THIRTY-EIGHT

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Her long Qínnish days were spent near the docks, in the open market, and around edges of the rain forest that grew over the Echo of Gods

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Her long Qínnish days were spent near the docks, in the open market, and around edges of the rain forest that grew over the Echo of Gods. She took the old woman's advice and tried everything. Qínnish food held too much spice and flavor for her. She missed her Melband plain pastries. She bought two uniforms from a local shop, though they were more like costumes made to mimic Karvics.

Until a week after they had arrived in Qín Rianco, when Morita was running low on money and would not let Laptus steal anymore, she finally found him.

Lance had followed her from Melbaysín. Morita had found him through the Qínnish whispers. Talk of a large ship, painted gold like the sky when the sun set, bearing the flag of Melbaysín.

She had not bothered to return to the hotel where she knew Laptus was and immediately went to the piers.

And there it was, a grand view. A Favreau glory she did not know Lance possessed.

When he spotted her, he found his way through his crew, sauntered to her, and gave her a grin like he had not traveled a third of the world just at the words of a letter.

"My, you love lovely today. Even the wonders of Qín Rianco pale compared to you," he said brightly. "What happened to you? My lovely deity looks so distraught. We simply cannot have that. My article has made you famous, how can we have the public see you like this?"

She could have cried at the sight of him.

"Lance, you're here."

"That I am." He let out a merry sigh, but she could tell he was tired. "Let's go, shall we? This uniform screams Melband noble, but I look much more handsome in my usual wear. And as much as I like having women's eyes on me, the Qínnish are not very friendly with Melband officials."

She looked at his ship. "What about your crew?"

He chuckled. "My crew? This ship isn't mine. It's the comte's baby. But you'd be surprised what a few delfoux can do. They'll be heading home as soon as they've restocked on supplies."

"Well, he's not here anymore."

"Yeah, I know. My father doesn't stay in one place long. We have that in common." Lance reached into his pocket. "I'm not ashamed to admit that Aruma and I were in your house while you were passed out." He held something out between them.

"My necklace," Morita breathed, taking it from him. "My mother gave this to me."

He scratched the back of his head. "Yeah I saw that and I figured you might want it."

"Thank you Lance," she said. She pocketed it.

Lance knocked on the hotel door. When Laptus opened up, Morita watched the two closely, analyzing how they would react to each other.

Lance looked at Laptus, his eyes flickered downward for a split second. His expression was neutral. Morita was surprised at his cold response. He had been so lively when he first invaded her train car.

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