It was but a few hours past the cool noon Eden had worked through. The wind blew down from the mountains in rivers and the sun began to cast everything in a glow the very color of the fiery center of a peach. Only than did the thieves walk back through the open double doors with the seemingly shrunken stable boy between them. Despite his small size however he walked as though he lead a pack of hunting dogs more than half his size and the look on his sharp edged face was one more of scorn leading Eden to believe the thieve were late in retrieving him as well.
“It must be part of your job to always run late.” The boy complained.
Eden was grateful to sit up from the hay again, however not due to knowing he was to leave the barn, simply because while he waited, with the stalls already mucked and the floors swept and even the saddled polished, he had almost fallen asleep in the prickling hay from exhaustion. Sleep he could not when he waited in the barn like a spy for this important man, however they walked towards him as he rose to only his elbows and squinted through the light to see the odd pair grow near.
They were not a group you would expect to see wondering the halls at all within the castle for the maids had their one section of work and the knights another however walking towards him that tall man looked dashing in his stolen armor. If anything Ede would say it suited his tall body and his strong arms filled out the chain mail underneath nicely. Without even a pinch of left over chain however it didn’t appear too tight that the pattern would be engraved in his flesh by the end of the day.
The woman looked quite a deal different for she walked as a man would even though she wore a skirt that dragged the ground at her feet and under the hood her short hair looked nearly non existent for she seemed to hide it. However if it wasn’t the very unfeminine way she held her body or the awkward look of her hood it was the look on her face that set off the tone for caring castle maid for her nose was scrunched in constant complaint and her eyes narrowed as though Eden was the one that stood before the sun’s strong beams and not them. The only possible time you would see such a pair together would be at night, however only if their shifts were over and they could go to play in their sheets, as he heard the knights tease. A while back Eden had not a single idea what he meant. As he aged however, and found himself staying longer hours with the knights, he was coming to know what all their crude jokes meant.
In the light he could only catch a glimpse of the male’s moving arm, or perhaps he merely heard the clanging movement of his armor and only envisioned the movement, however it did not matter what he did or did not see it happen for what dropped at his feet was all he needed to see to think so little of these thieves.
“I can’t wear this they will recognize me!”
At once the rehearsed lines of why he planed to stay in the barn seemed to flee his
tongue, for simply seeing the uniform before him put thoughts of outrage in his voice.
“It is the only way you can get around the castle. Your too small to pass for a knight and take it as a compliment that I didn’t get you a skirt and bonnet. With that youthful face you can pass for a young maid!”
Just the thought of wearing a skirt put on his face the wrinkles of distaste; however it did not hold back his tongue as it struck back.
“I would rather risk my pride in wearing a skirt than my life in being another squire!”
“If you think that you will not be a man to be envious of.” The thief laughed with a cross of his large arms over his chest. The very way he chuckled those words brought a tint of red to Eden ’s cheek and filled him with the fires of embarrassment.
It was when Eden made no move to raise from the hay that the sound of his laughed seemed cut with a knife, as quickly as a cook took of the head of a fish.
“Get up and get changed before it gets too late! We only have till dawn to get this done!”
“I plan to stay here.” Eden finally announced with more scorn in his words than he had intended.
He tiled back his head, letting the hat fall from his crown and his hair drip like melted chocolate from his face before he lowered his elbows and let his body fall back to the hay. It rustled around him as he moved his hands to cup under his head like a pillow and as he crossed his legs, as if making himself at home within the barn, he heard the shout of the thief.
“What do you mean your staying here!? It is not your mission to lounge in a barn it is to show us the correctness of this map!”
“Assume it’s correct.” Eden found himself quite pleased with the calmness of his words, for if it was one thing needed to anger another more it was steady words when the other was fuming.
“I have more important matters to attend to.”
“What? A cat nap?” he shouted back. Eden heard the other’s steeled feet stomping the ground. In felt under his back, under the pile of hay he lay upon he could feel the vibrations of the floor and still he made no attempt to move, however in the back of his mind where instinct was strong it yelled to him to get up and run.
