After they had left the cacao orchard, Ardent teleported them back to her suite and made the gesture to accept messages again. She flopped onto her stomach on a couch and picked through the horde of messengers that swarmed in, looking for the ones she cared about most. She wrinkled her nose as she read the one from her Archivist friend, White Rose. “Hmph. Fallen is not the registered owner of any sky or tower-top properties. Which doesn’t mean she doesn’t own any from a private transaction.” She conjured her farspearker surface. “I’ll ask the Archivist if there’ve been any recent sky or tower transactions from anyone. You got any other angles to pursue, sugar?”
“I don’t know.” Miro walked to the dining table and leafed through his father’s notebook again. “She might have someone babysitting it, and apparently not my father, if today is any example to go by. She has strings on a lot of people, I imagine, but probably not many she’d trust with that secret.”
“I’d make that ‘not anyone’. Does it need a babysitter? She can watch it by scryer, and set farspeaker alerts for it, and port in herself to check on it if anything turned up.”
“True.” Miro took a seat at the table, still reading. “What story are you giving your Archivist to explain your new interest in real estate?”
“Mm? Oh, them and I go way back. I don’t need to give them reasons – it’s all public records anyway, kinda the point – and I asked them not to tell anyone I was asking. They won’t talk.” Ardent checked through the rest of her messages. One was from the Queen’s adjunct. “Oh, Duty.”
“Skein is throwing a welcome-home party. Argh,” she said. At Miro’s blank look, she added, “Skein of the Absolute. Queen of the Moon Host.”
“You refer to your Queen by nickname?”
“Ugh. No.” He made a face.
“But she’s your mother.”
“And I’m her eleventh-favorite child. And she’s my second-favorite parent. Or seventh, more accurately; I’d sooner count her other husbands as parents. When is the party?”
“Tomorrow night. And it’s utterly inescapable. I’ll have to go, and I’ll have to bring you, and there will be mobs of people who will all expect me to talk to them. Some of them in private. Persistence,” she cursed again. “I might want to leash you just so well-wishers can’t drag us apart.”
Miro smiled, touching his collar. “At least I can flee here if need be.”
“Yeah.” Ardent glanced to him. I need to make a farspeaker he can use. And for that, I need to channel. Her tongue flicked out, licking her teeth at the thought. She dug her fingers into the couch cushion as she wrestled down a surge of formerly-banked desire. Justice. What is wrong with me? …huh. Maybe I should find out. She dispatched another message to White Rose, then answered some of the myriad messages from friends. When White’s answer came back, she sat up. “I’m gonna go visit White Rose – that’s the Archivist – in person. You wanna come?”
“Certainly. You wish to review the property records yourself?” He rose to join her.
“No, I’m good on White doing that for me. This is kinda tangential research.” She stood and took Miro’s hand. “I thought I knew enough about channeling already, but it’s gotten real clear that no, I don’t. I’ve not one clue what I’m doing. Someone must’ve written about Sun-to-Moon channeling, before the Sundering if nothing else. White’s got the largest archive in the Moon Etherium, so if anyone has documentation on how this works, it’ll be them.”
He gave her another of those irresistible smiles of his. Oh boy do I ever need more information. “An excellent plan, my lady. Lead on.”
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