Updated: Jun 15
A small crowd was watching them, evidently curious as to who was so important as to warrant a massive carriage and an escort of dozens of Jaws soldiers, and Eni could feel their eyes on her as she followed the Slayer. Tsar paid the onlookers no mind, walking with his usual single-minded determination, and while Eni could overhear some murmured speculation no one dared approach either of them.
So far as Eni could tell no one was following them either, but she still held her tongue for nearly three blocks before speaking just in case. "I'm sorry Aza and I talked so much," she said, "It must have been a little boring for you. But he's a friend and I haven't seen him in so long."
It had occurred to her, as the Slayer stalked down the wide streets of Tormurghast, that he might have found the tiger's cheerfully prying questions to be uncomfortable. The Slayer grunted in response, but there was a skeptical tone to it. "A friend?" he asked flatly, "You ought to be more suspicious, rabbit."
"Suspicious of what?" Eni asked, "I've known him for eleven years."
She couldn't help but feel insulted on Avamezin's behalf; the tiger had never acted in an improper manner at any point in their school days or their travels together, and all of the letters they had exchanged in the time since their last meeting had been perfectly innocuous. It wasn't as though Eni was in the position to give away the Circle's military secrets, and Avamezin certainly hadn't asked anything that demonstrated more than a shared interest in historical artifacts.
Tsar made another skeptical sound in the back of his throat. "He wants something," the wolf said, "He had hawks in the sky watching for you."
"And what's the problem with that?" Eni asked, "He's the Caiser's son. I'm sure he's had his hawks watching Tormurghast's gates ever since he got here."
"Not just the gates," Tsar said, shaking his head, "Seen those birds for days."
Eni suddenly remembered how Tsar had, throughout their trip from Ctesiphon, stared up at the sky, and suddenly realized what he had been doing. "That doesn't mean anything," Eni protested, "I doubt he had them looking for me, specifically. They probably just mentioned us while reporting in."
"Perhaps," Tsar said, and then he fell silent again.
"I know Aza," Eni said, "He'd never work with someone like Ceslaus, if that's what you're worried about."
The words had come out of Eni's mouth before she was consciously aware of the thought she was going to give voice to, but she was absolutely certain of their truth. Tsar wordlessly shrugged his shoulders, his face a mask of indifference. Eni forced down the urge to sigh and hastened to keep up with his long strides. She didn't know Tormurghast quite as well as she knew Ctesiphon, but the streets he led her down were familiar enough for her to recognize he was taking a particularly circuitous route.
As Tormurghast had grown over the centuries, its outer wall had been continuously taken down and rebuilt as the city expanded, leaving behind traces as obvious as the rings of a tree. Tsar was leading Eni out of the newest parts of the city, with the almost brutally simple architectural style of the Tormurghast School, and into the older sections where the buildings were far more elaborate in form and shape. The streets grew narrower, running irregular zig-zagging courses instead of the straight lines and gently sweeping curves that had come into favor, and even the street lamps changed style.
The closer they got to Tormurghast's center, though, the greater the quiet aura of wealth that the businesses projected and the more elaborate the decorations for the Day of Description grew. Banners and pennants in the traditional red, white, and gold seemed to fly from every window, and in the small green space in front of a milliner's shop Eni saw an enormous plaster statue of the Slayer that had been painted to look as though it was made out of marble. The hulking statue was more than three feet taller than the actual Slayer and so heavily muscled Tsar could have almost hidden behind one of its thick legs.
The Slayer didn't give the giant effigy of himself so much as a second glance as they passed, his focus remaining on wherever he was taking them. He still seemed to know where he was going, taking turns without any hesitation, and eventually Eni found herself in a part of the city she had never visited before.
As they approached a charming little pub that had a cornerstone quietly boasting that it had been founded almost six hundred years ago, the Slayer came to a sudden halt and Eni wondered if they were going to go in. She halfway hoped that they would; the windows looked like some of the finest examples of Iverin glass she had ever seen and she would have loved to take a closer look.
However, the Slayer simply stood in place looking at the pub. Eni strained her ears, trying to tell if there was a reason she could tell why he wasn't moving, but what she heard was mostly what she would have expected. The clink of glasses and the scrape of mugs, the murmur of conversations and the sizzling of something being fried. Above it all was a very loud and very off-key rendition of The Slayer and the Locksmith's Daughter in what could generously be called a three part harmony. The door of the pub swung open and a trio of antelope staggered out, shoulder to shoulder as they clutched at each other and sang.
