Daisy, Dungeon, Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeons and Dragons, enchantress, fantasy, feminist fantasy, Fenric, Gies, Gurth, Insmoor, Jan, Key, Lali, magic, Paul Gies, Paul J Gies, sorcery, spells, sword & sorcery, Sword and Sorcery, Valen, writers, Writing, Yanos, Zelin
The next evening, New Year’s Eve, I gather Fenric off the streets and bring him up to Zelin’s flat to make him aware of the current thinking about the Key. We do not feel any need to take his clothes off, or ours. We do sit him down on her floor and smoke him up.
“I have three questions,” is the first thing out of Fenric’s mouth, along with a wisp of smoke.
“Okay,” says Zelin, smiling. I can tell she’s starting to get the hang of him, just like I’m getting the hang of her.
“One,” he says, “how did this Key come to be in Valen? Two: how did we come to know that it was in Valen? And three, you know Yanos is still around town, right?”
“Oh jeez,” I say. “Seriously?”
“I knew he was still around,” says Zelin. “I’d kind of hoped he’d slipped away in the night. He’s a seller, of course. That’s why he wanted the Circlet. He likes to have three or four buyers available, then he’ll go get the thing, or so he hopes, and then he can get them to bid it up a bit. And now we can talk about the second question.”
“Well,” I say, “Lucette brought it up. And by the way, she wants to go with us next time.”
“What?” says Fenric. “No. No way.”
“Fenric,” says Zelin, “didn’t you think we should have another enchantress with us?”
“Okay. I cop to that. I’ve reformed. I’m better now. I changed my mind.”
“No, but,” I say, looking Zelin in the eye, “Lucette knows because someone told her. If she wants to go with us, you can’t really think she thinks she’s going to pull a Yanos and sneak away with the Key all by herself, especially since, unlike Yanos, she doesn’t seem to have any idea where the Key is. But she knows something, and we could so use that.”
“And you trust Lucette?”
“Not even a little. But still. Think about it. How does she know about the Key? Well, either she’s in contact with Yanos, or with some other nefarious person, and I doubt that, or she has inside info from someone we wouldn’t consider nefarious.”
“Like her dad,” says Fenric.
“But it’s still inside info.”
“So back to Question One. This thing is important, right? I mean, you don’t know why it’s important or what it does that’s important but it’s supposed to be important.”
“It’s important,” says Zelin. “Take that as given. Daisy and I have both had dreams about it. And I heard stuff before, that’s—!” She looks at me.
“That’s why you’re here?” I ask. “In Insmoor?”
“Not exactly,” she says. “But sort of.”
“Okay,” says Fenric, “so why is this important key here? How’d it get stuck down in Valen?”
“I don’t know.”
“Someone hid it there,” I say. They look at me. “I dreamed it. Okay? That was in my dream.”
“Who? Did you see who?” asks Fenric.
“A woman. She had, um, dark hair. I don’t know anything else.”
“Dark hair,” says Zelin. “That could be a lot of women. Did she have, say, a crown, a coronet maybe? Like Christa the Dark?”
“No, no, it wasn’t anyone like that.”
“Lady of Sinafror?” Fen whispers.
“No,” I scoff. “No, she seemed kind of—nondescript. She had her hair tied back, she wasn’t wearing interesting clothes, I don’t really remember anything but the hair. She, um, she didn’t see me. In the dream.”
“Well,” says Zelin, “that’s good, I guess.”