"Your powers of perception and deduction are a refreshing change of pace, Ms. Sawalha. It is a pleasant surprise to deal with someone who is at least slightly more observant than our two iron friends here." Viktor said with the same condescending tone as always, although he punctuated it with a slight chuckle. Was it a compliment?

"You will not be in contact with the monolith after today, and your nightmares should pass in a day or so. If they don't, by all means come inform me - that would be a new development and something worth investigating." He almost sounded excited. "I, on the other hand, intend to continue my research, and will be spending considerable time around the thing. It would be most unhelpful if I were to touch it." He smiled.

Viktor gave an exaggerated sigh. "Very well, Ms. Makaarim. An additional 500 gold for each of you. I am sure your superiors in the Horned Society will be pleased at your skill in negotiations." He wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to Ismat. "Give this to the clerks on your way out and they shall give you your money."