Her feet were bare, and the chill rose through her soles, so that by the time she reached the humid air outside, her teeth were chattering. She halted for a moment, to orient herself in the maze of courtyards that surrounded the palace, and as she turned her thoughts from the practical to the abstract she met another thought, waiting at the back of her skull for just such a turn. She didn’t doubt its source for a moment. The angel that Seidux had driven from her chamber that afternoon had waited at the threshold all this time, knowing she would come at last, seeking guidance. Tears started to her eyes when she realized she’d not been forsaken. The Son of David knew her agony and sent this messenger to whisper in her head.
Ipse, it said. Ipse.
She knew what the word meant. She’d patronized the Ipse many times, masked, as were all the women of the haut monde when visiting places of moral dubiety. She’d seen all the works of Quexos performed there; and translations of Plotter; even, on occasion, Koppocovi’s farces, crude as they were. That the Man of Sorrows should have chosen such a place was certainly strange, but who was she to question His purposes?
“I hear,” she said aloud.
Even before the voice in her had faded, she was making her way through the courtyards to the gate by which she would be delivered most readily into the Deliquium Kespa-rate, where Pluthero Quexos had built his shrine to artifice, soon to be reconsecrated in the name of Truth.
Jude took her hands from the window and opened her eyes. There had been none of the clarity she’d experienced when asleep in this contact—in truth she was not even certain she’d made it—but there was no time left to try again. Dowd was calling her, and so were the streets of Yzordderrex, blazing though they were. She’d seen blood spilt from her place by the window; numerous assaults and beatings; troop charges and retreats; civilians warring in rabid packs, and others marching in brigades, armed and ordered. In such a chaos of factions she had no way of judging the legitimacy of any cause; nor, in truth, did she much care. Her mission was seek out her sister in this maelstrom, and hope that she in her turn was seeking out Jude.
Quaisoir would be disappointed, of course, if and when they finally met. Jude was not the messenger of the Lord she was hurrying to find. But then lords divine or secular were not the redeemers and salvers of the world legend made them out to be. They were spoilers; they were destroyers. The evidence of that was out there, in the very streets Jude was about to tread, and if she could only make Quaisoir share and understand that vision, perhaps the promise of sisterhood would not be so unwelcome a gift to bring to this meeting, which she could not help but think of as a reunion.