Spy for a Demon
It wasn't the worst cover Sun Soul had ever had, serving
as the exotic captive in Adhemme of Sanii's entourage, but it wasn't the best,
either. The ice-bound inuun clans were fascinated by her species, being so far
from the hot jungles of Ahai, and the less well-mannered kept trying to prod
her, touch her, or otherwise bother her in a tactile fashion. The fact that
Adhemme kept regaling everyone with her prowess in bed, building up his own
reputation in their eyes, didn't help matters. If he hadn't been graciously
providing her with her own tent in their traveling "court", rich food,
and his silence on her true reason for being there, she would have had his
privates cut off and served to his Calu hosts for breakfast. It would have
impressed them, she was sure, a delicacy like that.
But he was giving her the freedom of his entourage and the chance to learn about his Calu hosts. And she was technically repaying him through letting her presence increase his status-- someone who looked as ineffectual as he did needed ways to increase his status without looking any less ineffectual-- and, yes, by letting him coax her into bed now and then. So annoyed or not, she put up with it.
And it was so damn cold. Sun Soul hated being cold.
But it had been worth it, in the end. After a week of watching Adhemme kiss Calu tail and stroke Calu egos-- a week of flicking her own tail out of the reach of grabby courtiers, pretending to purr at Adhemme whenever he smiled at her, and shivering in the drafty tent and her own skimpy "uniform"-- the secrets finally started to spill. Their host, a lordling by the name of Trefenn, had finally confided in the rotund, jovial, gray-feathered Sanii ambassador that he was considering alliance with another Calu lordling in an attempt to put their own candidate on the clan throne. Adhemme had been delightedly scandalized-- change of leadership even within the royal bloodline was a big deal for inuun clans, but someone with such a tenuous connection as the current offering was positively unheard of-- and offered a number of juicy suggestions, while the little tahrim captive silently served the drinks. The whole plan, as Trefenn knew it, flowed almost as freely as the wine.
Sun Soul had the information she needed. Zu would be pleased; it would be worth a lot to both the current Calu leadership, as well as the rival Calu factions who might want to take advantage of the chaos. Which one Zu was planning on selling the information to, Sun Soul didn't know or even really care. Adhemme was leaving Calu territory again in two days, and it couldn't have come too soon.
"You really have to go, kitten?" the round-faced fellow asked her disappointedly, chin in his hands and the wings on his head folded in a sad sort of manner. Even the feathers in his hair seemed slicked down unhappily.
"I really have to go," Sun Soul answered dryly. "You knew the terms of our agreement, Adhemme. This trip only. Once you're back in your own territory, I'm gone."
"I was hoping you might reconsider," Adhemme admitted.
"The answer is still no," Sun Soul told him, but she smirked at him, anyway. "I have work to do."
"You could work for me," the inuun suggested.
"You could never afford me," Sun Soul smirked more.
"I can dream," he sighed, then perked enough to ask, "Can I at least get another tumble to make it up to me?"
"Incorrigible," Sun Soul accused.
"Yes, I know," he smiled widely.
Well, she was in a good mood after getting what she needed, and with the prospect of getting on the road and out of the land of ice and snow. Might as well humor him. He was a good resource, and she didn't want to alienate him. Keep him wanting more, maybe, but that was always tricky. Adhemme, after all, had a brain, and was just as likely to try and use her as she was to use him. Though either way made things more interesting, anyway.
Three days later she and Adhemme parted company, and it was on a fairly pleasant note. Sun Soul expected that next time Zu needed information on inuun clans, she could come back to him and be welcomed into his "employ" with open arms. She certainly couldn't use him exclusively, or people would start to suspect and stop talking to him, but now and then... definitely a possibility. One didn't turn down a ready-made resource, even if it did beg her to "do that thing with your tongue again" more often than she really wanted.
If Adhemme thought that it was odd to leave Sun Soul in the middle of nowhere, in the snow, at the edge of his family's territory, he didn't say so. His wings suggested that he was concerned-- folded flat down against his skull-- but he smiled as another servant dropped her things at her feet. "Until next time, kitten," he told her.
"Until next time, old bird," she answered, smiling with teeth.
He chuckled and led his entourage away, leaving her alone in the snow. At least out here, she was allowed a coat.
And as soon as she could no longer see the train of shaggy, burdened kanuuk that Adhemme had commandeered for this trip, she didn't even have to worry about the cold. "There's no place like home," she told the small, gray, stone coin in her palm, in her native tongue, and she vanished from the snowy plain.
"Especially when home is warm," she groaned with relief, reappearing in her quarters in her true employer's island domain. It was mostly underground, but Sun Soul kept her rooms at a muggy temperature that discouraged visitors. She shed her bulky snow-clothes, right down to the woolen undergarments, and tossed herself onto the bed entirely naked, letting the heat fill her up again and banish the half-frozen feeling in her tail and toes. She flicked melted snow off her whiskers and shut her eyes to bask.
Sun Soul didn't stay there long, just long enough to feel warm again. She didn't do well being still for too long unless she was on a job and had to be still. Then, it was a matter of discipline, and her mind was usually active enough to make up for it, but when she was between jobs, she didn't relax well.
While she waited for Zu to summon her, Sun Soul indulged in a bath. After four months with Adhemme-- she had been a part of his entourage for a long time, now, and had information on a number of other inuun nobles, as well, though the Calu clansman Trefenn had been her prime target-- she felt positively filthy. The inuun were a relatively clean people when at camp or in a city, but baths while on the move were difficult and usually freezing, and Sun Soul had gone without more than once rather than enduring the agony of being cold and wet at the same time. Just how Adhemme-- and those grabby Calu nobles, for that matter-- could have continued finding her attractive with fur more gray than white and the stench of the kanuuk and her own body clinging to her, she had no idea.
As she washed, Sun Soul organized her report in her head, couching the less important between the more important and making sure she remembered the names and locations correctly. It kept her mind busy while her hands scrubbed at her fur mercilessly or lathered up her oily hair, free at last from the dozens of braids she'd kept it in to disguise how dirty it was. There was a lot to go over. Most of it she doubted Zu would care about it, but Sun Soul preferred to be thorough, just in case.
The summons came while she was finishing pulling a brush through her still-damp hair, but by then she was ready for it. The call came in her mind, as always-- it was generally assumed that lady Zu was part Riihan, probably Aniya Riihan given the scales, hence her ability to speak in the minds of others-- and she gave her hair one last swipe with the brush before getting up. She had a report to give, and hopefully a new assignment to receive. Hopefully an assignment somewhere warm.