The hay was pushed aside from the thieves’ boots. Eden felt loose strands fall through the air and dust over his body in a light blanket. His eyes had been closed, as if to further play the role of lazy former prince, however upon feeling a hard tug on his ear they opened as fast as he started kicking his feet and hurrying to stand as he was lifted.
“You cocky b*****d.” the thief snarled.
Eden only screamed as he was rose higher. His head tilted to the side, as if doing so would bring him closer to the ear growing hot with pain.
“I have a father.” He snapped back in remembrance of the meaning of those words for he was thought to be a b*****d son not but hours ago.
“Than a soon to be b*****d,” the thief hissed back. “Or would you prefer spoiled child?”
“I would prefer you to let go!”
At these words his wishes were not granted. He was merely forced to the tips of his booted toes when he was pulled higher up and another complaining scream left his throat and breached the quiet space around them. His displeasure seemed to be much the same for the horses. At his screams he heard some kick at the back of their stalls and others seemed to laugh and snort in amusement. Much as the awkward thief in the skirt did.
He started punching at the elbow of the man’s arm when he was pulled forward for even though he was lowered to stand flat on his feet Eden almost seemed to be dragged for he hunched over as his feet seemed to give a quick shuffle forward just to keep up with his long strides. He was quite disappointed to find it had little to no effect on the tall man made only, it seemed, out of long muscles.
“Get dressed.” He ordered.
Eden felt the pinched grip on his ear fall lose, however not until after he was pushed forward towards the dusted cloths on the ground.
Quickly he snapped to his natural height and his hand cover his ear now as red as cherries in summer. His hand rubbed at its rim, trying to sooth the heat with the cool sweat on his palm and fingers. When he made no move to pick the cloths from the ground the knight took a quick step closer. Eden found out only after he snapped down, in not fear but intimidation, to take the warm disguise, that the movement was nothing more than a threat for the thief only smiled at his own clever antics as the young boy, with his expressional dark brow lowed over revengeful eyes and lips pinched tight in a grimace, walked into an empty stable to once again change. His plan seemed to be put on hold. After all at the moment he dare not tell them what he knew. If anything they would simply assume him to be lying just to be able to stay resting in the barn. Eden was sure that if he did not argue as much as he did however his story would have been well listened too.
With a new set of cloths his entire frame of mind seemed to change, or so it felt that way for when he was dressed in the light, soft cloths of the stable boy Eden felt nimble and if anything witty for being dressed as such stripped him of his manners, however dressed in the tight garb of a squire he was ripped from the peasant life he craved and pinned right back to the stuffy rules and speech of the castle. For when he was as a stable boy there was not a certain way to walk or act. You could eat when you pleased, speak when you wished, however garbed as a younger to a knight he had to watch his tongue around others. He had to walk with power in his strides and was expected to be, if only when nobles were present, a gentlemen to any why spoke with him.
He stepped out from the stall, the long sleeves of the thickly woven tunic tight at his wrists and low on his waist. The cloths he had grown so fond of remained behind in the clean stable as he tired a belt tightly around his small waist.
“Good.” The thief spoke. As though he had expected Eden to climb out a window and run. If anything at all it offended the young thief. It would be foolish to run just for being forced into a change of clothing.
“We have ta go now. Some knights are comin’ “
The woman rushed, her hands in a fanning motion as her eyes seemed to not be able to choose where to look, the stone laid path to the lowered drawn bridge or Eden and her comrade.
Eden found his shoulder grabbed again and, as though he could not move himself, he was pushed forward quickly to the back doors of the barn. Eden heard the whine of the horse, the clomp of it’s iron hooves on the stone pathway and he knew, despite sight being cut off by the wood of the barn, that this man that lowered from his horse and whop the boy tended to so willingly, was the important man his father waited for.
Her jerked at his shoulder, his heels dug into the ground however in doing so he was almost pulled to the ground. No matter his efforts he could not be free of the grip that seemed to hook into his bone. His neck seemed not even able to stretch far enough from his shoulders to catch even a glimpse of the man. As they walked towards the castle however he heard his voice, and at that sound a rush of memories flooded his eyes, memories of a cool night, of walking barefoot and blind through the village. Memories of a know traitor in their guild. The spy was here, and it was his mission to find out who he was!
