Mirrored from Sythyry.
Zascalle hugged Ochirion to her chest, and snarled at me defiantly.
Zascalle: “You are here with terrible weapons at the ready! Would you kill the boy you worked so hard to heal, Sythyry?”
Me: “Great staring gods!” They were staring at us, too; that’s easy to see from Ketheria sometimes. “You are using your own child as a meat shield.”
Zascalle: “You have befouled and corrupted every other defense I had!”
La Hish: “Oddly, I do not feel befouled or even corrupted. I feel relieved that a certain minor problem of the last few months will be resolved.”
Me: “Zascalle. First of all, I want my money back.” Anyone with half a magic sense could tell I was carrying enough enchanted weaponry to run a whole duel-war, and then another. Direct threats were, thankfully, unnecessary.
Zascalle threw her purse at my feet. It landed with a dull amberish clunk; it was heavier than I was, and mostly with coins.
Me: “A good start. Next, the greater part of the theft — my missing bank accounts. Start with the one that pays the bills for Castle Wrong, where some thirty or forty of your friends — they are your friends, are they not? — still reside, and hope to reside for a long time more.”
Zascalle: “I can’t do it from here. I need to get to Trunk’s Amber.”
Me: “You shall write down letters, instructions, account numbers. Saza’s accountant and the banks of Oorah Thrassen will confirm that you have done it properly. Also, you shall give me all of your private notes and accountings — do not look so innocent, Zascalle, your degree of innocence has already been established. I know you have kept records of your deeds.”
It would have been extremely reassuring to use a truthspell on her, to know that the tiny, neatly-printed slips of paper she took out of the heel of her boots were complete and correct rather than yet another ruse within a ruse. I could have done it … but I was rather too squeamish. I was fairly sure I would have to kill or maim her in front of her children, but I wasn’t willing to read her mind. I hope this will be counted a virtue.
Me: “A good start. Care to explain all the details?”
She did not much care to explain, but she did. She had been trickling money out of my accounts for a long while, and then pouring, and then gushing, and then, for the last few days, when she panicked and knew that she must flee with her children from Vae, deluging. It was getting scattered around eighteen banks and suchlike up and down the main trunk. Inter-branch banking is a fairly new matter, with very confusing laws and customs governing it differently everywhere. So, Exempleia has strict laws of privacy of customers, which are well-motivated and utterly sensible. Egeia has strict laws preventing fraud, also well-motivated and sensible, but when money comes from Exempleia, Egeian banks cannot apply those laws very well, so they don’t try. Zascalle tracked down a number of such anomalies, and took advantage of them.
Five of the accounts are easier for me than the others: I am officially the one who owns them, pursuant to the laws of those city-states, though Zascalle has full rights to use them. Now that I actually know about them, I am going to toss one of them at Castle Wrong and another at Strayway, for short-term expenses, and use two of the others to pay off the bribes I owe the wizards of Oorah Thrassen.
The other fifteen parts will take a while to untangle. Untangling will be much easier with Zascalle alive and cooperative. My fortune, or at least my convenience, is held hostage for her life. to
I will say, I was sufficiently annoyed to consider killing her anyhow. But that seemed ungracious, as she had been (approximately) cooperative at that point.