Check out King of Chaos, the latest Radovan and the Count novel by Dave Gross, available from Pazio!
The half-elven Count Varian Jeggare has been on a self-imposed exile from his home city of Egorian in the Infernal Empire of Cheliax. There he was known as a sort of “armchair wizard detective,” unable to cast magic but endlessly knowledgeable about its theories and variations. Since leaving home, Jeggare has learned how to circumvent his magic disability, fallen in love with a foreign princess, suffered a literal heartbreak, and uncovered startling secrets about his elven heritage.
Now three queens and the Pathfinder Decemvirate all want him to perform the same task: to recover the Libram of Paradox before the forces of the Abyss overwhelm the entire Inner Sea region. Count Jeggare thinks his problem is simply finding the book—for such an intelligent and educated man, he has no idea what he’s in for…
It’s a foot of mud out there. The least you could do is get me a phony pony.” Radovan lounged in my accustomed place on the rear bench, while I sat on the forward seat. Even inside the carriage, it was best for him to remain as far as possible from the horses while our hirelings released them from their harnesses.
“Conjure one yourself.” I pushed four riffle scrolls across the polished surface of the map table.
“Come on, boss. Last time I gave myself hooves, and that just ain’t right.” Beneath the table, Arnisant whined. “See? Arni agrees with me.”
“You will have fewer mishaps the more you focus your attention on the desired effect. And I know perfectly well that you nudged Arnisant under the table.”
“Poke my little buddy to win an argument? Never!” Radovan shifted guiltily in his seat.
“Little? If you continue to overfeed him, he will soon be larger than you.” Beneath the table, Arnisant settled his heavy head on my foot. Seeing the dog loom over a pair of Ustalavic wolfhounds in Tymon assured me that he was exceptionally tall even for his enormous breed, but Radovan had spoiled him while awaiting my return to Riverspire in Kyonin. If he had devoted as much energy to exercising the dog as he had to chasing elven women, Arnisant would have been slim as a whippet. “Also, this is not an argument.”
“I’m no wizard.”
“Indeed not. That is what makes your gift so precious. We should have begun testing far sooner.” For that omission I blamed myself, but we had enjoyed precious little time for reflection since leaving Egorian two years earlier. In fact, I thought, enough time had passed that I might safely return, if not for recent diversions and obligations.
“Come on, boss. I could use a break from these tests.” He pushed up the sleeve of his new dark leather jacket. I felt a pang of guilt to see the wounds on the coppery skin of his forearm.
“Very well.” Important as they were, I was loath to continue the painful experiments without a better understanding of his unique condition.
Logic suggested that only the sign for the devil known as Fell Viridio would currently have an effect. From his scorpionlike attributes, I surmised poison would be his sigil, but topical applications had resulted in no atypical reaction.
The problem might have been dosage. I had begun to suspect that only a fatal application of the activating agent would release the devils who had over the course of centuries designed Radovan’s bloodline to produce their portal to our world. “We shall suspend our experiments until such time as we can enlist a healer to stand ready,” I said. “But you have nothing to lose from activating a riffle scroll.”
“A fleeting inconvenience in the pursuit of an invaluable advantage.”
“I loved those boots.”
“Perhaps you fail to appreciate how rare it is for someone untrained in the arcane arts to wield this ability. As you yourself might put it, you have a knack.” It was almost the truth. To hear Radovan tell it, his attempts with the riffle scrolls were as likely to produce bizarre unintended effects as they were to succeed. Unless he was exaggerating—always likely when he spoke of women or his own misfortunes—he was proving every bit as unlucky as he was lucky.
“Yeah? Like your ‘knack’ for letting your sword fly around on its own?”
“Ah, that.” I thought of how my last fencing master would have admonished me for throwing my weapon. Vencarlo Orsini was the epitome of tradition, and he had demonstrated only scorn for combining spells with swordplay. “It is a skill I learned—in theory, anyway—at the Acadamae. I assumed I could never employ it because of my…Well, my particular disability.”
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but yes. Yet as you can see from my example, persistence has its rewards.” Radovan’s resistance to studying his own condition puzzled me. At over three times his age, I was surely the proverbial old dog, not he, yet I had never lost my appetite for knowledge. “The matter at hand is not my use of an apprentice’s trick, but your knack for activating my riffle scrolls.”
