Kyrianna slipped out the window and dropped to the ground. Her soft leather boots made a slight thud and she froze for a moment, crouching in the shadows as she surveyed the area. She released a silent breath and watched as the moisture condensed in front of her. The moon was a few days past the first quarter, waxing toward full and provided enough illumination for her eyes to pick out the shimmering frost on the rocks, bushes and statuary scattered between her location and the back wall of the estate. She continued to study the area, searching out the best route through the clutter.
This was a small estate and she judged it only a couple dozen paces from where she was to the wall, but there had to be over fifty items of statuary and bushes in her path.
"Ibacia, master of shadows and patron of thieves, guide my steps," she whispered as she made her way through the chaos. She half danced as she avoided the clutching branches of the bushes that threatened to capture her. Rocks and broken pieces of marble bit at her feet, but her training had taught her to move with a light step--even at a quick pace. However, as her right foot slid over an icy piece of stone, she was glad she had an even softer step than most humans.
"Chaos, where is it?" she muttered as she searched for the message tube her guild mentor, Silvis, had told her to find. Most of the noble estates in Nydith, like this one, had several in various locations on the grounds so messages could be passed if there was something preventing normal communications. If not for those instructions, she would have slipped back out the small gate near the stables where she had entered.
After what seemed like an eternity, though the moon had not moved from its watchful position, she located the message tube in the northeast corner of the back wall. The opening was overgrown with flowers and grass; and it was only the slight sparkle of the silver and gold marker crystals that allowed her to find it. Kyrianna released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding then pulled the small packet of papers from under her tunic, rolled it tight and slid it into the tube.
Before moving away, she took a few seconds to straighten the flowers and smooth the dirt. There, it would take someone with the proper training to see the area has been disturbed, she thought.
Still moving cautiously, she made her way to the other corner of the wall where the small statue of a unicorn stood. As soon as her hand touched the white marble, she jerked it back. She had felt warmth and the slight tremor of flesh, but this was just a statue. How could it be alive?
Kyrianna stared at the statue, holding her breath, for several heartbeats. She reached back out and placed her hand on the unicorn’s smooth neck. As the cold, ebony eyes watched her; she rubbed the hard surface of stone. For the briefest moment, there was a sparkle in the unicorn’s eyes that should not have been there. She blinked and looked again--it was gone.
"My apologies," she whispered as she used the statue to climb to the top of the wall.
Kyrianna froze on top of the wall as footsteps echoed in the small alley. What little light the moon had been providing was now hidden behind the morning clouds and she forced herself as flat as she could as she waited.
The footsteps continued, regular and even in their stride. Three or four, walking together, she thought, must be the Watch. However, it’s too early for the morning patrol, why are they here? Knowing the odds were already against her if this was a special patrol; she mouthed a silent prayer that her brother wouldn’t be with them.
Kyrianna shifted her head, to see the patrol and frowned at the flash of gold on the shoulder of one of the group. Chaos take it, Erudus is with them.
She breathed a small sigh of relief when she saw his attention was focused on the walls opposite her position. As long as he was looking elsewhere, she was safe; human eyes wouldn’t see her in this darkness.
However, even that slight sound was enough to betray her. Erudus jerked his head up and turned to scan the wall where she was. His eyes widened as he tapped the shoulder of the guard next to him and pointed in her direction. "The informant was correct," he whispered.
"By Ibacia," Kyrianna muttered as she jumped from the wall and ran to the front gates. If luck is with me, I should be able to get out before they can begin their search. She sprinted around the corner of the house, stealth forgotten in her haste. Loud footfalls approached the gate. Her elven born reflexes prevented her feet from sliding on the pebbles of the courtyard as she stopped. There was no decent place to hide and no time to get over the gate. Her hand went to one of the daggers on her belt then stopped. She listened to the sounds again. There were at least two groups of guards on the street; she would have no chance against them. An echoing creak told her someone was opening the gate near the stables and a muttered curse floated from the back of the estate, followed by the splintering sound of stone breaking.
She had no way out of the estate. It was almost as if they had been waiting for her. She knew she couldn’t risk being caught in the house. At this point, all they had were suspicions. There was no evidence of anything except her trespass on Lord Ravel’s estate. Still it would be better to not be caught at all. With a heavy sigh, she stepped back against the wall of the house, crouched down behind a large shrub in the shadows and hoped for the best.
