(Part 33) For the complete listing of this series, please go here.
Aly sighed, noting how red her eyes were in the mirror. She finished brushing her hair, deciding not to pull it back today. She figured it would be best to allow for some of her hair to fall across her face in order to, hopefully, draw attention away from her bloodshot eyes. She'd stayed up way to late, drinking in the bar area of the inn with the other seedy patrons of Murder Row.
She patted the herb sack that she'd acquired from Theryos. Aly sighed again. At least half of the bloodthistle was gone. She'd given a few leaves out, but had indulged in too many herself. Silently she cursed the addiction. Her race was very susceptiable to the fel rush brought on by bloodthistle, especially after the destruction of the Sunwell so many years ago.
After snagging a light breakfast of fruit that she pilfered from the inn's common area, Aly hit the streets of Silvermoon City. She spent most of the day utilizing previous contacts of hers and cashing in on a few favors. As evening approached, she began to feel that she wasted her sources and IOUs. None of the leads went anywhere. It perplexed her how no one seemed to know who this woman was. She would have been thrilled to have just discovered her name at this point. Aly still couldn't figure out why the contractor wouldn't at least hand over that information.
Unless he didn't know it either…
Aly shook her head. It just wasn't making any sense to her. The secrecy, the minimal information, the gold, and especially the ambivalence surrounding the outcome… alive or dead, it mattered not as long as there was proof. Weary and at her wits end, Aly paid little attention to her surroundings as she wandered about the city. She didn't see the little elven boy barreling down the street, heading right for her.
“Oof,” Aly cried out in surprise as the little boy run full speed into her legs.
He hadn't been watching where he was going either as he ran with his head turned, watching over his shoulder as another child chased him. The little boy looked up, a mischievous smile on his face.
“Sorry, ma'am!” He gave a half-hearted salute and continued on his way, laughing and running as the other child struggled to catch up to him.
Aly scowled after them, rubbing her shin. That little bastard is more solid than he looks, she thought.
As Aly straightened up, she saw an elderly elven woman sweeping outside of a large rundown building. Aly chewed at her lip, then shrugged her shoulders. This woman was older and likely to have lived in, or at least around, the city for many years, possibly having met the woman Aly was searching for. The corner of Aly's mouth curved up in a slight smirk. In Aly's experience, eldery women such as this one, tended to be more nosy and thus have a lot of information to share with anyone willing to listen.
Aly casually strode up to the building, observing the cracked windows, peeling paint, and several more children milling about. The building behind the elderly woman didn't stand out as it blended in with the other houses and buildings within this part of the city. It was close to the middle of the original city. Aly wasn't sure if these buildings were in part ruin because of their proximity to the destroyed half of Silvermoon, or it was due to being a poorer section and thus quite forgotten.
The elderly woman looked up from her sweeping when Aly's boots came into her view. “How can I help you, miss?” She said in a kind voice. She squinted behind a pair of spectacles. Her silver-gray hair was pulled back tightly and wound into a neat bun on the top of her head.
“Yes, actually. Or, at least I hope you can…” Aly fumbled at her pockets, trying to appear unprepared. “I've been trying to find someone and I just don't know where to look for her. I've been hoping to find someone in this city that knows of her.”
“Oh? She's not a child, is she?” She frowned, a saddened look taking over her face.
Aly pondered this for a moment then shook her head slowly. “No, ma'am. She's about my age. I know she used to live around here… somewhere…” she let her words trail off.
The elderly woman gave Aly a small smile. “I don't know how much of a help I'll be. I don't usually get to see much of anyone besides the children.” She waved a hand, gesturing at the building behind her. “But, I'll do my best to help you… Miss…. I'm sorry, what is your name, dear?”
“Aly,” Alynedarra smiled, extending her hand for a proper introduction and handshaking.
The elderly woman shook Aly's hand with a firm shake. “Nice to meet you Miss Aly. You may call me Matron Ophalia.”
Aly reached into her pack and pulled out a copy of the portrait of her target. “Does this woman look familiar to you, Matron?” Aly handed it over, a hopeful look on her face.
Matron Ophalia carefully took the portrait, holding it far then close, as though trying to find the right distance for it to come into focus. She adjusted her spectacles as they slipped down her nose, squinting. “Looking for a lost family member, I see?”
Aly stared blankly at the Matron for a moment before breaking into a wide smile. Why hadn't she thought of that cover story? It was perfect and less likely to arouse suspicion, especially around the city.
“Yes, yes. I have not seen her in many, many years. After going so long without hearing from her, I thought it would be best to come searching for her.” Aly leaned closer to the Matron, lowering her voice to hushed whisper, “I fear something has happened to her, you see…”
Matron Ophalia frowned, peering intently at the portrait. She smoothed her hands over the sketch, moving her fingers in such a way as to look at only parts of the elven woman's face, then pinching the portrait inwards. She smoothed it back out, isolating the eyes. “I have seen her, at least as a child.”
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