The two stood, contemplating the bedlam before them. Hairpieces hung from candelabras and lamps. Clothing, piled in corners and strewn about, served as nesting for mice. Bottles and jars of creams and powders and perfumes and pastes jostled for position on the tabletops.
“Nothing has changed in all these years,” Basha said as she picked up a shard of glass from a broken bottle, the contents of which had long since spilled, and then dissipated. Piles of books sat open, their pages torn. Hats and shoes and gloves and hairpins and jewelry were scattered and strewn about.
“This was how Mara figured out where Lilith had hidden the scepter,” she said, as she stepped toward a trunk in the middle of the room.
Therese approached. “What do you mean?”
“Well, that—thing—told us that Lilith had ‘packed up’ her old ways. Mara and I had seen some trunks like this one in the underground rooms when we’d arrived. She surmised that Lilith had put the scepter in one of them, or in the storage room where she kept them.”
“Dear Good One,” Therese said, “can you smell that?” She rubbed her nose with her fingers, trying to rid her nostrils of the scent.
Basha chuckled. “Yes, I can. I guess even the passing time couldn’t blot out what Lilith used as fragrance.”
“It does smell like Lilith!”
“Yes. See here?” The Oathtaker lifted a jar, its label still legible. She handed it to her charge. “Essence of Rose. It was Lilith’s preferred scent, though—if you ask me—it’s too high and sweet. It gives me a headache.”
Therese laughed. “Me too.” She opened the jar and sniffed at the contents. “Whew!”
“Right. But she fooled a lot of people for a long time with that stuff. She knew that if she was doing Ehyeh’s will, she’d exude a scent confirming His favor with her. But she didn’t have His favor, so she covered up her lack of scent with that.”
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