Bartholomea hurried to us bearing 2 large platters of her batter cakes. Each stack was golden with a delicate hint of blue from the fine fresh Hrune eggs and steaming and fragrant as she had promised. She set the plates proudly before us and lifted the hook-handled pitchers of uorn honey and jedloe preserves from over her arm. She bowed quickly her smile pushing out her round cheeks. “Please, gentles, enjoy your meal.”
         Sem Partoldi lifted her hand in blessing. “We are grateful, Bartholomea.”
         The innkeeper departed. I said, “Are you expecting to come with the carc and me? Is that where your words are leading us?”
“I would take immense pleasure in traveling with you anywhere you go, but I have a journey I must make. I have delayed, shamelessly delayed, in order to indulge myself in our discussions on our favorite topics and play more games of pawn-dha.”
         “Of which I now win far more, and more quickly, than you would wish.”
         “But not more than I would permit,” Sem Partoldi chuckled. “I must go to Revelar. Do you take the carc in that direction? If not, I might still go with you as far as the Complex? I could connect there to Revelar.”
         “You paid for the carc.”
         “But I gave it to you to use.”
         “I must go to Gamedon.”
Sem Partoldi scooped more purple-brown preserve onto a batter cake, rolled it up expertly and cleanly and stuck it into her mouth chewing and lowering her eyelids with pleasure. “Revelar is near.”
         “But not on my course.”
         “For a day, Ince, a day when we can once more joust and plumb each other on the subject of mercy. Or I will tell you more stories of my past journeys. You like them.”
         “They beguile the time.”
         Sem Partoldi’s cheeks quivered. “More than that, Ince! Come and admit it. You like them. You have been curious.”
         “Will you tell the story of your 1st journey?”
         Sem Partoldi made a tiny high noise as she tilted her huge head back and regarded me. Considering. Weighing. Gambling. “I may.”
         “Then I may carry you.”