Vol 3: Chapter 5, Part 1: True Nature

Shianne leaned back against the damp, exterior wall of the Council House, with a deep sigh. It had been a long, drizzly night and her patience was wearing thin. It had taken a great deal of persuasion on her part to get Councilman Lerke to agree to play his part in this ruse. Not that it surprised her at all that the Badger had needed convincing. It was never easy to get someone to put their life on the line, even if it was for the greater good of the whole of Katheyra.

She had sat with the Badgers and talked late into the night, the day she had approached them in the Council House after the quarterly public forum; just moments after Councilman Björn had officially become the Council Elder. Their distaste for their new leader had been her foot in the door to figure out what was really happening on the Katheyran Council, that would allow a tradition of steadfastly refusing any advances the Wolves made into their land could so easily be broken.

Rumors of an alliance with the Wolves, and an agreement to replace city guards in San Vincent’s Port and the other major cities of Katheyra with Mormant Military Wolves, had been swirling for weeks now. And even with no official announcement to that effect, the number of Wolves in San Vincent’s Port had been multiplying steadily. And even more worrying, a great number of those were soldiers, and they were being allowed to freely move around the cities and county in a way that would never have been permitted before.

It was clear that Councilman Björn was working with the Wolves, and Shianne suspected that he had been complicit with the careful and quiet disappearances of the Council members who had been vocal in there disagreement of this path, like that of Councilman Eelinn and Councilwoman Darmascus, whose chairs had both been empty at the public forum. According to Councilman Lerke, they had publicly and loudly voiced their opinions about allowing the Wolves any part of Katheyra’s defenses, either in city or country, and had steadfastly opposed any proposed orders of allowing armed Mormant soldiers to move freely though their land. Shortly thereafter they had disappeared. And on top of that, former Council Elder Elgress had recently been moved out of his quarters in the Council House to a private residence and had not been seen since. Councilman Lerke had tried to visit him several times, and never found anyone at his new residence. He was effectively as missing as Councilman Eelinn and Councilwoman Darmascus were.

Shianne peered around the corner of the building, out into the dark street, looking for any sign of the assassins she had been tracking in the city for weeks. She sighed again, stifling a groan of frustration when she saw nothing but an empty street. It had taken some convincing, but eventually Councilman Lerke had summoned the courage to play bait for her, and publicly go against the new Council Elder and his dealings with the Wolves. For two days she had been waiting for the team of assassins to show up and take care of their new target, but so far it had just been a lot of her waiting in the chilly autumn night.

The sharp buzz of the crystal in her hand startled her. Showtime, she thought as she stuffed the mate to the proximity crystal she had set on the other side of the building into her pocket. Pulling her hood up high, she slunk around the edge of the building, heading around the back to the far side. She was surprised she hadn’t seen the Wolf assassins approach, but they were, after all, assassins. And despite how good she was, their job was to remain unseen, and they were deft at their practice. She peered around the corner just in time to see a Wolf clad all in black, with only a strip of his face showing so that he could see, climbing the outside of the building towards the second story window that lead to Councilman Lerke’s room. Shianne looked around, trying to spot the assassins mate, but didn’t see anyone else around. Odd, they haven’t been separated as long as I’ve been tracking them, she thought. She looked back up to find the assassin gone.

“What in this Warbler’s Cursed world…” she muttered as she approached, looking up at what looked like a totally closed and locked window. Throwing her caution of the location of the second assassin to the wind, she quickly climbed the side of the building and reached the window just in time to see the door that lead from the Councilmans rooms into the hallway closing, leaving the room empty.

Cursing under her breath she climbed back down, landing on the ground just in time to whirl around and parry a blow from what she assumed what the second assassin. Ducking and rolling away from him, she sprang up backwards and landed a kick to the assassin’s jaw that sent him tumbling to the ground. She leapt atop him, dagger in her hand at the ready. His yellow eyes gleamed in the night, and she realized then that this assassin had been meant to distract her all along. They had known she had been following them all along. With a vicious curse, she landed a blow with the hilt of her dagger that knocked the assassin out cold and leapt up, heedless of leaving a body on the Council House’s lawn.

Speeding around to the front of the Council House she saw nothing out of the ordinary. When she carefully approached the front doors though she found them unlocked and knew that she had lost her man. Councilman Lerke had been abducted and she hadn’t a clue where he had been taken to, or how long he would remain alive.

Letting out a snarl that was sure to wake some people inside the Council House she stalked back to the fallen assassin and drug him into the gardens, out of the site of the windows of the Council House. Putting her boot firmly on his chest and ripping the fabric that covered his face off, she rummaged in a small pouch for a tiny bottle of smelling salts and held them under the assassin’s nose. He awoke with a start and coughed, wheezing under the pressure she was putting on his chest. She let up slightly so that he could catch his breath.

