Once the dokk alfar half breeds were out of the way, the Tupenes was easy to pick up. He was in the hotel and the bounty hunters had known it because of some interesting little talismans they were carrying. Maired had pounced on them and carried them off for investigation. She was distinctly heard to say, “Now that’s interesting.”
The Tupenes was deposited in the same lockup as his kinsmen and the bounty hunters were in the hands of the regular police who had many questions about the shorter one’s collection of useful items. Gwaiva had stayed well out of the way once Hladvic and Mannix had bundled up the bounty hunters but she’d also had Vasa, Brise and a sympathetic female police sergeant help her check herself for anything they might have managed to tag her with.
Back in the base, over coffee and freshly baked biscuits, Gwaiva regained her equilibrium. “I’ve never offered myself up on a plate to a bounty hunter before,” she commented as she hesitated over a choice between honey creams, something flavoured with rosewater and chocolate coconut roughs, “and if this is what it feels like I don’t think I’ll do it again, thank you.”
“I was wondering,” Bolt sat down with his own mug of coffee and picked up a honey cream biscuit, “why those two bounty hunters have such dark skin. Humans with dark skin, like mine, have ancestors from the tropics but all the elven kindred come from the high northern hemisphere and most of them from northern Europe. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Ah,” Gwaiva selected a rosewater thing and sat back. “That was explained to me when I was a child. You’ve probably been told that you have black skin, right?”
“Yes, quite a number of times.” He ate half the biscuit and washed it down with coffee.
“You don’t of course. Very few humans do and most of those who do are carrying a tan. Your skin tones are based on melanin and the intensity of the colour is the result of a sensible multigenerational response to specific light stimuli.” She ate a bite from her biscuit and went on, “The skin tones of the elven kindreds are based on their elements. The two base-stock kindreds from which all other elves diverged are the ljos alfar and the dokk alfar. The element of the ljos alfar is light, thus they have light skin, yellow to white hair and pale eyes. The element of the dokk alfar is darkness or the absence of light thus their skin, hair and eyes come in shades of black.”
“So you have blue hair not because it’s the dominant gene but because you’re half ice elf?” Bolt ate the other half of his biscuit.
“Yes, and my skin is pale and not pale blue because I’m half ljos alfar. Essentially, I have two elements.” She grinned and finished off her own biscuit before reaching for another. “Sometimes I think those bounty placing jarls might be afraid of something.”