With one final jerk Eden put his eyes forward to the inner walls of the castle and to the large doors that remained open to let in a light breeze of cool air. His father had always been so very confident in the holding of his outer walls. So much so that he would leave his main door open to the weather. However come winter everything would be sealed shut. The doors, the windows would be boarded and every fire place light. His father feared sickness more than he feared the tip of an assassin’s blade.
“Keep focused.” Was the last whispered order given by the thief. They grew close to the door and as they stepped inside the orange glow to the setting sun was dimmed and the stone walls took away the light feeling of air and trapped in every sound in an echoing prison. Eden remembered living within these walls. All too well he remembered the cool feel of stone in winter and the weight every whisper seemed to have. He remembered longing for the outside, the court yard and a breath of fresh air during the winter. Just his memories of growing up so sheltered from the natural world made him was to shrink away and run for if he was caught it would all be taken from him again.
He listened to the orders, despite the worrisome thoughts swimming in his head, and lead the thieves, his brute extended family, through the halls he remembered so well, through his prison…his tomb.
The dinning hall, the royal corridors, the armory, the knight’s wing, the inner court yard, he led them through each with not so much as a few words as to where they were, what they were to see there. He told them of the knight’s schedule and of the maid’s daily chores. With each word spoken from his lips however he began to feel much like his father who sold the high point of their castle to Serona knights or even the king himself, for Serona thought of Asmalen as a weak leg. A broken ankle on a starving horse and with just the slightest bit of lag the kingdom would be put down.
“I believe we have just about enough information.” Spoke the thief, however the night was arriving fast. Even now the sun cast aside its blaze to hide behind the mountains and allow the stares their time to sprinkle the sky.
“A good time as any,” Eden responded. “The maids will be coming down these halls soon to light the torches.”
“They light the torches in unused halls?” The female thief seemed to take some offence towards this simple chore. As if she herself was a torch having to burn away despite no one being near to be thankful for her glow.
“There are knights that patrol each hall at night.” Eden was quick to warn, for if it was not the threat of being caught so out of place by a maid, this strange group being caught by a knight would be worse for nearly every man knew the other and to see a strange face would cause suspicion and such a thing within this castle could cost you your head.
“I don’t see why them guards can’t just go about their lookin’ in the dark.”
The complaint merely caused Eden ’s eyes to roll in their sockets.
“It will make our job easier.” She laughed.
Against the wall the false knight held the map up to the cool stone and in his hands he held not pen and ink, for such things were not convenient for travel nor was there a bag to carry it in, for the sack that was used to travel here had been left behind in the barn. Instead between his fingers he held a twig, plucked from the ground outside, however the end was charred black and when he pressed it to the paper a thick line made sloppy writing.
“Will we leave now?” Eden asked with his shoulder pressed against the rugged wall.
“Soon enough,” he mentioned. “I just need to see the treasury.”
“Why the treasury?” Eden grumbled the question in such a way to make him sound much like the child he was.
“There are guards there. They always station themselves at the doors and the only one time I got them away was when I had the entire castle in chaos.”
“I only need to see where it is.” He quickly corrected and took his makeshift pen away from the rich parchment of the castle blueprints.
“Can’t you just assume it’s in the right place?” Eden complained however he was only rewarded with a look that would quake the earth if it was given by a god.
“There are guards all around the treasury.” He corrected. After all he couldn’t have this thief thinking him lazy, for the only reason he had given them a hard time was because he had missed his chance to see just who the traitor was.
“Ether of us take a single wrong step towards that room the entire castle guard will be hauling us to the prison before we even catch sight of gold!”
“There is no way?” He questioned.
The paper crackled loudly as he rolled it like a scroll once again. The hall was growing too dark to see the wrinkles of age on his brow however in the distance he could see the flickering of a breathing flame taking life. Eden ’s eyes looked from the fake knight to the unconvincing maid. He stayed studying her. Her legs parted like the son of a black smith. Her small arms folded over her bustles chest. Her stance was that of a knight with frustrations in his life and the scowl on her face made her appear more like a youthful man than a maid. Just watching her he believed she would have been better fitted for the garb of a squire if only she had no hips.