A maiden's treasure she offered,
Or so the Slayer had heard.
If only a key he could find
To the belt—
The noise stopped the instant that the antelope spotted the Slayer. A wide and boozy smile spread across the face of the one in the middle, who looked to be both the oldest by far and the most finely dressed. "Gray!" he slurred in apparent delight, as he squeezed the shoulders of the others, "By the Mother, it's been too long. What's it been? Six years?"
The antelope pulled his arms from around his fellows' shoulders and nearly fell to the ground as he gesticulated at them. "Say hello to Rongen's friend," he said, "Helped him get through that… You know… With the… And the…"
The antelope's gestures had become as increasingly vague as his speech, which trailed off as his head flopped from side to side to look at his fellow antelope. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Gray," the antelope on the left said.
He sounded significantly more sober than the one in the middle, and the one on the right nodded. "Uncle Dimos still talks about you," he added.
"'Course I do," the antelope in the middle, who was evidently Uncle Dimos, said, "Never seen nothing like what Gray did. You remember what I told you?"
"Yes, Uncle," the one on the left said with a resigned air.
"Don't you 'Yes, Uncle,' me," Dimos began in a belligerent tone, "I—"
"Is Rongen drinking tonight?" Tsar interrupted; he had remained silent through the entire previous exchange, but his patience had apparently reached its limits.
"Left already," Dimos said, his mood having settled into befuddlement, "He's getting too old to stay out all night on the eve of the Day of Description. Not like me!"
Dimos proudly patted at his sizable gut, although his first few attempts missed and his hooves slid off his side. "I can still drink anyone under the table."
"Of course you can," the antelope on Dimos's right said soothingly, "Come on, Uncle, let's get you home."
"Nice to see you again, Gray!" Dimos called over his shoulder as his nephews led him away and he began singing again.
There was a moment's pause before the Slayer kept walking, and Eni knew she had to ask. "Gray?" she said, and he shrugged.
Tsar appeared utterly indifferent to the meeting with a mammal he clearly knew in some fashion; he hadn't even bothered to introduce Eni to Dimos. The antelope didn't seem to have realized that the two of them were traveling together, but considering how drunk he had looked Eni wasn't too surprised. "No need to come up with a name when they give you one," he said simply.
"That seems lonely," Eni replied, but Tsar didn't answer.
Eni supposed that the name Dimos used fit the wolf quite well; although his fur was mostly an inky black his tattered cloak was undeniably gray. "Is that what this Rongen calls you? He's the mammal we're going to meet, right?" Eni asked, and when the Slayer nodded Eni added, "What did you do for him?"
"He'll tell you himself," Tsar said.
"Is he… dangerous?" Eni asked, hesitantly trying to find the right word, "Why didn't you go in to look for him?"
Tsar grimaced as though he had bit down on a lemon. "I'm… known here," he said at last, "It'd be troublesome."
It wasn't a yes or a no, and Eni wondered at what he meant. If she took the most charitable possibility, perhaps it was only that there were so many mammals in the pub who knew him that he would have been swarmed the instant they entered and had to endure hours of conversation trying to learn what he wanted. Or perhaps the Slayer had been banned from the pub for some reason and didn't wish to cause trouble. Maybe it even had something to do with the cryptic favor Dimos had alluded to.
As they continued walking, Eni cast her mind back and tried to think of anything that had happened within the past few years that would have been worthy of the Slayer's attention. The House of Morden had been embarrassed in court by a vintage wine dilution scandal. Lagadha's upper crust had been rocked by the embezzlement of funds from its most famous living sculptor. Lady Sondra had returned from Karanor as a fugitive from justice only a year before the Jaws invasion began. Eni herself had received the most painful letter she had ever gotten. None of those things, though, had happened in Tormurghast, and whether inside the city or not Eni couldn't recall any mysterious or bizarre events like what had just happened in Ctesiphon.
Her imagination leaped wildly to spin up all sorts of possibilities, and she was still wondering at what could have possibly happened when the Slayer came to a stop again. They had arrived in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tormurghast that was still intact, and stood before a wrought iron fence that surrounded an estate that must have cost an absolute fortune simply for the land.
