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As soon as I arrive back at Arichdamis's house, I sense sorcery. Perhaps Lisutaris is practicing. If she ever practices, that is; I'm not certain. Maybe it all comes easily and she doesn't have to. Arichdamis appears in the corridor, trudging mournfully towards the front door. It's a while since I've seen the old mathematician looking happy. Having house guests doesn't seem to agree with him.
"Sorcerers," he mutters, as he passes me. "Always arguing."
"Lisutaris and Lasat. And Charius. I don't like any of them."
"Is Makri around?"
"She's arguing too." The mathematician regards me wearily. "Have you found my plans for the crossbow?"
"I'm ruined," he groans.
"I wouldn't put it that strongly. You can draw up another set."
"The complex mathematics involved makes that a lengthy task," he tells me. "And for what? I'll still be disgraced when it's learned they were stolen from my house."
"Lisutaris will be disgraced too."
"As she deserves," says Arichdamis, and sounds cross. "If she'd only been able to control her unnatural appetite for thazis, they wouldn't have disappeared in the first place."
"Don't worry, we'll find your plans."
Arichdamis doesn't look convinced, and shakes his head sadly before leaving. As soon as he's gone, a tremendous commotion breaks out at the far end of the house. Voices are raised and doors slam. I recognise Makri's voice and I'm surprised to discover she's shouting at Lisutaris.
"Why did you drag me away?"
"Because it's not something we can argue with Lasat about."
"The dragon has to be caged!" says Lisutaris. "What else is the King going do? Let it fly around?"
"He shouldn't have brought it here in the first place if he was going to put it in a cage," says Makri.
"I really don't see what your objection is. Lasat has to work these spells to contain it."
"It's not appropriate." Makri sounds very unhappy.
"Not appropriate? Whatis appropriate for a dragon? The only other times I've encountered them I've been trying to kill them. So have you."
"I don't care," says Makri. "I don't like it."
Lisutaris finally notices my presence. "Thraxas! Can you make any sense of this?"
"Makri doesn't like to see some noble wild beast thrown in a cage. It reminds her of her own upbringing."
Lisutaris pauses, and looks surprised at my insight. Makri glowers at me. "I told you never to talk to me again," she mutters.
I'm ready for this, and whip Demelzos's fancy notebook from the pocket of my tunic. The queenstone jewel in the cover glints in the sunlight that's streaming through the back door. "I'm sorry I wasn't there to lead you into the tournament field. I brought you this."
I hand the book to Makri, who stares at it, puzzled.
"Highest-quality vellum," I add. "Excellent for taking notes during your intellectual pursuits."
Makri looks at the jewel set in the cover, then undoes the silver clasp to examine the notebook. It really is a fine item. The wealthiest student at the best university in the West wouldn't have anything better. Makri abruptly bursts into tears and runs out the room, something which does not entirely surprise me. Lisutaris, on the other hand, is baffled.
"What just happened?" she asks.
"I just made things up with Makri. I told you it would be all right."
"How did you make things up?"
"With a well-chosen gift. Makri is very susceptible to gifts. Because of her background, you see." I'm pleased with myself, and let it show. "Of course, not any old gift will do. It has to be right. I spent a long time hunting round Elath, looking for something special. Must have been in twenty shops before I found that notebook."
Lisutaris shakes her head. "There's something not quite right about this."
"I don't know what you mean."
"I mean that you upsetting Makri with your appalling behaviour and then getting away with it just by handing her a present doesn't seem fair, somehow. I'm sure you don't deserve to be in the clear."
"Well," I say, reaching into the small bag I'm carrying. "I may make the occasional blunder. "But Thraxas of Turai is always willing to admit his mistakes, and rectify them. Back in Twelve Seas, I was well-known for my tact. Here, I brought you these." I hand a bunch of flowers to Lisutaris.
"To apologise for your inconvenience in having to visit Big Bixo's betting shop."
"I hope you're not expecting me to start crying."
"Of course not. The flowers are merely a small token of apology, and a sign of the tremendous esteem in which I hold you."
"Oh." Lisutaris seems quite taken aback. "Well thank you. I'll put them in water."
"You're welcome." I make a swift retreat, while I'm on top. All in all, it's been a successful morning. One moment the house is full of women who are angry at Thraxas. Next moment, everything is rosy. Who would have guessed, back in Turai, when Tanrose first told me that buying Makri flowers would have positive results, that the same tactic would prove so useful in the future? I'd never have stumbled on the idea myself.
After my busy morning, I could do with some rest. I retire to my room, remove my boots, lie down, drag the cover over me, and sink into a refreshing sleep.
Later in the day, as we make ready to leave, harmony has almost returned to the household. Lisutaris has her hand on Makri's shoulder, casting a minor healing spell on one of the many bruises she's picked up during the tournament. Lisutaris doesn't specialise in healing but she's quite capable of dealing with most injuries. Treating Makri's wounds with sorcery is allowed under tournament rules, providing any spell used has worn off by the time the fighters enter the ring.
"Not that anyone seems to be caring much about the rules any more," says Lisutaris. "I'm expecting Lasat and his cohorts to go all out to stop Makri today."