Chapter 6 - Shalena the Raider
Days later, the general summoned us for an emergency meeting.
“This is very urgent,” he said. “We need a plan. Our guards have located that soldier whom you gave the box to. And they’ve arrested him and gotten the fake box back. He’s sitting in our dungeon right now, but he’s not talking. We don’t know who’s behind this.”
“I’ll go talk to him,” I said. The general and Jazer stood up.
“I’ll come with you,” Jazer said.
“No, he’s more likely to talk if I go alone,” I said. “You two stay here. I have experience with getting people to talk to me.”
A guard showed me to the dungeon and soon I was in front of the prisoner’s cell.
“Do with him whatever you like,” the guard told me. “I’ll be nearby if you need me.” He left us alone.
I stared at the man sitting on the ground. He saw me and his eyes widened.
“I’d heard you married Jazer, but I couldn’t believe it,” he said, looking scared as I walked over to the bars.
“You cheated me,” I told him. “I got the box for you and how did you repay me? With counterfeit coins.”
“I didn’t know it was counterfeit. I swear,” the soldier said.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Collin,” he said. “What are you going to do with me?” He shifted closer to the wall.
“Collin, I’m trying to find out who your client is. They’re after Jazer’s title and inheritance, and I wish to stop them.”
“And you think I’d know who the client is?” he asked.
“Don’t you?” I said.
“I never saw her face,” he said. “She wears a hood that covers her face completely. She’s very mighty and has several guards that work for her.”
“Do you know her name?” I asked.
“Yes, she goes by Shalena the Raider.”
“What else do you know about her?” I asked.
“Why should I tell you anything?” Collin asked.
“I’ll exchange info for info,” I said. “If you answer my questions, then I’ll answer yours.”
“Deal,” he said, relaxing slightly. “Since I already told you something, I get to go first. What I want to know is why in the world did you marry Jazer? First you stole from him and then a few days later you married him! I’m so confused...”
I laughed. “Well, it all happened so quickly. It was a marriage of convenience. I marry him and become his guard and he helps me find my sister.”
“Yes, she disappeared years ago and I’ve been searching for her ever since. She’s all that’s left of my family. Now it’s my turn. What else do you know about Shalena?”
“All I know is that she’s powerful and cunning. Don’t mess with her,” Collin said.
“Where did you usually meet her?” I asked.
“Usually in some alleyway or other secluded place,” he said. “She was frightening.”
“Why did she hire you to talk to me? Couldn’t she come herself?” I asked.
“I’m not certain. She insisted she wanted to be anonymous.”
That evening, when I retired to the chambers, I found Jazer writing a letter.
“How did it go with the prisoner?” he asked.
“Well, he was pretty talkative and gave me a lot of information,” I said. “But one thing bothers me.”
“What is it?” Jazer put down his pen and looked at me.
“Have you heard of Shalena the Raider?” I asked.
“No,” Jazer said.
“Shalena is the name of my sister,” I said, sitting down in a chair.
“You think your sister is behind this?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Shalena isn’t exactly a common name.”
“Interesting,” Jazer said.
I went over to the desk and looked over his shoulder.
“What are you writing?” I smiled.
Jazer immediately covered the paper with his hand and flipped the page face down.
“Oh, it’s just a speech,” he said.
“Um...okay,” I said, walking away. He was hiding something from me. I just knew it.
“If we let you go, can you arrange a meeting for me with Shalena?” I asked.
“Of course,” Collin said. “But she’s very elusive. You can only find her if she wants you to find her.”
“Let him go,” I told the guard.
“Are you sure this is wise?” the general asked me.
“It’s the only way to find Shalena,” I said. “I’m going to try to reason with her.”
Days later, I had a meeting set up with Shalena. I followed Collin to a tiny alley. I needed to be careful. If Shalena was armed, I wouldn’t have a lot of room to fight. I kept my dagger at the ready.
At last, when it was dark and the moon was out, a dark hooded figure began heading my way. Collin left and I was alone with the client.
“Greetings,” I said. “I am Zena the Mercenary.”
“I know,” said the client. “You married Prince Jazer. So you’re Lady Luzena the Mercenary, as well.”
“And you’re Shalena,” I said.
“What do you request?” she asked.
“I believe you’re after Prince Jazer’s title and inheritance. Is there a way we can come to an agreement so that you won’t try to take his title away?”
“Is that what he thinks?” the figure said with a chuckle. She lifted her hood a little and I could see her mouth.
“Well, you stole that box,” I said. “What else was he supposed to think?”
“I just want what’s rightfully mine,” Shalena said. “That box was passed down to me by my mother. One day it went missing, and I found out King Jordan had taken it. It has a special letter in it.”
“Will you show me your face?” I asked.
“Only if you answer my question,” she said. “Why did you marry Prince Jazer?”
“It’s an agreement. With him married to me, I can protect him. In return, he’ll help me find the last member of my family... my sister.”
“Hmmm,” Shalena said. “And I suppose you are protecting him from me?”
I nodded. “It seems so.”
“I will show you my face,” Shalena said. She slowly pulled back her hood. She was a few years younger than me, around the same age my sister would have been.
She had sharp features, dark hair, and forest green eyes.
“I lost my sister years ago,” I said quietly. “Her name was Shalena. Are you her?”
“I’ll answer your question on one condition,” she said, giving a small smile.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Bring me the box. The real one this time. And in exchange I’ll tell you where your sister is.”
“You know I can’t do that,” I said. “Jazer is my husband now. And family doesn’t turn on family.”
“Your sister Shalena is family too. Isn’t she more important? She’s a blood relative. Prince Jazer is only family through a hasty marriage of convenience. You have to choose between them.”
I lowered my head in sorrow.
“Come find me when you’re ready to know where your sister is,” Shalena said. “Till then, we have nothing more to talk about.” She covered her head with the hood and disappeared down the alley.
I hung my head and looked up at the sky, as if it could help me.