Portia was making a very large fuss over Ursa, who was enjoying the attention immensely. Dally casually turned to look at the stable door and saw a woman enter who was dressed exactly like Portia. Portia looked up from Ursa and waved.
"Achelois!" she called.
"Hey Portia, where am I taking the other baby Cavaleris?"
Portia turned to Dally. "What clan is your sister with?" she asked.
Dally hesitated, then replied, "She is with the Sky Reapers."
Portia nodded. "Lois, you can look the coordinates up on my screen. We sent a raven to Obsi a few minutes ago, so by the time you get there she should be expecting you."
Achelois bowed quickly to Portia. "I'll look now and leave as soon as possible. Darkness is falling quickly."
Portia gave Ursa one last scratch under his chin. "That's our cue as well. We need to get inside."
Dally nodded and followed Portia out of the stable and into the street. As they turned toward the inn, they saw a very large, overly ornately decorated open-air carriage taking up the entire width of the street. Four Cavaleris were harnessed to the front of the carriage, looking regal and majestic. Dally supposed they were supposed to reflect the regality of the people inside the carriage, but in her opinion the dragons were much more beautiful.
Sitting in the carriage, looking miserable and disgusted, was a man and a woman. They were dressed in red velvet with white fur lining the neck and cuffs of the sleeves of their robes. Their hair was tucked into white fur hats that covered their heads. They traded glances with each other that seemed to say, "Can we go yet? These people disgust me." But there was a third person, a man, also ornately dressed, but he was standing in the carriage addressing the people in the street. The man was tall, of average build, with long brown hair that hung down to his shoulders. He wore a long golden robe, with a royal blue coat with gold adorning the outside of the garment and the sleeves. On his head was a purple hat, with tall deep blue feathers in the band around it. He smiled widely as he spoke to the crowd.
"And, ladies and gentleman, we are less than a week away from my Grand Hallow's Eve Masquerade Ball! As it is every year, the Ball will be open to all who wish to attend! Fancy dress is, of course, required, (the crowd laughed knowingly at this) as is a mask. It will be an evening of food and drink and dancing and merriment! The Duke and Dutchess will be in attendance as well!" He spared a passing glance over his shoulder at the couple sitting behind him, who smiled their fakest smiles at him. As he turned back around, his eyes fell on Dallyah.
"My my, we have a visitor!" he exclaimed as he vaulted over the side of the carriage. Dally felt all eyes upon her as he stopped in front of her, took her hand and kissed it.
Portia rolled her eyes. "Lorenzo, still doing everything over the top I see."
Lorenzo stood and put his hand on his chest. "Why Portia, your word hurt me deeply."
Portia snickered. "Lorenzo, this is Dallyah, daughter of Jerrod."
Lorenzo raised his eyebrow and looked at Dally. "King Jerrod?"
"Yes," she replied flatly.
"Well then, you MUST come to the Ball! No, no not just attend, but you will be my guest of honor!" He clapped his hands and ran back to the carriage. "Ladies and gentlemen, Dallyah will be my guest at the Masquerade Ball! I hope to see you all there!" He motioned to the carriage driver and they hurried down the side street.
"What the heck just happened?" Dally asked.
Portia laughed. "That was Lorenzo. He is the wealthiest person in Suddene, even more so than the Duke and Dutchess. They resent him for that but he is so popular that they are always with him to try to make themselves look more personable. Which, they are not. At all."
Dally laughed as they began to walk toward the inn. "I can tell. They looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but here."
"They probably did."
Dally felt someone watching them, and looked up on the roof of the bakery across from the inn. A man wearing a bird mask was hunched down on the roof. He looked across to the roof of the inn, and Dally followed his gaze. A woman wearing a mask that looked like a doll's face was hunched down on the roof, and once she realized she had been spotted, she stood, her ornate blue and gold pant suit flowing in the breeze. She jumped onto the roof next to the inn and disappeared.
When Dally looked back across the street, the man had also disappeared.
"Who were they?" Dally asked.
Portia pulled the door of the in open for Dallyah. "I think a more important question is how did she jump like that in those heels?"