“I think that vampire knocked the knack right out of me.” He rubbed his chest. It was unlike Radovan to complain of a physical injury, even one so profound as the enervating touch of a vampire. However, I had to allow that I had noticed a general malaise about him since his wound. “Boss, we should have gone after your old pal.”
“Kasiya was never a friend, not even in life. And nothing would please me more than reducing him to ashes, but not at the cost of drawing down the full wrath of the Anaphexis.”
“We could beat the hell out of those mooks.”
“Do not be so certain. Besides, should they reveal the secret of your ancestry, Prince Aduard would have your head to eliminate even the remotest possibility that you could mount a challenge to his claim. In any event, this fanciful speculation is moot if we do not succeed in our present mission.”
“So there’s no time to waste.” He pushed the scrolls back across the table, his little smile suggesting he thought he had won an argument. “You get me a pony.”
“Each of these scrolls represents a chance for you to do it yourself. Are you not always saying Lady Luck smiles on you?” I pushed them back, thinking again that as often as Radovan used his favorite oath, “Desna smiles,” he just as often cried—
“Desna weeps! I’ve tried plenty. You got to do it for me.”
“No. If you cannot do it yourself, you can trudge through the mud to the Looter’s Market.”
Radovan picked up a scroll and held it between his fingers and palm, just as he had seen me do hundreds of times before. He leaned back on the carriage seat and eyed me skeptically. “You’ve got another one in your pocket, don’t you? When these don’t work, you’ll set me up, right?”
I shook my head.
“All right, here goes nothing.” He put his thumb on the edge of one of the scrolls.
“Not in here!” I lunged from my seat, hand upon the carriage door, my heart pounding at the prospect of a phantom horse suddenly appearing inside the carriage.
Radovan laughed. “You should see the look on your face.”
I composed myself. “Very amusing.”
“When I get to the market, you want I should go ahead and hire the ones I like?” My reaction to his prank had obviously lifted his spirits.
“As many as eight, plus a scout if you can find one.”
“All right.” Radovan sniffed one riffle scroll while securing the others in pockets concealed in his jacket. “Could be a while, if I have to walk.”
“I expect to see you riding back before dusk.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Before leaving the carriage, Radovan retrieved his curved Chelish blade from the table and snapped it securely into the sheath hidden in the spine of his jacket. The grip hung down like the stub of a tail. Much as he liked to boast that he lacked the most common features of typical hellspawn—horns and a tail—Radovan took a perverse delight in drawing attention to his infernal heritage through his particular fashion sense.
After Radovan’s departure, I lifted the curtain to peer out at him. He took shelter beneath the dripping eaves of the stable and squinted at the far end, where my men tended to the six enormous bay horses that had drawn the Red Carriage to the village of Gundrun. They squealed at Radovan’s scent, hating him on sight as all equines do.
Radovan responded with his favorite vulgar gesture, index and least fingers extended on either side of his throat: the tines. He stuck out his long tongue for good measure, an addition that always caused me to wince in distaste.
He looked around to ensure no one else was watching him. Gritting his teeth, he pointed the scroll at an open space and thumbed the edge.
The pages snapped open, but no glamour appeared. He summoned no phantom steed.
Radovan pried open the scroll. Even through the carriage window, I could see the pages were now blank. While he had failed to summon a mount, he had expended the scroll’s magic, even if obviously not in the manner intended. That much was promising.
Suddenly he turned to look directly at me, and I spied the result of his magical malfunction: his front teeth, unappealing at the best of times, had grown thick and square as a horse’s.
Smothering my unbidden laughter, I dropped the curtain too late.
“I can’t do it with you watching!” he shouted. His oversized horse teeth caused him a ridiculous speech impediment. As he recognized his condition, he brayed, “Desna weeps!”
Taking my satchel, I exited the other side of the Red Carriage with Arnisant at my heel.
Across from the stable stood a half-collapsed inn, the ragged remains of its upper floor shored up with crude repairs. Above the entrance hung a rack of antlers, now broken to stubs and covered in blue-gray mold. We had heard the tale of the Gilded Antlers at Clefthorn Lodge. Since demons demolished most of the upper floor decades ago, the people of Gundrun called their lone tavern the Splinter.
