5/3/1292 02:00 The Arghentian Institute of Magic, Eoisle, Arghentia

“How does this thing work again?” Tselenah asks.

Dame Morgana Ricci, Tselenah’s former instructor at the preparatory school of the Arghentian Instiute of Magic, rolls her eyes and lets out and exasperated huff. “You were an abysmal student, Your Highness. This is fourth-year magic.” She picks up two metal poles that feature padded, supporting legs on the bottom and slowly flashing blue lights on the top. “These stay here,” she slowly says, as if explaining the function of the devices to an illiterate peasant. “They guide you to this, your home. Another set of these has been set up at the Pan-Imperial offices in Alsae, in the benighted Kingdom of Penamharik,They will guide you to your destination. Once you disembarc from here, the rune you wear around the neck will begin counting time. You have two hours to find your sister and deliver Her Majesty’s message. At that two hour mark, you will taken from whereever you are, regardless of what you are doing, and you will be transported back to this spot. We have reliable intelligence that your younger sister is lingering in the Marwbrite temple in Alsae. It is in the normal location, a mere four blocks from the Pan-Imperial offices.” Dame Ricci looks at Tselenah with a disgusted sneer. “This is so idiotically simple, even YOU can’t make it fail.”

“You know, I control AIM and the Pan-Imperial,” Tselenah says. “I’m always looking to save money. Perhaps a younger, less snide magical instructor will get students such as myself off to a better start.”

Ricci’s sneer deepens. “I am a dame of Queen Deirdre’s International Order of the Silver Crescent. You can no more dismiss or disinherit me than you can get to Alsae without my help. I render that aid because of your mother’s request, and not because I have confidence in your abilities nor because of your impotent, poorly-articulated threats. The Duchess of Sáerglen is not going to be in the temple forever.Do you have the documents?”

Tselenah let’s out a frustrated huff of her own and shows Ricci the bundle, sealed with wax and stamped with the royal arms. Ricci takes the opportunity to poke the rune stone on Tselelnah’s necklace and chant for about five seconds. Golden motes appear around the regent, and she disappears in a puff of green smoke.

She jerks to a stop almost five thousand miles away, staggers two steps and violently vomits. The Pan-Imperial staff wait for her with a bucket, having been informed of the Regent’s intestinal distress while using travel runes or fold points. One of the other attendants stands by with a glass of water and vial of mouthwash. Tselenah drinks the glass of water and rinses with the mouthwash, spitting into the bucket with the bile. The two attendents bow.

“Which way is west?” she demands in Arghentian.

The attendents point the way.

“Is he here?” she asks.

“Your professional awaits you in the lobby,” the manager of the branch office replies.

Tselenah thunders out of the office, down the stairs and towards the lobby. A man waits there with a long thin suitcase. Tselenah stops. The man bows.

“Set up somewhere east of the temple, with a clear view of the entrance,” she says. “I’ll be on the west side, she’ll be closer to you.Take your shot carefully. You won’t get a second.”

“As you command, Your Highness,” he says with a bow.

Tselenah hands him a card with an account number written on it. “Go to another Pan-Imperial, use this account,” she whispers in Arghentian. “It will disappear after three months, or if investigators come sniffing around. I never saw you. I don’t know you. You don’t exist.”

“I’ll use the back exit.It’s the beginning of the business day here,” he says. He leaves after bowing, and moves silent as a shadow to the back offices.

Tselenah smirks and exits the front door on the way to the temple.

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