At the center of a vast and lush lawn with beautifully tended gardens was a hexagonal tower that stood about four stories tall, the sides of it elegantly embellished with floral bas-relief carvings. Radiating off of it from every other side, like the petals of a flower, were three long and low wings that were clearly additions. The effect probably should have seemed disharmonious, but somehow the building managed to be pleasing to the eye.
The massive gate set into the fence was closed and locked, but the Slayer simply reached out and grabbed it. For a moment, Eni could see the tendons of his neck bulge underneath his fur. There was a terrible metallic groaning followed by a sharp cracking noise, and when the Slayer withdrew his paws the intact lock fell from its broken hasp. He gave the gate a surprisingly gentle push and it glided open so quietly Eni could barely hear it. She looked at the opening and wondered if Rongen would be pleased to see the Slayer, and then hastened to catch up with Tsar, who was already stalking down the paved path that led to the tower's main door.
The door was set into one of the sides that didn't have a wing projecting off of it, and was so tall that even if Eni had been sitting on Tsar's shoulders her head would have cleared the lintel by three or four inches. Strips of brass cunningly designed to look like branches and leaves were set into the polished oak of the door itself, and the Slayer seized a knocker shaped like a laurel wreath and pounded it repeatedly against its striking plate.
Eni looked at Tsar, but his face was perfectly composed; he certainly didn't seem angry or ready to otherwise hurt Rongen. After a moment, Eni could hear the shuffling of feet and the clicking noise of a cane against marble approaching the door from the other side. She drew in a breath, trying to prepare herself for whoever it was that was going to greet them, but what met her eyes when the door swung open was hardly what she had expected.
Rather than a butler or a security guard, Eni had no doubt that she was looking down at the master of the tower. He was a raccoon in a nightgown, the fur atop his head sticking out at crazy angles as he peered up at them with pale watery eyes magnified by a thick set of spectacles. He wasn't quite elderly, looking more as though he was toward the end of being middle-aged, but he leaned heavily on a cane. He glanced only briefly at Eni before turning his attention back to Tsar, who he regarded silently.
Tsar didn't speak either, and just as the moment was becoming desperately awkward the raccoon poked Tsar in the chest with his cane. "Broke my gate again, didn't you Gray?" he asked.
His voice was rough and low but hardly unpleasant. The Slayer remained silent, and the raccoon snorted.
"Typical," he said, "Typical, really. You go off Mother knows where for the better part of a decade, and what's the first thing you do when you get back? You break my gate."
He scowled up at the Slayer. "And you don't have to keep rubbing it in, you know. Every time we see each other I'm older and fatter. The least you could do is age a bit."
Tsar looked down at him, still wordless. The racoon's scowl deepened and he rubbed one paw through the fur atop his head, mussing it up even further, and beckoned him in. "And you still haven't developed manners or a sense of humor. Honestly, Gray, I don't know how you're not in a shallow grave. Mother knows I've been tempted myself."
The Slayer simply strode through the door and after a moment Eni followed. "He probably didn't tell you much about me, did he?" the raccoon asked her, and without waiting for a response gave her a stiff bow and went on, "Mimos Rongen at your service."
"Service he's going to take full advantage of!" Rongen added, directing the comment at Tsar's back, but the wolf ignored him.
"And who are you, my dear?" Rongen asked, looking back at Eni.
"Eni Siverets," she said, "I'm—"
"And did you at least tell her you're the Slayer?" Rogen interrupted, glaring at Tsar's back again, "Oops, look at that, my fat mouth might have spilled your secret. Maybe it wouldn't have happened if you showed up at a decent hour. For the Mother's sake, Gray, I was trying to sleep."
"She knows," Tsar said without turning around.
"Oh, so you can hear me," Rongen said, "Fine, take a seat. That way I can pretend you accepted my invitation while you treat my tower like a streetside tavern. As always."
The Slayer simply sat in the first chair he came to as he entered the sitting room, with Eni and Rongen taking ones close to him. With the ease of familiarity, he placed an elegant silver teapot on a nearby brazier disguised as an end table and rummaged through a hidden drawer for mugs. Rongen dismissively waved when Tsar held one out in his direction.
As Rongen carefully settled himself into one chair and Tsar made tea, Eni took a look around. The center of the tower was empty, a curving ramp circling the rooms that bordered the outside walls running upward to the very top. A number of overstuffed couches and chairs, and an assortment of delicately cultivated plants in enormous bronze pots, stood at the center of the room on top of an abstract floral mosaic and around an enormous armillary sphere that showed the motion of the celestial bodies around the world. The little glass sphere representing the sun looked like it was also a lantern, but it was unlit. By way of contrast, there was an enormous hexagonal skylight in the tower's roof through which the actual moon peered and gave everything a silvery light.
