Preparation and Procedure
Seymour’s internal clock managed to break through the fog of his alcohol-induced slumber and wake him at dawn, as usual. But it couldn’t keep him awake for long; there was still too much brandy in his system. He was conscious just long enough to notice that Henry was in bed with him, and that the mage had his arms around him. Speculating on how this might have come to pass turned out to be a task too difficult for his brain to manage, and he was out again.
When next he awoke, the bells of every clock tower in the city were in the process of declaring noon, and Henry was gone.
Cursing in a low moan, he rolled out of bed and stripped off the previous day’s clothes, which reeked of alcohol, sweat and vomit. He then stood, naked, in the middle of the room for a spell, waiting for the chilliness of the air to get through to his brain and clear the haze from his thoughts. It didn’t, so he trudged over to the washbasin and splashed water first on his face, and then over the rest of his body for good measure. He found the soap, washed himself to the best of his ability, then dressed. In his bag, he located a comb and a small bottle of mint extract. The comb he used to combat his matted hair, the mint extract he used to fight his foul-smelling breath.
It was only after he had accomplished all of this that he noticed the raven perched on the bedpost. He stared at it for a long while, eyes narrowed.
It croaked at him.
“And a lovely day to you, too, Moriba,” he grumbled.
The raven spread its wings and flew over to him. He didn’t move, and it alighted on his shoulder. With a resigned sigh, Seymour found the key to his room on his bedside table—Henry must have left it there, for Seymour would have hidden it better, drunk or not—and left.
He found the mages seated by an ice-covered fountain in a sunny plaza, eating their midday meal, an assortment of small, pasty-like objects that seemed to consist of meat, cheese and vegetables, wrapped in thin shell of pastry dough and baked.
“What are those,” he asked of Alasdair, “and where can I get one?”
“I need to talk to you,” Henry interrupted before the Alt-Mage could answer.
“Like hell you do,” Seymour grunted, the hazy recollection of waking up to find Henry’s arms around him drifting vaguely through his mind. “But I need to find something to eat first.”
“Little bakery around the corner,” Alasdair directed him through a mouthful of pastry shell, expelling a shower of crumbs in the process. “Don’t know what they are, but they’re splendid.”
Seymour nodded. “Right. You,” he ordered, pointing his index finger sharply at Henry, “come with me. We’ll discuss the matter on the way.”