“There is a way.” He finally spoke and his gaze seemed to unlock itself from the poor mimicry of a woman.
“You.” He pointed to the thief.
“If you can act like a woman just one time I can show you the hall. If were lucky the torches are not yet light and you can simply light them.”
“What do you mean act like a woman?” She spat the words in obvious insult.
“I am a woman.”
“Than act like one.”
If it wasn’t for the false knight that placed his lofty body between them Eden feared she would have lunged at his neck to tear out his throat.
“You could act a bit more womanly.” He spoke with a hint of a smile however in the darkening hall, the torch light growing closer as the maid worked her way down, and from where he stood behind the thief he could not see it.
“Just close your legs.” Eden huffed.
“And take that scrunched look off your face. If you’re going to be a woman of the castle you have to act like appearance is everything.”
It was true. Eden had taken notice to this in his time living within these walls. Whether you were as low as a maid or high as a lady in waiting you always cared for appearance. You always strived to look your best even with sweat on your brow and soot staining your cloths and skin.
“Excuse me?” The mousy call behind them seemed not only to freeze Eden ’s blood, but it seemed to turn the adults before him to carved blocks of ice.
“It is quite a late time for a squire to still be lingering these halls.” She mentioned before a high pitched sound that could be taken for a screaming mouse pierced the air in their direction. It was her laugh.
“And I believe it’s far too early for a knight and a maid to…well, to be together.”
Eden recognized that laugh and that mousy voice, for he had heard it many times within his mother’s room when he was young. He used to hide from the woman because of that strange sound she made when something seemed to amuse her or to peek her humor. No doubt she would acknowledge him for out of all his mother’s maids she was the one most familiar with his face, especially when he was struck by fear.
He could hear the licking flames of her torch and feel the standing hairs on the nape of his neck sway in the cloud of clear heat that grew near from the fire. Her face formed a picture in his head, sunken cheeks, and her eyes as wide and round as a rat’s with front teeth as large as a rodent when her lips thinned in a smile. He could only imagine what he would see when he turned around, how that face would shape and twist into a mix of surprise and horror in the dancing flame for the woman of the castle were bound so tightly by the belief of haunting and ghosts.
He could feel her stair of curiosity when nether he nor the knight or maid turned in her direction. From afar or simply passing another in the dark halls of the enclosed castle one would not be able to notice anything unusual about their disguises; however a one on one confrontation such as this may indeed have some sort of effect on them. Someone may notice and if it was anything that tinny woman would be the maid to do just that.
“I was simply walking this good night to his post.”
The oddly feminine voice behind all but puzzled Eden , when he looked back however all he saw was that manish thief stepping forward.
“His squire is lost and so after I agreed to help him to the front gate. I only hopped the king would not see him before them.” There was a bit of laughter in her words. A gentle chuckle he heard from many fine women. It should not have been such a surprise to Eden , that a woman such as her could act and walk so proper. She was a thief and a volunteer to travels the castle halls. To do such a thing one needed a skill for acting and trickery.
“Oh don’t worry about the boy.” The maid laughed that high pitched giggle. He could feel the heat of the torch as she hobbled closer and when her dry hands switched their grip on the fire to wrap one with bone like fingers around his wrist. Eden would have jumped if it was not for the rough hand on his shoulder, the very one from the false knight that seemed to anticipate his startled movement and so made sure to push his feet into the stone.
“That won’t be needed.” He informed.
She laughed again. Eden ’s neck vanished in his shoulders as it hit him. He only wished he could be disrespectful by bringing his hands to cup his sore ears.
“Nonsense. I can do it if only this lovely maiden of your will light the knights halls. I have yet to get there and as you must know your bunch do not like to walk in the dark.”
There was nothing to be done. All three knew what was to happen. This woman was too persistent to deny her kind act any longer. After all if they had continued to refuse she would only grow weary with interest and that perpetual grin that showed her long teeth would fade to a frown of thought.