On one of the walls was a massive portrait of what could have only been Rongen in his younger days; Eni guessed that it was how he must have looked when he was a little younger than she was. He was surprisingly handsome, his fur carefully styled, and his pale eyes seemed to be looking right at her. Rongen noticed where she was looking and smiled for the first time. "Gray might remember that; it's how I looked when we met. Painted it myself, but not so much as an ounce of exaggeration, eh?" he said proudly.
Tsar didn't say anything, although to Eni's surprise he passed her a steaming mug of tea. He ignored her thanks, and since the Slayer evidently wasn't going to reply, Eni said "You're an excellent artist."
Rongen preened at the praise. "You found a clever one, Gray. Now spit it out, why'd you barge in on me?"
Rather than immediately respond, Tsar drizzled nearly half a jar of honey he must have found alongside the mugs into his tea and took a sip. Eni tried her own tea while she waited for him to speak, and even without anything to sweeten it the taste was uniquely rich and pleasantly floral, better than anything else she had ever tried.
"Was a monster in Ctesiphon," Tsar said after he swallowed, "A Zezernak. The theurgy disappeared."
Rongen sat up a bit straighter in his chair. "So that really happened, did it?" he asked, "The peril papers mentioned a monster at first. Then it was all just nonsense about how a novice guard lost his head about some bandits and sounded the wrong alarm. Grievous lapse of judgement, court martial to follow, blah blah blah, and nothing for anyone in the Circle to worry about."
The raccoon sighed. "You killed it, did you?" he asked grimly.
The Slayer nodded, and Rongen sucked in air through his teeth. "Someone stole the theurgy, you think?" he said, and without waiting for a response Rongen nodded to himself.
"Of course you think that," he said in a low voice, but Tsar shook his head.
"Might not have been a real monster," Tsar said, "Or maybe its theurgy was already fading. Could have been a leftover from the Scourge."
"Don't lie to yourself, Gray!" Rongen snapped, "If it had been some kind of magical puppet you can't tell me you wouldn't have been able to tell. You always told me you didn't believe in coincidences. And we both know a Zezernak didn't wander around Ctesiphon for a century until the Blight conveniently started. What's she think?"
Rongen looked to Eni and she blinked. From the parts of their conversation that she had been able to follow, Tsar had come to Rongen for advice about what had happened in Ctesiphon, but she still didn't know why they had come to him or how the Slayer knew him. "I— I don't know much about magic," she admitted, "Tsar—the Slayer, I mean—is teaching me to control it."
"Tsar, huh?" Rongen said, a sour smile coming across his face, "As good a name as any, I suppose. So you're a mage, are you?"
"I guess I am," Eni replied, and Rongen shot Tsar a calculating look that the wolf did not return.
"Well, since our tight-lipped friend certainly didn't tell you, I should," Rongen said, "I traveled with him for a time, a few decades back. Sort of a… squire, I guess you could call me."
He shot another glance at Tsar, who didn't contradict or confirm what the raccoon had said. Tsar's attention seemed to be fixated on an infant's chew toy he had found in the cushion of his chair, which he was turning over in his paws with a quizzical expression. "My grandson must have lost that in here," Rongen said, and when Tsar kept examining the toy the raccoon snapped, "For the Mother's sake, Gray, it's been in his mouth. He chews on it."
Tsar silently set the toy aside and Rongen picked up the thread of what he had been saying, smoothing down the fur atop his head before continuing. "I helped him find mages, you see, but I wasn't one myself. Eventually, though, I got too old and too lame to be running around the Cradle so I settled here in Tormurghast. Well, not here here. Took me a while to be able to afford this."
Rongen gestured to take in the tower as he chuckled to himself, and his eyes had taken on a wistful look. Some of the harshness had gone out of his voice, and a small smile came across his muzzle. "I built that whip sword for him, you know. He probably broke it again just like my damn gate, but that's my work. You should have seen the first time he used it."
"It didn't work," the Slayer interjected, and Rongen laughed.
