I think I must have a mean streak in me. Not a horrible mean streak; the sort that pulls hair and calls people names, but mean as in enjoying teasing, such as making references to the ‘beautiful barmaid, Natalie’ in Aoibheann’s presence. Lately, I have been teasing Wren by making occasional references to cinnamon and maths lessons. Of course, I have no real intention of giving extra maths lessons, at least, no more than the poker-based ones his majesty already asked me to do, but putting the fear of maths into Wren is, I think appropriate punishment, until such time as she actually apologises to me for lying.
Mitternacht was doing her rounds, carrying various baked goods around in a basket on her back. I think her plan is to make more sales that way since not enough people are coming by the bakery. It would probably help if the menu on the basket had been written in something other than what I assumed to be equine. Wren happened to be wandering the courtyard and purchased a raspberry-filled bun. I asked Mitternacht if she had any cinnamon buns, commenting that cinnamon was a popular flavour with the young people – “Isn’t that right, Wren?” I think she got the point. In so far as she choked slightly on her bun and looked embarrassed. I also asked if she was just doing her patrols or had turned up for extra maths education. Mitternacht suggested that maths was a good thing, since without it, she wouldn’t be able to count above 25. This confused me for a moment, trying to work out what combination of equine extremities might add up to 25.
Aoibheann turned up, looking tired, so I made her a coffee. She returned the sword, apologising that there was something nasty on the edge – apparently the wood-fairies had done something to it. I couldn’t really tell what it was, save that maybe somebody had spilled syrup along the edge. I didn’t believe a word of the wood-fairies story, but didn’t question her further. I am sure I can get somebody to look at it. Aoibheann then offered Wren the chance to work for Mitternacht for the day, thereby paying her dues in full. Wren seemed ok with this, until she learned that Mitternacht needed the oven cleaning, some sacks of flour and barrels moving. Aoibheann also lent Wren her dictionary, suggesting she might also like to translate Mitternacht’s menu for her. I got the dictionary out from under the counter and gave it to Wren, adding that maybe she should have chosen the maths lessons. I did make her an offer too – a simple logic problem – to think of a short sentence that could halve the duration of a maths lesson. Of course, I was hoping that maybe she would work it out and apologise, but she didn’t. Instead she took the dictionary and went off, saying she’d think about it.
We had a new visitor in the tavern in the evening, a dark, pale beauty who, for some reason, reminded me of how I always imagined Morgan le Fey to look. Her name was Rose and she ordered a rather strange mixture of brandy, ale and honey. I had never heard of such a cocktail, so had to guess on proportions but she seemed to like it, as she did the steak pie. Wren was also there, still struggling with the logic problem and not entirely sure what the dictionary had to do with it. Rose offered to buy Wren something to eat if she wanted. She claimed to not be hungry, but I bought a slice of Mitternacht’s coffee cake anyway, having never known the child to refuse cake or pastries.
Rose was being friendly enough, but didn’t seem able to help Wren with the logic problem so I gave her a clue – five letters, starting with an S – gesturing at the dictionary. While Wren tackled that additional clue, Rose and I dealt with the usual problem of currency exchange. In the end, I took three gold coins of uncertain vintage from her in exchange for the meal and drink, while explaining a little about the local currency and economy.
Aoibheann turned up at this point. She emerged from the kitchen, so I can only assume she had been sleeping in the corner somewhere I couldn’t see her. She seemed relieved to see Rose and asked if her night was uneventful. Rose, by return commented that she was glad Aoibheann had survived. Naturally, I was more than a little curious, given that Aoibheann had claimed that nothing had happened and said so. She still insisted that nothing had happened, aside from having met Rose, and tried to change the subject. I let it go for the moment. Rose finished her drink and departed and Aoibheann offered to take over, if I wanted. I had intended to, but I figured I would take a seat on the customer side of the bar for a while and ordered a glass of rum. I gave her my best “don’t believe a word of it” look and eventually she said that she knew we would prefer if she explained herself, but that she didn’t really understand herself. Her next question, however, caught me by surprise. She asked me if I thought her mad.
That was a question I had to give a bit of thought to, mostly because I was trying not to laugh. I resisted commenting that I thought she was stark staring crazy and instead told her no. I said that I thought her occasionally eccentric, often rash, but not mad. I also told her that whatever she was involved with was her business. If she wanted help, or somebody to talk to, I was there, but I wasn’t going to interfere. I also reminded her that I was her friend. She reciprocated, though did not seem to value her friendship highly, even after I reminded her that she had been the first person to help me when I had arrived, so wasn’t likely to forget that. She also asked if I was going on the next full moon voyage. That, I couldn’t answer, although the idea had occurred to me. I said that it was maybe possible, but I hadn’t spoken to the king yet.
Meanwhile, she got involved in trying to help Wren with her problem, which would have amused me, had the problem actually been one of logic or mathematics. I offered a further clue of the second letter being O. Aoibheann managed to come up with “Sobat”, whatever that might be, though Wren thought it might be a bat for sewing with, which made even less sense. Sewing, of course, is one of those things that Aoibheann seems to think is women’s work, though she did not begrudge me the ability to at least replace a button on my shirts. Oddly, she said that she missed spinning and weaving, even though she was glad she didn’t have to do it any more. I made a note to see if I could find something for her – a small loom or a spinning wheel or something, if I did go on the trading mission. I agreed with her that it was odd the things you missed, mentioning the strangeness of the bed not moving, and the lack of creaking sounds and the sounds of the sea.
At this point, Wren suddenly seemed to have inspiration, apologised sincerely, and then ran off to the palace for her dinner. I do hope the coffee cake didn’t spoil her appetite. Aoibheann showed some insight, remarking that I had never intended to give the extra maths lessons. I agreed that this was the case, then finished my drink and went back to the apartment to practice my light magic some more.