Herrin looked affronted. “I was at a disadvantage,” he protested.

“Oh yes,” Mirra said with a wink. “As I recall it was quite unseasonably cold that night.”

Herrin spluttered. She laughed and set the other bucket at his feet.

“Don’t pout so,” she said, leaning in close. “You know I just love to see you speechless.”

“I am a little confused,” Tryls said, leaning forward and dipping his cloth into the fresh bucket. “Were you-”

Mirra turned, her mouth twisted up into a cheeky smile. “You’re trying to figure out whether I was the pearl or the assassin, aren’t you?”

Tryls nodded slightly and ducked his head, avoiding her gaze. She sighed. “The odd thing is, I don’t know which would disgust you more.”

He looked up with a frown. “The Nittalfar people do understand passion, m’Emihi. Those who take another life for reward, however… they have forsaken their place in the eyes of the ancestors.”

She put a thoughtful finger to her chin. “Hm. Interesting.”

Tryls cleared his throat. “Which were you, if I may ask?”

She blinked a few times, then laughed out loud. “Neither!”

Herrin nodded. “I engaged the assassin as best I could, and then the door burst open and the pearl house barmaid charged in, wielding a huge cutlass with considerable skill. I didn’t realise that we were on the same side until… well I shan’t bore you with details…”

Mirra kicked his foot playfully. “Just be glad I used the flat of the blade, eh?”

He folded his arms. “I couldn’t sit down for weeks, you know.”

“I was providing security for the pearl house,” Mirra said to Tryls. “They paid me a big wad of cash to masquerade as a simple bar maid and intervene if there was trouble.”

He looked up at her. “With a cutlass?”

She sighed and looked wistful. “Aye, those were the days.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note – The rest of the Pearl House tale, courtesy of 3WW and the prompts Disgust, Pout and Wad.)