"Well, no, but that's because you tried igniting it before disengaging the cutter locks. Everything still worked out anyway, though. You didn't need a weapon to beat up those thugs from that metal-working guild. What did they call themselves? The Sons of…"
When the Slayer didn't supply an answer Rongen shrugged. "Well, you sent those sons of bitches packing, whatever they called themselves," he said fondly, "We still miss you, you know."
"You get older. I don't," Tsar replied.
Rongen sighed. "I suppose so," he said, and Eni suddenly realized why Tsar had been so reluctant to go into the pub.
Dimos had, apparently, been too drunk to notice that the Slayer's appearance hadn't changed since they had last seen each other, but Eni supposed someone a bit more sober probably would. Considering how difficult it had been for her to track the Slayer down, she assumed that he was going to great efforts to prevent local stories about an Aberrant wolf who never aged from spreading. She wondered at what it would be like to lead such a life, forced to never settle down, and watch friends wither and die. Judging from the self-portrait of Rongen, he had known the Slayer for at least twenty or thirty years, and if what he said was true the Slayer hadn't changed at all in that time.
The three of them simply sat for a moment, Eni supposing that the other two were lost in thought as much as she was, and then at last Rongen spoke. "So did you come to Tormurghast just for my opinion about your monster and its missing theurgy, or do you have worse news for me?"
"The mammal who caused the Blight in Ctesiphon was in correspondence with someone here in Tormurghast," Eni volunteered.
"May the Mother fuck me!" Rongen swore, his eyes widening behind his spectacles, "Is that right?"
"He claimed responsibility," Tsar said, "Fletcher Ceslaus."
"Never heard of him," Rongen said, "I can see what I can learn about your mammal, but you don't sound convinced."
"He claimed responsibility," Tsar repeated, and Rongen nodded, rubbing absently at his nose.
"Fine. Anything else?" Rongen asked.
"Want you to test the rabbit," the Slayer said, gesturing at Eni.
"Test me?" Eni asked, a trifle nervously, "Test me for what?"
"As you would know if Gray had bothered to tell you," Rongen said, glaring at Tsar, "I'm a bit of an alchemist. I developed a sort of test to identify mages, you see."
"Oh," Eni said, feeling more than a bit relieved, "But I know I'm a mage."
"As he also could have told you, the idea behind the test is to see how luminous a mage is," Rongen said, "Like the difference between a room lit with a match versus a lantern. Most mages are more shadow than light."
Eni had no idea how her strength compared to other mages; she had found the magic Ceslaus had been capable of quite impressive, but according to the Slayer he hadn't even been a true mage. She wondered what someone actually capable of wielding enormous power would be able to do, and she suddenly wanted to know very badly how her own results would stack up. "Can we do it now?" she asked, and Rongen gingerly pushed himself out of his chair.
"I'm awake now anyway, aren't I?" he asked fatalistically, and he began to limp over toward one of the room's exit.
Eni and Tsar followed him through an archway into one of the wings of the building, and what met her eyes was the single most impressive workshop she had ever seen in her life. By day, it had enough windows that it would have surely been quite light and airy, but the room was still quite well-lit when Rongen ignited the lanterns that lined the walls. The room was enormous, divided into a number of different workstations which covered a dizzying array of different projects. Consuming more floor space than Eni's apartment in Terregor was a punch card machine unlike any she had ever seen before, scattered into neatly organized pieces. In another part of the room was a furnace and bellows, around which were arrayed an enormous variety of metal ingots of what seemed to be every possible alloy from brass to steel to electrum. Another section was devoted to a massive table covered with delicate glass apparatuses and vials of fluids of all different colors, and it was this workstation that Rongen was walking toward.
However, Eni's attention was drawn to what stood at the center of the room. It looked almost like a boat, as absurd as that was considering how far Tormurghast was from any body of water, and was made out of smoothly joined pieces of thin and palely colored wood. It lacked any sort of sail, however, and a curious framework of metal rods that looked as thin and insubstantial as spider webs formed a sort of envelope above it. The metal frame was in the process of being covered with strips of fabric, one end completely covered and the other entirely exposed. The entire contraption was on a set of polished rails that ran the length of the workshop and terminated at a massive door that covered the entire wall.
Rongen noticed her staring at the odd invention and he paused, gesturing proudly at it. "You like the Vivianne, do you?" he asked.
"What is it?" Eni asked, trying to work out what it could possibly be intended to do.
"She's an airship," the raccoon said, "Too long has the sky been the domain of birds. It's time for mammals besides bats to see what it's like to fly."
