An intimate meeting to discuss the repercussions of Dorhaven, and a plan that invites tension among the troops.
The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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5th Hamis, 2719
BOOK & BELL| AFTER DARK
“It’s a terrible idea.” Alyssa said flatly, looking at Jon with hard blue eyes and a frown, arms crossed and dark hair pulled away from her pale face. The AAF veteran sighed, rubbing his face with his hand and shaking his head, turning one glittering black eye on the galdor that stood with them in the small basement under the Book & Bell.
“It might be, but I think it’s all we have to play at the moment.” He said softly, leaning on his hand as his elbow came to rest on his knee. The Assassin looked away with a curse, glancing at the galdor with a narrowing of her gaze, before storming away to bang on the trap door that led up to behind the bar. Turning to lean nonchalantly against a barrel of mead, the woman tsked.
“Says the golly. I could have taken Azmus out of the picture months ago, but he promised us a payoff if we just waited. What pay off? The death of hundreds of men, women and children at the hands of corrupt galdori? Or the blame being thrown at the Resistance, with people genuinely believing it?” The magical being that stood in the darkness sighed, pulling his warm burgendy jacket closer and tucking his hands into his pockets.
“I assure you Miss Pierre, the time is rapidly approaching. We need this to let their guard down. Then, and only then, do we stand a chance.” The Wisp crossed her arms, leaving any further conversation on the dusty floor.
Above them, Stu stood behind the bar, wiping mugs clean and drawing drinks for his patrons. His large nose was at a slight angle, not quite healing correctly since the torture he endured at the gaol. His dark eyes scanned the room, and his large frame seemed to hold a sense of fight that hadn’t been there before. At the bang on the door under his feet, the human looked to Ginny and nodded. Across the tavern, the red haired teenager nodded back, putting down drinks at their respective tables and weaving her way through the crowd.
“I believe there’s a cool drink o’ water waitin’ f’ye at the bar.” The wick said quietly as she reached one of the patrons, a girl with raven hair and steel blue eyes, the moment so quick Ginny was already moving away to the other tables. She collected various plates and mugs along the way, pausing by another woman with fiery red hair and eyes like a summer storm.
“At the bar. Cool drink o’ water f’ ye. Ask th’ big guy there.” The words were barely a breath as she glided past the woman who could pass for a galdor, except that she had no field.
Both women would have received messages the day prior. A summons left in their homes, though no one had entered to their knowledge. A simple note written in a simple hand that merely said Book and Bell. Tomorrow night. One, the raven haired girl, would know what it was. She would have done this before. The other, auburn haired and fresh, would have had to make a choice. To come bidden by a mystery note to the Dives into the unknown, or to ignore it.
Of course, she could have also handed it into an authority, but that would have ended her story before it began.
Sliding up to the bar, the short witch put down her tray and wiped her hands on her apron, looking at the sturdy man who stood there.
“Ent safe doin’ this right now Stu. There’s uncles everywhere.” Her green eyes flicked to the door and back again, as though she half expected a Seveten to burst in on their chrove and eat everyone there. The man grunted and looked down at his mugs.
“Ain’t our place to question him Ginny. Just our place to follow him. He’ll get us through, he always does.” The red head scowled, taking a few of the full mugs waiting on the bench and smacking them down too hard on her tray.
“After everythin’ ye still put ye faith in him. After everythin’ that happened.” She growled, muttering to herself as she moved away to serve the rest of the patrons.
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Book and Bell • Anaxas/Vienda
on the 5th of Hamis, 2719 • after dark
Unfortunately, the Book and Bell didn’t have any books. The first time she’d been called to the bar, via handwritten note tucked away in her rented room, she’d had different expectations of the place. Windows so stained that you couldn’t see through them were her first warning that this building wasn’t what she’d thought it was. And watching the bartender throw some drunk out the door… that was a surprise.
After Caina had gotten over her initial shock at the state of the place, she soon settled in. She’d been in worse taverns, hung out with shadier people. And most of these people could call her a friend, even if they didn’t know her real name. Caina was lucky that not many of the bar’s inhabitants asked questions- that was likely part of the reason that the Resistance conducted many meetings here.
And that’s what tonight was about. Just like that first time, and many times afterwards, Caina had received a note. An exact carbon copy of those that had come before it. This time, however, she didn’t waste an hour interrogating the owner of the inn, only crumpled the paper up and tossed it into the fire. It was likely that the Wisp had another mission for her- things had been relatively silent these days. Caina had been surprised to hear about Dorhaven, and she hoped that an explanation awaited her.
She’d entered the bar tonight, ordered a drink, and sat alone near the back of the room, barely touching her glass as she listened to the usual noise that flooded the street every time someone opened the door. A few fights were started, but they never went too far- the other patrons would generally separate the two and calm them down before anything actually began. No one wanted to attract the attention of the Seventen, for one reason or another. They’d come in, use the fight as an excuse, and tear the place apart looking for signs of the Resistance. Caina doubted they’d find anything, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
Stu had given her a nod when she walked in, but ultimately ignored her for a good portion of the night. They weren’t too friendly with each other (Caina wasn’t really friendly with anyone), but there was a respect there. Almost a house passed before Caina recognized a face across the bar: that galdor-look alike who she’d met at the Market. Well, maybe that was why she’d been called. They’d taken Caina’s advice. It warmed her heart, a little- knowing that her superiors trusted her. It meant that she was doing a good job, that she was worth something. Else she’d likely be floating down the river with the rest of the trash.
If the girl recognized Caina, she was ignoring her. Which was good, made everything less conspicuous. Caina turned her gaze away, to the closest, drunkest looking man. Might as well have some fun.
She beckoned him over, and the man came quickly. Caina had no interest in him, but was always looking for the chance to practice. And he was either too drunk to recognize a predator when he saw one, or it turned him on. She grabbed him by the collar, one hand going to his hair to pull him close. The man was so interested in kissing her, he didn’t even notice when her right hand reached for his ass, swiping what few gold coins he hadn’t spent on liquor.
Caina pushed him away as she heard Ginny’s voice in her ear.
“Mujo ma,” She replied quietly, polite enough to talk in the girl’s own language. She brutally shoved the man away- he fell on the ground, too disoriented to notice his wallet retreating into Caina’s pocket. She turned and moved quickly to the bar, her face burning as though she’d been humiliated. A girl that had just been kissed a little too roughly, by a man much older than her.
“I heard you’ve got a cool drink of water?” Caina asked Stu, wiping a hand across her lips to remove any trace of the man she’d just robbed.
word count: 790
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