Rollick considered Kaydee's idea about waiting for Karsimir to judge Delphina, and was unsure about it. "It is true that all of us at the compound answer to him. And I have no doubt that he would be fair and just. But he has left us in charge in his absence, Uluki and me, and we must do our duties, rather than placing them on his shoulders. I would also hesitate to drag the matter out so long. To do so would only increase the chances that Delphina would simply escape and vanish, or that her cronies might attack in force."
He felt those were good, solid reasons. But if he was fully honest with himself, he had selfish and petty reasons, too. Karsimir was young and strong, noble, well-spoken, educated, and intelligent. He had two hands. He was a knight. Knighthood had been Rollick's lifelong dream, but it had eluded him when he decided to pursue service to the poor and downtrodden rather than service to his king. Karsimir in many ways embodied those things Rollick saw lacking in himself.
It wasn't that Rollick was jealous of Karsimir; he would not have traded lives with the other man, for all that. Uluki and the children were what gave Rollick's existence meaning, and he would not exchange them for anything. No, it was instead that right now, after the loss he had just suffered, in comparison to the shining knight Rollick felt utterly unworthy.
Facing the return of the Lightswords and having to reveal how broken he was now would be enough of an exercise in humiliation for Rollick, without having to admit he couldn't do his job on top of it. He would carry out his responsibilities, so at least he could hold his head high in front of the younger, whole men, and the knight who was their leader.
Rollick shook his head in gentle disagreement when Kaydee suggested ways to make people talk. "No torture. No beatings. I will not have that on my watch. If we stooped to such tactics, we would be no better than those we fight."
He also knew that it probably wouldn't be effective. That people in pain would generally say anything necessary to get relief, true or not. That was not something to say aloud to Kaydee, however, since it would imply that such a thing being done was even a possibility.
"I am fully prepared to be firm with her," Rollick assured Kaydee. "You're right that we do need to try to find out from her who did this. I appreciate your concern for me, and I think it is a valid one. But Snyde's tactics of brutality and bullying have no place here."
Uluki, Rollick, and Dash all listened carefully as Kaydee spoke of Delphina's background. Any piece, any hint, could provide an important clue.
Uluki felt a pang of sympathy for Tam upon learning Delphina had reduced the woman to tears with such cruel and pointless insults. Without bringing it up directly-- since doing so would only be a source of further humiliation-- Uluki resolved to give Tam extra encouragement, to try to counteract whatever damage Delphina had done.
Rollick and Uluki were both a little surprised to learn that Delphina was in a relationship. Her behaviour toward Rollick, which Uluki had walked in on, hardly marked her as a faithful companion to Ambrose.
Rollick reddened deeply at the mention of Delphina's lack of fidelity. Concerned Kaydee might take his reaction to mean that he had actually been involved with the woman, and not wanting to give her the impression that he couldn't be trusted to be loyal, he said rather stoically, "Delphina made an attempt to seduce me, as you may have heard. No doubt the gossip has spread by now. She presented herself to me, naked. It was utterly humiliating. I didn't touch her, of course. I'm faithful to Uluki. Perhaps that is why Delphina hates me so, because I rejected her."
Rollick nodded seriously as Kaydee spoke of Delphina's connection to Mamie. "The Tome of the First Settlers? Is that the 'All magic corrupts; all magic is damnation' nonsense?"
Uluki was a little shocked at his bluntness, especially in from of Kaydee. For all they knew, Kaydee might practice the Puradyne religion... though given her level of comfort with Uluki's magic, not to mention the comments she had just made about how the Puradynes viewed prostitution, she obviously didn't practice it in a completely orthodox way. "Rollick, that's their religion, you shouldn't..."
"A religion that endangers my wife's life. People are free to practice their beliefs as they see fit, up to the point they start doing damage to other people. If that's the book that tells them to hate you, and that you're evil because of the fact you save lives, I can't speak of it with respect."
Uluki couldn't exactly argue that point. "Thank you, Kaydee. Knowing all that might help us a lot. Maybe we should go speak with Mamie and Ambrose. Ambrose first, I think. He doesn't seem as hostile, and he's the one she's with. If she was in trouble, she might go to him, like you said."
Uluki knew Rollick should be resting, ideally lying down, but she also didn't think he was likely to be able to tolerate her going off on her own with Delphina still lurking around the compound. It didn't even seem worth arguing the point. She knew him too well; he would want to protect her. Besides, finding Mamie and Ambrose and just talking would put Rollick under much less strain than chasing high and low all over the compound in search of Delphina-- which he was likely to do if not occupied with some other task. Zee, meanwhile, would be able to protect her sisters while their parents were gone, and the girls could keep the door locked.
Uluki bit her lip as she considered how to approach the situation with the two fairy-haters. "Both of them completely despise us, though. Kaydee, do you think you could come too? They know you, and you're human. They might listen better to you than just to us."
Uluki wasn't entirely confident that was true, since Kaydee's allegiance to the family was so obvious. Still, it seemed like Kaydee was their best hope for getting Mamie and Ambrose to talk.