Ardhoniel slipped out into the streets of Palomar. The big city was silent; the people were not as prone to singing and dancing at night as they were in the other citys of the kingdom. None would be abroad now except theives and robbers, and Ardhoniel had no fear of such men. She had only to mention her name, Ardhoniel, daughter to the High Magistrate of Palomar, to show the insigna of her house, and none would dare to harm her. The fear she could not so easily brush aside was the knowledge that her errand was one for which even the daughter of the High Magistrate could rightly be punished. But she steeled herself to go on, the light of the two moons of the kingdom shining softly down on her.
It took a good space of time before she stood before the house of Paradon, the acclaimed scientist of the kingdom. It was almost as big and grand as the house of her father, for Paradon was a very wealthy man; his inventions had helped the kingdom as a whole immensly, but Ardhoniel was determined that his next one should help her and Eruthiawen first. Paradon was known to be eccentric and crochety, and had often refused the requests of very wealthy people to make some marvelous invention personally for them, though he was well capable of it. The only way Ardhiniel and Eruthiawen could think of was to kidnap him and make him do it. Though Paradon was not the person they would have settled on to make their invention, they knew that he was the only man with the skill to do it in all of the kingdom. And to look outside the kingdom was unthinkable.
She and Eruthiawen had given some thought to how they were to kidnap Paradon. Eruthiawen had suggested that it had better be his family instead, but Ardhoniel had protested that it would he hard to transport Paradon’s wife and eight children without considerable uproar. Even Paradon alone would be hard, but at last they had thought of a way. And now, after months of carful planning, Ardhoniel stood outside his house, her robe stirring faintly in the night breeze.
Then she stepped forward to the door.