"We move now," declared Armida as she entered the main room, glancing around to see who was gathered there. "Friend Porone--you have been invaluable throughout all this."
Porone gave a bow. "As I live to serve your ladyship, these kind words are immeasurable..."
Armida smiled at that. "Don't be so thankful," she noted, as her hand went to a small bracelet kept on her other wrist. "I'm afraid I have more to ask of you."
The fat Erl gave a bow. "Then ask it."
"Take Rhea to a safe and secure location," she stated. "One that's far from here."
The younger companion turned to Armida in surprise. "What? I... I thought you wanted me to help with..."
Armida shook her head as she untied the bracelet. "No. This is... a gamble. If we succeed--well, then our hopes and dreams for so long have been fulfilled. If we do not..." She coughed. "Well, I wish to know that somewhere, something of us is left to take up the struggle." She stared the younger woman in the face. "Is this clear?"
Rhea bit her lip, and gave an unhappy nod, and then walked over to Porone's side. She paused a moment, to look at her. "I love you, mother."
Armida gave her an indulgent smile. "You love entirely too many people, my dear," she noted. Porone took Rhea and lead her by the hand from the house.
Tisiphone frowned. "You are... truly worried, my lady," she whispered quietly.
"If Lord Mansemat and his crew have proven anything over the years it is that they have a knack for surviving the apparently impossible," replied Armida fiddling with the loosened strip of the bracelet. "And frequently coming out stronger from them." She smiled to herself. "Still..." She raised her hand to the heavens and then snapped it down, that single strip having become a lash. "That's true of me as well, isn't it?"