Thirty-six

Thirty-six

A Chapter by Isemay

Syr had tied on a colorful scarf to cover her ears and everything she expected to need was either secured beneath the bright fabric of her dress or sealed in one of the two pitchers she was carrying as she giggled and pretended to be a drunken prostitute to make her way close enough to the fortifications. Odos had suggested she pretend to sip on the drugged wine in the second pitcher and to do a little dancing and stumbling as she walked. Thankfully the girls were all supposed to be rendered mute, pillowtalk was frowned on here.


“Oi! You!” A woman’s voice rang out.


She spun and laughed looking around as if in bafflement.


“She must be one of the new girls,” a man’s voice sounded almost amused. “Walk to your right, girl.”


Deliberately, Syr started to move left.


“She’s an idiot!” The woman sounded incensed. “Your right, not your left! Even a w***e should know the difference!”


Putting on an abashed expression, she changed direction and made her way with a slight stumble toward where they were directing her, a lamp was lit and she found herself in a pool of light. The two soldiers stood above her on a shrouded balcony.


“She may not be a bright one but, gods, she’s lovely.” The man leaned to look at her and she offered up the wine.


“We don’t drink on duty, sweet one, but I’ll come find you after for a taste.” He grinned at her and the woman at his side scoffed.


“Go back where you came from, wench, and do it quickly before I lose my temper.”


Nodding with an apologetic look on her face, Syreilla turned around and considered what other street she might try, her eyes shifting along the unfamiliar streets with a little foreboding. Odos had said not to wear the stone but it would have made things easier. Even her old circlet… 


From across the street came laughter, “She is new! Tona’s threat sobered her up but she doesn’t know her way back!”


“I’ll take her-” The sound of a slap cut the man short.


“I’ll take her back. You’d get lost in an alleyway with your pants around your ankles.” 


There was more laughter from across the street. After a moment a tall woman in a peculiar grey and black draped garment over what might have been armor matted to keep it from catching the light, appeared at the edge of the lamplight and beckoned sharply to her. She was led back to the brightness and bustle of the soldier’s leisure area, taverns, food stalls still open, and, of course the w****s.


Giving the woman what should pass as a grateful smile, Syr was surprised when Tona cupped her face with a faint smile, “I may come find you first. Ramic is right about one thing, beauty like yours doesn’t need to come with intelligence.”


Her face flushed and Tona laughed, pinching her cheek and taking a swig of the wine before turning to go. Syreilla grinned and followed as the woman started to stumble, helping her into an alleyway. Seeing the woman’s mouth starting to move as if in prayer, she bashed the woman’s head into the wall, knocking her out. Quickly, she stripped the woman of the loose dark garment and, needing a place to put it for a moment, Syr dumped the wine on her for good measure.


Odos was surprised when she slipped back into the stall they’d appropriated and started to strip out of the colorful clothes, yanking the dark garment out of the pitcher. She put her full kit back on properly and draped the cloth much as the woman had worn it. The sealed pitcher would still be useful but it would look out of place. She frowned at it and the old man snorted a laugh.


“Get out your gem, Rook. Use it to hold the pitcher on your belt and they won’t notice it. I’ll meet you outside the city walls, they’re going to know someone is here and come looking for you.”


Making an annoyed face she inclined her head. Odos grinned at her and helped with the chain before he shooed her out.


The pitcher swung behind her at her hip and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. Now that she knew there were people watching the streets from balconies, she either needed to be above or below the streets. There would probably be watchers on roofs too. But… eyes should be on the streets, shouldn’t they? Syr went up the side of a nearby building, rough stone and carvings were foolish. If she were planning an impregnable city everything would be smooth, and possibly made out of glass. A see through city… She was grinning to herself as she peered over the top edge. No one was on this roof but there was a figure two roofs over, leaning as it surveyed the street below.


Almost as quick and quiet as an elf, she came over the top and cleared the gaps between buildings with little difficulty. There weren't many rooftop watchers and all had their eyes riveted below. Trusting to luck she moved swiftly in the right direction. No cry went up, she took that for a good sign. 