She swallowed silently and refused to answer the soft voice calling her name.
"Kyrianna?" The voice was a bit more insistent this time.
She again held silent refusing to answer. Still holding her position, she listened to the footsteps of the guards as they moved around the area. Several people walked by the shrub she was hiding behind. Finally, one of the searchers stopped in front of the large bush.
"Kyrianna, I know it is you, do not make this any harder than it already is." The shrub rustled, and Kyrianna inhaled sharply as Erudus’ sword stopped less than an inch from her face.
She took a slow, deep breath and closed her eyes to calm herself, then stood; her hands held well away from her weapons.
Erudus only stared at her as he sheathed his sword, the sound of the sliding metal loud in the silence of the night. Kyrianna flinched, but otherwise didn’t move.
"Why?" Erudus stared at her for several seconds then nodded toward her weapons and held his hand out.
She only shrugged in answer as she removed the daggers she was wearing and placed them in her brother’s hand. The weapons handed over, Kyrianna held her hands out, waiting for him to bind them.
Erudus glanced down at the symbol engraved in the hilt of the daggers. With a frown, he jerked his head toward the gates. "Go."
"Commander." The guard saluted as he and an older gentleman approached. "This is Lord..."
"Lord Ravel." The older man glared at the guards as he looked around. "Just what is going on here? The guardsman said someone was caught trespassing."
Kyrianna’s eyes widened as she studied the gray haired, portly Lord standing there wrapped in a brilliant green cloak over his nightclothes. She had never met Lord Ravel, but she still knew him. Silvis! She felt her breath catch in her throat. Was this a test or a set-up?
Lord Ravel, Silvis, looked at her and smiled. She shuddered at the malice she saw in his expression and moved several steps closer to her brother.
Erudus bowed to the gentleman. "Lord Ravel, this person was observed on the back wall of your estate. We have not yet ascertained whether she was entering or leaving the grounds."
"I have checked; there is nothing missing or disturbed within the house. I would surmise you were able to apprehend her as she was entering. I leave this matter in your hands. Please inform Lord Brygan I will expect his personal report regarding this incident."
Kyrianna’s head snapped up at the mention of her father and she frowned at the look Silvis was directing toward her. This was a set-up.
"I will relay your request, Lord Ravel," Erudus whispered.
For a moment, Kyrianna wondered if he had been hoping to hide the incident from their father.
"Very good." Silvis turned and walked back toward the house.
Kyrianna glanced back over her shoulder as her escorts walked her through the gates and saw Silvis standing at the door smiling at her. He moved his hands in a series of quick movements. "Thank you for your service to the guild," his hands said.
She moved her hands behind her back and signed back. "Chaos take you."
Erudus dismissed all but two members of the guard and motioned for her to walk beside him with the two guards behind them. The streets of Nydith were deserted as the four of them made their way back to the guard barracks for this district.
Kyrianna clenched her hands and fought the shiver that slid up and down her spine as they approached the building. One of the guards opened and held the door as Erudus motioned her through. They walked in silence to one of the offices. Kyrianna held her head down, not looking at the familiar weapons hung on the walls or the plaques honoring those recognized as heroes by the Lords of Nydith. Several of those weapons and plaques belonged to Lord Brygan of House Dalynne, her father.
"Ryia, fetch Lord Brygan and the Magistrate. Vailken, remain here. Admit no one until one of them arrives," Erudus said when they reached the interview room.
Both of the guards saluted then left the room.
"Sit down," he ordered as the door shut behind them.
Kyrianna walked around the small desk and pulled out the chair facing the door. She looked at her brother, who had positioned himself in the corner to her right. He ignored the look, and she sat down, crossed her arms on the table and put her head down to wait until her father arrived.
A soft, feminine voice whispered in her ear, calling her name and Kyrianna looked up. There was still no one else in the room other than her and her brother. She put her head back down and the voice was there again, stronger.
"Kyrianna, you don’t belong in this place," the woman’s voice said. "You are too independent to be tied to the rules or prejudices of Nydith. You know in your heart you will be sent away from here. Keep in mind that when they reject you, you can call on me. I will welcome you as one of my daughters."
"Who are you?" Kyrianna mouthed the question, although she knew it was her thoughts the woman would hear more than any verbal expressions she might make.
"You will know; when it is time." The voice and the presence attached to it faded.