A Silent Game of Spies

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She heard the clink of two silvers on her bureau. Sleepily, Ishbel opened her eyes.

Then her eyes grew wide. Rogue!

“You’re early,” she commented.

He arched an eyebrow. “Have you fit me into a routine, then?”

“Well. Six weeks in between the last two.” She stood up. Had it been two weeks or three this time? Ishbel placed her hands on his shoulders and turned him about. “Just want to see how my handiwork turned out.”

Ishbel stood on her tiptoes and inspected the knife wounds she’d stitched up. He, or someone, had pulled the thread out, but they appeared to have healed well enough. Ointment or no, those would probably leave scars, like the others on his back….

“Not bad,” she commented as she sat back down on her bed. “Now that, I’ve got nothin’ for,” and she pointed at the purple eye Rogue had.

He snorted. “I don’t need anything for it. The other guy’s got two.”

Ishbel raised an eyebrow. “I’m surprised Gobin let you back here, lookin’ like that. Normally, he wouldn’t.”

Rogue shrugged a bit. “I told him my horse did it while I was trying to shoe her. Told him I was also in the market for a new horse, and he said they had a whole pavilion of them here now. But I told him you were my favorite, and he took me straight back, said he knew he recognized me.”

“Right then. You ever going to come in here completely healthy?” Ishbel asked as she slid his rucksack off his shoulder. She thought she saw him wince, but she could have been mistaken.

Rogue scoffed. “What did you call it? Occupational requirement?”

“What, getting beaten, getting knives in your back? What sort of occupation is that?”

“You were the one sleeping on the job,” he countered.

“Ah,” Ishbel said, “but I was up for two days with no sleep. I get a little sleep now.”

“Fair enough. I could use some myself, as it happens.”

She sighed. “I can’t ever figure you out.”

Rogue stared at her with gray eyes. “You wouldn’t want to, trust me.” He sat down on the edge of her bed then and winced, then set his face solidly. She watched his jaw clench.

“You did it again, didn’t you? You realize that I’m not a Healer, don’t you. Those tents are far along in the other direction.”

“Yes, I’m quite aware. One of many reasons why I’m here and not there. Healers talk too much. How many of them would have talked the second I’d walked out of there with those wounds last time? Word would have spread in an hour that I was here. I’m trying to stay invisible, Ishbel, not obvious.”

As he told her this, Rogue pulled his boots off and swung himself up on her bed. He winced as he did so, for he clearly had broken ribs.

Ishbel sat down next to him. “Well, you’re obviously not doing a very good job of it, are you? Knife wounds last time. Broken ribs this time. What’ll it be next time, hey?”

“Woman, you don’t need to give me any grief. I’m paying you to not give me any grief. I get enough of that out there. The last time I was here, you forced me to take a bloody bath. This time, just let me relax, all right then?” But Rogue was shaking his head in a mild snicker.

“All right, all right then.” Ishbel laid down beside him. “We’ll just have a little sleep, then.”

He yawned. “You know something. Everywhere I went, I heard the same thing you told me. Anything new here?” He laced his hands beneath his head.

Ishbel shook her head on the pillow. “No. Same as before. Crates comin’ through, now, but I don’t know what’s in them. I saw one of them stamped, “Iron”. They’re all about so big,” and she gestured four feet by four feet. That’s the only new thing.”

Rogue was silent for a moment. Then he quietly said, “Un-uniformed soldiers traveling through. Excess horses. Lumber. Iron. What does all that say to you?”

Ishbel looked over at him from her pillow. Together, they both said, “War.”

“No,” she whispered. Pavilion City was always the first hit in wars. Now she was nervous. She curled up next to him.
He sucked in a little air from the broken ribs, so she slid herself up higher, onto his shoulder. Together, they both fell asleep.

But Ishbel had nightmares of soldiers coming through and burning Pavilion City to the ground – and worse.

When she woke, Rogue was gone. Slipped right out without her even noticing. Damn! How did he do that! He had gently arranged her on the far pillow of her bed and – curled in her downward palm, were two more silvers.

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