Ahva was changed. Grim lines were weathered into her face now, her eyes narrowed, her skin roughened; her smile, once free and flashing as sunshine, was constrained. “Heya, Beak.”


They clasped hands, and she reached up to touch his face, a brief return the familiarity they had once shared. “You have a beard coming. It will look well on you.”

“What happened to your–the Sword Immortal?”

“He died drunk.—I won’t speak of him.” She reached across the table to pour him a drink, her square, blunt hands as steady, and as rough, as her smoke-thickened voice. “You disapprove.”

“It was beneath you.”

Ahva smiled slightly and said nothing until the next drink was poured. She raised her cup to him. “May you be lucky in love, Maivor.”