A loud curse from the stables suggested that Radovan’s second attempt to conjure a phantom steed was no more successful than his first. I bent to peer under the carriage, only to see him glaring back at me. His teeth were back to normal, but he sucked at his fingers as the flaming ruin of the second riffle scroll sizzled on the damp ground.
“Quit watching, I told you!”
Arnisant and I retreated into the Splinter.
The tavern smelled of wood smoke, roast boar, sweet beer, spiced mead, and sweat. At our appearance, the chatter of the common room subsided except for the strains of a harp and a husky female voice trailing off in her song. The residents of the tavern looked up as we entered.
They were predominantly Kellids, a wind-burned people with dark hair and eyes the color of clear skies and old steel. They wore furs cinched with leather harnesses, although a few of the men went bare-chested to show off tattoos or war paint. Some of the women appeared equally formidable: tall, lean, and muscular. None sat more than an arm’s length away from a dagger on the table or an axe leaning against the wall.
For the passage from the river to Gundrun, I had enlisted only men from the River Kingdoms, knowing the resentment Sarkorians reserved for Ustalavs, whom they still cursed for the Bloodwater Betrayals. Radovan knew not to mention his human heritage in Gundrun, although I feared his infernal features would inspire even more fear and hatred.
I need not have worried. So close to the Worldwound, one naturally expects to see a few of the demonblooded, but I was surprised to see them mingling so casually with the untainted humans. One man with insect eyes might have been fully half demon. Surreptitiously drawing the Shadowless Sword an inch from its scabbard, I confirmed that neither he nor any of the other guests lay under the guise of an illusion.
I released the sword as the one-armed proprietor emerged from behind his bar to greet me. He made a fair approximation of a Chelish bow, evoking chuckles from his regulars. “Welcome to my humble establishment, Your Excellency. My name is Whalt, and I’m at your service. One word of caution: even one-handed, I can still out-pour and outdrink any barkeep in Gundrun.”
Some of the tavern patrons laughed gamely at his remark. For my benefit, the harper called out the obvious punch line: “That’s because you’re the only barkeep in Gundrun!”
Whalt grinned, exposing large yellowed teeth. His courtesy seemed sincere enough, and he had troubled himself to learn the correct manner in which to address a count of Cheliax. A wreath of gray-white hair surrounded his spotted pate, and his blue-gray eyes seemed both keen and friendly. On the wall behind the bar I noticed a sundered shield, a semicircular absence suggesting that a large fiend had bitten through its steel-reinforced wood. The bite mark matched the point at which Whalt’s arm had been severed. I recognized its pattern from all-too-recent firsthand observation of a particularly loathsome fiend.
“Is it Whalt the barkeep?” I said. “Or Whalt the slayer of swamp demons?”
He grimaced in appreciation of my deduction. “That it was, a swamp demon exactly. Kala keeps promising to make me a song about it one day. For that clever guess, I’ll buy your first drink myself. But no, I didn’t slay the one that took my arm. For all I know, it’s still swimming along the West Sellen, choking on my strong left hand.”
“You fought at Drezen.”
Whalt blinked. “You know your Sarkorian history, Excellency. But one free drink is all you’ll have from me.”
“I shall buy the drinks tonight. A round for the house.” The patrons raised a hue and toasted me with tankards the size of helms. Their cheer presented as good an opportunity as I could have wished for my inquiry. “And a purse of gold to the man who can guide me into Storasta.”
The cheers faltered, and the patrons turned away. The harper looked at me a moment, then plucked the strings and began chanting “The Song of Sarkoris.”
I knew the mournful epic all too well. My opinion of the piece must have shown on my face, for Whalt chuckled.
“Are you still wanting to buy that round?”
“Yes, but only if Kala changes the tune.” The attentive musician cocked her head. The scars on her face suggested she knew battles through more than their songs. “Play me ‘The Ballad of Prince Zhakar.’”
“Everyone dies in that one, too, Your Excellency.”
“But they die bravely, and it has a better melody.” I tossed her a coin. She caught it neatly and changed her tune.
I indicated a vacant table near a shuttered window. “Bring a platter of that roast boar, along with a goblet of your best red wine. Also a plate of whatever wholesome vegetables you have. I shall rest here to await a message from Clanliege Martolls Clefthorn.”
“Ah,” said Whalt. “In that case, you might prefer to order the bottle.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“Martolls never even saw a hurry from a distance. You’ll be a long time waiting.” He returned to his bar.
