Return to Irinis
I sighed, annoyed as a hay straw lodged itself further down my chest, itching greatly. I groaned as we hit another hole in the road, harshly slamming my shoulder onto the floor of the cart. I had no clue what time it was or where along the road to Irinis we were. The cart slowed before I could shout at the driver and Verulus.
One, two knocks near my head. Verulus had indicated two knocks would be for guards checking the incoming carts. I kept silent, listening.
“Over here! This man is smuggling goods into Irinis!” A guard shouted nearby.
A commotion ensued, a man and woman begged for mercy, saying the food was for their sister that lived within the town. I flinched as the begging was replaced by the man’s angry scream; the caught cart was being burned.
He cursed at the guards, shouting for the gods to damn them and the Lady. I clenched my staff, wanting to end it all.
“Check this one, the hay man’s cart. He could easily be hiding something or someone.” A guard was really close.
The cart shook as someone climbed onto a back of the cart. I tensed, waiting.
“There’s so much, give me the pitchfork. If anyone is in there, come out now.” Another guard, even closer, made the hay rustle.
“Please sir, I only have hay in my cart today. I just passed this way a few days ago, the goods I had were sold in Sungrasp, I’ll gladly show you the ledger.” The cart driver suggested.
I’m certain he was just trying to keep me from possibly bleeding into the hay.
“It’s protocol, under order of the Lady of Irinis. No cart goes unchecked!”
“As you say sir, I was only trying to spare you a fruitless search.”
The hay began to move, being stabbed by the pitch fork. I bit my lip as I saw it briefly, trying hard not to scream as it came closer to where I was.
I pressed my back against the cart floor just as the pitchfork came whizzing by me, cutting both sleeve and arm.
“All clear. You can continue forward, and stop in Irinis for the night.” The pitchfork was removed.
“I can’t just pass through?” The driver asked.
“By order of-“
“Yeah, yeah, I understand. I’ll stop for the night.”
The cart started moving forward again, the driver whistling a merry little tune. The sound of the guards continuing their search faded, and the cries of children and the hungry grew louder.
When the cart finally stopped, I waited for a signal. One knock, Verulus and the driver were checking if the coast was clear. I waited a bit longer, hearing soft chants above my head, presumably Verulus casting spells to find other spells by another caster. Three knocks, I scoot my way out of the hay, into a dark ally. I looked around, saddened by the homeless and hungry people of the town I once called home.
“We’re going to go see what’s around… don’t go anywhere.” Verulus warned me quietly, looking around at the others.
I just nodded, pretending I was a mute. I watched them leave me by the cart. No one paid attention to me. I thought about my options of what to do. I could do as I had been told, and stay by the cart. I also could find a way back into the manor, steal food, and give it to the hungry.
I looked for the nearest sewer cover, leaving my staff in the cart before walking over to it as soon as I spotted it. I struggled to lift it up enough to push it aside.
I felt a knife poke my side, a voice muttering in my ear from behind.
“What do I have here, a sewer rat?” The voice was female.
I bit my lip and said nothing.
“Cat got your tongue, rat? Perhaps I should put you out of your misery then.”
“N-no…” I hoarsely whispered, frightened.
“So you do have a voice. Now what are you doing?”
“Who are you?”
“That is not an answer.”
There was a slight commotion in another ally, guards harassing some unfortunate townsfolk.
“Get inside, now. The guards are coming.” The voice commanded.
I didn’t hesitate, almost jumping inside. My assailant did the same, covering the hole in time as footsteps thundered over the heavy wooden lid, plunging us into darkness.
“Leg deu doesturnes.” I mumbled, filling the sewer with the same orange light that Verulus had used when we met only a few weeks ago. Minor spells like this didn’t require a staff.
In front of me stood the woman, waiting rather patiently as I gasped. She was dressed in full black and silver, her hooded cloak fastened by a round silver brooch with a black bird on it.
She was one of the assassins of the Sjyno Vaul, and a high ranked one at that. Her face was pale, a scar running over an eye.
“So you’re a caster… a novice at that. Now answer my question, what are you doing?” She was looking me over.
“I-I was… I was going to sneak into the manor and steal food for the townsfolk.”
She smirked. “Interesting… You and I had the same thought. How are we going to get enough to the people?”
“My bag has a charm on it; it can shrink the items to fit more, though everything will still weigh the same.”
“What do you have in it now?” She asked.
“Spell books, ingredients for some potions, stags…”
“Follow me.” She turned and started walking away, setting a brisk pace.
I almost ran to catch up with her.
“Who are you?” I asked again.
“An assassin of the Sjyno Vaul. You?”
“Um… I… I am…”
“Give me your real name, or I will hurt you to get your real name.” We took a turn.
She stopped and looked at me. “You better not be lying. You are Alys, the missing Irinis girl?”
“I’m not missing. I… I guess you could say I escaped?”
“Escaped…?” She started to move again.
I explained to her about what had happened, leaving out details like being on a mission from and my connection to the God of Fate. We took another turn, and I had no clue where exactly she was leading me.
“I see. Stop right there and give me a boost. Just cup your hands together and brace yourself.”
I did as I was told. She took a quick start and launched off my hands, grabbing some unseen handhold with one hand, pushing against the ceiling with her other hand. I was surprised to see it move, letting more light into the sewer. When the opening was wide enough, she hoisted herself up and out.
I waited to see if she would return for me. I was relieved when she leaned down into the hole, half inside.
“Come on and grab my hands, I’ll pull you up. Put out your light too.”
I nodded and dismissed the light before jumping to grab her hands. She hoisted me up nearly effortlessly.
Strong arms wrapped around me, greeting me with a hug that smelled like flour.
“Good evening, Lady Alys. It is good to see you well.”