Inés and Serena followed Lais and her entourage riding atop Dusk & Blitz, their prisoner was sent away with a pair of guards. It wasn’t exactly a palace. The tree they inhabited was, maybe, ever so slightly larger than the other trees they’d seen elves living in. It was the area around the tree that was different. There was a massive garden surrounding it. Massive enough that the space it took up could have housed another two, maybe three massive trees with plenty of space among them to allow for full privacy.
Some other guards saluted Lais as they advanced. “Is it okay to be doing this without Sylvie?” Serena whispered.
“It’s fine,” Inés answered. “We’ll hear what she has to say and then we’ll do the same thing we did in Wicadia. The two of us will discuss what we wanna do and, if we disagree, we’ll have Sylvie break the tie.”
“That sounds fair,” Serena admitted. “And I’m sure she doesn’t want to leave Demure behind.”
“She is super protective of her,” Inés said. “I wonder if it’s the injured wing or the way Demure carries herself very reservedly.”
“This way,” Lais beckoned. “We can talk in the guard room.” She led them inside a massive hedge maze. They followed her closely as she moved with practised ease through the various turns, choosing her path without hesitation.
After some time they reached the centre. There were several practice dummies lining the area as well as a stone table. Cushions had been set around it. Lais sat on one in the lotus position and waved towards two across from her.
Inés and Serena dismounted and took the seats.
“So, what do you need help with?” Inés asked. “Please say it’s dealing with your sexual frustrations.”
Lais laughed. “Maybe later. For now I’d prefer to talk business.” She leaned forward. “The truth is that the young woman you helped apprehend wasn’t acting alone. She’s the fourth assassin we’ve had to contend with in the past few months.”
Inés whistled. “Sounds like your king isn’t too popular.”
“The Royal one is a good man,” Lais stated. “I guarantee that personally. It’s my belief that someone is spreading dissatisfaction and otherwise coercing certain rash youngsters into this. That’s why I need your help. Priestesses, will you help me find the culprit? It would be far simpler with an outsider. I won’t ask you to bring them down, but if you can just point me in the right direction, I’ll go in and deal with them personally or my name isn’t Lais Elivy.”
“Elivy?” Serena muttered. “Are you, by chance, related to the headmistress of Wicadia’s mage academy?”
“She’s my little sister,” Lais answered. “I’m sure you’ve studied under her.”
“I haven’t yet,” Serena said. “Inés has.”
“Inés?” Lais asked. “As in the same Inés who covered her room with flower petals and tried to serenade her when she returned?”
“In my defence, I thought that would work,” Inés said.
Lais had a good chuckle. “Oh my. It is a true pleasure. Luc’s letters have gotten so much less interesting since you finished your studies at the academy.” She took a moment to settle down. “So, will you help me investigate this matter?”
Inés and Serena glanced at one another. “I’d like to,” Serena said. “Wouldn’t you like to help, Inés ?”
“I don’t know,” Inés said. “Investigations can take a while. Do you have a plan for where to start?”
“Good question,” Serena muttered. She leaned back, deep in thought.
Inés and Serena turned. A beautiful elvish girl with blonde hair and bright green eyes approached.
“Princess,” Lais rose and bowed.
“You don’t have to do that,” the princess stated. “I’m not here on official business.” She stared at Inés and Serena. “Who are your friends?”
Inés rose and knelt before the princess, taking her hand and kissing it. “Inés, priestess of Athena, at your service.”
“Oh… Oh my,” the princesses face flushed.
“Likewise, Serena Rabelle, though I’m still a first year initiate.”
“Inés, Serena, allow me to introduce the royal daughter, Princess Lynai Elblood,” Lais said. “I was just seeing if the priestesses would help me find the culprits behind the attempts on your father’s life.”
“Is that so?” Lynai asked. She grasped Inés’ hands. “Please, aid us in this matter. It would mean ever so much to my people.”
Inés looked back at Serena and sighed “All right. We’ll help.”
“Thank you!” Lynai exclaimed. She gave Inés a big hug.
“Rather weak to cute young ladies isn’t she?” Lais whispered, winking at Serena.
“A bit,” Serena answered, keeping her voice low.