"It is most unusual to find one of the mages out in places like this," a male voice spoke from behind Luna as she and Mithrilanna wandered through the busy pedestrian only tourist funnel. The street itself was shaped like a funnel with a wide entrance off the main street which slowly narrowed until it led into a den of alleyways and tunnels. They remained in the tourist area, but in the not so nice tourist area.
Mithrilanna had wanted to leave a block or two back, but Luna sensed something important. Her mother had always said Luna had inherited a knack for finding things. Little did she know that it would be a person and not a thing.
This particular person was expected in the region, but his appearance wasn’t especially welcoming.
"Thuweni," Luna greeted, turning only slightly to confirm the voice did belong to the name. She glanced around the area. That voice rarely traveled without a second one. "Is Kiango present?"
"He's currently at the library."
Oh no. Of .... Luna twisted to look behind them, her first instinct was always to see what she could see. There had been no explosions, no rushing feet, nothing to attest that anything was amiss. No smoke discolored the sky; her glass wasn't vibrating with messages from the others.
They were safe ... For now.
"From your expression I may assume that Mederei is also present at the library?"
"She was going to spend most of the day there, yes."
Thuweni checked something on his glass and smiled. "Currently nothing is amiss. We may thank the gods that if they did perchance cross paths their personal animosity may have saved the city."
"We can only hope."
They fell silent a moment.
"They have matured, ma'am," Thuweni spoke first. He always used that strange formality when addressing her. Maybe it was because she was with Mederei, and he used it with her. Last year, he had come up to their area and had spent a few days in the nearby locations. Mederei, without Kiango present, was friendly to Thuweni, though never friends.
Thuweni continued, when Luna focused on him again. "Even one year ago, there would have been words exchanged and magic issued."
"How did anyone manage to survive them?" Mithrilanna muttered. She had come into the conversation partway through, but apparently gathered the important information.
She also was infatuated with Thuweni, but most women were.
He was tall like Hugh, Ramses and Caradoc. Broad shouldered, blondish hair color, though that was more because he colored his hair. Mederei, who very rarely referred to people by describing food could only compare Thuweni to a hot brownie with caramel icing on top. He was as dark as Kiango, but a different shade of black.
His voice was a smooth, but low tenor. It didn't exactly fit with his impression, but wasn't at all unpleasant. He was the type of man who protected the princess in stories, but in real life he was connected to a prince who was every bit his friend.
"Are we going to stand here observing one another or are we going to talk about our current situation?" Thuweni inquired. He wasn't much older than Hugh, and like the demihabil, he was amused by Luna's reactions.
"I would much rather not discuss it in the streets, but ..." Luna looked around them. "There's a coffee shop up on the second floor. Let's go there to talk."
"Isn't he with the evil prince?" Mithrilanna whispered as they walked towards the cafe.
"He is, but he isn't as evil as the prince is. Mederei is relatively friendly with him."
Mithrilanna glanced over her shoulder. "I didn't think they would be this good-looking."
"He keeps a glamour on him."
"Oh, so he's not that good looking?"
Actually, according to Mederei, the truth was he used the glamour to make himself less attractive ... Most annoying in fact. The cafe was quiet and woodsy. Nothing like a cafe close to the ocean would look, if one expected it to look like something. This cafe would be better suited to Ibniakhulit, the town where Fire Shadow Guild was centered.
"Is something amiss?" Mithrilanna asked, her voice quivering ever so slightly.
Luna shook her head and went to order. She ordered the normal latte and a slice of cheesecake for herself and doubling it for Mithrilanna before going to a table overlooking the street. Mithrilanna went to the restroom while Thuweni ordered.
Once sorted, Thuweni joined Luna. "Why is there a fae with you?"
"She's a new friend that I'm showing around."
"She's not a normal fae."
"Who said the fae were normal?"
"She's not common fae. Something about her ..."
Luna smiled. "She's just shy."
Thuweni let the answer slide. "Kiango is present because he believes that there will be a five-hundred-year catastrophe here. He hopes to prevent it from happening."
