Mysteries of Saffron Lily 4/5

I pull out 83 dinar from a pouch near my groin. I know it is a generous amount, but having friends everywhere is a courtesan’s duty; also, if my investigation helps the family, even better.

The couple stares at the money, mouths agape. It is the wife who regains her wits first. “And what poor sop did you steal that off of, hmmmm? We don’t need your charity, beggar-thief.”

I look her dead in the eye. I am firm, possibly imposing, but not threatening, and not chastising. “It is not charity I give you, woman. It is more than ample compensation to justify my searching your house for something that belongs to me. On my word of honor, I will not harm a hair on your head, take one thing that is yours from your household, or disturb your children from their slumber.” I pray it’s not in the children’s room as I say this.

She seems moved enough by that. The husband seems abashed at his wife’s behavior, but despite that has said nothing. I was a fool for bargaining with him first, I should have known the wife would be the force within this home. Especially considering how much time I spend with an equally strong woman.

Finally she nods, and I begin my search. I carefully manage the reserves of my essence, making sure not to be noticed, but augmenting my sight to be able to see the spirits of the house. I can never be certain what resources my enemies possess, and spying with spirits is just another option available in the Great Game. As I look through the common areas of the house I find it, a small section of glossy yellow tiles poking out just under the wash-basin, almost unnoticeable.

“Can I move this?” I say to her.

“Why?”

“How long have these tiles been here?”

She looks down, thinks for a second. “Couldn’t tell you. Last heavy rain maybe? Can’t think of any recent earthquakes…” She looks to her husband, he shrugs.

“Can I move this?” I ask again.

“Sure… But I thought you were looking for—“

“Something that was hidden by someone else that belongs to me, I am… I just didn’t say how big it was.” She rolls her eyes at that, whatever trust I had built is gone; a suitably expense for now. After moving the washbasin I tap lightly on the plate. It is hollow, as I thought, and circular in form. Once more I flick the metal, allowing the essence to transfer into the tiles. It, along with a foot more of the ground, glows slightly, but nothing more. I clear away the dirt to the end of the glowing patch, finding a small depression just beyond the circle. I push down on the depression hard, almost going so far as to do a handstand on it. I am rewarded when the other side cracks open, and Stone, thankfully, places a broom inside the crack to hold it open.

I quickly move around the patch to the open side. I can see something lurking down there, dematerialized, waiting. I turn back to the couple who lives here.

“Things will change around here. They must, for your safety and mine, but I promise it will be for the better. If I do not come out of here by the first light of the Unconquered Sun, go to the palace, beg grievance from your Princess under the auspices of Huasi, she will direct you to my household where they will explain everything. I promise, on the word given before and the sanctity of my past-lives, things will be better for you.” So saying, I open the chamber and jump down, letting it close behind me.

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