The Year of the Dog (3155) The Flanne month of Readying, The day of Crocus (the third day of the Flanne Month. Soon after breakfast.
Invaswen towelled off her Lyio’s hair.
“You’ve been to Siaronost again? I can smell the brimstone on you still.”
“Aye, I visited Mussalk Azking.”
Invaswen kept on towelling as she began to comb through Forgileill’s hair.
“Well, if you’re not going to ask…”
“Never meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” Quoted the kea girl.
“Affair is a bit close for comfort,” Forgileill exclaimed. “he tried to seduce me!”
“Well, he’s too bad in a dark and brooding sort of way.” More brushing. “He’s certainly the grey you would, over all the others. Even Nymraith.”
Forgileill gave a little laugh. “The one you would, you mean! I’m not touching any of them! Anyway, the point is I don’t know if he’s still in Katamaya’s pocket or not. It’s Katamaya’s modus operandi so perhaps she put him it up to it. Or maybe he’s just copying her, but either way he’ll think twice about returning here. I left every open book on his desk open at a reference to Eli Toamast. So there’s no doubt what it is I want from him.”
Invaswen finished brushing through the cascade of hair at the back of her corn rows and began putting in the precious silver and mithril pins and fastenings.
“And what about what he wants from you? You said he tried to seduce you.”
“And in not a very subtle manner either, he used a most potent love potion from Corvis. It was an unsubtle and overpowering attempt, the sort of thing you’d expect from a grey.”
“Will he return?”
“I don’t know. I have no idea whether last night’s performance was an act. And if it was not, whether or the object of his obsession is Katamaya or obtaining his blackrobe.”
“Or you.” Offered Invaswen.
“Or me. But I think that unlikely. He was attracted to Erlini and professes interest in Weejas to speak with Tyralandi. I think fair Aerdy women are his tup of choice. But I’m sure that I only succeded in the tests because after Katamaya and I split up, I concentrated on my studies. And the same would appear to hold true for her as well. So Mussalk should apply himself, lest he fail altogether.”
“Where is Corvis?” Asked Invaswen, taking time to pronounce the unfamiliar name correctly.
“Somewhere only Katamaya could go. “
“What does she collect love potions for? I wouldn’t have thought she needed them.”
“Who knows? There was one occasion that she and I stole away back to Teddin. We were sunning ourselves at a secluded waterfall in the jungle,”
“When you should have been studying.”
“Don’t interrupt. We were disturbed by a Gwaithor ranger. Ostailwen, I think her name was. She was part of a band of adventurers that were being torn apart by the effect of a stone egg. They’d picked it up in Takalik Abaj or one of the other ruined Moche cities in the interior.”
“A stone egg?”
“Yes. There was a young Shesh huntress who had this egg. Occasionally the egg would flare and she would couple furiously with two of the other young men of their party.”
“I can see that would cause trouble.”
“And at inopportune moments as well. Anyway, Katamaya was intrigued by Ostailwen’s tale and jeopardised everything to go and see it.”
“And you went along with this?”
“I was in love. At least, I thought I was. There was a grey in their party who was slowly developing inappropriate feelings towards every female he met, which seems to be a developing theme. There was a miasma of wanton passion that emanated from the egg. We could both feel it from yards away, it was obvious that if we touched it then, er, ahem. Anyway. We told them to travel to Klekess’ manse and returned to Saironost.”
“Waterfall? sounds horrid.” Invaswen shivered.
“What?! No. Teddin is very hot and humid. All year in Teddin it is hotter than it is here in the summer. A waterfall in the jungle provides a hidden and private place to bathe and relax. The point is that this egg was a magic item concerned with love or sex. Katamaya always collected such things, no matter how trivial.”
“So did you go back for the egg then?”
“I did not. The only other thing we ever did connected to it was to discuss breaking a weird that bound an object with an apparent curse to a person.”
“So she might have got the egg off of the girl, freeing her from its influence. It was obvious that her plan was to acquire the egg. But I would have known if thereafter Katamaya had been afflicted by the same curse. Which she was not. So even if she acquired it, she didn’t claim it for herself.”
Invaswen had finished Forgileill’s hair. They both stood up and Forgileill began to sort through her wardrobe and armorie, looking at garments and throwing them on the bed where Invaswen would pick them up again and put them away.
“So between the egg and potion and whatever else she has accumulated, Katamaya is now the paramount courtesan?” Ask Invaswen.
“It would appear so. She was my first teacher in the arts of love.” Invaswen blushed and looked away. “But when we greys together, I was teaching her. Now, I know that my court is blessed with any number of fair ladies, but when she was here, she outshone us all. I have no doubt that had she wanted to, she could have stolen any one of my court; ilin, gwenn or rocca.”
The final outfit on the bed was a set of ilin class daywear, dyed a little darker. Forgileill added a hood and gloves to the ensemble and frowned, hands on hips.
“I know what you mean. I don’t think there was anyone here who would have refused her anything.” Commented Invaswen.
Invaswen squealed as Forgileill pinched her.
“It’s not like anyone had a choice. Lyio.” Protested Invaswen.
“What do you know?” the room darkened and Forgileill’s eyes flashed a fiery orange.
“N-nothing.” Invaswen sank down to her knees. “She made time to visit everyone whilst she was here. She asked about you and the adventures you’d had. She seemed especially interested in the trials you’ve suffered.”
Invaswen was sobbing now, her face buried in her hands.
“I’m sorry, Lyio, I’ve failed you.”
“Oh stop it, Invaswen. You haven’t failed me. You said yourself that no one could help but give her what she came for. Which it turns out is just information about me. She knows so much already. What is she up to?”
Forgileill clasped Invaswen’s hands in hers and pulled her up. “Stop crying or I’ll turn you into something unnatural.” Invaswen stopped crying.
“A-ha!” Forgileill pulled a pair of dark canvas rope soled slippers out of pile of things from a bag she’d tipped out on to the floor. “These are what I’m after. See that Erlini and Tud are ready, we leave in an hour.”