(image from In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil)
Talan propped his elbows on the table at Chirper’s and looked down at Ari, who gaped in a doggie grin and rolled over onto her back. “Where is everyone, girl? I thought I overslept, but no one is here. I hope nothing happened.” He poked at his breakfast and sighed, then nearly jumped out of his skin when Mal suddenly appeared at his elbow.
“Does this cloak make me look fat?” the elf asked, twirling around and then sitting with a flourish.
Talan shook his head, chuckling. “No, Mal, it doesn’t make you look fat.” Haden walked in, shaking rain off cloak and yawning. Clearly he’d just been outside. He looked tired, and paler than usual.
“Mornin’,” the bard said, sitting down and ordering a pot of strong coffee. He tossed a bag of gold coins and several items on the table.
“Didn’t you get any sleep last night?” Talan asked.
“Do I ask you your business?” Haden asked with uncharacteristic harshness. “And no, I didn’t get any sleep. However, we now know what dweomers these objects possess, so I count it as a win.”
“You know, for a bard you don’t seem like much of a people person,” Mal remarked.
“Don’t worry, Mal, I’m in too good of a mood this morning to care,” Talan said cheerfully.
“They already know me, so I don’t have to pretend to be charming,” Haden replied, gulping down coffee. It seemed to help a bit, and he rallied somewhat. “Besides, I don’t want Talan or Joris getting too attached to me, I might just have to break their poor little hearts and they couldn’t survive something like that.”
“Uh, good morning, you three,” Margram said awkwardly. He was carrying his suitcase. “Yolette is still sleeping upstairs. She said Baltazo never gave her a bed. I think she’s afraid she’ll lose it.”
Haden nodded. “I’d try to stay out of the public eye if I were you. Good luck.” Margram bowed, taking this for a dismissal.
“Thanks. I’ll see you around maybe,” he said, and departed.
“So, what is on our agenda for today?” Mal asked. “Dragonslaying? Crypt crawling? Maiden rescuing?”
Haden yawned yet again. “Sleeping, maybe?”
“Oh, don’t start that . . .” Talan said, breaking off as he yawned hugely himself. “Poor Yolette. She seems to have really taken to you, Haden.”
“It’s always like that at first,” Haden said, “but eventually she’ll realize what a worthless lay about I am and disown me.”
“Shouldn’t take long,” Mal affirmed.
“What are we going to do with her, anyway?” Haden continued, ignoring Mal pointedly. “She needs education and a stable life if she’s ever going to be able to take care of herself. Ah, look, here’s Joris.”
Joris hurried into the room, slightly out of breath. “Sorry I’m late, everyone.” He flopped down at the table and waved for the waiter, ordering a large breakfast and another pot of coffee.
“No problem, Joris, we weren’t really doing anything, anyway,” Talan said. “Just trying to think of what we ought to do about Yolette.”
“What do you think, Joris? I don’t know anything about children,” Haden asked.
“Mmph,” Joris said, trying to avoid choking on his mouthful of coffee. “I’ve got a sister not much older than she is. Let me think . . .”
Haden chuckled. “You’re awfully pale and mussed, you know, did you have an encounter with an amorous vampire or something?”
“Um . . .” Joris said. Haden’s eyes widened.
“Are you okay?” Talan asked.
“You look vexed,” Mal commented as Joris turned slowly pink.
“Something like that, yes, Haden.”
“You’re joking,” Haden said in disbelief.
“No. Listen, I have to tell you all what happened. It’s . . . about Raven, the lady I was dancing with at the Masque.”