The hand lifted from his shoulder, and with his back to the thieves, to the maid he could not see the movement however the hairs on his arms and nape of his neck were aware of the heat leaving the mousy woman and he could hear the flames whisper as they lashed at the air that fed it.
“Now boy what’s your name?”
It was as the question was asked that she moved in such a way that the fire on the walls caught the sharp angels of his face. She moved just so, making the grassy color of his eyes shimmer the orange of the fire in a way that her frown was brought forth by not thought but a swimming river of memories.
“My…my prince?” The words she spoke were but a ghost of a sound over the flames that devoured the air around them.
His wrist slide from her bony wingers, her dry hand that cracked like stone and instead he watched them, both left and right, move to cover her hung open mouth. He turned than, facing her in child like curiosity for there was a hope in his eyes that she would not yell out as he expected. His hope was shattered.
“The prince!” She shouted.
“He’s here. He’s haunting us!”
From under her long skirt her feet shuffled back on the stone. The thieves made no effort to stop the small woman who seemed to be nothing but bones and skin. Simply they moved to the wall when she turned, and both looked to him as though it was his fault he was recognized as she bolted down the hall, shouting to knights, to maids, to anyone who dare listen to her screeching claim of a dead prince roaming their halls.
“Run.” The tall thief ordered and it was an order Eden was happy to listen to for dancing in shadows cast by flames he could see the ghost like images of knights reacting quickly as trained, to the commotion in the corridors.
The torch was left in the hall. The very one that was to be used to light the halls and all three started at a run into the unlit corridors of the castle. It was only the sound of their feet hammering hard into the stone and their labored breath that was heard between them. The night outside the thin windows turned grey, and soon even the dark blue and speckled blanket of night would fall over Asmalen.
Through the blackened halls they followed the former prince. Not by sight however, for as he wound into the enclosed staircase the windows were no longer there to light their way and the darkness had thickened around them. In the timeless stairwell down they glided, following the light tap of his boots on stone and chiming music of Serona gold in his pockets.
Ground level struck them hard, however ahead the darkness lifted to a dim light that would at least allow keen eyes to part the blackness and make a way through the wide halls.
His run slowed to a walk if not to prowl silently through the darkness than at least to slow his pounding heart and cool his sanded lungs. The hall widened. No longer did they walk single file down a black corridor, but the windows opened wider and at their feet a soft rug of deep color, not known from the distortion of night, absorbed the sound at their feet.
“We will be caught like this.” Though it was a deep smooth whisper the sound seemed to puncture the orb of silence Eden trapped himself within.
Behind the loud battle of metal on stone echoed down the spiraling stair well. The knights were closing the gap between them in the most clamorous of manners. Most likely they were stumbling down the stairs with not enough light to lead their way in the sweeping downward pull.
“Split up.” Eden offered the idea though he did not look to them as he spoke for his eyes were glued behind to the stairwell closed behind a curtain of night. He knew soon a flicker of light would signal the approach of knights, following the only path this dead prince could run.
“We can meet back at the barn. Up ahead there is a split in the hall.”
“Where will it lead.” The knight demanded. Eden held no answer for him however for though he lieved a long twelve years within the castle he had not traveled them all enough in darkness to know exactly where they were or where they were headed.
“The main hall.” He answered fast as the voices of guards became louder. After all the guess was a grand one for nearly every branched hall coiled back to the main walkway that connected the thrown room and dinning room and even the court.
“And we will meet in the barn.” The woman repeated with nothing more than a nod of her head that shifted the hood on her head. It what looked like annoyance she tore the cloth from her crown to free her tangled locks of dirty hair. As they ran she dropped it to the floor. Eden wished she had not done so for the knights would sure enough find it. If they had been suspected thieves sure enough now the dogs would have a means to track her scent.
Ahead was an area that flickered with fire, trapped on oil dipped sticks and held by iron hands imbedded in the stone. The other hall remained dark, unlit by the blush of orange on its walls. Behind the knights reached the bottom stair. He could hear them, or rather no longer heard the clatter of their iron boots for he assumed the carpet now ate at their sound as well.
