“I don’t want to die with this book in my pack, or my spirit will wander the land in mortification.”
“I could help you with that.”
“Let’s not tempt fate.”
“I could help you with that!” — Carenza Vega, Vesper Sespech & Vittorio Marvigliozzo
Ladona, City of the Dragon, welcomes the four once again. Carenza and Vittorio agree that they’ll have to postpone their tavern-crawl, in light of other business. The mercenary also arranges to have the copy of Erotic Secrets of the Elves sent to Bessari.
Carenza spends much of the remaining day hunting for rumors of Vico and the Dusaam signet ring. The best that she can find about the ring is that he tried pawning it some time ago, but there were no takers — in particular because a young Sespech of very serious and intimidating mien had been asking after the Dusaam incident. Vico himself is a bit easier to track. Carenza’s contact Jostinaro, an ex-captain turned hiresword broker, lets her know that Vico managed to gain entry into the well-reputed Fisher Knights. The company is apparently deployed to Brassado, in expectation of some conflict soon to break out.
Vittorio goes trawling for rumors of a more general bent. He does find an interesting one regarding Dossa Barcamir. Allegedly, the would-be lumber merchant has made claim that he was enspelled recently by an enchanter of ill repute. This wicked magician compelled him to wager his wife on the Dragon Parade, and was foiled at the last moment. Vittorio files the rumor away for later, and then heads to the shrine of Kylir. He plays one of his latest compositions, the “Symphony for a Devil,” outside the shrine until sunset comes.
Vesper’s business begins at the court of Prince Lazzaretta. She makes an appointment to call on the Prince the following day for the purposes of reporting on the Iridios affair. That settled, she travels to the Vargari homestead. She finds the former “Last Ditch” in a bit of a stir. Tarvana is calling out orders and preparing for hasty travel; she notices Vesper, waves, and keeps at it. Iliska, Erigo and Kalbak are all making similar preparations.
Rodivar greets his daughter-in-law. He explains that when Inyavka took the children aside to “give them something to do,” she turned them loose on Dossa Barcamir. A little conversation was enough to convince him that it was in everyone’s best interests that he — and the Vargari — make it known that the insidious illusionist late of Ladona was responsible for their erratic behavior of late. Following that, the Vargari siblings rode for the lands allegedly won in Dossa’s bet with Ludovir. They found it was dangerous territory — a haunt for ghouls. Everyone returned safely, but now they’re on the hunt again. The ruin-priest Galmagno who has ties with the “Zarocci” has left town, and the children intend to run him down and ask him a few questions. He then admits that he should probably let Vesper head upstairs to see her husband before he leaves again. She solidly agrees.
Kosvach is of course very glad to see his wife, though he openly regrets that the timing is such that he’s about to leave. Vesper secures the door and tells him to be careful on his trip even as she begins undressing him.
Carenza drops by the Vargari domicile herself in the meantime. She positions herself across the street, leaning against the wall with a carefully disaffected and confident pose (and ignoring the Ladies-in-Waiting who are offering “encouragements” from out of sight). As planned, Tarvana takes note, and breaks off from her preparations to cross the street. The two swordswomen engage in some rather aggressively phrased flirtation, somewhat to the astonishment of Erigo. Carenza ends by kissing Tarvana and then pulling away again before the Vargari can become more aggressive. A somewhat agitated Tarvana then returns to issuing orders to her travelling party.
By the time Kosvach arrives down at the stables, Tarvana is clearly impatient to leave. Kosvach ignores her, focusing his attention on bidding his wife goodbye. Carenza approaches the two.
“I found something out about a Sespech.”
“That’s nice,” says Kosvach without looking at her. He leans in to kiss his wife farewell, and Carenza has to wait a bit longer before the Vargari finally ride for the western gates. With no other distractions, she speaks to Vesper and describes the Sespech asking around after Cormarro Dusaam’s fate. Vesper is immediately certain that she’s talking about Savaquin.
Vittorio and Carenza spend a portion of the rest of the evening drinking. Carenza leans on the devil for some commiseration, complaining that she actually does like Tarvana more than she expected, in a visceral sort of way. However, she’s also aware that she’s not really the type that Tarvana prefers. Vittorio reassures Carenza that wenches are a “once in a while” sort of preference. Rodivar Vargari overhears, and if he is rather unconvinced that his older daughter shares that opinion, he keeps it to himself.
The audience with Prince Lazzaretta takes place the next morning in the labyrinthine catacombs beneath the city. The aged prince is pleased with the news of Iridios’ death. She mentions that the Vargari and Dossa Barcamir have clearly been doing their inexpert but not ineffective best to control the rumors surrounding their situations. She also states that she’s willing to let Lisayra Dusaam have a year to study the Tower.
Vesper takes advantage of Lazzaretta’s good mood to ask about the possibility of breaking the curse on Lucovol Villa. With an entrenched, loyal group such as the Vargari in control of the land, the border with Lamosca would be more secure. The Prince concedes the advantages of Vesper’s plan. The young Sespech then asks if she can speak to Captain Tolnaro about his experiences, and call on the expertise of Halthron Stonefoot where curses are concerned.
Lazzaretta agrees to grant Vesper’s request. She tells the group that Captain Tolnaro is recovering at Salvina Villa, a rarely spoken of hospital where the accursed and afflicted are treated, or at least kept safe. The Prince has a letter of introduction to the Salvina administrator prepared for the party. They thank Lazzaretta and take their leave, planning to set out for the curse-hospital that same day.