"So this is the place, huh?" Hart asked. He was standing on the front doorstep of the little house, his eyes alight, completely at ease.
Quio was standing beside him, and he was not at ease. Mostly he was trying not to fidget. He knew he looked out of place, shabbier than ever now that his shirt and coat had been shot through the back with an arrow. He really needed to get them patched up. "I guess," he said reluctantly. But he was sort of hoping that they had come to the wrong place after all.
Unfortunately, he knew it was a feeble hope. Hart's tried-and-true method of gaining information was to go to the town's harlots, who could be claimed to know everything about everyone who had ever come within sniffing distance of the brothel. The ladies of the House of Roses had seemed... relatively certain of where the Lord Tristan Venora lived.
Though they had giggled while giving out directions as if the whole thing was just too silly. One, more brazen than the others, had asked, "What, you forgot where you live, m'lord?"
And Hart, of course, had been delighted. He'd given that one a parting kiss on the cheek. "So he does look just like me!" he'd said as soon as they were back on the streets.
Now the lord-lookalike was critically inspecting the house that the painted ladies had pointed them to. "The supposed abode of the uncanny Tristan Venora," he said, in a practiced voice free of his usual accent. He looked over at Quio. "And I sound like him? What do you think?"
"Maybe try a little huskier," the Yludih said without much enthusiasm.
"Ah yes," Hart tried, and this time his voice came out remarkably like Tristan's. "So here we are about to see my dear doppelganger, Lord Tristan Venora," he said, practicing, "You know, the very handsome noble you mistakenly kissed?" There was a wicked pause while he switched languages, returning back to his own voice. "So Quio, you think you have a type, or--?"
"Shut it," the Yludih said, still somewhat embarrassed about the whole debacle. He was never going to live this down. To have kissed the wrong man (on the street!), and a noble at that. Hart was enjoying the idea of it too much. "It was only a quick kiss on the neck," he said, for perhaps the eightieth time in the last few days. "I mean, it was nothing special."
"I don't know, Quio, sounded romantic to me." Hart reached out and hammered on the door. "I do wonder though," he said, a little more serious now, "You think I could just walk right in? Wanna try?"
"No." Quio was shaking his head. "Definitely not. It would be rude. Besides... I know you don't want to hear it, but I think we need to be cautious about this. The guy's a noble... and he said something strange about his family..." What had it been? That Hart might have been given away to avoid a family misfortune? Something like that?
But Hart just waved a hand. "Noble-shnoble," he said. "I've known --and kissed, and crossed-- quite a few more nobles than you have, and I still have my head. So, seriously though, you think we should just barge in, go for the big entrance, or nah? Could be fun."
When at last the door began to open, it would be to the sight and sound of the fake-nobleman and fake-Biqaj still standing on the doorstep, bickering pleasantly back and forth. At the first sign of movement Quio shut his mouth, standing to attention, back as straight as he could make it without straining his hurt shoulder. He wondered if he should preemptively salute. Hart simply smirked beside him, ever amused. His smile widened to something beatific for the girl who had opened the door.
"Hello," he purred out in his best Tristan voice, seeming quite relaxed. "You gonna let me in, or what?"