Ghost attends a dance, and time passes.
The afternoon errands were slightly confusing, for Lazarus had her running all over town, but Ghost got through them without major mishap. Lazarus actually sent Axe to accompany her to Lady Timora Bellmerry’s home so she arrived there much more directly than her previous trips had prepared her to expect. The Lady’s home was something between a mansion crafted to look like a grove and a garden with trees that grew surprisingly like walls. It wasn’t alive like the walls around Morning Glow were alive, but it wasn’t dead like The Last Ditch either.
Ghost was shown by a footman into a room with half a dozen elfin maidens chatting and laughing and dressing each other up in various finery. They accepted Ghost with contagious excitement and, though the merits of one bit of cloth over another quite baffled Ghost, she truly enjoying the company. She did find, though, that each time one of them touched her the tingling in her forearm increased, as if the blade were trying to come out and share in the revelry.
Lady Timora Bellmerry came in as the adorning was in the final stages, made introductions, and led the way to the ball. They traveled by coach, the first wheeled conveyance Ghost had seen in the city, and were let off at an ornate walled garden. Several hundred people were inside, milling about and talking, and there were minstrels playing music on a stage in the center of an elaborate fountain. Some elfin lord made some kind of welcome speech and then the dancing began.
It was dancing; Ghost could tell that. But it wasn’t like real dancing. It involved a lot of pairing up, for one thing, and it was timed to the pulse of the music instead of the pulse of the moon and stars and trees and wind. It was altogether calm and predictable, almost rehearsed; but it was graceful enough, and people seems perfectly willing to both teach her how they danced and allow her to dance properly when the pulse of the garden overcame her.
The man with the ivy was not hard to find; in fact, he was one of the first to seek her out and dance with her. He was a broadly-built human past middle age named Nels who kept up a steady flow of polite chatter. The ivy, cut but not dead and just waiting to be dropped so it could sprout roots and begin suffocating the majestic trees of the garden, also kept up a steady stream of not-so-polite chatter. It was with relief then that, when Ghost said “Bring it to the chandler at moonset tomorrow,” Nels stiffened, looked pained, and hastily excused himself.
The rest of the dance, and indeed the next several days, proceeded without much of note. It was exciting for Ghost, she met many people and learned her way around town, but she didn’t really fit the pieces together.
The goblin sent her on two more missions, once via a note slipped in her open window at night and once through some guy she didn’t get a good look at when she was shopping for Lazarus. Both involved finding Nels in odd places and telling him strange things: “The other foot must never wear a shoe” while walking down a busy street a little before noon and “He is not pleased” an hour before dawn after waking him in his home by insistent knocking.
Lazarus spent no little effort trying to figure out what Nils was up to, but if he discovered anything he didn’t tell Ghost. He also had near-constant business in the Last Ditch and a lot of Ghost’s time was spent buying odds and ends to put in charms or tracking down people that owed Lazarus a favor. Lots of people seemed to owe Lazarus a favor, though other than Lady Timora Bellmerry they all seemed to be less than fully respectable.
Of Axe and Goldilocks Ghost saw little, for the day after the ball Lazarus sent them off with a client into the mortal realm to handle some matter, and they were gone six days. They returned in high spirits with a bag of several hundred gold coin and there was a bit of celebration because apparently those clients weren’t expected to pay that much and Lazarus was a bit behind on the rent.
And thus passed away Ghost’s first tenday in Autumn Glow.