In the shadow

Current Listening:  The Evil Clicking of My Husband Playing Overwatch (Love you babe)

Current Reading:  Still taking recommendations

So,  Nanowrimo is complete for me.  I finished on the 22nd.  It’s official.  Maeseloria: Guardian’s Redemption is done in rough draft form.  I am really happy with the product.  The new book is  tabled until revisions start January/February.  I’m excited by the story I’ve put out.    I hope those of you that are stateside had an amazing Thanksgiving.     What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

Ink and Quill-ers got two weeks for the prompts this go around due to the holiday.  I have to say,  thank you to those of you that wrote for the group.  I love the work you’ve been putting out.  It’s awesome to have you guys.

On to the prompt!  This week I chose the guided prompt because it amused me and got me thinking on a character that is new in Shadow’s Journey but not new to the blog reading crew.  Her name is  Lily Eisen.  She is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.     I hope you guys like her as much as I do.  Here is the prompt:

Eavesdropper: Create a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard.

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“Rumor has it she did not survive the poisoning…”   Lily heard the guard whisper as she wound her way through the shadows.  A small smile curled her lips as she got closer to the catacomb’s entrance.  She blended with the night.  The Guild’s location was a secret to its members.  Based in the North, they were about an hour’s ride from Lochton.  She remembered being six years old and brought here under cover of darkness and blindfolded.  Lily shook the thought away. Those days were long gone.  She told Christi she needed help for this next mission to Mornesse.  The request was both selfish and not.

Layla was hers, more so than Isabelle had ever been.  The girl was brought to the guild at a young age.  She was old enough to be an adult but had no experience. In that,  Lily protected her as if she were a child.   Whoever had abandoned her did so with the intention of leaving her to die.  Lily would not allow her to.  At first, more nights than not,  Layla woke up screaming if she slept at all. When she could not sleep, Lily was there. In those dark nights,  Lily taught her how to use a dagger. The child learned as quick as any of the little children Lily herself had taken under wing. In those dark hours,  Lily found a kindred spirit she wanted to protect.  Whatever the girl’s history,  Lily had long since claimed her as her own.

Many of the upper echelon of the guild felt Layla would never be of use to them.  Lily understood what it was to be underestimated and discounted due to either your gender or whatever burdens you may carry within you.  After those first few terrifying nights,  Lily adopted the girl and made it her personal mission to prove them wrong.    If Marc knew she was here, the man would have a conniption.  These were the same people that sent her on a suicide mission to kill him.    Suffice to say the man would not be pleased if she chose this moment to disable the gem that currently hid her from his formidable talents.

I have to get her out, no noise, no movement, no witnesses. Fate above, please do not let her be on a mission right now. I need her to be here.  Her thoughts focused on the darkness before her and, as she passed the guard she palmed one of her poisoned needles. The man on the door was one of the more brutish members of the guild. She swept by him in the dark and scraped her needle across the back of his neck.  The strike was subtle and quite intentional.  Lily held her breath and froze in the shadows until the unsuspecting fellow dropped to the ground on unconscious.  The poison would not kill him but would leave him feeling ill for a number of days.  “The shadows are always watching.” She offered on a whispering sing-song to his fallen form before she proceeded into the catacombs below.

Anyone who may have been listening would assume that another member was returning from a mission. The phrase let people know the intruder was not a stranger to them. Such power games were common among the guild.  No one would pay any mind to the unconscious guard. She even took his guild coin for good measure and ditched the item in the shadows of the hallway.  Before they earned their daggers, all initiates were minted a coin specific to them.  Her own coin was minted with the flower that was her namesake.  Their duty was to keep the coin with them at all times.He would awaken with a headache and the impression that one of his bretheren had bested him to gain an advancement within the Guild.

As she passed other members, Lily pitched her voice in a way that no one but those that knew her well would recognize her.  Once through the main guard, she passed down the halls on quick, knowledgeable strides. When she left on her mission against Marc, she made sure Layla had earned her daggers.  She remembered giving the girl a brief hug.  Layla was as picky about physical contact as Marc’s sister, Alex.  “I have a way out for us. I promise.  This is my last mission.”   That was almost a year ago.

She rounded the corner into Layla’s room and backed left from the dagger that was launched at her head.  “Your aim’s gotten better.”  She whispered to the strawberry blonde girl.  Not long after her arrival, Layla had discovered that sneaking up on Lily was not a habit to have.  Layla’s strawberry blond hair and blue eyes drew a great deal of attention.  She was a little beauty that went to great lengths to hide that.  Lily understood why.  Her delicate beauty would be mistaken for weakness among the guild.

“Where the hell have you been?”  Layla growled and went for Lily’s arms without question.  When Lily closed her arms around her,  she relaxed.  Lily soothed the sudden panic in the girl’s face.  “Elders said you were dead.”  The words were hurt and Lily could do nothing but absorb the scent and feel of the girl in her arms. Layla’s normal exuberance was curbed by the shock of Lily’s arrival.  The nightmares still came for Layla and neither one of them understood why or how.  All Lily could gather was that Layla had suffered through hell before she came to the guild.  Without Lily’s intervention, matters could have gotten much worse.

“Away.  Clearly not dead.  Getting you out like I promised. Get your things, we’re going.”  When Lily set the girl back from her, she smiled though there were tears in her eyes.  “We are not coming back here. Not ever.”  Memories of this place and her years here clogged her throat.  For a moment, she felt a pang of guilt for what she had to do to survive.  In the end, though,  having the girl in her arms and the man that awaited her at home, were worth those sacrifices.  Being reunited with the only family she had left and the only father she had ever known were worth those sacrifices.

“You go, I go.”  Layla responded before she left Lily’s arms to gather her few meager possessions. The phrase acted as both a promise and direction.  Layla had to be talked out of accompanying her on that last mission to the capital.  The elders usually looked the other way when Lily took Layla with her.  Her missions never failed so no one complained.  The two of them had saved each other’s lives more times than she could count.  Layla had an uncanny sense of the world around her and, as she grew, Lily saw that the girl matched Lily’s reflexes stride for stride.  At times,  she surprised Lily with her intuition.

“You go, I go.” Lily repeated as Layla shouldered her bag. “Missed you, kid.  Let’s go. Details on the road.”   She kept the speech short and to the point. They could talk at length as soon as they got out of here alive.  If she wanted to make this painless, she’d summon his lordship.  Yet, she was not entirely sure the man had earned his way back into her good graces just yet.  They crept from the room and out into the halls.  The catacombs rarely bustled with life.  The halls of the dead were just that, dead.  Their kind did not often socialize with one another. Anonymity was often the key to their survival.

No one offered any further interference in her plan to remove Layla from the Guild.  Minutes later,  the cold, crisp air of the North hit Lily’s nostrils.  “We are free.  Come on, let’s get moving south.  I need to be in Mornesse in two days.”  Lily instructed as she wound her way through the trees.   Warmth was important.  Isean was not too far from its height.  The nights were cold.  She was prepared with a pack on both their horses. Cloaks, tents for the late hour.  They could survive.

Layla mounted her horse and noted Lily’s well planned approach.  That did not come as a surprise to her.  She wrinkled her pert nose at the errant snowflake settle on it.  “We camp. You tell me what going on. Another guild member boasted about poisoning you.”  Lily leaned over and fastened the cloak around Layla’s shoulders but did not answer. As another flake settled on the end of Layla’s nose,  she muttered.  “I hate the cold. Let’s move.”

 

 

 

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