I handed her the tiny vial. That had been the hardest to get, firstly because it required obtaining the vial itself from a high-security storeroom. Thankfully I had Thyzen again to help with that—as a guard, he had access to such things, and I told him I needed it for some kind of experiment Lafrindyx was conducting. I could have told him anything, really. He would have stepped right aside for any request that came from the princess. Scooping the remnants of the Citrinite poison from the skirmish earlier yesterday had been a little trickier. Fortunately no one asks questions if you offer to relieve them of a nighttime illumination shift, so I was able to collect the stuff with relative ease under the pretense of cleaning up the floor when the throne room was practically deserted.
Watching Lafrindyx pour the poison over the location stone, I felt slightly guilty. She was going to be my ticket to the Only Strip, and I would be looking for the first chance to ditch her? But what choice did I have? She couldn't come along; only Gemkeepers were allowed at the secret meetings. The stone began to glow a slightly greenish yellow.
"All right," said Lafrindyx, "now we can set the map."
"Why do we have to go through Citrinite territory again?" No reason seemed good enough for trespassing on clearly hostile ground, especially not after yesterday's events.
"Because there aren't any exits from the Mine in Mystic Fire Topaz territory," Lafrindyx replied. She began rubbing the stone expertly over the mystic fire topaz disc, as one would wash a dish with a bar of soap. "The closest one is where the Citrinites live. A location stone marked with Citrinite poison automatically will take us to the palace, but I did some reading, and the exit is very close by. If we can make it to the palace, then we'll be able to see the gate-and once we get out of the mine, the Everlasting Portal won't be any trouble to find. The only question is: where are we going?"