Arden Vul

The Sortian Knot

or, Gentrification for Dummies

From the laboratory journals of Pyrite the Magician:

Wow. Even with the cloak, I’ve never had the balls to impersonate Keko the Lame. But if there’s one thing the Blue Fool has in abundance, it’s balls. Maybe we’ve been spelling his name wrong this whole time? Balls-thazar. I like the sound of that.

Luna (now demanding to be called Aylinn – whatever; I’m the last person in the world to be critical on that front) has brought me a witness to that impersonation, and in telling me the story she has given me the solution. There’s no way to hide the fact that this wizard was tricked. But the best lies contain the seed of truth. Our good mage here was blindfolded after Callista cold-cocked him, but he was not deafened. He will have heard things. But which things? That is the question.

He is currently still unconscious, not because of the punch (which was apparently quite impressive) but because of a mild sedative, which also has the virtue of increasing suggestibility. I would not normally be able to hypnotize even a middling mage. However, with a low dose of the sedative in his system, he will succumb . . .

Yes, he did indeed hear them talking as they worked out the Sortians’ puzzle. And while they were reasonably careful about names, the fact that they left Uttar’s calling-card will lead the Drome to that temple, where they will undoubtedly be identified. Even if the priests will not give them up, the rabble around the temple will. So it’s no longer a question of hiding who they were, but of justifying their actions – without implicating myself, of course.

So here is the message that this one will recite:

Good Keko, Master of the Drome, and second smartest man in Narsileon,

I — BALTHAZAR THE BLUE — have cut the Sortian knot and reclaimed this valuable conduit to Archontos, for the glory of my college, my clan, and myself. Upon my return I will be only too happy to receive your congratulations.

In the meantime, how to spread the word of this valuable discovery to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, so that Keko has less incentive to kill them all and keep the conduit a secret? And how much land can I buy in the Wall District?


Ha. Balls-thazar.

We can’t forget how valuable those gold eyes are! I’m pretty sure every single group we know of would be willing to kill us to get their hands on them.

The Sortian Knot

I think that’s why Rick made them single-use. Which completely screws Pyrite’s plans for a real-estate empire. Sigh.

The Sortian Knot

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