“Where did he take the Councilman?” she asked. He said nothing. “Are you holding them captive somewhere in the city?” she asked again. When he refused to speak, she pressed down hard on his chest and unsheathed her dagger. She tossed it carelessly in the air, catching it seconds before it would land blade side down on his face. She grinned at him ferally. “We can do this the easy way, where you answer my questions truthfully, or we can do this the hard way where I have some fun and still get my answers, but you’ll be left a lot worse for wear.” He met her eyes and for a moment she saw fear flash in them, before he sneered at her,

“I don’t talk to savages.” He growled. She drove the dagger into his shoulder then, and held a paw over his mouth to muffle his scream of agony.

“Call me a savage again and they’ll never be able to identify your body.” She hissed. She drew the dagger out of the wound painfully slow and waited for him to stop sputtering before she removed her paw from his mouth. “Now let’s try this again, shall we?” she said with a feral grin. “Where has your little friend taken my little friend?” she asked in a deceptively sweet voice. When the Wolf hesitated to answer, she pressed the point of the dagger against the open wound in his shoulder until he whimpered and begged her to stop. Weak, she thought as she pulled the dagger away.

“They’re.. they’re..” The Wolf sputtered. “They’re being held in the South Quarter, near the gate. Commander Rollstad and a selection of elite soldiers have taken over an Inn there. The Screaming Siren is its name.” Shianne nodded and smiled at him, patting his face.

“Thank you.” She said softly. “I see now why you were the distraction. You aren’t a very good assassin.”

It took her a short amount of time to hide the body when she was finished with him, and then she took to the streets, moving swiftly through the secret passageways that lead between the closed and locked sections of the city at a night. As she neared the South Gate, she slowed, and kept to the alleys and shadows.

The Screaming Siren Inn sat with its back to the city wall, a mere two blocks from the South Gate. She had stayed there many times, as it was known as a place of low reputation, where one could find someone to solve their problems; the perfect location for an assassin to acquire work. It was curious that Commander Rollstad had chosen this particular Inn to be his base of operations, and she wondered a bit of what had become of its owner. Curiosities for another time, she thought. As she peered around the corner of an adjacent building and spotted two Wolves clad in Military finery flanking the front doors of the Inn. She spotted another two near the back of the building, and even more stationed around the neighboring buildings. It was not going to be easy to break into, and it was unlikely she could formulate a plan this night to rescue councilman Lerke.

Shianne was about to turn away, to head back to her room near the East gate and to try and puzzle a way to rescue the captured Council Members, when the sharp point of a knife pressed into her back.

“One movement and I will sink this into your spine so you may never walk again, savage.” Shianne felt the anger and hatred she had for the Wolves bubble up, but trusted this Wolf on his threat and didn’t move a muscle. The knife stayed put and another Wolf in military garb came around in front of her and quickly relieved her of her weapons, crystals, and pouches of goods and coin. “Come along then.” the Wolf behind her said, as he began marching her towards the Inn. The guards at the door sneered at her as she was lead inside and into the Inn’s common room. Sitting at a table near the back of what was once the common room of the Inn was Commander Rollstad. The knife point disappeared from her back and the solider wrenched her forward by her arm until she was standing just opposite of the Commander.

“Ahh, Death’s Whisper, or should I said, Shianne… it is always a pleasure to see you.” Shianne snarled,

“I can’t say the same, Rollstad.” The Wolf who had drug her into the room slapped her hard in the face.

“You will call him Commander, savage. And you will speak to him with respect.” Shianne stumbled from the blow and her vision blurred.

“That’s enough, soldier.” Commander Rollstad said in a firm voice. “You are dismissed.” The Wolf soldier hesitated a moment, but left them. Commander Rollstad got up then and walked around the table. Shianne stood stiffly, while he used a claw to pluck the thin chain nestled in the fur around her neck out until the gem that had been laying against her chest was visible. He removed it from the chain and smiled at her. “Let’s just remove all pretenses for this meeting, shall we?” he said as he dropped the gem to ground and stomped it under the heal of his boot. It a shot, Shianne’s fur was the red-gold of her true nature again, and she stood proudly before the Wolf, unflinching in his gaze.

“You masquerade as one of us, but we all know your true identity now, Fox.” Commander Rollstad said, circling around behind her. “And you have been trying to interfere with my plans again. This cannot be tolerated.” He said, gently caressing his paws up and down her arms. He moved back in front of her, leaning against the table. “You also have information that I greatly require.” He said simply. Shianne continued to stare at him, stiff and unmoving.

“I have nothing to say to you.” She said quietly. He sighed and signalled for the guards to come into the room, and soon she was being drug away.

“Lock her up in isolation and retrieve me the moment she is ready to tell me where my son is.”

To be continued…

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Map 30114

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