"And it works?" Eni asked, slowly circling the airship.
"I've flown several scale models and they all worked perfectly," Rongen said firmly, seeming to take Eni's mild skepticism as a grievous insult, "It'll fly high enough to go over the Aureole Mountains themselves. Just think! Ctesiphon won't be the only way in or out of the Circle."
"That's really impressive," Eni said, running one paw over the hull of the airship.
Despite how thin the wood that made up the main body of the craft was, it felt rock-solid beneath her fingers. "I've always dreamed of what it must be like to fly," she said, although she didn't add how that had nearly made her training with Tsar go awry.
"And someday, any mammal who wishes to know will," Rongen said.
Tsar made a sound in the back of his throat, and Rongen scowled at him. "Yes, yes, let's get this test over with," the raccoon grumbled, and Eni followed him over to the alchemical workstation.
Unlike the portions of the workshop devoted to mechanical items, there didn't seem to be any obvious organizational scheme to the alchemical equipment. Rongen swept glass vials and tubes aside and rummaged through drawers, muttering and cursing to himself as he did. He assembled a confusing array of glass pieces together and began adding a truly impressive variety of chemicals with exquisite care.
When the setup was complete, the equipment produced a single drop of a shimmering red liquid that sluggishly fell onto a glass slide. The raccoon carefully moved the slide away from his setup, and then pulled forth a slim metal lancet and pricked one of his own fingers. As a drop of blood welled up, he held his finger over the slide and let it drip.
As the blood met the fluid, there was a feeble flash of light as dim as a freshly extinguished candle, followed by a sound like a soap bubble popping. All that was left on the slide was a small black stain, and Rongen nodded to himself in apparent satisfaction. "Everything seems to be in order. Your turn," he told Eni after he had prepared another slide of the alchemical substance.
Rongen offered her a fresh lancet, and Eni pulled off one glove and held her finger over the solution. The lancet was so sharp that the pain barely registered, and Eni watched carefully as her blood dripped from her finger.
She almost immediately wished that she hadn't; there was a sudden flare of light that felt like she was looking into the sun after spending hours in perfect darkness. Eni's eyes involuntarily closed as tears of pain came to them, and then there was a sound like thunder followed by the sharp and almost musical crack of breaking glass. As Eni managed to open her eyes again, blinking brilliantly colored spots from them, she saw that all of the glass on the tabletop had shattered.
"By the Mother's teats, my eyes!" Rongen swore.
Tears were streaming down his face and he pulled off his spectacles to rub at them, blinking furiously. Eni guiltily offered Rongen her handkerchief and he took it gladly, dabbing at his eyes until they were dry. While he did, Eni stared down at the tip of her finger and the tiny pinprick visible against her fur. Only Tsar seemed unaffected, looking at Eni in a rather appraising fashion. "What does that kind of reaction mean?" Eni asked Rongen once he seemed to have recovered.
The raccoon looked from Eni to Tsar and back again. "It means I accidentally added aqua fortis instead of cinnabar to the mix," he said tightly, "It's the sort of mistake you might expect after the Slayer broke into my house in the middle of the night."
The raccoon kept blinking, pulling faces as he wiped at his face one last time and gave Eni her handkerchief back. "I'm sorry, Miss Siverets," Rongen said, "I don't have an answer for you. And I don't have what I'd need to set up a fresh test."
"That's fine," Eni said, "Isn't that right?"
She looked at Tsar as she spoke, but his face was as perfectly neutral as it tended to be. "Yes," he said softly.
"Wonderful," Rongen said, "Now why don't you go back to your inn and I'll crawl back into bed?"
Rongen gestured in the direction of one corner of the workshop, which had a small cot and a washbasin tucked into it. Tsar's eyes followed Rongen's paw and then locked onto Rongen's. The raccoon sighed. "You didn't get a room at an inn, did you?" he asked, "Fine, you can use some of my guestrooms."
Tsar nodded. "Thank you, Rongen," he said, and it struck Eni that it was the first time she had ever heard the Slayer show gratitude.
"Don't mention it," the raccoon said grumpily, and he gestured back the way they had come, "Guest rooms are on the third level. Don't break anything my grandchildren play with."
Tsar grunted and started walking for the exit. Eni followed him, sparing a final glance at the shards of glass that had scattered across the entire workshop, and as she left the room she wondered what it all meant.