“Well, this promises to be amusing,“ said Nisrioch, carrying the kite before him.
“The Kite Festival, or the Great War?” asked Morgaine tartly.
“The Festival,” answered Nisrioch. “War is never amusing.”
Morgaine raised an eyebrow. “What, never?”
“No, never!” said Nisrioch, then paused and scratched his head. “Well, hardly ever.”
“Thank you,” said Morgaine, with a nod. “If you hadn’t added the qualifier I would have had to remind you of the Beer Barrage of White Pine.”
“Assur Cthonique was a mad genius at war,” declared Mansemat.
“And also cooking,” said Nisrioch. “And poetry, and dancing, and…”
Morgaine and Mansemat shared a glance. “Well, it’s better than admiring King Sutekh,” declared Mansemat quietly.
“You sure?” said Morgaine. “Sutekh may have done a lot of things, but he didn’t hire six girls to lick him clean after a bath in onager milk.”
“Yes, still sure,” said Mansemat.
Nisrioch coughed. “Well, as interesting as all this conversation is, I must be off.”
“Why?” asked Morgaine. “Did you leave some experiment running in your lab before you took your little vacation and now you just remembered it?”
Nisrioch blinked. “Yes, but that’s not what I was talking about. I’m sure that’s fine.” He looked around the Castle. “Believe me, we would definitely know if it wasn’t.”
Morgaine frowned. “I don’t find that comforting. Do you find that comforting, Manny?”
“No, I don’t,” said Mansemat. “However, I suspect our brother’s plans are a visit to Marsilion’s Folly.”
Morgaine’s eyes narrowed. “Ohhh. Right.” She sighed. “Ohh, Nissy.”
“I owe her a visit,” said Nisrioch. His siblings continued to stare at him. “You never used to mind.”
“You’re getting older, Nissy,” said Mansemat. “And as it now stands, the only relationships you have that you have not wound up destroying are… whatever it is you have with Alcina, and the one with a woman who you pay to keep you company.”
Nisrioch turned to his sister. “Morgaine, explain to Manny how narrow-minded he’s being.”
Morgaine shut her eyes. “I’d do that, Nissy, but since I got involved in a real relationship, I’ve been forced to acknowledge that, yes, your situation is kind of sad.” She shuddered slightly. “And where Alcina is involved, kind of creepy.”
Nisrioch frowned. “Oh, well, that’s what I get for standing by you these many long years.”
Mansemat crossed his arms. “That was uncalled for, Nissy.” He took a deep breath. “We are not going to tell you what to do. But we also aren’t going to pretend we don’t… worry about you sometimes.”
Nisrioch nodded. “Very well. Concern noted.” He turned. “I shall see you tomorrow. Though if yellow smoke starts billowing from my apartment, thoughtspeak me.”
“--That which flutters and flies! Protect us! Protect us!” came a shout, as Palamedes, Sacripant and Quiet entered the hall, carrying their strange torches.
The Dark Lords turned to regard them. “Okay, what the hell is this about?” asked Morgaine.
Sacripant bowed and stepped forward. “We have grave news, oh Dark Lords, about…” And that was when he saw the kite in Nisrioch’s hands. “That’s one of Pelleas’ things, isn’t it?”
Nisrioch nodded eagerly, and lifted it up. “Quite nice, isn’t it? It looks like a giant moth.”
Sacripant and Quiet turned to glare at Palamedes. “Don’t you two dare put this all on me,” said the chubby Guardsman. “I just told you about what I saw. You guys are the ones who pushed the torch nonsense.”
Sacripant coughed. “True. True.”
Palamedes nodded. “Right. So let’s make it clear--we were all idiots on this one.”
Sacripant nodded. Quiet scratched her chin. “You know, maybe… in a way… our prayers to Mother Night were answered, by having the problem always having been…” She sighed. “Never mind. I can’t even get my mind to accept this, and I was trained to.” She slapped her fellows on the shoulders. “Come on, let’s all pay for each other’s drinks.”