"So . . . I'm attending a dinner tonight with the young Mentalists?" Ice eyed the suitcases. "I hope I have something appropriate to wear."
Apparently his second best, leaving the first best for meeting with the older Hundreds. Third--and last--best was the suit he'd taken off the real Khar. He showered and, while alone in the bathroom, got out the hair dye from his usual disguise kit. Not that he'd ever tried to pass himself off as any particular person, but occasionally needed to go places where he didn't want to be recognized. This was going to be a lot harder. Fortunately most of the kids, and definitely Yuri and Ivan, even though they mostly spoke English had a Russian accent he could copy. "Lada, how about my accent, the timber of my voice? I need to sound as much like the Real Khar as possible."
He got out the water proof pens and eyed his face in the mirror. "I can use an illusion, but if something distracts me, or someone looks through the illusion, I'd like something fairly close under it." His hand wavered, and Bob snorted.
"Give me that, and can you put the illusion on very lightly, transparently?" He eyed Ice's array of colors and shook his head. "The orange shades are going to be tough. Hold still."
The results weren't bad. In fact nearly perfect, but Ice found the alien face looking back at him more than a little off-putting. He practiced the voice, the upper class terminology, dug out a box of grain bars, as Lada explained that Bob would be standing behind him, on guard, and Lada would be fetching and serving, and when not busy, crouched at his feet.
"At my feet? Actually? Keiq's going to be pissed when she hears about this." Ice winced. "Umm, my wife. She's powerful in her own right, my equal under our laws, Higher social status than me, and highly magical."
Bob nodded. "Like Gior."
"Except smarter, impossible to panic, and madly in love with me." Ice grinned. "So how many of these young Hundreds does Khar know?"
Lada gulped. "I don't know. I probably know all their names, but I don't know who made it through, before the gate collapsed." She squirmed. "I avoided Khar. He was much too interested in me."
"Indeed." He handed them the bars. "Eat now. No point in starving. I'm going to meditate for a moment."
A mental shield all around him, then he focused on the ink on his skin, pulled it into the upper layers of skin. Not as deep as a real tattoo, but it wouldn't wear off for at least weeks, and possibly months.
What else do I need? To stay unobtrusive, or draw the eye? Do I quietly coast along or is that begging to be a target of the more ambitious? Or do they gang up on the most ambitious?
Dammit all. All right I'll just play it as it happens.
So maybe an anti-poison charm? I wonder if they have anything like methalformaline? I'll lay one of those on me, lightly. Just in case. Now, soften the mental shield, and hold it at the level of the Drei mentalists I've spent the last year studying . . . and be ready with a full shield.
And . . . I guess I'm as ready as I can be.
He stood and stretched. "All right. Guess it's about time to find out how much trouble we're in."
The young Hundreds were meeting at the Paradise. And charging a door fee.
"Artem Dimitrii Ivanov," Lada breathed.
Ice stepped up and nodded casually. Does everyone use their middle names?
Got shoved. "Hey, Dimi, what's this? Is the Grand getting stingy?"
"Makar. Damn right. The locals are smelling blood in the water and closing in on our group. Two thousand Mentalists . . . is not enough to dominate a World."
Ice snorted. "The Germans have only been here for a generation.. How many of them can their be?"
The two Drei looked over at him.
"God, what did we do to deserve to have Kharalton with us?" Makar smorted. "If you'd been paying attentio, you would have realized they started with ten thousand and have probably doubled that by now, Quadrupled, it you count the halfbreeds."
Dimi shook his head. "Why count them? Very few halfbreeds will have any power at all, and theirs are all either first gen, or children."
Makar had been shooting glances toward Bob. "I know you bought the woman, but where did you get the guard?"
Ice smiled. "Want to try to take him from me?"
Dimi glanced behind them. "Not here, and not now, Makar."
Ice cast a glance over his shoulder. There were a lot of older men gathering on that end of the central hallway.
Makar showed his teeth. "Later. Khar."
Demi tapped the box in front of him, as a reminder.
It had a slot the size of one of their money cards.
Makar scowled, and produced a card and shoved it in. A red flash. A muttered curse and he tried another. This one green lit.
I wonder if they're short of money?
Hell, I wonder how much money Khar has?
Enough, apparently. His card got a green flash, and he walked on into the small banquet hall.