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“Couldn’t you just let KSP handle this one, Asinus?” said Fiona. “This is not a good time.”
“Jack’s Family,” Asinus growled warningly.
“So’s elfgirl. Delegate, Asinus. We need you here.”
“Look, Fi,” the donkey sighed, “I’m sure you can handle things.”
“So am I. The Montasi underworld isn’t.” Fiona flipped her pigtail irritably. “The appearance of strength’s as important as strength is, Asinus. You know that as well as I do.”
“Then use some illusion spells, chippie. I know you’ve got some.”
“And what about Heaven?” the pint-size sorceress continued to argue. “The Eagle Angels are up our butt here, and you’re the only one they have to listen to. Are you just going to leave this thing?”
Asinus stopped and looked at her. “You don’t think I’m coming back, do you?”
“I think that when you’re in love with another man’s wife, going into the Hotel with the two of them is the psychological equivalent of hara-kiri, yes!”
“Will you give me some flarkin’ smidge of credit, woman?” Asinus kicked the estate door open.
“What do you mean he’s not there?” Khyrisse frowned on the halfling. “He’s got to be somewhere.”
Garal spread his hands, half-helplessly and half-defensively. “I’m sorry, Khyrisse. He’s not.”
“Well, he’s not dead, I already talked to Rhynwa. Look again. It’s a big universe.”
“You don’t understand,” said Garal. “He’s not there. Look, I’ve been to about five planes with the guy; I know his spacio-temporal imprint pretty well by this point. It’s not there. I don’t just make mistakes.”
“Could he be hidden somehow... cloaked so you couldn’t find him?”
“Well, sure,” Garal said. “But I’d still know what plane he was on. You can’t erase someone’s imprint from the planar fabric. It’s physically impossible.”
“And he’s not on any of them?” Khyrisse screwed up her face in confusion. “Well if he’s not on Ataniel, and he’s not on the planes, and he’s not dead... then where the flark is he?”
“My guess is time-traveling,” Garal said. “If he’s temporally shifted one way or the other, he’s technically in an alternate universe... his imprint would be on the other timeline, not this one.”
“Or he could be somewhere unfettered by the planar structure of the universe,” suggested Mina, ducking through the door of Khyrisse’s office with Asinus trotting at her heels.
“*Squeak!*” the Rat agreed from her shirt pocket.
“If there were such a place, then I guess so,” said Garal, a little annoyed at his authority continually being challenged. “But I don’t know of any, do you?”
“Just one,” said Asinus, around his cigar. Khyrisse pointed at the “no smoking” sign on her wall, and he ignored her. “The Word calls it the Hotel.”
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