(Part 45) For the entire listing of this series, please go here.
Reaching the hallway leading away from the Royal Quarter, Aerissa clutched the song book close to her chest. With her other hand, she grasped her dress and raised the hemline. She increased her pace until she was at a very brisk walk. Aerissa chewed at her bottom lip, her cheeks and neck blotchy with redness.
I thought she'd be happy… instead I brought her more pain and misery. How awful!
She decided it was time to head back to Silvermoon City and then return to Tranquillien as quickly as possible. After several wrong turns, she eventually navigated back to the orb of translocation. Once she reappeared on the platform in Sunfury Spire, she leaned against the wall with a sigh of relief.
* * *
Alynedarra scowled at everyone that looked her way, kicking her foot into the ground, mumbling angrily. After the troll merchant sold her information about the green dress, she thought it'd be easier to track Aerissa. Aly had gotten more aggressive with her questioning as she darted around the city, inquiring after a woman in a green dress. Then, Aly smacked herself on the forehead.
I need to focus. She just bought that dress. She's probably not wearing it yet…
“Arrggghh!” Aly squeezed her eyes shut, screaming at the sky. She clenched and unclenched her fists, fighting for control. She breathed in and out slowly, feeling her heart beating rapidly in her chest. Aly leaned against a brick wall, pounding the back of her heel against it. After she finished unleashing her frustration, she returned to scouring the streets for Aerissa.
As Aly searched deeper into the city, she began to spot guards more frequently. Frowning, she withdrew her mask from her pocket and put it on over the lower half of her face. Her thoughts ran quickly through her mind and unfocused. She hated feeling this desperate.
She bent down, pretending to tie the laces of her boots. Without moving her head, she watched a lone guard patrolling towards the Farstriders Square, where the city's blacksmiths and a variety of other craftsmen worked and sold their goods.
Aly darted along behind him, using the alleyways until she closed the distance between them. Quickly, she scanned the area for passers-by. She needed to make her move now, before he reached the Square. Aly grabbed her dagger by the hilt, flipping it around in her hand so the blade ran down her forearm. In one quick motion, she wrapped her arm around the guard's neck, the blade pressing against his skin.
“Don't. Say. A. Word.” she hissed into his ear as she guided him backwards into the alley.
The guard stared wide-eyed at the dagger. He made no move to confirm his obedience; however, he didn't make a sound. With her free hand, Aly patted her pockets until she found the portrait of Aerissa. She held it in front of his face.
“Tell me, have you seen this woman?”
The guard's body was tense against Aly, but he remained silent. She tilted the dagger upwards, the tip just missing his nose.
“I asked you a question.”
She saw his shoulder twitch. Aly narrowed her eyes. She held the portrait between her teeth while she reached around the front of the guard. She unbuckled his belt, which held his sword, and tossed it on the ground. She kicked it away, taking away the guard's last hope to overpower her. She held the portrait in front of his face again, shaking it angrily.
“Have you seen this woman? Tell me!” she screeched.
“Y-yes. Yes, she asked me for directions,” he answered reluctantly, staring at her blade.
“Oh? Where to?” she asked, kneeing him in the back of his thigh.
He winced. “The Court of the Sun, I think.”
Aly smirked next to his ear. “You think? Why would she go there?” she mused aloud.
“I-I don't know. She looked lost, I directed her to it. Please, I'm about to go off-duty…”
She laughed, a sharp, shrill shriek in his ear. What an incompetent guard! I didn't even have to pay him. She looked at the side of his face. Beads of sweat were dripping down his young face. Aly didn't want to risk adding murder of a city guard to her rap sheet. She figured humiliation would be her best option.
“Don't worry,” she cooed in his ear, “you're going off-duty…. right…now!”
She twisted the blade away from him and pulled her arm back. His chin nestled in the crook of her elbow as she choked him. As he began to lose consciousness, she released him, knocking him atop the head with the handle of her dagger. She watched as he slumped to the ground.
He'll live, but the headache will be killer.
Aly grabbed his belt and sword, tossing them in with the garbage at the back of the alley, and headed for the Court of the Sun. She would have to be extremely careful since that place was crawling with guards.
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