Marfisa smiled as she watched the Duke and his wife dance. “Awww.” She leaned forward on the table. “I’m so glad I got to go here. And without Roddy!” She coughed. “I mean--I love him--but… he tends to hover and… not that I’m ungrateful--he’s like a--”
Elaine looked at her levelly. “He isn’t here, you know.”
Marfisa collapsed on the table, and let out a squeak. “Please don’t tell him I said that.”
Elaine looked away. “I won’t.” She turned over to Jean, then kicked her lightly in the foot.
The apprentice sorceress’ eyes snapped open. “Hmm. What? Wha…?”
“You were dozing off again,” said Elaine.
“I was not!” declared Jean, with a yawn. “I was just--meditating.”
“Drooling onto the table is meditating?” asked Elaine.
“Yes! Ask Nisrioch, he’d tell you!” Jean looked around. “Where is he?”
“He went off after Pinabel and Tessina twenty minutes ago,” said Elaine. She raised her hand. “And before you ask--Morgaine and Flordespina reappeared, then vanished shortly thereafter--Pinador and Malina went back to the sweetmeat table right after that.”
Jean blinked. “So it’s just us?” Elaine nodded. “All right then,” said Jean, who then lay her head back on the table.
Elaine kicked her lightly in the shin. “Oh, come on!”
“What?” said Jean. “We got through all the important stuff. Now it’s all just… socializing. And I’m tired.”
“Remind me how you functioned as River Trader again?” asked Elaine.
“Badly,” murmured Jean. “I sucked, remember? Now… sleep!”
Marfisa giggled. Elaine turned towards her. “What’s so funny?”
“Oh--nothing really,” she said. “It’s just--well, I like having people my own age to talk to. Back in Tremisoma, it’s just me--and Ruggier. It get’s lonely at…”
Marfisa would have finished that thought, if a black-draped arm hadn’t slumped down from above, and a cold hand hadn’t grabbed her shoulder.