The women in her head agreed. He wasn’t descended from the Elders. He’d existed before they’d come through the portal to Earth. The first Bloodmaiden knew him then. Her voice echoed in Amy’s mind. “We only thought he was a mercenary, but when the gilfangs of Korandur’s Deep crawled up to the surface, it became obvious that he was more than simply a man. He didn’t wear his current shape then, but he liked those swords.”
The other Bloodmaidens whispered, and Amy caught glimpses of their memories. Whatever he was, he was dangerous and so powerfully magical that he didn’t even appear to be connected to magic.
In his favor, he terrified the Harcourts. This was someone she needed to know better.
In a flash of red, she let the Bloodmaiden form fall away. She gave a small bow which Captain Lee matched, and she said, “The first Bloodmaiden remembers you as do many of the others. I can’t speak for all of them, but many are glad to see you.”
Captain Lee smiled. “Many, eh? That’s better than I might expect. Could be that it’s been so long since they’ve been embodied that they’ve lowered their standards.”
Amy sensed amusement from more than one of those inside her at that.
Then Captain Lee nodded. “The first Bloodmaiden, eh? Gilfangs and winter wolves if I remember.”
Amy felt approval from within her, and she said, “Yes, that’s it.”
Lee’s swords disappeared from his hands. It wasn’t flashy. They were there and then they weren’t. “Well,” he said, “I could stay and reminisce about very, very old times, but there are a few other things that need my attention. I expect that I’ll see you in the future one way or another. Until then, be well.”
He nodded to her as he walked out, waved to Nick’s grandfather, and grinned at the Harcourts.
The Harcourts moved out of his way, and he walked through the door.
When he’d left, Joe walked around the copter wing to stand next to Nick and Amy. “Unless the two of you ate while you were out, you’ll want to come to the dining room. Giles’ staff made dinner. On the way down, we’ll want to talk about what happened out there.”
Nick and Amy explained what had happened, interrupted by questions from Nick’s grandfather, and sometimes William and Agnus Harcourt.
As they talked, Amy noticed that this was the only floor she’d seen so far that didn’t look like an inventor’s laboratory or a warehouse. This level had white, plaster walls, black wood near the ceiling and running along the floor, and black and white tile covering the floor.
It looked like a place that a person might want to live in.
The dining room had a balcony and window that looked out over the city. The long table in the middle of the room was covered with a tablecloth, and blue and white decorated plates. A man and woman in dark red and white uniforms stood next to the door. The woman’s uniform included an apron.
Both on the servants’ uniforms showed a coat of arms that had a bolt of lightning on the shield. Amy noted it for future reference.
William Harcourt stared at it. “Is there any way,” he asked as they all sat at the table, “of moving up Hardwick’s arrival time? Their misadventure this afternoon shows that it’s only a matter of time before the Council’s assassins attack here.”
Joe shook his head. “There’s no way they can get here more quickly. They’re taking a dirigible overnight, and they’ll be here tomorrow morning. In the meantime, we’ve taken precautions against blood magic. Captain Lee is only the most obvious of them.”
Harcourt glowered. “I’m a master practitioner of blood magic, and I’ve seen no sign of anything that could prevent my entrance.”
Joe picked up a roll and began to butter it. “We know practitioners from many magical disciplines. Consider the fact that you can’t detect our defenses a mark of their quality. Remember that you were captured when you broke in.”
Harcourt’s mouth tightened. “I never encountered hostile magic.”
Joe nodded. “That you know of, yes.”
Harcourt opened his mouth to continue the argument, but Agnus put her hand on his arm. “Either it will work or it won’t. We can take our own precautions.”
Joe gave her a small smile. “You may, but please only within your own rooms. I’m told that working magic in the halls could be dangerous.”
The rest of the meal was calmer. Amy and Nick talked mostly with each other. Joe appeared to know a number of people in common with the Harcourts, and they talked about them for the rest of dinner and some time into the evening.
When they all went to bed, Amy found herself alone in a bedroom that if smaller than hers at home looked to be more comfortable than a blimp’s stateroom. It had a wide bed and rugs that covered most of the floor.
With nothing more to do, she opened up one of her suitcases and began to look for her nightclothes.
A soft knock came from the door of what she’d thought was a closet. Nick’s voice came from inside. “I hope you’re still dressed. My grandfather wanted to give you the final say on where you go.”