It began... Well, it all began with Avery and Lyra’s usual act of collaboration, which lead to them meeting Astoriel. It was as cozy an evening as any in an inn bursting with people, the faint scent of rain completely overwhelmed by that of men, mice, ale and merry laughter. The Quacking Hawk was full tonight as usual, and that meant opportunity for the minstrel and the lurker. For amongst the guests there were always those who wanted to appreciate a golden singing voice, or incautious enough to let their money bags show. And that was where Avery and Lyra came in.
The minstrel was on a streak today. Her signature braid ring on her forehead made her easy to recognize, but easier to spot and spy on as well. Just like tonight, when the young girl showed off her singsong voice as sweet as a canary, she didn’t realize another pair of eyes watching. The minstrel’s name? You must be a non-native of Madette to ask, for she was well known. Lyra the Lyre-player.
The minstrel with straw colored hair descended from the stage with her lyre, still chattering with people around her. However, as soon as she was out of public sight the smile on her face disappeared. Replaced by an alarmed look, she searched for her companion. In the meanwhile, a girl with golden pigtails stirred uneasily in her seats in an alcove. She waved out to the minstrel with a smile, who soon made her way to meet her partner in crime.
“Tulíæra be good, Avery! I thought you were messing around with people and drawing blood again.” Lyra greeted the other, while Avery made room for her. She sat down and fumbled out a heavy satchel to give to Avery discreetly, “”My attainment for tonight. Count them. Ugh - I need water. My throat is burning.”
“You know how compliant I always am! Water here for you.” Avery cuddled with the other, her voice as bright as the ringing of nightbells. She happily obliged to count - furtively, so skillfully secretly yet still accurately. “Three-hundred-and-ten, three-hundred-and-fifty... Lyra, that’s not enough if we want to rely on it for a month and save for Flamita at the same time.”
Lyra drank all the water, and banged the jug on the wooden table, its sound barely audible lost in the din that covered the tavern, “Hell, let’s get some more. Plus, it’s high time that you practice your skills.”
“You couldn’t be more right. Find me a target?” Avery’s lips curved upwards to form a cute smile. Most people would think that it was normal for a girl her age, but they might not think the same if they saw the stiletto blade ready and hidden beneath the table in her hands.
“Well, there is that man in leather and feather right beside the serving girl, do you see? Right. So he has his money pouch out in the open right under his left arm, it was full and shiny when I last saw him tonight. I’ll distract him, and you go as quietly as you can to get his pouch. It’s best if there’s no blood spoiled, you hear me?”
“Aw, but you know how much I adore bloodshed!“Avery prepared to pack her blade up but the minstrel stopped her.
“You’ll be needing that.” After the brevity of her command, Lyra smiled and skilled towards the man, “Good evening kind sir! My humble name is Lyra, may I sing something for you?” She curtsies politely.
Avery sneaked her way over and stayed at a reasonable distance to watch Lyra. So natural, so sly yet smoothly satisfying - she had to admit that the minstrel’s wits and talents are why she followed Lyra to Madette at the first place: Unlike herself, Lyra was actually acquainted with the land, its people and her goal.
All Avery ever wanted to do was to go to Flamita and try out the Prophecy.
“Why, bard, you ever heard of me?” The man laughed so horrendously that the ground thumped, before asking Lyra the question in a heavy Maræn accent.
“Of course! Your long admired name must be Tony the Tough, for girls in my village talk about you all the time, and I’m superbly honored to meet you in person today. Should I go with something Maræn? Would ‘Seasona’ do?” Lyra said, obsequiously.
Slowly, as Lyra began to sing, the whole tavern fell into silence. Avery moved lightly like a viper, and proceeded to take the mans pouch.
But it was tightly tied to his clothing.
And Avery remembered her stiletto that Lyra told her not to put away.
She cut the man’s pouch, and as soon as she got it, Avery waited for Lyra to finish. The bard excused herself courteously, and the two girls fled, or marched out the tavern quietly, giggling about their accomplishments for tonight. There was no doubt that they were both excessively proud. The huge violet moon hung tirelessly above the clouds, indistinctively outlining the figures of two damsels no older than sixteen.
But they were not meant to survive this evening, for another crimson shadow lurked behind them, with a longsword in her hand. She could sense that the two ladies had felt her presence, but she was not used to land - hell, that crimson shadow could do anything better on a ship.
To her surprise, one of the girls turned around.
“Tori!” Avery exclaimed, over the figure of the crimson shadow, who was breathing heavily.