Syreilla stopped on the last roof before the fortress proper, the water surrounded it like a moat, and she grinned. It came churning out of various gaps in the wall and any one of them would do. As she sized up the two openings in her view a tingle of magic came into her awareness just behind her. As she turned she mouthed the words to her holding wards and failed to cast them. Feeling the dryness around her as far as magic went, she started to laugh.


“Something is funny?”


Pushing the draped cloth she’d pulled up like a hood back from her face, her wide grin made the two men blink with confusion and she bowed with a flourish.


“You can tell her I was expecting less difficulty, you’re making this much more fun than I’d hoped.”


“Are you insane? Tell who?”


“You’ll know who to tell. You can give her the Golden Rook’s warmest regards.” 


Murmuring the siphoning spell, she drew from the sword the man was brandishing to catch them in the holding wards. Syr almost turned to go but decided to use the sword one more time. She’d never felt a place so dry, so devoid of magic to draw from.


Before she leapt, she cast a dispelling with all the power held in the blade, covering the ground she intended to land on and the closest water entrance in the circle. Something at the base of the fortress rippled and she heard a cry go up from the walls above. Laughing, she leapt down, holding onto the pitcher, and rolled, making for the entrance she wanted as a hail of crossbow quarrels rained down.


There was no grate at the opening, they were trusting that the force of the water and the slipperiness of the walls above it would prevent anyone from going in this way but they hadn’t spent the money to make these walls perfectly smooth and the little bit of roughness was enough to give a half-elf grip. Syr made her way toward the center mostly above the rushing water, the wet draped garment clinging to her more than trying to pull her with the flow.


She started laughing again when she saw the changes that had been made. The massive stone wheel had been replaced by smaller wheels working together, some of stone, some of wood. Far more complex and the stone looked like the work of dwarves. 


“I’ll have to visit this place again,” Syreilla murmured herself with a grin, “After they rebuild it.” It would be fun to try to work her way through but it would take too much time. She’d planned to burn teeth off of the large stone wheel with dragon’s fire. But there were wooden wheels here now, if she burned one or two of those… The new supports for the largest center rod were wood, probably because they could be made by one craftsman and then installed by another. No need to burn the wheels. “People who’re too clever are never as clever as they think.” 


Finding a perch on one of the upper wooden supports, she opened the sealed pitcher and set to work mixing her powders, finally adding the liquids and breathing across it, waking it and slinging the reaching liquid flames onto the wood. It dripped down onto the stone and lower supports as she made her way to a relatively safe space to watch. 


The creaking was the first sign it was working as she’d hoped. One of the wooden wheels caught and she wrapped the damp cloth still hanging off of her around her head again covering her mouth and nose. Black smoke was billowing and filling the room. A door opened and she heard coughing and cursing before it was closed again.


Fire must not have been completely unanticipated. There was a groaning of metal and sheets she hadn’t noticed came slowly sliding down trapping the water inside. They were going to try to drown her and the fire at once. Cold water on stone heated by dragon’s fire? Syr started to laugh and climbed higher trying to find a space that she could breathe in but would still give her time for the water and stone to meet. Water swirled around her rising quickly. As it touched the stone of the center rod below the lowest burning support she heard the first crack.


By the time she was forced fully into the black smoke, the rod was cracking badly and the temple shook, she could feel it in the water. The center fell in and slightly to the side letting the smoke rise. Going from one relatively solid piece to another she made her way to the broken rod and went up the middle. It put her where she wanted to be, if only because it had pulled the floor of the room above, where it had been anchored by some sort of mechanism, down with it.


The stone was a dark blood red and it glowered more than glittered from its place set in the hilt of a sword on a golden statue encrusted with other gems, many of larger size. Syreilla wrenched it from the hilt and eyed the disappearing black smoke as it went up through an air shaft that would have been inaccessible to most. It was tempting to try it but it might be easier to go back down and slip out with the water if she didn’t drown, assuming they would drain it now that the damage had been done. The odds of the air shaft being wide enough all the way up were slim to none and the more she considered the water the less she liked the thought. Glancing around the room she realized that there was a door. 


