Chapter 4 – Aahz

I awoke from dreams of satin and candlelight with a start. I sat straight up in bed, blood rushing to my head and quickly followed by a massive headache. I blinked, willing it to go away as I tried to focus on the reason I had woken up so suddenly.

The answered stood in my doorway with a slim finger pointed at me. Tananda gaped at me, finger wavering in the air as she pulled a breath, than gave a squeal. It was a mix of horror and enjoyment, but it was very, very loud. I clamped my hands over my ears, squinting angrily at her.

"Tanda! Shut up!"

She gave a jump and clapped her hands, the light green hair not the only thing bouncing with the movement. She reached to the left, bubbling happily, the words totally escaping me as she yanked both Skeeve and Chumley into view. The Kid and the troll both reflected Tananda's reaction, gaping at me for a second before letting out a mix of horrified and shocked screams.

I pulled my hands from my ears as they cut themselves off, staring at them in confusion. "What ARE you screaming about!?" I hollered. All the hands came up and pointed at me…or rather, to my right. I followed the line of trajectory, turning, and my eyes landed on…

"ACK!" I flew from my bed, scrabbling from beneath the covers to the floor. I pointed at the woman beneath my covers. She had the covers bunched around her waist, clearly exposing her top half. Sleeping soundly, arms folded up beneath her head as pillow, was a female Pervect. For the third time in two days, I became aware my jaw was almost hanging at the floor.

I twisted to look at the three in the door, and found their eyes not on my bed anymore, but focused on me. Or more specifically, focused on my nakedness.

I yanked my pillow from my bed, and instead of covering myself up, threw it at the three standing motionless in the doorway. "SHUT THE DAMN DOOR!"

It slammed shut.

I stomped over to a chair, pulling on a pair of slacks. There was shouting from outside my door, and a new voice I didn't recognize entered the fray. I'd finished buttoning them up, trying to concentrate on understanding the words when my door flew open again.

I whirled around, already starting to yell when I stopped. The figure in the doorway wasn't familiar, but I knew him for who he was. The Seleen was easily two heads taller than me, stooping to get through the door. He was adorned with a knife or sword on every available belt hook, and had two large sword handles visible over his shoulders. He was loaded down with what looked like a hundred pounds of weapons with the intent of bodily harmed, but carried the weight like a towel.

He held a large, serrated dagger in one hand, the other hand keeping Skeeve out of the room. His skin was a darker hue than Adelaida's, and black hair hung in a short crop. He stared around the room, passed his eyes over the woman in my bed, and stopped on me.

"Who are you?" he growled, glaring at me in obvious displeasure.

"Who am I?" I echoed in an angry snarl. "Who am I!?? The question is who the hell are you??? This is MY room, and I don't know YOU, so GET OUT!"

He gestured with his sword at the other Pervect, ignoring me completely. "What's her name?"

Skeeve suddenly appeared, ducking under his arm and running around in front of him. He waved his arms, struggling to get the giants attention as he began to yell. "I told you to wait downstairs! Did I tell you to follow me upstairs!? Nobody said you could come up here! This is my partner's room, this is my house, and you're trespassing on private property!!"

In order to get the Seleen to meet his eyes, Skeeve levitated himself upwards until the two were nose to nose. The Seleen reacted slightly to this, taking the smallest step backwards. He looked behind him at something, and I peered around him to see Tananda and Chumley poking at his back angrily. He turned back to Skeeve.

"Sorry, Mister Skeeve, but with you being so nervous about seeing this guy, it made me think she might be up here."

"I told you we saw her on the street, we didn't even learn her name! Now get out before I resort to other measures!"

I listened to the interaction in silence, looking between the two. The Seleen pointed around Skeeve at my bed. I glanced at the woman. She snored silently, sleeping through it all.

"She's got a disguise spell on. Can I take a look through it?"

Skeeve glanced behind him, squinting his eyes a bit, evidently catching sight of an aura. This could mean several things, with one being a disguise spell. He looked to me, and I answered with a confused blink. I had no idea whether or not the sleeping Pervect was Adelaida in disguise, or…or a sleeping Pervect.

"Uh, sure…" He glanced back at me uncertainly as the Seleen began digging in his pockets. I gave a shrug.

The Seleen pulled up a small round disk, bringing it to his eye. He paused, training it on the woman, and then slipped it back in his pocket. "I'm sorry I disturbed you, Mister Skeeve. You can reach the Devan Department of Missing Persons if you happen to see Miss Adelaida again. Thank you for your time."

With that he turned and left, clomping from the room and down the hallway, Tananda and Chumley following as escorts. Skeeve floated back to the floor, waiting until they were gone to turn back to the room.

He walked over to the foot of the bed, staring for a moment at the girl before looking at me. "Is this Adelaida?"

I racked my brain as to last night's events. I remembered lots of wine; lots and lots of wine, joking and story telling. We'd snuck in and locked ourselves in the wine cellar, and…then…and then….

"I think so."

"But it's not a disguise spell."

I shook my head in complete confusion. "I'll figure it out. Leave me alone for a few."

He nodded, biting his lip. "She's missing, and there's a rather large reward out for her." He gave me a sideways look.

I narrowed my eyes, reflexively showing my teeth in a small burst of anger. "Out."

He waved his hands in the air. "Just saying. If there's something between you…"

"Out!"

"Okay okay! Sorry," he mumbled, backing out of the room and pulling the door to.

I sank into a chair as he left, rubbing the tension from my eyes. I gave a groan, holding my head in my hands. She knew someone would come here looking for her. A blue skinned woman wouldn't be hard to find, even in the Bazaar of Deva. So she'd changed her appearance to hide, knowing… I gave another groan, massaging my temples. What had I gotten myself into this time?

"More trouble than you needed, huh?"

I snapped my head up at the sound of her voice. Adelaida, her blue self again, laying on her side on the bed, sheets pulled up to cover herself, her slightly disheveled hair falling over her shoulders. She stared quietly at me.

She'd been awake the entire time as well, pretending to sleep through it all. Whether that made things easier or not, I'd yet to decide.

I stood up, moving over to the edge of the bed and sinking down onto the mattress. "Yeah," I mumbled in reply. "You could have warned me."

She rolled onto her back, staring at the ceiling in silence. It stretched into a minute before she spoke.

"A shape-shifting spell. I learned very young that simple disguise spells don't work half the time. It's hell on my magik reserve, but…it fools people like Jaaik."

"The…?"

"Yes."

"Why?" I was referring not to why it fools Jaaik, but the big why. Why are you running from your own kind? Why is there a reward out for you? Why didn't you tell me?

Pause. "I'd rather not talk about it yet."

"Yet."

She rolled back over, giving me a smug look. "I know you have a hang over. We'll talk later."

I looked down at the touch of her hand on mine, then back up into her eyes. More silence, then she pulled back.

"I need a shower."

She rolled from the bed, swinging her legs to the floor and standing up. She gave a stretch, another act that proved so enjoyable to watch I felt my temperature shoot up several degrees. She walked around the bed to the bathroom, my eyes following her every step of the way. What a wonder for a hang over.

She paused in the doorway to the adjacent room, looking over her shoulder at me, a smile on her lips. "You're welcome to join me," she said carefully, letting the offer be known loud and clear, but also the fact that she wouldn't mind if I didn't.

I glanced down at the bed and at the covers that looked so soft and inviting, and then back up at the now empty doorway. I heard the water turn on, and a spray of steam billowed out the door a second later.

I patted the mattress pillow me. "Later."