Without thought he took the lit hall for he felt much more calmed when he could see where it was his feet would land and what direction he was to travel rather than running blindly through these halls. Behind, both thieves, though this may have been careless of them, chose to descend into the darker halls, for he assumed, unlike himself, they felt more at ease with a blanket of night wrapped tightly around them.
His eyes shot forward again to instead watch the moving walls before him rather than the departing thieves and the quickly following guards. The one and only problem was that no matter where he was to run at this moment he would be seen as ether a shadow flickering in the light of fire or in body. To his right he passed door after door and to his left there was nothing but windows showing out to a darkening night. On nothing more than last thought and survival instinct he flung himself to a door and tore it open to show a windowless room, an unused closet of sorts or so Eden thought for within the castle there were many rooms without purpose or use for it was said the founder of this kingdom insisted on the many rooms for in the case they were invaded their invaders would find themselves often at a dead end.
Quickly he pulled himself into the room, his booted feet sanding the stone of the room before his body’s weight pressed to the door. He moved back with the rusted hinges, crying for being woken from their sleep. The sound was but a whisper further down the hall however, where the guards thought of a direction to head in the fork. Eden stood, his back pressed to the wooden door and, despite his heavy beating heart, his body felt for vibrations that would tell if one was near.
For a long while he stood with eyes wide and body rigged with anticipation, but not a sound was heard by the distant questioning of a mountain owl. Only when he was sure to the loss of a tail did he silently push his small frame from the old door. It seemed even his shift in weight was enough to agitate such testy wood. With a steady hand child fingers wrapped around the brass handle, cooled by night, and in the slowest of ways, with his cheek pressed close to the wall, he opened the door but a crack to let one curious eyes peer into the hall that danced in light.
Only when Eden was sure an army of knights did not wait did he open the door and only after he stepped out did it seem to hush it’s sound and the only thing that lingered in his ears was the crackle of fire, that and murmuring voices that drew him near, one of which that made the hairs on his arm stand as a frightened cat and one, he recognized, as his father’s.
Only in the entrance halls was there a bother of warm carpet on your feet. It was simply though those means that Eden knew he was headed towards the front, however simply walking through the entrance door when knights were aware of intrusion would be a far greater task especially now that they were aware of a thief being young enough to pose as one of their squires, however now in the night he stood out far too much for all others boys had retreated back to the village as the sun was falling.
A quiet as a bird’s wings parted the wind and hunched like a timid cat he crept forward to the large doors of his father’s thrown room. Eden never before understood the purpose for the room since his father spent most his time ether before his dinning table or in his room. The only other time he bothered to talk was when he was at court. The only purpose this room seemed to have was to hold the two chairs and for him to sit as a god on his thrown only when there was company however.
The large door was closed, though when Eden pressed one small ear to the crack between the voices became clear. It was indeed the thief from the night of his capture. There was a face to put to it however, but not one cleared by a heavy fog that rested in the back of his mind. There was a name to the fogged face, though Eden could not speak it or think it he could feel its salted taste on the tip of his tongue.
His eyes were eager to look and his mind longed to clear the fog it suffered from and so it was this alone that compelled the prince, so fearful of being caught, to push at the large door and let it open but enough for his eye to peer into the room, a glow and warmed by hundreds of dancing flames. Before him he saw his father for the man stood out in his white robes and sitting on the towering chair with a gold crown tangling with graying hair. The man before however was enough to stop his heart for the briefest of seconds for as if a god Eden never bothered to pray to granted him the cure to his curiosity the man turned his head as if to gaze past a sanded pillar to the night sky and with the profile view of a darkly featured man the name was bitter on his tongue and the face cleared in his mind. Mikan.
“As you fear the guild is using your son my king.” The thief spoke with a voice of cream despite the hissing lies on his words.
“Using?” He heard his father’s voice boom with the very thought.
“How are they using him?”
“They use his knowledge my king, of the castle passageways and of the weaker points of your defenses.”
“He would not know all of that.” His father looked away, as if looking to Mikan would make his words any less true.
