The Questor’s wife chuckled. “Don’t look so down. I’ve been preparing my lamisetha since I was, what, maybe thirteen? Death is just the next great adventure.  Besides, I have done tons of learning, and tons of mistakes. It will be refreshing to come back anew.”

“Reincarnation? Is that the secret?” I managed to ask.  I recognized the word she had used from Beagle’s “The Innkeeper’s Song.”

“Oh, it’s no secret. I’m just guessing like everyone else, but I’ve got reasons why.  Everyone has reasons why they believe what they do.  Fear, love, the poison of hope,” she smiled a wry smile. “What do you believe?” she asks, as if it were conversational.

“I don’t know,” I said, honestly.

“Have you asked them?” she referred with a gesture of her head to Nen and Rayya.

“Kind of? It’s complicated, is all I know.” I said.

“But it isn’t,” she said, leaning forward, as if telling me a secret.  “Death is just as easy and inevitable as birth.  It’s only the things that are never born that don’t need to experience it, and they miss it.”  She looked sad.  “We make love complicated, too, and no one loves the way someone who doesn’t know they’re not supposed to does.” She smiled a little.  “Go on.  You’ve got more guests coming.  I shouldn’t take up all your time.”

The Questor was on his way to sit next to her, so I nodded. She was a lot more intense about something.  I didn’t know what to say.

Ed and Zach came in just a few seconds later.  “Glad you could make it. I won’t ask how you got the invite, but I’m glad anyway.” I took their coats and put them on my bed, opening the door so people could do the same for themselves.  Good thing I took the time to clean is all I’m saying.  (I also took a moment to make sure there wasn’t anything, you know, peeking out.)

Zach was looking good, wearing a blue so pale it was almost white.  His hair picked up hints of the colored lights, and I could see the smoothness of his shave.  I rolled my eyes; it was better, but like really called to like.

Ed had lost some weight, but there was no way I was going to tell him that.  I probably gained it from him. That’s how it works, right?  Anyway, if I said it like he looked good, it meant I thought he looked bad or fat (take your pick – either’s a field of landmines) before, so I just gave him a manly nod. At least I hoped it was manly.

“Hey. What’s the occasion? The message was…” Ed looked at Zach.

“Vague,” Zach filled in.

“Yeah. That’s the word all right,” Ed made a look.

“Um, unbirthday party? Lord of Catnip’s ascension? Furniture fairy discount season?” I shrugged. “With my roomies, it’s hard to tell.”

Zach shrugged. “Party’s a party.  Collaboration of coincidences brought us here, so it must be more important than a couch festival.”

“I wouldn’t put too much faith in the conservation of magic,” I said. “I swear they do a ritual to put pizza on sale every time we hit the big warehouse place, and let’s not talk the curses they imply when someone steals a parking space.”

“That sound so… petty,” Ed said.  “I thought magic was subtle and mysterious.”

“Wizards.  Wizards are subtle. And quick to anger, if you believe ol’ Olórin,” I shrugged.  “Fey are just that.  Wait, I memorized this.  ‘Giving an impression of vague unworldliness,’ according to the search engine of choice.”

“Vague,” Zach elbowed Ed, grinning.

Ed caught Zach’s hand and kissed it briefly.  “Hey, mini-quiches,” he said, looking at the spread on the table.  He went off that way, and pulled at Zach’s to follow.  Zach gave me an apologetic shrug.

I smelled a whiff of… oh, great.  Peredur.  I turned back to the door that had opened again.  Standing next to him was Andrei, looking curious.

Peredur raised an eyebrow at me.

“You might as well come in,” I said.  “Um, let me improvise.  Come in yon King of Nuisances, swearing only to have a good time at the party and do no harm.”

“I can agree with that,” he said, simply, walking into the room as if he owned it.  He was also interested in mini-quiches, I guess.

Andrei followed.  “It is good to see you again, young one.  You have done good with your boon, though grossly materialistic in nature?” he asked.

“No complaints.  Money spends nice.”

“Oh.  Yes, that,” he said.  He seemed confused for a second, then shrugged.  “I bring word from Viktor.  He says he has a hound that might aid you, but it is worth a favor.”

“I don’t even know what he might want,” I said, “or how to find him.”

Andrei chuckled.  He put his hand in his jacket, a nice black suede, and then gave me a card.  I took it without looking at it and put it in my pocket. He nodded. “We are getting with the times. The manipulation of words and numbers is nothing new,” he shrugged.  “But I see an old, old friend.  I knew her father,” he referred to the Questor’s wife, and nodded.  “Yes, it was right to come.”

“Sir Darius!” I exclaimed, catching the door again.  “And… uh… Your Majesty.”

The Seven King regarded me and I was uncomfortable under her gaze.  She was the embodiment of lust again, and I felt more vulnerable than aroused.

“Of course,” she said.  “But we will not stand on ceremony here, for you are King of your domicile.  And I am not the only King in attendance.”  Her eyes glanced at Peredur, and they narrowed.

“No fighting.  Uh, come in swearing only to have a good time and do no harm.  I think that’s the rule I’m requiring.”

“Ah, what a pity.  Some good time does end up in harm.”  She nodded, and she and the troll knight pushed past me.  Darius bent his neck and knees to get in, but he made it look natural.

This was becoming a very odd party indeed.