I took the seat nearest the window and opened the shutter to peek out. The drivers had finished stabling the horses. One stood guard beside the carriage while the others entered the tavern for their respite. I saw no sign of Radovan. If he had left hoofprints behind, whether from a phantom steed or a riffle-scroll mishap, the rain had already churned them away.
Arnisant sat on the floor beside me as I set out the contents of my satchel. I opened my maps of Sarkoris, both those from before the opening of the Worldwound—not coincidentally at the moment of the great god Aroden’s death—and those created by crusaders and Pathfinders over the past century. Soon I would add my own observations to the ever-changing cartography of the land.
After opening my journal to resume my personal chronicle, I began to reach for my writing kit but paused. Instead I removed the four letters from my coat pocket and laid them before me in order of precedence.
The first bore the Imperial Seal of Cheliax stamped in crimson wax. To Her Infernal Majestrix, Abrogail II, I owed my ultimate allegiance. The message from her counselors commanded me to search the ruins of Lost Sarkoris for the Lexicon of Paradox. Since the wards confining the demons to the Worldwound had failed, the queen’s sorcerers hoped the dire rituals within the Lexicon would prove potent against the inevitable encroachment of the Abyss on the borders of the Empire. In the meantime, the decimation of the lands between Cheliax and the Worldwound would dilute the strength of the horde and simultaneously improve the Empire’s relative strength.
The message from Kyonin arrived on pale green parchment and bore the seals of both Queen Telandia and her cousin, Prince Amarandlon. No doubt she had forced him to act as her clerk as a punishment. Since few beings in the world are more subtle—or more vengeful—than an elf lord, I considered the message with the utmost skepticism.
The prince wrote that Telandia too desired the Lexicon, although his subtler message was that the elf queen should be satisfied with a mere facsimile of the book. Copying the Lexicon was a greater favor than the queen might have realized, since it was believed that even perusing the dread tome’s contents could shatter a reader’s sanity. I wondered whether Amarandlon had taken the liberty of adding that suggestion himself.
Despite my indeterminate status in the Pathfinder Society, the Decemvirate had also sent me a message, this one sealed with a black ribbon. The letter’s arrival in Tymon suggested that the Ten chose to contact me after learning that I had already been dispatched by Queens Abrogail and Telandia. My anonymous correspondent even went so far as to address me as “venture-captain,” although the tone of the “request“ left no doubt that the title was an enticement rather than an assurance of reinstatement.
The most curious of the missives was the fourth letter, inscribed with silver ink on black paper, sealed with the ankh of the Silver Crusade. Venture-Captain Ollysta Zadrian had withdrawn from the Pathfinders to create a faction embracing the essential ideals of the Society with the addition of Zadrian’s zealous worship of Sarenrae. Her letter was the most unexpected.
My Esteemed Colleague, Venture-Captain Count Varian Jeggare,
You shall, I pray, forgive the brevity and directness of my appeal. With the rupture of the wards surrounding the Worldwound, time is more precious than ever.
Whilst we have seldom found ourselves in a position to cooperate, I sense that you and I share a desire that our efforts should benefit not only our former Society but all the people of Avistan.
By now you have received various requests for assistance in recovering a particular lost tome. If you should locate this Lexicon of Paradox, I implore you to deliver it to Crusader Queen Galfrey of Mendev. Her conjurers are best poised to employ the powers of this depraved tome against the forces of chaos.
By the light of the Dawnflower,
As I closed the letter, Whalt returned. He set before me a silver chalice that appeared recently polished. From beneath his injured arm he plucked a bottle of wine and displayed it as if presenting a great treasure. In truth, while its faded label designated a good Taldan house, the year had been a rather poor one, the grapes suffering from blight.
While Whalt steadied the bottle with his injured arm and drew the cork, a startlingly pretty barmaid brought the meat, along with a platter of fresh bread, cheese, and berries. Her clothes were worn but far too fine for a servant, and fit her lithe figure so perfectly that there could be no question that they had been tailored. I discerned in her curtsey, and by the simple but elegant diadem upon her brow, that she had been raised among nobility, not beneath them.
As the barmaid withdrew to the kitchen, Whalt anticipated my unspoken question.
“Shal’s new,” said Whalt. “A little shy. Near as I can figure, demons caught her group. She took shelter in the Riversoar ruins. Eventually she got hungry enough to come begging. As you can see, I needed an extra hand.”