They agreed on so many things, Mederei and Kiango, why couldn't the two of them ever be friends? Imagine the good they could do in the world if they weren't sidelined by their endless squabbling! From how Caradoc and Hugh the animosity was neither one-sided nor was it a recent situation. Some family members joked that they had their first fight at their first meeting - all of seven days old.
It didn't seem unlikely.
"Nothing will change them," Thuweni observed.
Had she said something?
He chuckled. "You're very easy to read when one knows what to look for."
Just wonderful. "They could do a lot of good if they could get over themselves."
"Most likely they will, but it will be because they've annoyed each other into doing something. When I first arrived at the palace, I was warned on three items: first, the prince hates strawberries, second, he likes to escape, and third, Mederei would be the only one who could match him. They're like a pair of bloody magnets."
"That's it! Magnets! So similar that they repel each other and when they clash it goes boom sometimes."
"Exactly." Thuweni leaned forward. "Now, are you going to answer my question? Why are you here? I know you are here with Mederei, and if she's present, then one can assume that Hugh Black or Ramses Earthbender is also present, if not both of them." He paused, his gaze narrowing a moment as though considering other information. "And I was informed that Caradoc ap Gwion has also left the capital."
While many would have known Caradoc had left, why would the royal family care? "You keep track of the Gwion?"
"Only a select few and they are all directly connected to one individual. You can, I assume, figure out which person."
Caradoc would be connected only because he and Mederei were so close. Brys was probably under surveillance only because of his position. Though, it didn't help Mederei any that she and Brys were also very similar to the point of being mistaken for twins.
It could be terrible if Brys was here as well. "We took a request."
"My island," Mithrilanna said, returning to them with the tray for their food and drink. "My island is hung in the air, and we requested the mages to release it from its curse."
"The fae are unable to manage their own mess?" Thuweni wasn't exactly unkind in his statement, but it wasn't exactly polite either.
Mithrilanna bristled. She rolled her shoulders back and quietly set the coffees on the table. Not a single clink was made. "We have attempted to do all that we can, including requests from other fae and wizards. It seemed wiser to ask the mages to help since no one else could manage."
Thuweni leaned back in his chair. "That seems ... Interesting."
Something wasn't right. It wasn't good for this conversation to continue. Thuweni and Kiango weren't enemies, but ... what exactly was going on in this town? Why would the prince be here of all places especially while they were there? Five-hundred-year catastrophes? What could that be?
"Where is your island?"
"Out at sea," Mithrilanna said, her voice softer now.
"Demla? The sea's tear?"
"You've heard of it?"
Thuweni leaned forward. "Yes, often. It's a legend, one that I loved as a child." He glanced over at Luna. "So, did the prince, I might add. I'm surprised Mederei doesn't know about it."
"Do many know that Kiango enjoyed the book?"
"Most likely, he talked about it all the time. It was in the palace library. An old children's book his grandmother would read to him. The high queen has it now, I believe as a gift from her brother to his nephew."
The high queen of the Forty Isles was the eldest daughter of the King of Caergwlân, and Kiango's oldest sister. He had another two sisters between them, and three younger than he was along with two younger brothers. The younger five were from his father's second wife, while the oldest four were from the first wife.
The Gwion would have a copy of the book. Would someone rush it to them? Or would they be able to find a copy in the city?
"The story tells of an island in the sea which a wizard lifted and allowed to float in the air, but he wasn't strong enough to sever the tether which kept the island in the position. No one know why the island remains tethered as though by magic, but it does. It is said that when the island falls, the lands will feel its repercussions," Thuweni was saying.
"It is most likely my home then," Mithrilanna agreed. "I never heard about the tethering or any curse associated with it."
Where would the curse be centered, though? Rukisimos? Another location? They needed a map of the possible locations to be affected. If it was returned to sea, there would be a massive wave sent across the waters. Places would need to be protected, and with the tapestries not working properly.
"This is too much to consider," Luna muttered. "I need to talk with the others."
"The information I've given you is free to give to Mederei and the dragon."
"What's given to them is given to all of us."
"Understood, but I am giving you that permission." Thuweni set his coffee mug on the table. "I hope despite our friends' difference that we can be friends."
"Only if they don't find out."
"Your secret is safe with me."