“I am displeased to tell you he knows quite a bit. It seems your son would be better fit for a spy rather than a prince.”
“My son will be a great king.”
“I am sure he will.” Mikan seemed to be a man that thrived on danger for the way he spoke was most mocking and only brought a look of rage to his father’s pinched face. With the orange glow in the room Eden was unsure of his father’s cheeks had painted red as well.
“The guild is why I called you here!” His voice erupted and seemed to shiver the torches near his large chair.
“What do you need to know of them?”
“I would think you would be more concerned with the murder in your village.”
The room took on a silence of falling snow. One so deep that Eden feared to move for it seemed as though the slightest sign of life would gather the attention of the two men in the room.
“You know of the murder?”
“Let’s just say I have suspicions.”
“Suspicion?” the king questioned with a winkle on his nose. From the very tone of his voice Eden knew his father could tell when this thief, this spy knew more than he would speak. Eden only hoped now that one day his father would cut out his tongue.
“Yes my King, suspicion.”
The king only groaned loudly, sounding much like a large beast in need of a nap so soon after he stuffed his stomach of meat and Eden watched, from the crack in the door, as he waved his hand towards the traitor. It seemed almost as if he was shooing away his many worries and woes.
“Just tell me what you know.” He seemed, at least to Eden with so much distance between them, tiered of his spy’s antics.
“I have reason to think, much like I am traitor to a guild, that there is one in your mist as well.”
“What will it coast to get a name?” The king asked and Eden was most pleased to hear that Mikan at least kept part of his deal with Granh.
“There is no price for what I don’t have, but shall we talk of a price for what I do have?”
“And what is that?” The king glowered.
“The guild my King, did you forget so soon?”
With a gasp not heard over the wave of conversation between his father and the thief, Eden turned when the feel of a tight grip on his shoulder pulled him back. His eyes met the hard stair of a knight, however not one he was familiar with. Chances were he worked for Kirimonts guard for hardly ever did he see his father’s knights and even less did they see him.
“What do you think you are doing here?” His voice was strained as though he so wanted to yell but fear of being heard put a cap on his volume.
“I was trying to find me knight to inform him of my departure.” The lie was quickly cooked, however Eden was sure if it wasn’t for the whispering hiss of his voice it would have been detected quite fast for the skill of lying was one he still had yet to work on.
“You can be killed for wondering these halls!” The way he spoke sounded almost as if he cared, however it was quite possible he did for many knights did have families in the village. It could be he had a boy of his own of Akistu’s age.
“You may be tortured if you are caught listening to this.”
He lifted his eyes to the cracked door and jolted his chin towards the two talking away in the hushed voices of suspicious conversation.
“I didn’t hear anything.” Eden spoke quickly, perhaps far too quickly for the knight looked down to him with a lowered brow and a judging look on his face.
“Do not speak of this. Go straight home. I am sure your knight will understand your leave.”
Not wanting to stay any longer than he already risked Eden took the knights advice. Only down the hall was the dinning hall. He had only to enter it before he could leave through the larde double doors and into the outer walls.
In the shadows he crept from the dance of fire as people of flames danced on the large torches of the castle doors. Into the night he blended with shadows, despite the gold tunic he wore, and without a single pair of eyes falling to him he made it to the barn where the thieves stood alert upon his entrance. Without a word they crept through the storm drain of the with the murky water and through the fields only now, with night to help hide them, there was no need to crouch low in the dirt. Eden would not tell them of what he saw…only the leader of the guild should know such matters and only she was to hear what he had to say.
The inn was living with music and laughter, the kind that could be heard vibrating the walls of the twisting ally when the group of three entered. Eden looked to the inn, the candles lighting nearly every room as the ageing sign rocked in the wind as if dancing to the fiddles song. Thieves were pouring from the open door, their voices heard for miles however no one knew they were thieves, only Eden though now he was one of them.
His mood was not fitted for the celebration that seemed to go on nightly. The thieves that escorted him smiled and laughed when they entered the heated energy of the main room. They were greeted by close friend, comrades and even the woman stopped her sulking despite a lanky group of men, swaying arm in arm, seemed to point and laugh at her wearing a dress while others looked on astonished as they just now came to realize she was in fact a woman.