With a shrug she opted to give it a try. It opened without difficulty. Following the path on the silent empty corridor, she slipped out of the first window she came to, being careful of the broken glass. There were soldiers running all over below her like ants in a hill that’s being stirred up but… No one was looking up. Slipping along the rooftop, keeping low and below the peak, she was out of the fortification and out of the city in far less time than it took to get in.


Odos nearly pounced on her as she darted into the woods, unsurprising as she’d had to bolt across an open field. “You can’t burn a temple unless you’ve met certain requirements, Rook!”


“I didn't burn the temple! I burned the wooden supports for the center rod!” She grinned at him as he gave her a sour look. “They were ready for someone to try it, they blocked the exits for the water and drowned the fire but they didn’t think it through. Dragon’s fire burns too hot. It heated the stone too much and the cold water broke it, the whole thing came down. I swam over and went right up.”


“How’d you leave?” His eyes narrowed.


“The door. Well, and then a window. I went across the rooftops and no one looked up. This was fun, old man, when she rebuilds I want to come back. You should have brought me here years ago!”


Covering his face Odos started to laugh. “My wicked little rook. Come, we still have a few errands tonight.”


°°°°°°°°°°


There had been more than two rotting bodies in the hole. Syr had retreated to Hevtos’ doorstep with the gem as she struggled not to vomit. Yanking away the cloth she’d wrapped around her face in a futile attempt to keep the stench out and tossing it aside, she stood bent over and panting. Odos followed on her heels. 


“I need to know which two-”


“Vezar will help you.” Hevtos came out with a look of concern on his face. “The dead make you ill, my Golden Rook?”


“The smell Uncle, I can’t…” She shuddered and he laid a hand on her head. “The air in that hole is so foul.”


“Elvish senses are stronger, Divinity.” Vezar came hurrying out in a brown robe.


“As are a dragon’s.” 


“The smell doesn’t bother yours, Uncle.” Odos smiled ruefully. “I can ignore it when I try, or keep the smell at bay.”


“Why did you not bring the stone directly to me?” He was frowning down at her when she looked up.


“I need to borrow a little off of it so that Master Odos can take us all through his door to the mine.”


He held out his hand with a faint smile. “I will give you enough.”


Syreilla dug the blood red gem out of her front pocket and handed it to him. “It was fun getting that one, Uncle. More fun than the Nameless.”


Hevtos smiled ruefully, “Your children, Odos… How can you bear to part from them?” 


“I want this one back, Uncle.” 


“Never.” His smile warmed, “Take Vezar and collect the bodies. I will put power in the stone for you to use to take them through your door.” They vanished and he took the stone on a chain as she offered it. “It only costs him when he draws someone with him. As it costs me when you use my doorstep.” 


“Ah.” She tried to put on an apologetic face but he laughed softly. “I don’t mean to cause you any difficulties, Uncle. It’s just that your doorstep is so useful.”


With a sigh, he handed the chained stone back. “Be more careful.”


“I’ll try, but careful is something I’ve never been good at.” Taking hold of his hand she offered genuinely, “And thank you for letting me use the doorstep as often as you have, Uncle.”


The gold flecks in his eyes shimmered and she felt warm, caught for a long moment in his gaze. “You are one of mine, dear one. Even if your nose disagrees.” 


Putting on a wide grin, she inclined her head, “I’m Hevtos’ Golden Rook. I have been for some time now, Uncle. You just didn’t pay attention when I was slipped into your pocket.”


He opened a door with a look that bordered on exasperated and she laughed as she ducked through it. Vezar and Odos had what looked like two bodies wrapped in the tent and were standing next to the place Grimgrip and Cyran had begun digging a wide hole. Syr handed the chained stone to Odos and his serious face broke into a smile.



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 1, 2021
Last Updated on February 1, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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Isemay

Germany



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Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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One One

A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay