Equilibrium

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15: An Errand

Larke, 1182

Several weeks had passed since those eventful first few days. After the uncomfortable transition of being initiated, the chaotic party afterwards, and learning that my closest colleague was being held prisoner here, Dean and I had fallen into a sort of routine. Of course, I knew I still had a mission to accomplish, but this one was of finesse, not brute strength. It would take time, and though I knew I had to do something for Liss, it wouldn't be anytime soon. I had to trust in his ability to withstand, to persevere, as he had taught me to do so myself. For now, I played the game, following along with Dean. The answers I sought would come in time.

It was a typical afternoon for Dean and me. We were patrolling the streets as we did every so often. We returned early. For whatever reason, sales were up; and while the dealers were able to give us large amounts of cash, we weren't able to keep up with their apparent increased demand. Each one requested we bring double than what we had last time.

"Well, I suppose we have to go back," Dean said, "I really need to replenish our supply."

"Alright. I can help you with that," I offered, our feet making a pattern in the dirt roads that led to the Naga gang's compound.

He looked uncomfortable at my offer and rubbed his chin in avoidance of my question.

"I'll… see what you can do for us." He turned, and indicated I follow him.

We walked in silence to return to the now familiar Naga compound. I didn't try to ask him anything, hoping he would lead me somewhere useful. Perhaps I'd be allowed to see where they kept their supply. Instead, he had led me back to the hallway that housed our rooms. I sighed, disappointed. I would have to modify my plans for this evening, it appeared. When we reached my door, Dean stopped and faced me.

"I'm sorry, but although you've been doing well for the last few weeks, I still can't allow you to help me with supply. I'm going to have to lock you in your room."

He didn't seem to want to meet my eyes, and I found this odd. Dean was usually fairly straightforward with me, although still tight-lipped. He must feel a little awkward about this; while he usually kept me locked in my room at night, I hadn't needed to be kept there during the day since I'd first arrived.

"Oh… why can't I just go do chores somewhere else?"

Usually, Dean would just drop me off with some other group of people; I often had to work in the kitchens while he was out doing whatever he does without me. It was monotonous work, but I didn't mind it. There's something relaxing about tedious chores in the kitchen; there's a rhythm that you find when your fingers are deep within bread dough, or, chopping vegetables for a soup. I half hoped I'd be able to go there, although I knew that if I were to be successful in my mission, the kitchens were effectively a waste of time.

"It looks like everybody is already done for the day and has either gone home or somewhere else. And I'm sorry, but I just can't risk you running around. There's too much at stake." He stretched his muscular arm up behind his head, his shirt pulling taut against his biceps and rising above his hips; he scratched the back of his hair, mussing it.

My tongue was dry against the roof of my mouth; I swallowed hard. "Okay… I guess I don't have much choice, do I?"

His apologetic look almost made me feel contrite, but truly, this was an excellent opportunity. I've been waiting for the perfect chance to sneak out of my room. I looked up at him with saddened but accepting eyes, hoping I didn't look to eager to be left alone. It must've worked, because he opened my door for me. I went inside willingly, with the sad look on my face.

"Will you come see me tonight?" I questioned, lilting my voice. "Or should I just expect you tomorrow morning, as always?" I needed to guess how much time I would have – if I had any luck, he wouldn't be back until the morning.

"I'm sure I'll be busy. I'll have dinner sent to your room here soon, but I'll see you in the morning. Get some rest – we'll have more to do tomorrow."

He briskly turned away from me, and I found myself staring at the backside of the door. I heard Dean's keys secure the lock, and his steps fading into the distance as he surely walked down the hallway.

Dinner arrived at my door within an hour, and I ate quickly, stuffing a slice of ham into my mouth. I was already thinking and planning of what I should do and where I should explore. Dean had already said that the compound was effectively empty of the day-to-day members – most likely, there were only those deemed essential that remained. I'm sure that even though most people were gone, that higher-ups, like The Raven and her closest advisers, were still lurking somewhere. Where would the best place for me to search?

I didn't know exactly where Dean would be, but I assumed it would be some secret room where they kept their supply, or possibly not even in the manor. You couldn't traffic drugs out in the open, it's too risky. I was sure that Dean wouldn't be a problem unless I happened to stumble upon him as he roamed about. I would have to wait until I felt he was secure in his tasks, no longer wandering.

But where should I try to go first? I could try to find The Raven's office, or room; whatever she would call it. There had to be some place where she would keep records. But, since I still didn't really know the layout of this massive compound aside from where my room, the kitchens, and the feast hall were, I would most likely just have to see what I could come across. I finished the plate, crumbs trickling from my lips as I wiped them clean with a hasty hand.

It would be tricky, but I felt confident that I could do it. My magic wasn't exactly stealthy, so I'd have to rely on my physical senses and skills.

But - there were some things that I could do with my magic. Like, pick my lock, for instance.

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