”
“Don’t do it,” warned the Diamond Raven. “You’re not a performing bird.”
“No, but you might be,” Raizel countered. She found herself struck with the urge to do it. “Fine. I’ll sing one of the mountain songs for your Prince.”