He looked to me for a laugh, but Shal had aroused my curiosity. “Riversoar was the Clanliege before Martolls Clefthorn, yes?”
“That’s right.” Whalt’s cheer vanished, and he withdrew with a bow. “Enjoy the wine, Your Excellency.”
Clearly he wished to avoid discussing the history of the Riversoars, whose razed clanhold we had spied in rain-dimmed silhouette upon our arrival.
I dropped a thick slice of pork to the floor. Arnisant looked to me for permission even as drool began streaming from his jaws. After a moment, I gave Arnisant the signal to eat and heard the savage sounds of his devouring the meat.
I closed my eyes to search my memory library for references to the Riversoar clan.
All I found were passing references to its fall, presumably at the hands of demons. Yet those demons had allowed Gundrun to survive. How had the Riversoars attracted their ire and not the town?
While he had received us hospitably enough, Clanliege Martolls Clefthorn had promised us nothing in return for our gifts of Druma steel and Cullerton wool. Radovan and I had spent hours within his gloomy wooden fortress, the icons of a dozen gods glowering from the walls, while Martolls recited a litany of past glories of which even his liegemen appeared skeptical. When he finally allowed me to make my request for aid, he barely pretended to entertain the notion before directing us to seek our meals at the Splinter.
Without Clefthorn’s aid, we would need to recruit our own warriors. Perhaps the best we could hope was that Clefthorn would allow us to use Gundrun as a base of operations.
Arnisant made a querulous sound. Even with his haunches on the floor, his head rose higher than my shoulder. He looked up.
Above us, the ceiling that once provided a floor for the second story had been torn away. Burns and claw marks were still visible on the remaining planks. Crude repairs provided a new roof less than five feet above the naked beams. On one of those beams crouched a young woman.
She might have been fifteen or twenty-five, for the blue stripe painted across her eyes shrouded her age even more than the shadows. Her shaggy black mane blended into the wolf pelt over her shoulders, its fur still glistening from the rain.
Annoyed at the intrusion, I turned to signal Whalt. He was nowhere in sight, nor was the winsome Shal.
Arnisant woofed a warning, but I too had sensed the movement from above. No sooner had my hand touched the Shadowless Sword than the strange woman dropped from her perch into the seat before me. Radovan would have admired her nimble maneuver.
“You sent your man to the Looter’s Market for a guide.” The young woman’s voice was girlish, but she spoke with the confidence of experience. “He won’t find one there.”
“But you know of one.”
“You’re talking to her. Alase Brinz-Widowknife. You haven’t heard of me because you went to the Clefthorns. Ask anyone else in Gundrun. You’ll like what you hear.”
“Have you been to Storasta?”
She whistled low and drank directly from my wine bottle. I drew a deep breath to calm my irritation as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Her fingers were rough and calloused. “No one has ever asked to go there.”
“So you cannot do it?”
“I didn’t say that. I’ve slipped in once or twice. The place is full of demons. And worse.”
“Worse than demons?”
She peered into the empty bottle as if it were a spyglass. “Maybe you ought to get another one of these, and we’ll talk about my fee.”
While her insolence annoyed me, something about her jutting chin reminded me of my first encounters with Radovan. Intuition told me they would either get on well or else hate each other on sight. I wanted to see which.
“First, tell me what you know of the demon lord Deskari and the Abyssal horde.”
“All there is to know.”
“Me, I’m the last of the Widowknife god callers. My uncle passed down all the stories. He had them from his mother, she from her aunt, and so on all the way back before the time of Deskari—the first time of Deskari. My ancestors fought beside Aroden when he was still a man.”
I knew the self-proclaimed “god callers” of Sarkoris were actually summoners, specialists in the arcane art of drawing beings from other planes into our own world. With one particular being, known as an eidolon, a summoner formed a special bond similar to that between wizard and familiar. As the summoner grew in knowledge, so did her eidolon grow more powerful. Thus I could well imagine how a primitive culture like the Sarkorians’ might mistake eidolons for gods.
It remained to be seen whether Alase Brinz-Widowknife was a knowledgeable summoner.
“One of the Three was also a god caller. What was his name?”
“Opon, but before the end he figured his mistake.” She glanced at the open mouth of my satchel and saw the arcane runes on the spine of my grimoire. “Another of the Three was a wizard.”
