They arrived at the appointed meeting place on time. This was no midnight meeting in shadowy ruins, this was an afternoon appointment in the open. In a warmer climate the landscape would have been savannah. This was farmed country, but not devoted to cropping, the copses frequented by herded swine and the trees evenly trimmed from underneath by cows’ tongues.
The place was chosen well: not in a village; not in cover; neither next to any of the single and clustered menhirs that punctuated the landscape nor in any formation of them; and on a road that anyone might travel. Thirty priestesses on horseback, twenty of them war priestesses, accompanying one other person were not the road’s usual traffic. Two men and a woman on foot were less unexpected.
The two groups didn’t quite meet but sent forward a representative each, Tarrascotti for the walkers and a priestess of Kevira from the mounted party.
“You’ve brought the goblet?” asked the brown-clad, middle-aged woman.
“Of course,” Tarrascotti nodded, “You’ve brought the girl?”
“Naturally,” the priestess nodded in return. “May I see it?”
“When I can see the girl.”
“Fair enough,” the priestess gestured and the one who was not a priestess was led forward to be clearly seen.
Tarrascotti unwrapped the goblet and held it out, upright, for inspection. “Are we agreed?”
“We are.” The priestess sighed. “We’ll make the exchange then?”
“Yes,” Tarrascotti agreed, and they did
The priestesses departed with the goblet back in its satchel. The walkers were left with the girl, on foot and in miscellaneous black, green and brown.
Bennoli bowed and asked, “Princess Christobella, are you well?”
“Yes, thank you.” She was - observant.
Edita asked, “Should we have told them about the ice maiden?”
“I left them a letter,” Tarrascotti replied, “And the wine.”