Mog barely glanced at the ledger. Pendaran pointedly thrust it toward his face a second time.
“Yes, yes, I know,” he said, immediately regretting the harsh edge to his voice when the man’s brows furled with anger.
“You asked for a tally. I made a tally.”
“And you probably enjoyed every minute of it,” Mog thought, but instead said, “I suspected we were running out of key supplies and you have verified that. Thank you.”
“Did you even read my notes?”
Pendaran could have slept in like a normal human being. Mog glanced back into his tent to see Maeve rolling over resentfully to fetch her clothes.
“Leave it with me and I’ll go over it.”
Pendaran grudgingly surrendered the ledger and gave him a curt nod before stalking back toward wherever it was he had made his lair.
“Sorry,” he said, “We still have a little time.”
Maeve ignored him as she thrust her feet into her boots, her long black hair cloaking the smooth arc of her back. He moved closer to run his fingers through her silky locks but she said nothing, only hurried to dress.
“Next week we can move into a proper building. The rubble should be cleared out.”
Maeve grumbled something under her breath. The lack of privacy had worn thin on both of them. It hadn’t helped that the first night they had indulged their desires, the camp had been rife with jokes about their various noises. They had tried to keep things quiet but during such times they instead fell asleep in one another’s arms.
“We are no closer to finding the ether well and I, for one, am not putting down roots in this hell hole.”
“Things are getting better. Supplies are arriving. We have more support.”
She cut him off with a lifted hand.
“We have ale and whiskey, so of course everything is just wonderful.”
“Let’s get some breakfast and I’ll finish reading this report. After that I plan to go with my lady to find a hidden well,” he said, his hand slipping mischievously toward her rump. Maeve turned her head to roll her eyes at him only to blush with anticipation as he squeezed and pulled her close.
“Not right now,” she said and he followed her gaze to the tent flap. The grizzled head of one of the resident charr protruded past the cloth, a mixture of contempt and curiosity causing its lips to curl back from the jut of its teeth. It wore Priory colors. Ripsnort or was it Uglysnout. Mog could never remember their names.
“What is it?” he said, more harshly than he intended as Maeve disentangled herself and continued dressing.
“Magister Doomspeak is here, Sir.”
Mog felt a pang of dread at that name. He had forgotten the meeting and had nothing prepared.
“Do you have anything to show him from the dig?”
“The dig in the place where you knew we wouldn’t find anything?” Ripsnort said coldly, “That’s why she wants to see you.”
He felt no shame for getting the gender of Doomspeak wrong. He did not much appreciate charr of either gender in his encampment. It was a necessary evil, as Maeve was fond of reminding him. They needed the protection of the Pact, and that meant letting them have a little control. He was, however, vexed by Uglysnout’s keen detection of his deception. It would not do to admit he had been caught in a lie. Not to the charr, anyhow. He ignored the creature and stepped into his pants, tugging them on with his back turned. It amused him to imagine he was mooning a charr.
“Tell Doomsqueak I’ll be there shortly.”
The charr might have cursed. Mog only smiled at the growled response.
“You shouldn’t antagonize them.”
“They shouldn’t have burned Ascalon to the ground.”
Maeve sighed, as she often did.
“It’s been over two-hundred years. Let it go or they’ll think you’re a separatist.”
“I’m not a separatist. I dress better than them, for starters.”
Maeve stood before him and gazed earnestly up into his face, slowly buttoning up his blouse, “Yes, you do. And I like your pretty face the way it is, so please stop giving them silly names.”
He opened his mouth to protest but instead she kissed him, softly at first and then with all the force of her pent up lust. He cupped the back of her head tenderly while his right hand followed the swell of her hip to the roundness of her buttocks, drawing her against the urgent pulse of his groin.
“By all the gods, leave us in peace!” he railed in silence as all lust left him and the two of them stood flushed and gasping in the doorway of their tent. His dislike of asura increased in magnitude in that moment as he looked down to see another of the Priory’s members intruding where it wasn’t wanted. Snark? Booboo? He didn’t know this one’s name, either.
“Interesting. Did I interrupt human coitus?” it said with characteristic lack of tact.
“GET OUT!” Mog roared, and to his relief, the ugly little demon flapped away with a squawk.
“Mog, calm down,” Maeve said, “You shouldn’t yell at him like that.”
“It didn’t even knock – “
“We don’t have a door, and what passes for a one was open,” Maeve said. For a moment he felt the faint heat of shame but he rallied and managed to stay angry.
“He might have said something before barging in!”
And besides, why was she sticking up for charr and asura of all things? He had a right to be mad. He snatched his belt with its holstered pistol and scabbarded sword and let its weight comfort him as he fumbled with the buckles. Maeve sensed his ire and wisely stepped away to find her brush and comb.
“I’ll see you this afternoon?”
“Mrmmph,” growled Mog as he stormed from the tent.