Lovers, part three

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Harbend bowed as Neritan entered. "What is the reason for your presence this late?"

She bowed in return, more of a nod than a bow, but at least a token admittance that she was a guest in his private quarters, as private as they could be in a simple wagon.

"I would have your help in locating the taleweaver," she said after she'd seated herself on a chest.

"Of course, even though I fail to see how I can be of any help to you."

"You know the man better than anyone else here. I've already got a picture of where he must be, but I need to know how his mind is working to know more exactly."

Harbend frowned. Did he really know that much of the man he considered a friend? "I will try to help, but I cannot promise it will be enough."

"I believe that I'll be the one to decide if your help is enough or not. Your promises are of little concern to me." She displayed an air of self-confidence he hadn't expected, but then who knew what to expect from one of the golden?

Harbend looked away, knowing his eyes would have shown a sour enmity had she seen them.

"Your view of me is of little concern as well. I need your help, not your approval," Neritan said as if she had read his mind. Gods! She probably had.

"What do you want me to do?" he said, more to let words fly than wanting any answer to his question.

"I want you to sit still and keep your mouth shut. Your insignificant ranting disturbs me, and I need to be concentrated for what I have in mind."

"Listen here, madam, I am not..."

"Silence, I said. Think of a good trade or something else your limited mind is capable of grasping. I don't have time for the shortsighted wantonness of your kind."

Harbend wanted to lash out at her in any way possible at that time, but recognition of his failures intervened, and he did as told.

They spent a long time in silence. He didn't know how long, and afterwards there was nothing but dreams and vague memories telling him it had ever happened. What he did know, memories or not, was that the golden mage knew more of his secrets than maybe he himself did after they were done. Altogether it was an experience he didn't care much to have repeated.

"Find the others! You can tell them where we go now," Neritan said when she was finally done, and with those words she left without devoting a single moment of explanation to him.

Harbend felt drained, but eventually he did her bidding and rode in search of Nakora, Escha and Trai.

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