Matthas glanced sideways at Megan as the doors of the great Baths closed behind the servants who had just laid out a dinner, identical to the one that had just been served in the Most Radiant and Glorious Hall.
“I am confused,” he said, in Temple Zak. Megan grinned at him and began unlacing the elaborate flowing wings and trailing bits on her otherwise tight clothing.
“You’re wondering why I’m acting like we succeeded?” She pulled her shirt up over her head and stripped off her trousers before sinking into the still, hot pool. He didn’t blink at her getting naked and she wondered if the Temple was repressing that part of him. “Why don’t you set that pot of meat skewers over here where we both can reach them?”
He didn’t answer but put the serving dish down, with a jug, a chilled bottle, and a pair of goblets, tugged off his boots and belt and wings before sinking into the tub next to her. The only sign he was still waiting for her answer was his intent stare.
She laughed right out loud. “Your Imperator and I figured that the ‘get the exotic dancer into the household’ was so transparent that we came up with something else.”
“So… he probably expected it and refused to offer. He was expecting my services to be offered him, so got distracted when that lead was just dropped.”
“How did you succeed, then?”
“We got Ili to demonstrate the ‘personal gift’ thing and have Minis getting snotty and bored about it.”
“So… you have the earring. How does that help you?”
“I have the earring and more than a dozen of his hairs. Some that were caught in the jewelry, some that I ‘fetched’ while sitting across from him. One of my minor skills. Moving single hairs is easy! Most people shed hairs worse than cats. The instant I had the hairs from his earring, given by his own hand, I had enough ‘likeness’ to get his shed hairs to come drifting over to me. I folded them into a scrap of paper and then into my belt.”
“And this gives you a connection with him?”
“Ding! Give the Mahid a prize! Exactly.” She grabbed a handful of skewers and tore at them as if starving. “I haven’t felt this energetic in years! And hungry! Please tell your Temple that whatever it did… worked.”
“Of course it worked.” He sniffed and his hand hesitated between jug and bottle. “Wine?”
He even unbent so far as to pour himself a splash into his own goblet. She ate more beef before choosing a stick with a dozen tiny savoury redfruit wound with strands of onion and dark green leaves. “Whatever this is, is delicious!”
“May I… May the Temple… may we see what you do with those hairs and the earring?”
“Certainly. Your Imperator wanted to see as well, and if it works then someone should be there to take notes. We’ll give our Fehinnan fellow time to see a few more entertainments this evening, get formally seen off to his new home in the city and then… hopefully then… he will want to talk about this dinner with his aides.”
He nodded, setting the goblet down with a click after he drained it. She sipped and chose another stick, devouring it with a trifle less speed than she’d eaten the first few.
“Oh, Taken up… excuse this one… excuse this humble one.” A servant came chasing down the hallway after Matthas who had come out to dry off and don a priest’s robe once more.
“Yes?” He turned a forbidding gaze on the servant, in Itzan’s livery.
“The entertainer you translated for… for the Imperator… is she available for parties?”
“Not at the moment.” He stood for a longer moment and then twitched as though someone had poked him. “Please tell Ser Itzan that should the Fire Bird become available for his parties that we will immediately let him know.”
“Thank you, Ser!”