“So, do draugr smell as bad as everyone says?” Norene asked, skipping alongside the spriggan like a child who’d just been granted permission to get whatever she wanted from a sweetshop.
I trailed behind them, not feeling nearly as cheerful. “Don’t comment on the smell.”
Norene turned to look back at me. “Why not? I’ve heard all kinds of things about how draugr smell.”
I shrugged. Norene might be better company than Sarai (or, at least, friendlier), but Sarai had seemed to actually know what she was doing. Norene…well. She may know a thing or two about banshee politics, but I was fairly certain street smarts were not something she used much.
“I think you’ll find that Mistress Lucas speaks with surprising insight for someone so new to the area.” The spriggan half-turned to give a little bow in my direction. “Body odour is not something Master Stenberg takes kindly to discussing.”
“Wait, how do you know that?” Norene fell back to walk beside me, her skipping mellowing into a more sedate walk. “Does that mean you’ve met the draugar? Already? Why didn’t you tell me? What was he like? How did you meet him? Was it—”
She ducked her head. “Sorry, I got carried away again.”
“Which question did you want to ask me first?”
The bounce returned to the banshee’s step. “How did you get to meet him? They say he only meets with influential people, and zombies, well…”
“Nobody likes zombies,” I finished for her. “Yeah, I’ve gotten that impression. An estrie called Sarai took me to meet him. She helped me make a deal with him to get something across to the living side.”
“Why would you need to get something over there? They have everything we have, plus a lot we don’t.” Norene tilted her head to the side. “Well, except for dead things. But that’s the whole point of the living side/dead side divide, so…”
“I sent over a research proposal that would allow me to get some of those things they don’t have here.”
“O-oh, that makes sense. Did it work?”
“I don’t know yet.” I directed my next comment at the spriggan. “Perhaps I’m about to find out?”
“Patience, Mistress Lucas,” the spriggan replied. “My master prefers to conduct his business personally, not through intermediaries.”
“Which is why he sent you to get me, I suppose,” I retorted. After the encounter with the lich and spending so much time waiting in line only to leave empty-handed, I was feeling a bit waspish.
“Mister Stenberg conducts his business how he chooses, regardless of what you think of him,” the spriggan replied, his serenity entirely uncompromised by my attitude.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.