Talia cut herself off, sighed; closed her eyes a moment to think, then looked at them all again. “I know good people can fall in love with horribly evil men. But everything we know about Wei Wuxian, everything we saw… he’s terrifying. Not evil. Even when he thought Lan Wangji might attack him, all he did was make it clear he wanted to be let go. The ghosts were looking. They didn’t make any threatening moves.”
“That’s what I don’t understand.” Dirk leaned on the table, staring at his own wine. “He and his sect leader both thought Lan Wangji was a threat. Wangji says he wants to see Wei Wuxian healed. What’s going on?”
Selenay traded a glance with her husband. So they’d run through the Heralds’ available reports, and they still didn’t have a definitive answer.
We need more information.
“All right,” Selenay stated. “Which of you has an idea how to get Nie Huaisang to actually talk to us?”
A trade of glances. Kero frowned. “He’s skittish around Weaponsmasters. Around all of us, looks like. Talia, you might have the best luck.”
“I’ll do it,” Talia agreed. “But it might have to wait. The Nies are out of the palace right now, headed for the south gate with a few Blues. I hear they left in a bit of a hurry.” Her face dimpled in a smile. “Mistress Sorely Kinkade’s due to bring a caravan in today.”
Dirk choked back a laugh, then gave up and thumped his head onto the table, burying chuckles in his arms. “Oh gods.”
“Who’s Mistress Kinkade?” Daren wondered.
Kero clapped a palm to her forehead; Alberich was actually smiling. “Mistress Kinkade, a caravan mistress and muleskinner is,” the retired Weaponsmaster said dryly. “Freight for the Army she hauls at need; always, her cargos come through. Truly a formidable woman, yet as well known for her care for her beasts.”
Selenay blinked, feeling an unexpected wave of jealousy. Decades ago she’d had to protect herself from a siege brought by her own Council, turning down candidate after candidate for her hand all pushed forward for other people’s power, with no thought given to what she wanted. Here and now Nie Mingjue had a younger brother searching high and low to find… not a spouse meant for power, or to bring advantage to their sect. A woman he thought would make his older brother happy.
Daren gripped her hand, comforting, and Selenay did her best to breathe the old pain away. She squeezed gently back, reminding herself she’d been blessed at last. “Well. Let’s wish him luck.” She smiled, feeling it come a little easier now. “I only wish I could see her face!”