LeBlanc is caught in her own web of confusion
LeBlanc paced first her own room, then the central area of the ground floor and finally the reception room. She critically surveyed the array of fruit laid out on the long table in the latter, screeching with anger when she found a single flaw on a pear or pineapple and throwing the offending article across the room to splatter on the wall. Ormi scurried breathlessly, directing the cleaning crews as they scooped up the skins and pulp and wiped down the juice sticky walls.
"Why can't you check these things before you put them out? You want to insult our visitors?" She used her forearm to sweep an entire end of the table clear. "Clean that up and put out some decent refreshments." She snarled as she stalked from the room, her heels clicking like castinets.
"Logos! Have you sent for the soothsayer? Where is he? He's had time to get here from another planet by now."
"I sent the message this morning, ma'am. It will get to Luca by tomorrow at the latest. I have a servant out watching for an answer." Logos gazed at the polished floor of the atrium.
"Wasn't there a faster way to send it?" LeBlanc knew th answer perfectly well.
"No, my lady. I sent it by chocobo."
"I'm going upstairs. Bring me some tea and a few scones." She slapped her fan against her thigh, the snap of the closing puncutating her words.
"Yes, my lady." The tall thin man bowed deeply and hastened to the kitchen area.
Back in her own quarters, LeBlanc threw herself down on the chaise. To her displeasure the bed had been made. She would have kept it in its disheveled state as a monument to what had happened there last night. Bah! Nobody in her household had any sense of respect at all.
The crinkle of paper in her pocket reminded her of the one thing which she was trying not to think about. She turned her eyes toward the vitrine by the dresser. Had he moved? Was the pose exactly the same as when she had left the room? What about when he had been brought into her house? Surely there was some small change in the way he stood. She slowly pushed herself up and nervously approached the case. She had left the key in the lock - a carelessness for which she silently berated herself. Opening the door silently, she stepped inside the glass enclosure. Could she smell the faint aroma of amber? Oh yes, she had placed a sachet of that fragrance near the base of the image yesterday. She touched his arm and thought she felt it yield to her fingers' pressure. The motionless figure seemed warm and she sensed a steady thrum as though somewhere a heart was beating. For a moment, she grew dizzy and thought she would faint and crumple at the feet of the Nooj simulacrum. If she did, would he stoop to pick her up? And hold her to him while he bathed her in his breath? She closed her eyes and tried to steady herself. But when she looked at him again, she was lost.
With a half-strangled sob, she draped her arms around his neck and rested her head on his broad hairless chest. The drum beat she heard was her own heart reflected back to her ... or was it? Was the rib cage expanding and contracting or was it an illusion? The sound of a door opening jolted her from her reverie and she spun around to see Logos entering the room with a tea tray.
She dropped her embrace and, face flaming, crossed the room still feeling the pressure of the imitation man against her skin. "Well, it took you long enough."
Logos, his well-schooled face as blank as the linen napkin he spread over her knees when she had seated herself at the small table, wisely said nothing.
"You may go now." She snapped. "No ... wait." Her impulse was to scribble a summons for him to send to Mushroom Rock Road, but she thought better of the idea. "Go ahead. I'll talk to you later." With a wave of her hand, she dismissed him, never meeting his eyes.
Should she call Nooj to her? She could not decide. On the one hand, she was ravenous for his presence, his touch, his enclosing caress. All at once she became aware that she was making a small whimpering sound as she clutched the note in her pocket. With an abrupt movement, she shoved herself away from her meal and started pacing again. The note - who had written it and what did it mean? She did not need to read it again; the words were etched into her mind so deeply she knew they would never disappear.
"Pleased with your choice?" She tore at her hair, her features distorted and her entire frame shaken by fear. It was a challenge and a taunt. It was a mockery, she recognized that. Who was mocking her? Who had written it? She could not bear not to know who was behind this. What was it mocking? The fact that she had yielded herself to the hero of her childhood days and that he had taken her scornfully and used her with neither love nor respect? Her one weapon had been thrown away and she was left forlorn and unarmed upon a battlefield she had never sought? It would have been better to entice him further, tease him and make him want her more than she wanted him. She was a woman; she knew how to do these things. Shiva knew, she had practiced on enough men in enough places to have the skills needed to play such amatory games. Why had she fallen at the first jump? She answered herself - because she was not sure she would ever have the opportunity to draw him to her bedroom again. He was different from the others. He was not fascinated with her and her erotic ruses. He was cold and indifferent to her little wiles and to the beauty her mirror showed her. The machina had penetrated into his very being and he was not ruled by his passions, if ever he had been.
But he had been passionate the night before. Or had he? She could no longer separate what had actually happened from what she thought she remembered. It had all become a part of the fantasies she had composed around him for the past weeks and months. She was sure he had taken her.
... Or had he? She flung herself down on the heart shaped bed and tried to catch the scent of his body on the pillows. She could not be sure if it was there or not.
Tears forced themselves from beneath her eyelids and she angrily swept them away. Crying would help nothing. Either he would come back to her or he would not and it was her job to make sure he returned. She stared sightlessly at the silk-draped ceiling and plotted.
It was too soon to send for him again. He would not believe she had suddenly come into the possession of two historically valuable spheres the very day after he had stayed the night in her bed. Coincidences happened but this would be far too neat a chance. It would be best to wait for at least three days to lend some credibility to her story. She cried aloud in her pain. How could she wait so long? What would she do to pass the time and not go mad? She wanted him; her body ached for him.
The mage would be here tomorrow almost surely. That would occupy a few hours. She could ask him some questions ...
What would she ask? If the image in the vitrine could partake of life? She tossed from side to side. Had it written the note? In a fit of jealousy? What was it? What had she made of it? If she caressed it as if it were the man it resembled, would it become that man? If she took it into her bed ... Her mind reeled and she cried out again.
LeBlanc clapped her hand over her mouth lest she arouse curiosity from the servants who constantly waited outside her door. She did not want to answer any questions, no matter how well-meant. She wanted the night to come and pass and the morrow to come and pass and all the time to pass until she could call her lover back to her.
Finally, exhausted, she fell asleep still fully clothed on top of the bed covers. She slept intermittently, waking only to be tormented by thoughts and visions until despair drove her again to sleep and then another waking agony. Vaguely she sensed someone undressing her and tucking her under the covers but did not care enough to learn who. Her only true awareness was of the phantasm of her dreams when she reached in the intervals of half-consciousness for the body she imagined lay beside her only to find nothing but rumpled sheets and emptiness.