“What in the name of the Devil are you two doing here?” Iolanthe demanded as she approached Ulrika and Giovanni from behind.
Ulrika turned slowly, looking over her shoulder—her red hair dripping with filthy water.
“We’re starting a sewing circle, Iolanthe, please, really, do join us. And, bring your troll.”
“Don’t be flippant.” Iolanthe snapped.
“Iolanthe,” Ulrika sighed, standing up. As she did, water cascaded from her gown and petticoats. “We’re sitting on the docks, dripping wet. What do you think happened?”
“But, how?” Iolanthe groaned. “You were on the ship.”
“How did you know?” Ulrika scowled.
“You know there ain’t nothin’ that happens in New Orleans that I don’t know about.”
“Well, then, you should know that we were thrown overboard.” Giovanni grumbled.
“The Duke tossed you over the side?” Iolanthe’s eyes widened.
“No.” Ulrika growled.
“Some African men came to his rescue.” Giovanni grumbled.
“What is it about that man that makes people want to protect him?” Iolanthe howled.
“Perhaps because he is kind and respectful.” Ulrika shrugged, shivering as her wet clothes clung to her pale skin.
“So, you’re a convert now? Suddenly you’re a devotee of the mad Duke of Fallbridge?” Iolanthe asked.
“Iolanthe, I’m too wet to have a firm opinion about anything right now.” Ulrika said.
“Can I help you, Miss?” Mala asked. “You can have my wrap.”
“Thank you,” Ulrika nodded, taking Mala’s ratty, brown shawl.
“What’s this?” Iolanthe shrieked, her eyes bulging.
“The woman’s cold and damp.” Mala blurted. “Ain’t fittin’ for a lady to be shiverin’ like that.
I jus’ wanna be a little kind.”
“Why start now?” Iolanthe bellowed at her maid.
“You can’t control everyone’s thoughts and actions.” Ulrika grinned.
“I suppose you have something to do with that?” Ulrika shook her head—pointing to the billows of smoke that arose from the ship.
“Whatever do you mean?” Iolanthe sniffed.
“Iolanthe, wherever there’s tragedy, you’re usually not too far away, really.” Ulrika snapped.
“Since I’ve come to find that you thought Giovanni and I were aboard, I imagine you already know that we were accompanied by Marie Laveau and Barbara Allen. Given the fact that the Duke and his party are also on board, it only makes sense that this chaos owes its origin to you and your feverish mind.”
“Shut up, you monster!” Iolanthe hissed at Mala.
“You seem to be failing quite a bit lately,” Ulrika grinned. “You may have gotten them, but you’ve not gotten us.”
“Not yet.” Iolanthe winked.
“So you admit it?” Ulrika nodded.
“I admit nothing.” Iolanthe replied cheerfully. “Not to you, at least.”
“Perhaps you can admit it to the authorities?” Ulrika laughed—pointing to the rush of uniformed men who were rushing toward the burning ship.
Iolanthe’s eyes bulged.
“I trust you’ll become accustomed to continued failure,” Ulrika chortled.
“Never.” Iolanthe replied.
“Look…” Ulrika smiled. “They’re helping the passengers disembark. I’m sure that the Duke and his party will be just fine. Furthermore, I suspect that Barbara and Marie will escape unharmed. You should have waited until the ship departed before having the fire started. Your mind, Iolanthe, is slipping.”
“Don’t be so sure, Ulrika.” Iolanthe spat. “I’ve not been licked yet.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-466? If so, you can read them here.