Well what the hell now?
After our meeting with the brave madam in glamorous Angels in Hell, Seroan and Rikashe and I slinked our way back to the pub. It was nearly two in the morning when we got back, and I was very sleepy, but when we crawled into bed I found it difficult to sleep. I kept thinking about Jovraan, trying to figure out how best to stop him. I must have worn my brain out (I know, it's not hard) doing so, because eventually I dropped off.
We slept in terribly late. We didn't even make it down in time for breakfast, which ended at eleven thirty, so we ordered lunch instead.
Yes, it was noon. We were up all night in a whore house, don't ask.
The pub was rather busy at lunch time, so we didn't talk any business while we ate. Seroan paid our tab, and we collected our horses and rode out of town. We decided to head back west, to Enora, while we decided what to do next.
One option we discussed was to try to track Jovraan down ourselves, and recover the Sky gems before he got them to Itriscia. However, we reasoned that since we had no idea what route he would take, what face he would have on, or even if he'd left yet, it was probably best to pursue our second option which was to make all possible haste back to Raemon and tell the Empress what we'd found out.
I liked this idea; it meant familiar territory and more allies. I mean, seriously, we were barely able to survive the little scuffles we had while running away from Jovraan, there's no way we had the guts to turn around and go after him. I may look it, I may act it, but I am really not that stupid.
Anyway, having made this determination, we traveled with earnest, hardly stopping to rest. Even when we stopped it was for only a few hours, to give the horses just enough to carry on. Rikashe appeared to handle the pace well enough, always scouting ahead and staying alert.
We made no detour through the mountains to cross into Enora this time, the border patrols were satisfied with our forged identities and suspected nothing. We slipped into my homeland unidentified and were hardly noticed, which pleased me.
We made it from Suone to Raemon in a little less than six days. We avoided our homes just to be safe – we weren't sure if Jovraan had anyone looking out for us or not, so we didn't chance it. Then came the hard part – figuring out how to convince the Empress's staff that we had to speak with her alone, and that we wouldn't kill her while doing so. That was a valid concern, I thought, and I figured we should have a way to address it before they arrested us for suggesting such a thing.
There was a lovely park outside the Empirial Gates, so Seroan and I stabled the horses and wandered around to admire it while we discussed our options. The winter was setting in, and all the flowers and shrubs were losing color, but the capable garden architects had chosen trees with lovely winter barks, and shrubs that bore bright berries through the season. Graceful stone arches and hidden statues appeared when the leaves fell to reveal them.
We wandered for a half hour or so, quietly admiring the skillful planting, lost in our own thoughts.