Chapter 38

Steve stirred as the sunlight that had filtered in through the window struck her face. She found herself initially disoriented that she seemed to have so much space on the bed. She wondered briefly if she had finally cleared the smithing components from one half of her bed, then remembered for the fifth time that she was not at her apartment in New Washington. She opened her eyes gradually, squinting to avoid being blinded, and was surprised again as she realized that she was looking not up at the ceiling of her dormitory room, but at the bottom of another bed.

Did Violet and I switch beds?

She rolled to her side as she mulled over the situation and found a boy there. She stifled a surprised gasp as her memory woke fully, reminding her of precisely what had happened the previous night.

Steve spent several moments simply looking at Mike’s face as he slept.

“Oh,” she said, her expression one of dazed wonder. She reached forward and touched Mike’s face. “Oh wow.”

Around the time that Steve was waking, To’mas’s shell began playing a cheerful rendition of Ellis Manteaux’s Elemental. One of the three people crowded on the nearby bed stirred; however, it was not To’mas. After one full chorus of the song, Violet made an irritated noise and crawled to the edge of the bed. She grabbed To’mas’s shell, tapped it and held it to her ear.

“To’mas’s shell,” she said in a sleepy voice. “Mm? No, this is, uh. This is his sister. How can I help you.”

Violet listened to the voice on the other end of the line.

“Oh, no kidding,” Violet said. “B-Rank Rifle, huh? I’m sure he’ll be ecstatic. I’ll let him know once he wakes up. It’ll probably be a while; he was very busy last night.”


“Not at all,” Violet said. “You have a lovely weekend yourself.”

Violet tapped the shell again, set it on the dresser, and crawled back into the bed with To’mas and his roommate.

“Ellis Manteaux,” Alan said into his shell, holding a cold-pack to his head. “It was really something.”

He tried to get up as he listened to the person on the other end of the line, but halfway up he went pale and sat down again.

“Oogh,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe how much alcohol Paru threw at me, Nalley,” he said. “She made me drink a Wyrmscale. It’s a shot that contains two drops of an alcohol that’s generally considered lethal to most humanoids. Yeah.”

He lay back carefully on his bed.

“I’m waiting for the meds to kick in so I can actually function, first. I don’t really remember how the evening ended.”

He listened to Nalley speak for a little bit.

“Yeah,” he said. “I miss you a lot too. We’re halfway there.”

He put his hand to his temple and winced in pain.

“Iyesu, Nalley, please don’t start singing.”

A pleasant smell roused Zap.

“The mighty hunter,” he murmured sleepily, “smells his coffee prey.”

“Which his girlfriend already caught for him,” Pazi teased. Zap opened his eyes and looked up at her. Pazi wore an ornately-decorated silk robe. A little sunburst with glowing spidery legs sat on her shoulder.

“Morning Pazi,” Zap said. “Morning Solay.”

“And good morning to you,” Pazi said. She pulled the coffee pot from its housing. “I assume you want some of this?”

“Yes please,” Zap said, slowly sitting up and blinking in the sunlight. “That would be nice.”

“Last night was lovely,” Pazi said. “Thank you for spending it with me.”

“Likewise,” Zap said with a big smile. “I had a wonderful time.”

Mya’s eyes fluttered open, then snapped shut quickly to hide from the glare of the full-spectrum lamps above her. She cautiously squinted, getting used to the light gradually. She did not recognize her location.

“Where…” she murmured.

“Oh,” a voice said, “you’re awake.”

The face of a very handsome man in his early thirties appeared above Mya. He was wearing a pair of eyeglasses and a lab coat, indicating that he was probably a doctor.

“Am I in the infirmary?” Mya asked.

“Right you are,” the doctor said. “I’m Dr. Scott Wallace. Feel free to call me Scott.”

“What happened?” Mya asked, unsure of exactly how much she should say.

Dr. Wallace frowned. “You were drugged,” he said. “The man who drugged you seemed to be intending to … force himself upon you, but was stopped by an intervening party of several employees and Sir Erdrick himself. You’re a very lucky woman.”

“Yes,” Mya said, sighing with relief. “I am.”

“Well, you take it easy for now,” Dr. Wallace said, “but you should be feeling absolutely normal in a few hours.”

“Thank you, Dr. Wallace,” Mya said.

“Of course,” Dr. Wallace said with a smile. “And please. Scott really is fine.”