Noshli stared at Gimlineth, who looked back at her calmly. So he wanted a favor, did he? She should have expected as much. “What do you want from me?”
“You are acquainted with Nadine, Minellye’s employer, yes?”
“When we first met her, Minellye was only looking for someone to buy her ring. We were short on money, you see. When we were banished, we could only take as much as we could easily carry. Her ring was small, but had a few precious stones embedded in it, so we hoped it would fetch a decent price. Minellye met Nadine in the market. Nadine offered to buy the ring, but she was more interested in Minellye’s necklace. Minellye didn’t want to sell, since our mother put several protective charms on it, but when she left the market, she realized that the necklace had fallen off.” His face darkened. “Of course, Nadine was responsible. She has a few younger girls, too young to officially work in the brothel, but very good at picking pockets.”
“Didn’t you confront Nadine about it?” Althea asked. She had been uncharacteristically silent ever since Gimlineth arrived.
“Of course we did,” Gimlineth snapped. “We went to the brothel and demanded it back. She didn’t even try to deny it. Instead she told us that she wanted Minellye to work for her. Minellye refused, but Nadine threatened to expose the two of us if we didn’t do what she wanted.” He sighed, his face dropping his hostile expression. Despite the morning hour, he looked exhausted. “She’s fascinated with elves, Nadine is,” he said. “She’s promised to give back the necklace after a time, but each time we’ve asked for it, she has denied us. If we could get the necklace back, Minellye could leave. We both could. So that’s my price. Steal the necklace back from Nadine. Grant my sister her freedom.”
Noshli stepped backwards, the force of his glare nearly knocking her over. Before she could say anything, Althea jumped up beside her.
“And if we agree to this, how do we know you can help us?” Althea said. “If the two of you are exiles, are you in any position to help Noshli find her father?”
“Althea, please!” Noshli hissed. The more she looked at Gimlineth, the less she wanted him to know anything about her. She felt sorry for his sister, but that didn’t mean that Gimlineth could be trusted. If anything, his desperation made him dangerous.
“Your father?” Gimlineth said, his eyebrows raising. “Is that who you’re looking for? Who is he?”
“His name is Naleniehl,” she said after a moment. “I haven’t seen him in over ten years, but . . . what’s wrong?” Gimlineth’s face drained of color at the mention of her father’s name.
“I know him,” Gimlineth whispered. His eyes went flat, looking more like slate than silver.
“You do?” Noshli stared at him, not believing her luck. “How?”
“He was the one who banished us,” Gimlineth said. “He’s the leader of our clan. I know exactly where to find him. If you can help us, I will take you to him. Well?”
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