“He tried with Opon to close the gate. His name was Wivver Noclan.” I replied before the impertinence of her turning the questions back on me struck home.
“That’s right, Wivver had no clan before or after they opened up the first little pinprick into the Rasping Rifts. Deskari whispered through that little spot, but the men knew they’d done a mighty wrong. They tried to close the hole. They might have done it too, if not for the witch.”
“Areelu Vorlesh,” I said.
“I seen her, you know. Not close, but across the red river at Undarin.”
“What drew you there?”
“I went to see the Widowknife Clanhold. All my life I’ve wanted to take it back from the demons and their cults. Now that they’re spilling out into the wide world, I’m thinking they’ll take new nests down south.”
“An astute observation, except for one point.”
“Oh?” Her tone was challenging.
“Demons are creatures of chaos. It is nigh impossible to predict their actions.”
The words echoed another problem I’d been musing on. Though he was no fiend, my description was equally applicable to my self-professed nemesis, Kasiya.
In life the Osirian prince had been an indolent dullard who used his station to take from others what he could not earn himself. His unholy resurrection had granted him terrible powers, but enhanced intellect was apparently not among them. If revenge were his sole motive, then he had proven himself as inept as a sorcerous vampire as he ever did as a dilettante Pathfinder.
However, it would be folly to assume that Kasiya, however petty, harbored only revenge in his dead heart. I had to consider the likelihood that he followed me because I sought the Lexicon of Paradox. His recent attacks had come from what he believed to be a safe distance—it required a certain effort to suppress my own impulse to gloat in proving him wrong on that count—so it seemed likely his intention was not to kill me but rather to goad me to quicker pursuit of the Lexicon. It would not be the first time Kasiya had attempted to steal the fruit of my efforts.
The vampire had already obtained the Lacuna Codex, the compilation of fell arcana gathered to oppose the Whispering Tyrant before the martyrdom of General Arnisant imprisoned the lich beneath the foot of Gallowspire. My own brief study of the book had unlocked none of its great secrets, but I was certain of one fact: its most enigmatic rituals were capable of stripping a great being of its powers—or, I inferred, of bestowing them upon another.
The tavern door opened as it had a dozen times since my arrival. This time it was Radovan who stepped inside. His dark leathers glistened with rain. I noticed with some satisfaction that his boots were only slightly muddied. I prayed that indicated he had successfully cast the riffle scroll.
The waitress Shal brought him a rag. He winked at her as she put it in his hands, but then their fingers touched. Shal recoiled as if stung.
“It’s all right, sweetheart.” He smiled and reached out to reassure her, but at the touch of his hand on her hip, she yelped. His smile shrank. “Honest, I don’t bite. Not right away, anyway.”
She fled behind the bar, pausing briefly to look back at him. He offered her his little smile. Wide-eyed, she fled into the kitchen.
Some of the local men laughed and made jokes in Hallit. Radovan must have picked up a few words of the local tongue, for he rankled at the phrase “short southerner” and threw the tines at his abusers. The unfamiliar gesture only made the men laugh more.
“Radovan.” I beckoned him over.
He eyed Alase skeptically. “Who’s the kid?”
“Our new guide. Allow me to introduce Alase Brinz-Widowknife.”
Alase stood to face Radovan. Even on her feet, she was closer to Arnisant’s height than to Radovan’s. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m bigger than I look.”
“Hey! That’s my—well, I used to say it.”
“Did you find suitable guards?” I asked.
“Only four good ones. Guy in charge of the market says a lot of gangs are trying their luck during the—what do you call it? All the demons spilling out of the Worldwound.”
The news was disappointing but not entirely unexpected. “Assuming we receive no word from Clanliege Martolls—”
“You won’t,” said Alase. “But hire me as your guide, and others will join us.”
“You don’t want to interrupt,” said Radovan. “Makes him grumpy.”
“As I was saying,” I continued, “in the absence of aid from the clanliege, we shall set off for Storasta in the morning. Alase says she knows the place.”
“You’re telling me this bitty little thing snuck in there all by herself?”
“You can ask me yourself,” said Alase. “And I never said I went by myself.”
“Oh?” I said. “Who accompanied you?”
“Tonbarse,” she said. “My god.”
King of Chaos © Dave Gross, 2013