“What’s going on, here? Why didn’t you tell me you found Simona?” asked Myrtle. “You know I had questions for her!”

Nicyes shrugged and looked at her with a blank expression. Simona wore a smug look of immense self-satisfaction.

Alquis gestured toward Myrtle to get her attention. “She’ll answer whatever you like,” and after a moment he added, “she’s quite helpless.”

“That isn’t the point,” said Myrtle. “You’ve been hiding her, you know how important it was to find her, and you hid her here!”

“I might point out that you’ve been scarcely available these last several days,” said Alquis. “Since the altercation with Valare, you’ve not participated in our efforts to uncover more details about Pan’s cult, or their activities.” He paused. “We’ve not been idle.”

Myrtle hugged her shoulders and tried to ignore the shiver that worked its way down her spine. “She’s done something to you. Charmed you, something.”

“Hardly,” said Alquis. “Charms are my area of expertise. I would have noticed if she tried anything.”

“That doesn’t make you immune!” shouted Myrtle. “That makes you over-confident! Self-assured!” She shook her head. “It makes you all the more vulnerable.”

Alquis waved a dismissive hand. “I’ve been more than vigilant. Now, you said you have questions, you’ve ignored or contradicted what I’ve offered you thus far. Do you want to ask anything now that you’ve the opportunity? Something about the island, or the wax figures?”

Myrtle trembled. “What good is it to ask now? You’ve already gotten what you need from her, why don’t you just tell me? Why didn’t you volunteer that before?”

Nicyes was stone-faced. “He just said you ignored and contradicted him.”

“She was distraught,” said Alquis, “which suggests she was unable to take in the information. But the conditions have scarcely changed. Perhaps we should reconvene at a later hour to discuss what we’ve learned from Simona? Once you’ve overcome the shock?”

Myrtle held her face in her hands. “What are you even saying? None of this makes sense. You’re all under her charms.”

Simona smiled serenely and said nothing.