Lita felt an eyebrow quirk at the Stranger’s mention of ‘chronocompressed whiskey’; she filed that knowledge away with every intention of revisiting it at a later time. The Stranger’s grin filled with the unmistakable rueful fondness that so often accompanies tales of drunken misdeeds. Lita’s years of training to keep her face carefully blank warred with her immediate desire to know where, in fact, Voidus’ top-half had ended up. She glanced to the side where Laurelai stood, hoping that she could somehow read Lita’s thoughts and was already checking her mental catalog of the Records Department for anything that might solve this mystery. This also, of course, brought up questions of his lower half.
The Stranger seemed to come back to himself before divulging anything more, coughing awkwardly. Lita almost laughed, but kept herself in check, standing still and quiet, eyes focused. He began to speak about the Worldspike, effortlessly spinning a perfect Lightweaving replica of the planet above his hand. It was mesmerizing, but Lita kept the majority of her attention on the Stranger himself, trying to glean anything from his expression and his words. The words people chose to speak were clues - even a master of deception often spooled out more than enough rope to hang himself by his tongue.
The words that the Stranger used now sounded perfect, but something didn’t quite match up. There were holes in the sense of it, and Lita fought a wave of frustration at the fact that for a moment she had known what they were. For all the Stranger’s grand talk, this was an immense improvisation. He would never have known of the disappearances and disturbances if Lita hadn’t somehow caught his attention when she stepped under the stream of the Chapel. She could still recall the terrible chill of his voice when he had demanded she hand over her memories of the entire event. There was a part of her soul that knew he had almost killed her in that grotto; it would have been so easy.
But he hadn’t. Something had changed his mind. Lita fought the urge to flex her the fingers of her left hand, the hand she’d laid over the back of the Stranger’s own. An insane move, and one she’d have never made if she’d been thinking at all. Surely that hadn’t been what had changed his mind; no, it was something else, it had to be.
Lita looked at the model of the world and the Worldspike, taking in the Stranger’s explanations. He wanted them to collect intel on the city - well, she could do that. Intelligence work was intelligence work, for the most part. Nothing she hadn’t done before. The real secrets were in here, buried in between what was nearly true. If it had to do with the Worldspike, Voidus should have been involved, not two junior Denizens who had maybe three years’ experience between them. And yet here they were, suddenly folded into a plan so secret that even the world’s creator couldn’t know of it.
She looked back to the Stranger, considering. He was ancient, and brilliant, but he was no spy. The best way to get someone to reveal a secret is to give them what they expect. Lita smiled, and it was full of all the clever hunger she knew he’d anticipate of her when presented with a new secret to hunt. If she managed to play this correctly, he’d never have to find out that he was her true quarry. This plan, the oddity of it, the fact that for a moment she’d known precisely what was going to happen. It was all that was needed to blow the latent embers back into a fire of fascination and curiosity.
An image flashed before her eyes, a familiar one: the Stranger, his face lit with a fiery glow, head and shoulders surrounded by a thousand points of light. She’d seen that in the water. So, it wasn’t completely gone then. Good. If she could get some back, then she could get it all back. Maybe.
“Information happens to be our specialty,” Lita said, eyes bright with eagerness and Tin. “How should we report our findings to you, Sir?”
She had the Coin, of course, but Laurelai didn’t need to know about its powers of communication. Just like she doesn’t need to know about who her father is, or what you saw in the water, or what you’ve really been up to for the last six months. Lita grinned with a practiced ease she didn't feel, and tried hard not to think about her odds for living out the year. It didn’t look good, but rust and Ruin, she sure felt alive right now.