18 Frost, in the Year of Our Lady 884
The flight from the Wall to Manse Du Mercueur was grueling. We were fortunate to depart when we did, for on the second day of our flight, cold air sweeping down from the north collided with the milder, moist air from the Bay of Auvrich. The storm fell upon us in the last hour of our journey, depositing a pair of besoaked, bedraggled, and less-than-baronial Bats at the threshold of that estate near the end of the Matins.
Despite the unfortunate hour, the disarray of his domicile and the lack of any household staff of which to speak, Lord Tybalt's hospitality was more than equal to the task. Ling Xiefeng and I soon found ourselves warm, dry, bundled in comfortable blankets before a roaring fire, and plied with hot, hearty stew, fresh, steaming bread, hot toddies, hot coffee, and mulled wine, and, of course, honey cakes.
With such attentions, the storm became less a threat to life and wing, and more an exhibition seemingly presented solely for the entertainment of this band of friends and comrades. We found ourselves laughing at the thunderclaps and thrilling at the lightning as we watched the flashing spectacle through rain-spattered panes in one of the mansion's many libraries. Xiefeng told us of the magnificent fireworks displays of Zhongguo, and we all reminisced about the squall that buffeted Captain MacNair's ship for three nights and two days on our voyage from Iriomote to the Corsair Islands.
By the time we adjourned, the rain had lessened, and a gradual lightening of the clouds hinted that dawn was not far distant. As Xiefeng and I ascended to the attic, Tybalt accused me of attempting to make good on my promise to nudge the members of our merry band toward a more civilized nocturnal schedule, after being forced to endure the light of day for the long months of our travels.
I, of course, protested my innocence... most unconvincingly.