I moved smoothly on the rooftops leaping from roof to roof until I reach the edge. The sun’s first rays rise over the Castle of the Inner city. I sighed, morning already. Five nails and some ringlets I thought to myself while checking my pouch is not going to cover some major construction. I stared at the houses and shops around Dragon Square named after the Royals crest, the Amber and Amethyst dragon. Looking down from my perch atop of the building taking in the seen below. Groups of soilders marched on the edges of the Inner Wall every few minutes. Making getting into the city difficult. But not even close impossible. The roof I crouched on was slated, perfect to hide behind. It’s funny that the guards haven’t figured out how were getting in, considering how much time they’ve put into getting rid of us. I slowly counted the seconds from when the shifts of guards passed. As soon as one group of guards moved on, I leapt up, whipped out my bow and drew an arrow with rope attached, then stepped on the rope. With a single second of hesitation I shot the arrow right between two houses. Above the towering stone wall that was so lowly regarded from most outsiders and with uncanney presion that I had gained over the years my steel tipped arrow landed right on the wooden lamppost. Snatching up the rope at my feet. I took a deep breath and jumped off the three story building holding nothing but a rope…
Despite having done it so many times, it always gives me a scare as I swing down. The wind rushing through my dirty auburn hair and whirling around my charcoal black cloak. Then after that single rush of freedom it seems as if the world wants to remind you that your not free. You hit the wall with a hard thud, bringing back all the pain, and hardships and it reminds you. Freedom, true undeniable freedom will never be an option. I smiled grimly and yanked myself up the wall, gripping the rope with my hands and using my legs to walk up the it, my leg mussels aching as I pulled myself over. I glanced around making sure no one was waiting around to kill me. Only the light toned stone walls of the houses surrounded me, while the garbage and waste surrounded them. The lamppost towered behind me. I rolled my shoulders and turned to the dirty cobblestone street. I could hear an announcer saying something the closer I walked to the square. I reached the end just in time to hear
“… to the great King and Queen of the land and their unborn child!” Again? I leaned against the wall. This would be what, their fourth child? I thought for a moment. The one that was to rule was Xander, who was rumored to be shockingly handsome. The second was Elise, equally striking twin to Xander. The third was Eric, a male about my age. I looked at the sky, the yellow and orange bursts of color were quickly being replaced by the afternoon usual cloudy gray.
I turned around and began to make my way through the cobblestone street maze until I reached the tavern/inn/bar/black market. It’s weathered wood door looked like someone had once taken a hammer to it. The vacant façade started, and ended at the boarded up windows out of which poured warm yellow light. Overall it was a contradiction, between being unwelcoming and inviting because of the appetizing aroma that drifted out. I knocked on the door and a little latch opened at the top and two eyes glared down at me
“Hello Igor” I said causally while tilting my head so I could a better look at his eyes
“State your name and business Phoenix” he said gruffly. I smiled playfully and said
“Karen, I’m looking to meet a nice guy to settle down with” the door opened to reveal Igor with his scared up face looking down at me. The smell of smoke, alcohol and soup drifted to my nose.
“Wonderful to see you too, I missed you buddy” I said giving him a thumbs up as I passed. Probably of most noticeable thing about the tavern [if you wish to call it that] is the curious red stain on the old wood floor. Which on mutiple occasions I’ve heard inexplicit ably called Jared. I walked around Jared and toward the door at the back of the room ignoring the drunk calls and voices of the inhabitants. Slipping out the door and into the back room expeting to see Marv as usual. But instead of seeing Marv’s smile less face. I saw his cousin’s. I slinked up to the counter where he sat at and asked
He didn’t even look up when he said, “Dead.”
I felt a wave of grief, then remembered that Marv had ‘died’ before when it convenient.
“Again?” with a raised eyebrow.
He made eye contact and said “Apparently“
“He’s died one too many times for my liking”
“You’re one to talk Phoenix” he said emphasizing the Phoenix part. I rolled my eyes and said
“Dieing can be convenient”
“I wouldn’t know and I don’t want to find out. Let’s get down to the reason you’re here, shall we” I nodded and pulled out the jewelry.
“Now what do we have here” he wondered allowed, while examining them. He took certain interest in a pearl necklace with a rudy center .
“So…” I said causally stretching the o part He didn’t take his eyes off the gem.
“So you’ve got an jewle from the royal piggy bank… that people have killed for,” he added the last part like an unimportant afterthought which I added silently is not what I am planning.
“The others worth?” I asked, he shrugged
“Norm, ten top’s, Queen’s coins”
“Eleven with some nails” I said without hesitation
“Eleven final.. With some nails” he announced as he handed over the silver‘s.
“So, can you replace your grandfathers tongue for talk ?” I asked pleasurably
“What topics would I talk about?” he said failing at trying to be flirty. I don’t know maybe about all the girls that have rejected you. Instead I suggested calmly as if asking whether he preferred blondes or brunets better
“Any Blood Wolves?” I saw his breath catch in his lungs, I knew any sane person would never bring them up in a conversation. Let alone inquire about them. I inwardly smiled, enjoying his discomfort.
