Bernard kept quiet as they walked towards her room, strolling like a couple of lovers reunited after a long separation. It was a beautiful lie, and the only one she could think of to distract the gamblers at Shadowfy’s card table from the urgency Bernard had expressed. She congratulated herself on her ingenuity, opened the door to her room, and waited till they were both inside before letting her real opinion show.
“While I appreciate your attempt at secrecy Invoker, no one ever comes to this side of the gate unless they have a very big problem. Every informant in Outer-Kaluna is going to be after you now, trying to find out just what that problem is.”
The object of her displeasure perched on the edge of his bed and stared at her as if she had grown a second head. He opened his mouth to say something, closed it again, and then laughed. “You don’t change do you?”
He could laugh, she fumed. He had nothing to lose. She flopped down in a chair across from him and glared. “Not when it comes down to making money. I’m very firm about my position on money. If it’s not coming in, it’s going out, and out is not as good as in.”
He shook his head. “You really don’t change. As it happens, that’s what I wanted to talk with you about. There’s a job working for the Duke available that might put a few coins in your pocket, if you’re interested.”
That would mean getting a work pass, paying for travel, and getting sneered at by people who considered themselves better than her. Still, it might be worth while. “What sort of job?” she asked.
Bernard put a finger to his lips. “An investigation. I can’t tell you more than that. I’ve been followed since I reached the gates.”
He spoke in a stage whisper, and when she could see he planned to go on in the same loud whisper, she leaned over and clapped a hand over his mouth.
“Do you know by who?” she breathed into his ear, so soft she almost couldn’t hear it herself. Or what, she added to herself.
He shook his head, and lifted one hand long enough to run his thumb along the lines of the tattoo on his cheek. Three slashes dotted by a predator’s eye. Bernard had gotten that tattoo to cover the marks left by an indel. Which kind was it? Her mind flashed over the various shape-shifters she’d seen, and then shuddered as she found a match. It had to be Schreber.