.

The second biscuit was cold. And it was crumbly now, having lost its goodness from being out so long. But taste still turned to sight.

The female Naga was done at last. She’d enjoyed herself, which was a plus. She slithered past the charmed Dullahan, ignoring his slumbering head on the stand. He was well and truly charmed. He’d be the perfect vessel tomorrow. She slithered to her dresser, pulled out a small gauntlet, made for a Human’s hands. She inspected it, idly.

Five glowing orbs burned in the perfect rubies inset into the gauntlet’s knuckles. All five were set to go off when triggered. She placed her hand on the gauntlet, feeling the power within. All set to go. Now she just had to wait. And place the right evidence on the scene to—

The [Rogue] stalked down the halls, turning her head. She’d seen half the rooms, but this one had a l-shaped design. Given the architecture of the brothel, there were three rooms she could use. The [Manager] was haranguing the female Centaur behind her. Foliana listened. Took another bite.

—Her employer had assured her of her escape, but any [Assassin] knew that it was better to have her own route out. She had a [Lesser Teleport] scroll, ready to be used. The Assassin’s Guild in Izril would send her back home with the highest honors for this! And it was so easy! Even if the [Guard] at the gate found the item, it was still easy to blame it on the right [Lady]. She was being paid for an attempt! The Naga wriggled herself, laughing.

“Danger? From whom?”

She mocked the Guildmaster’s concerns, shaking her head as she put the gauntlet away and slithered towards the door to her room. The Dullahan would be slumbering for an hour yet as her instructions imprinted themselves. She opened the door, yawning—

A door ahead of Foliana opened. She drew her daggers. Time slowed. The biscuit was in her mouth.

The Naga turned her head. The brothel she’d infiltrated was noisy today! It was normally quiet, a sanctuary of [Silence] spells and anonymity. The noise came from the private rooms. Was something happening? She blinked, suddenly wary, and opened the door wider.

A giant Squirrel-woman stood in the doorway. She stared at the Naga. She stared at herself. She saw—felt herself recoil. Her heart froze in shock and her mind babbled?

“Three-Color—”

Her hands jerked for the needle-dagger concealed at her side. She fumbled it up. But too slow. Foliana saw the Squirrel-woman lunge. Felt a cold, icy dagger sting her chest. She tried to slash, tried to grab at the scroll at her side. No, no! How had she found—

The Squirrel-woman swallowed. The image vanished. She stabbed, her paws a blur, and the dagger went into the Naga’s chest. In, out, until the Naga fell backwards. Foliana saw the poison-stain spreading, mixing with the blood. She stood over the Naga, bent down to poke her twice.

“Lady Stalker? Lady Stalker!”

The [Manager] was calling out, looking around. The [Rogue] ignored him. She bent down, inspecting the Naga’s already cooling body. Making sure she was dead. Then she hopped over her, went to grab the gauntlet from its hiding place.

“Amateur.”

Foliana made the Naga vanish into her bag of holding. She grabbed a potion and opened it, pouring it over the bloodstains on the floor. Then she closed the door, sent a [Message] to Peclir Im. She muttered as she wrote.

“Mm. Dullahan. Room…this one. The Scaleless Sight. Mm.”

That done, she walked back out of the room and closed the door. Foliana gently reappeared in the hallway. The [Manager] rushed up to her.

“Lady Stalker. I—I’m terribly sorry, but I was not informed of your presence!”

“Mm. Good.”

“Nevertheless, Lady Stalker, we have a code of anonymity!”

“Won’t tell.”

The Squirrel-woman followed the [Manager] down the corridor as he tried to explain that throwing buckets of ice-cold water on guests supposed to be experiencing the best moments of their lives was not acceptable. The Centauress smiled at Foliana and the [Rogue] smiled up at her. She absently nodded as the [Manager] hurried back to her room and then she looked around. She sat back on the couch. Job done. So she looked up at the Centauress. Who was very young. And beautiful. Foliana thought for a moment and then raised a paw.

“Can you make eggs?”