This scene is in Electra-Djerroldina's point of view.

"So you are Electra-Djerroldina." A female of indeterminable age, haloed by a dangerous, ultra-violet aura, addressed her in perfect Imperial High Court. "My dear, you are welcome, but you must forgive us if we continue with Djarrhett's Reading."

Having delivered a regal welcome and a warning, this violet-eyed Princess tapped the card on 'Rhett's left, which was a picture of a naked male lying half-submerged in a dark pool. She addressed the seated female at 'Rhett's table.

"If I am not mistaken, Tarra, our Tantalized young hero is 'Passing Out'."

As far as Electra could see, 'Rhett looked like he'd been drinking, but was otherwise deliciously healthy, so she glanced around to see if some other male might be about to faint. Electra took rapid inventory. Here was her abominable brother, her troublemaking, wild-child sister, and at least three very tall and obviously rogue-godkind males whom she did not recognizebut sensed that she should know.

It seemed unlikely that so many Djinn had assembled for no other reason than to watch 'Rhett read mildly pornographic pictures. Something significant had happened here.

When Great-uncle Django had failed to return to the convoy, she had tracked him to this place, expecting to find him distressing some unfortunate, commoner fortune-teller.

These people were no commoners. Where was Uncle Django?

What was going on? Behind the fragrances of the perfumed candles and the aroma of drying herbs were faint scents of fear, sexual arousal, and rage. The curtained walls vibrated with the unheard resonance of a scream, and of malevolent Djinncraft.

"Quite right! In the Passing Out position, the Tantalized Male sees things in a new way..." the one addressed as Tarra agreed.

Electra directed a look of inquiry at Martia-Djulia.

"That's 'Rhett. Have you met him? He's our new sister Djinni-vera's half-brother, so I suppose that makes him our half-brother-in-law. He's having his fortune told," Martia- Djulia whispered. "He asked the cards a secret question, and we want to know what it was. He's destined to choose a lover. We're all curious to know who the unlucky female might be."

"Well, that's clear enough," Electra replied, none the wiser, but seeing nothing to worry about. 'Rhett's love life wasn't her affair. "Why, thank you." She accepted a glass of wine from a tall, dark, gorgeous Djinn whom she might have mistaken for Tarrant-Arragon, if not for the fact that Tarrant-Arragon was there as well, and looking as if he wanted to scorch something.

"You don't recognize me, do you?" the look-alike said. "Since you last saw me, I've shaved off a goatee, grown a head of hair, and bulked up. I'm Djetth."

"Martia-Djulia's Djetthro-Jason?" she asked, testing the waters.

"Yes. The same." He grinned and moved to stand beside Martia-Djulia, hip to hip, arm possessively around her waist.

Lucky Martia-Djulia.

Electra sipped her wine and sidled closer behind 'Rhett's right elbow into a position to see whatever was to be seen of 'Rhett's sprawled person, and his prospects, without putting herself forward.

"If he was chivalrous and altruistic before, he will not be like that anymore," the one named Tarra interpreted.

"No more Mister Nice Guy!" Djetth chanted, almost mockingly, as if those who knew 'Rhett best did not like him.

"You have no idea!" 'Rhett drawled without bothering to look at Djetth.

His voice always sounded husky with barely repressed passion, which gave her hope that he was interested in doing what he thought she wanted him to do. That he'd got the wrong idea was not her fault. He'd stormed out of their negotiations before she'd had a chance to explain that she did not require him to insert his semen.

"I doubt that!" Tarrant-Arragon said to no one in particular. "Our cold and lonely 'Rhett is chronically virtuous."

"What do you have in the Outlook position, Djarrhett?" The unknown, aristocratic female with the violet eyes and perfect elocution spoke sharply, and at once 'Rhett turned over another card.

"It's The Fool, Reversed!" Tarra announced. "Change is in the wind. Djarrhett may be fooling himself. He may have resolved to do something that he will not do. Or, he may be determined not to do something that he will do!"

Electra muffled a gasp and stared at the upside-down image that seemed to hold out so much unexpected promise for her.

If his resolve is destined to weaken, I still have a chance.

'Rhett rose from his seat. He movedless than gracefullyto the side table where drinks were set out.

"Such as...get drunk, Grandmama?"

"No, my dear. You do not want to impair your judgment." 'Rhett's grandmama had a voice that could crack rock.

A vaguely familiar prickle coiled around Electra's wrists.




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