“No” he muttered.
“Well let me know if you hear anything?” I said smiling dangerously. Business done I headed out, giving Igor a nod. Walking once again through the guarded streets, I kept to the shadows. By the time I reached the Night clan I had witnessed one arrest, two attack’s and a few robberies. Moving down the shaft I nearly collided with Keya she smiled and backed away giving me my space, Sabrine stood behind her. Keya looked beautiful despite obviously having not bathed in a while. Sabrine’s shoulder cut hair and scarred up body gave her a dangerous don’t-mess-with-me-or-die look as if her personality didn’t already scream it.
“Well Hello Phen, sleep in much?” Sabrine said in her normal cocky way. Keya smiled and said
“We better watch her, before we know it she‘ll be fattening up ” I smiled
“I don’t know it looks like you’ve gained a few pounds yourself there Keya” We all suddenly burst into laughter the fact that any of could be gaining weight seemingly hilarious. Once are laughter had subsided I asked
“So where’d you guys go?” Sabrine shrugged
“We’ve been mainly figuring out what old fist face is up too”
“Anything I need to worry about?”
“Hopefully not, he’s just pissed because some idiotic dung bag stole a heck of a lot guard supplies and got away with it“ Sabrine said disdainfully, her normally carefully concealed accent heaving as she got angry.
“Any idea who stole it?” I said with a glimmer in my eyes.
“Witnesses, are an important factor for determining things” Keya said raising an eyebrow. I shrug calmly
“ A guy and a girl, Adrian and Mara. Adrian around my age, tall, dark, and handsome plus a head wound. Mara six or seven, brown hair, shoulder wound. Anything else?” I swear I could see Keya’s brain working over the details. So I said,
“Nope, that pretty much covers it. Tell all” I smile at the way I had said “tell all” reminding me of the castle noble girls finding new male prey.
“Sabrine will you leave us for a moment”
“I’m no tattle tale, y’know“ Sabrine responded purposely sounding offended.
“Please” Keya said, and Sabrine walked away and sighed loudly.
“If I must” Keya watched until Sabrine was out of sight then she checked if anyone else was around.
“Now Phoenix, you better not run around like a frickin chicken with its head cut off, when I tell you this”
“That’s a shame, that was going to be my first reaction ” I said with a smile “As always”. She rolled her eyes then turned serious.
“We think Captain Robbie, is coming up with a presentation to the Royals to have the Outer City burned down.”
“They would never approve, it’s like an burial ground for them with all the people who died in the war.”
“A war that happened 50 years ago Phoenix.” there was silence between us for a moment. I could tell we were both thinking the same thing; what would happen if the city was burned down.
“I’d appreciate if you don’t tell anyone” I nodded, we didn’t want to start a panic.
“ Listen… I’m heading down to Shadow’s to tell him. If you feel like it you should come.” I nodded again. We began to walk toward Shadow’s room with a grim silence settled over us. I hadn’t given the city being destroyed much thought, I mean I knew some people wanted it destroyed because of the criminals. But it was an honored place for the people and Royals. But on the other hand who wanted a burial ground infested thieves. I couldn’t imagine the people who had died would feel honored knowing that fugitives had settled on their grave stones. I went back and forth the whole way to Shadows. Keya swung the double doors open not bothering to knock as we walked. Sabrine stood at one side of room back against the wall tattooed arms crossed looking bored. While two girls stood in the middle of the room presenting something. Shadow on the other hand, was behind his desk with his feet up, and had his façade of interest on his face.
“…much warmer for the winter and it would be more durable and…” one girl was saying
“Well we WERE just listening to this fasinating presention” Sabrine cut in nodding her head to both of us. I noticed the girl holding up the clothes gave Sabrine a nasty look.
“I’m sorry girls but we have something a bit more important to talk to Shadow about.” Keya said, not one of us bothered with a sympathic look. I watched as the girls left the room. Then I walked out the double doors checked to make sure they were gone and walked back inside to the dead silence.
“So what‘s this about?” Shadow said studing each of us with his handsome dark brown eyes. I inwardly sighed, watching Keya look down, and Sabrine avoid all eye contact.
“That bad?” there was still no response.
“Should I call Rivers… Phoenix?”
“ Probably………. We should keep this news solely to the circle” I couldn’t help but let my voice darken little. Shadow nodded” Keya will you get her?”. There was an akward silence as Keya left the room.
“So how have you been doing?” Shadow said directing the question at me.
“Good, um aye, same as ever… You?” I said trying to answer normally. Even though brain was in a completely different place. As I stared at him my I kept going back and back to about two years ago. Same place, same people, and same spot in the room, when I had to tell him that his sister had been killed. How Captain Robbie had stabbed her through the heart and then laughed hysterically afterward. And as I stood there I kept going back to the look on his face and how he had sobbed in my arms. I could feel my guilt rising.
“Phoenix?” Sabrine gave me a look. Thank god at that time Keya walked in followed by Rivers.
“Shall we begin” questioned Sabrine? I inwardly sighed as no one said anything.
“Yes, I believe we are” I responded.
“Then let us begin”.