Eden walked into the guild but not a set of eyes was cast his way or a small word of greeting. He scanned the crowd, but not with a smile on his face or light eyes of excitement and wonder in his face, his body being crushed by the heavy news he bearded. His arms swung helplessly at his side as he walked, as though too weighted to lift and his feet seemed glued to the ground. He wondered through the mass of people, his shoulder being bumped, his feet being stepped on, but only when he reached the back did he meet eyes with the guild leader and she smiled to him. With a wave of her hand and a flick of her wrist he was summoned, only when he drew close her expression changed and pinched in a look of worry.
Before her on the table was a steaming bowl of hot stew, the gravy smelled salty and the vegetables looked fresh and mouthwatering, but he had no appetite for food. Not even the invitingly warm brown bread that lay untouched beside the bowl was enough to rouse his hungar.
“What is it?” She asked when he stood before her. He could not bring his eyes to meet hers however for he had noticed how close her and Mikan seemed to be.
“Did something happen?” there was a strain of worry in her usual powerful voice.
“Mikan.” He only mumbled the name and for some time he thought the pause in the leader’s motions of combing back his hair and of speech as well was due to not hearing the words he uttered over the calamity of dancing feet.
“What about Mikan.” The ghostly way she spoke his name made the pain of telling her all the more great, for it seemed she feared he was caught by the king however hearing he had betrayed her would be all the more shattering.
“The one who tried to sell me back to the king is Mikan.” It was spoken in one breath though the silence that should have been ruined by the ocean of noise behind was intense.
“What do you think your doing?” She hissed. It was the first time Eden felt the full extent of those grey eyes leering through his skin.
“Why would you tell me a lie like that?”
“It’s not a lie!” Just the very way he was accused boiled his blood and despite being so much younger in years he leered back to the leader, his green eyes fierce with the same rage she harnessed from years of hardship.
“Mikan is a good man! He had worked hard for this guild, for me and he would never think of working for that man! Never!”
“I know what I saw!” He yelled back. Between them the music seemed drowned out though the only thieves listening in were the one’s that sat near by in the dark corners of the back.
“You must have seen wrong!”
“There’s no way I can mistake him for anyone else! He was talking with the king he planes to sell out the location of your guild!”
“Enough!” She erupted and when her had rose Eden flinched in fear that he would be hit. He did not feel the sting of a slap on his face however but heard the meal and her half empty glass of rum rattle on the table as she slammed down on it hard.
“I will not stand for this! I did not have to let you into my guild and if you plan to pry any further into this matter I will personally bring you to the king myself!”
“Why wont you believe me?” he shouted the question, though as their conversation had been it was not near loud enough to break the joyous mood around them.
“Mikan will be leader when I pass.” She hissed.
“He has known he will take my side for none but a few years now. That position is not given to just anyone.”
“Can’t your judgment me wrong?”
The table rattled at that accusation and he watched as she rose from her chair.
“In this time I can not be wrong! For me to be wrong in my judgment will make me weak and I can not lead if I am weak. You are a child! Not to mention you grew up in the riches of the palace were a single word from you would have people groveling at your feet!”
To this statement he could not speak but only because what she said was true despite never having used his power as such.
“You must have seen someone else.” She finished. There was a stubbornness to her words however. There was no finality as before when ending the argument about whether he stayed or left. Now she walked away like a child. One who refused to face the possibility that they were in fact wrong.
He watched her leave, the swaying of her long braid against her back and the seething gait as she pushed through the crowd. No doubt she was ready to move her people bellow and to give the inn an appearance of sleeping for the rest of the night. He would follow however the moment he set eyes on Mikan he would watch him and find a way to catch him in his act. Eden realized all too soon he was on his own and if the traitor did in fact give up the guild’s location he was the only one who would stop it. He would follow Mikan and find when the invasion would happen. If only Eden knew just how soon it was to come.
· Wed Apr 09, 2008 @ 08:17pm · 0 Comments