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(Part 20) For a complete list of this series, please go here.

After speaking with Krizkix, Aly decided to head back to the Salty Sailor Tavern and pack her bags.  She went to the bank to leave most of her belongings and withdrew more money.  She figured she'd be flying out soon and would need to travel lightly.  She would also need to have coin on hand to buy information, for that never came cheap.  Aly tended to the bank quickly and returned to the tavern to wait for Krizkix's report.

Several hours went by and no Krizkix.  Aly began to grind her teeth as she attempted to keep her anger in check.  The waiting was making her anxious.  She tried to nurse her drinks for as long as she could.  She needed to keep her head clear and alert, but couldn't raise suspicion about why she was loitering at the tavern.

Just as Aly was about to give up on Krizkix, the disgustingly smug little Goblin came bursting through the door.  She could see from where she sat that he nervously twisted a piece of parchment in his hand.  Krizkix squinted, his eyes darting around the dimly lit tavern, but he didn't see her.  Shuffling to the bar, he motioned for the barkeep to come closer.

Aly fixed her keen eyes upon them, using her peripheral vision.  Aly took a deep breath to calm herself, but did not want to give away anything with telltale body language to the barkeep or other patrons.  She knew some would consider her to be paranoid, but they didn't understand the business.  Nor the type of scum that would jump at a chance to turn a profit off just about anything around places like Booty Bay.  No, it was best to err on the side of caution.  Always.

Krizkix leaned over the bar, speaking to the barkeep in hushed tones.  He waved his hands as he talked, being a bit too expressive and showy for Aly's liking.  The barkeep grunted and turned away from Krizkix.  Krizkix thumped his thick fist against the bar, straining to resist raising his voice.

“I only serve customers, friend,” the barkeep growled over his shoulder.

Krizkix's shoulders heaved with a sigh before he pulled out a precious gold piece from his pocket.  He tapped it on the bar.  “Ale, then.”

The barkeep bid his time filling a glass mug with dark, thick ale.  He cast an eye towards Aly, winking at her.  She stifled the urge to gag, not giving him any response other than to take another sip of her lukewarm drink.  Righting the glass and letting the foam settle, he set it down in front of Krizkix.  Reluctantly, Krizkix set the gold piece down and took a swig of the ale.

“Can I leave the message now?” he implored.

“Tell ‘er yourself,” the barkeep snorted, jutting his chin in her direction.

Krizkix spun around, his ale sloshing over the sides of the mug.  He swallowed hard, wiping the sweat and foam from his mouth.  “Thanks for nothin',” he muttered as he shuffled to her table.

Aly nodded curtly at him as she pushed a chair out with a kick of her foot.  “Did you get the travel log?”

Krizkix nodded quickly as he sat down, bumping the chair loudly in the process.  “Yes, yes.  I got it for you.”

She motioned with her hand as though waving at herself.  “Let's see it.”

“Payment?” he asked, giving her a toothy grin.

She kicked his chair, glaring at him.  Reflexively he grasped the edge of the table as his chair tilted backwards.  He leaned forward, the front legs of the chair slamming against the floor.

“Ok, ok.  After then?” he set the crinkled parchment on the table, running his grimy hands over it several times as he tried to smooth it out.

* * *

Shivering, Aerissa woke up with a start.  Her arms were wrapped tightly around herself.  It was cold.  And it was dark.  She sucked in her breath as she stiffly sat up.  Her body ached from the hard cave floor.  She looked around anxiously, but couldn't see anything but smothering darkness.  Aerissa tried rubbing her eyes, willing her pupils to adjust to the lack of light.  The touch made her wince.  Her eyes were sore and swollen from crying.

“Locke?” she whispered.  “Lo-ocke?”

She strained her ears, trying to pick up the slightest sound of him.

Nothing.

She reached out, feeling blindly into the darkness.  Her fingers rubbed against the back of the cave wall.  At least, she thought it was the back.  She remembered facing it before…  Aerissa shook her head.  She had no idea when she fell asleep.  She could only imagine that her body and mind eventually shut down after her exhaustive breakdown.

Patting the ground, she planted her hands firmly before twisting and turning her body so that she could crawl on all fours.  Slow and steady, she patted the ground and felt the nothingness before her.  She moved towards, what she hoped, was the entrance of the cave.

“Locke?” she called in a loud whisper.  She assumed he was laying outside the cave and just hadn't heard her before.  A few more paces forward, and he still hadn't come.  “Locke!” she called in an urgent half-whisper.  Continuing to shuffle forward, she began to feel more desperate and lost.  Where could he be?

“Locke?” she said, her voice sounding loud to her ears.

Still nothing.  She could now see a bit of the moonlight at the entrance.  She moved quicker, more purposefully, towards the light.  When she reached the entrance, she emerged slowly, cautiously.  Her brow knitted in confusion.  She looked to the left, the right, and far into the distance before her.

Locke was no where to be seen.

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3 comments

  • This was exciting…wondering if Ally would finally get a clue and what is Rissy going to do? Where is Locke her faithful companion?! Great job!

  • @Keli – Thanks, glad it was on par with the parts before my hiatus… but I just had to do a double cliff hanger to make up for it!

    @tiggs – I’m back! Er, Rissa’s back! … now to search for that cat. Kitties are good at hiding. >.>

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