Nisrioch stared wistfully at the elephants lined at the gate. “I never thought I’d be so sad to see these things go,” he noted.
“Merely think of the dung,” said Alcina, smiling quietly.
Nisrioch nodded. “That does it.” He gave a slight shudder. “Oh, it does it with room to spare.”
Alcina chuckled. “I’m an excessive personality.” She gazed at him a moment, and sighed. “So, have my warnings had any effect on you, my love? Or was I speaking to a wall?”
“I will do what I can,” said Nisrioch. “But in this matter…” He shook his head, his many-hued eyes looking strangely dark. “I’ve gone too far, Alse. There’s no way back. Only forward.”
“Is that what you See?” said Alcina, a note of contempt trickling into her tone.
“It is,” replied Nisrioch.
“There are things beyond your Sight, Nisrioch,” she said. “Me for one. My sister for another…”
“And your father is difficult to See,” said Nisrioch with a shrug. “We’ve often spoken of this…”
The Dev shook her head. “I swear, Nisrioch, as clever as you are, you are so often too clever by half.”
A young Erl maid in the livery of House Ashurana approached Alcina nervously. “Everything is ready, miss,” she stated quickly, before turning her eyes briefly on Nisrioch.
“Very good, Antea,” said Alcina with a smile. The girl started to back away. “No, no,” stated Alcina. “Stay here, child.” The Dev turned to Nisrioch, her expression pensive. “You are risking much, dearest. Do you understand me?”
“I have no choice,” said Nisrioch. “So much is at stake here…”
“More than you know, darling, more than you know,” said Alcina. She gestured to Antea, who nervously bit her lip, than stepped forward. “Dear, I’d like you to meet, Antea. She serves me as my principal maid.”
“A ple-pleasure to meet you,” said Antea taking Nisrioch’s hand.
Nisrioch smiled at her. “Likewi--” And then he stopped, as he got his first good look at her face.
“She is our daughter,” said Alcina quietly, “as you have doubtless begun to realize.”
Nisrioch nodded as he stared into Antea’s rainbow-colored eyes. “How…?”
“Come now, my sweetness,” said Alcina, “I shouldn’t have to explain the mechanics of this to you of all people.” She coughed. “I believe certain matters regarding the… coolness that developed between our two fathers is now… more readily apparent to you.” She shut her eyes. “I… will not bore you with the lengths I went to so that she could be in my care. It… is a long tale, I do not have time for.” She nodded at her daughter, who released Nisrioch’s hand, and darted away.
“Why… How could you…?” began Nisrioch.
“You know my father, Nisrioch,” she answered. “And what he is capable of, even to his own blood.” She shook her head. “Perhaps I should say, especially to his own blood.” Alcina took a deep breath. “I… probably should not have taken this risk, but… I needed to show you what is at stake here. And she has wanted to see her father for… some time.” Alcina stared at him for a moment, then stepped forward and pressed her lips to his. “Be careful, Nisrioch,” she said, breaking off the kiss. “There’s… so much you don’t See. You have to remember that.” She shut her eyes, and then vanished.
When Cei arrived ten minutes later, the Dark Lord of the Screaming Waste still stood there. “Are you all right, sir?”
“Just fine, Cei,” said Nisrioch dully. “I am… absolutely fine.”