The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 12
By Silent Elegy
The wind howled outside the house, the storm rising to a fever pitch. Mina clasped her hands to her breasts, awaiting her love. He had never been this late before. Mina was worried he might have been caught in the storm. Perhaps he was laying somewhere, even now, crying her name, his body wracked with pain.
She looked out the window, hoping, but not expecting, to see him. But there, coming up the path, was a figure. It had its head bent down in a futile attempt to escape the rain, but it was recognizable.
Mina flung herself into the storm, oblivious to the downpour that drenched her instantly, and flung herself into her lovers arms. He welcomed her with all his love, but something was different. She smelled on the air, under the rain, a new scent. It was a womans perfume. She backed away from him, shaking her head in denial. The one she loved the most, the one she trusted the most, had betrayed her.
Flea slammed the book shut and looked at Slash. She knows.
What? Slash asked incredulously. How did she find out?
I dont know, Flea answered, looking at the book. But I doubt that she left this here on this particular page by accident. No, she knows.
But what are we going to do? Without her, the Mystics will revolt. They follow her even more loyally than they did Magus.
I know, I know. I wish I knew why. Flea bit the knuckle of his first finger, deep in thought. There are only imps living in the castle. Well tell everyone else that shes sick and threaten all the imps who might know shes gone.
Slash nodded. Sounds good. Ill take care of the imps; you handle the army. Flea watched Slash leave the library and took one last look at the book before leaving himself.
In an attempt to finish as soon as possible, Slash gathered all the imps in the castle into a single room where he addressed them. Now, you all know why youre here, Im sure, he began, not realizing that of the twenty imps, only three of them had noticed Mariels absence. Mariel has gone missing. Now, if any of you tell that to anyone outside this room, every one of you dies. Got it? The imps gulped and nodded. Good. Slash nodded once and walked out of the room.
The imps sat around for a few minutes looking at each other. Finally, one spoke. Mariels gone?
Yep, said another. I was suppose to take her lunch and she was gone.
I was suppose to take her breakfast, and she was gone then, too, said a third.
Well, said a fourth, not wanting to be outdone. I saw her leave.
The poor imp was instantly bombarded by questions. How had she left? When was it? Why hadnt he told anyone? Finally, one imp stood and walked to where Slash had been standing. He cleared his throat for silence, but he didnt get it. He cleared his throat a little louder, but everyone continued talking at once. Finally fed up, he shouted, Quiet! Any listener could have heard a pin drop.
The imp nodded decisively, imitating Slash, and said, You know what we have to do, right?
Smile and nod?
Act like nothing happened?
Run around screaming?
No, no, and no, said the apparent leader. We have to find her. We have to know why she left, or if she was kidnapped.
But Slash said hed kill us if we told anyone!
Anyone outside this room. Thats what he said. So, well bring someone into this room.
The imps looked at each other nodding. That was the best plan. They hurried to find the best trackers the Mystic army had to offer. The imps may have been weak cowards, but they were devious, weak cowards.
Rat peeked carefully out the window of Mariels room. They were on the third floor of the inn, but she didnt want to take the chance that someone might see her. There was a small bar across the street, and a suspicious looking man had walked in some time ago. Rat could just see him sitting near the door, possibly waiting for someone.
Is he still there? asked Mariel. She was sitting on the bed, reading.
Rat lashed her tail. Yep, she answered in agitation. Been what? Two hours now?
Something like that.
Could he be waiting for us? Frog asked, joining Rat at the window. He appeareth to be watching the inns door.
You can see that from here?
Frogs have superb vision, Mariel answered for him. Hearing, too, if Im not mistaken. Not as good as Glenns, but I theorize that his senses are relative to his size. Frog looked at Mariel, who smiled. Know your enemy, as I always say.
And am I thy enemy?
Rat shook her head at the two of them. When they had first met, Frog had seemed rather distant and cold to Mariel. But now, they acted like old friends. Rat could feel something more in that short exchange than words alone, but she couldnt place it. It made her feel a little jealous, as though she would always be on the outside. But that wasnt a change from anything; shed always been on the outside, even with her rat friends.
Thats enough, you two, she said a little more sharply than she intended. We gots to figure out how to get outta here.
Mariel, canst thou cast illusions? Frog asked, back in business mode.
Oh, I could only dream, was the exasperated reply. Flea never taught me how. He said it wasnt something I would ever need to know. She scoffed.
Then we shall have to find another way.
Rat sighed. Why dont ya ask Doreen? She oughtta be able to, right? Frog was silent for a moment before shaking his head.
She will not answer.
Well, cant ya teleport, Mariel?
I can teleport myself. Last time I tried to take anyone with me, we were both trapped in the void. Flea had to come rescue us.
Well, then, that aint going to work, is it? Rats whiskers drooped; she was out of ideas. She looked out the window again. Hey, that guys gone!
So he is, Frog confirmed. Mayhap he was not waiting for us after all.
Or maybe hes gone to report to someone
Well, if hes gone to tell his boss wes here, we need to leave, now. Mariel closed her book with a sigh. And go where?
Frog, you gots a place, dont ya? Rat asked, leaving the window.
Aye, but it isnt exactly hidden.
Several people know I live there.
That wont work. Mariel stood and stretched, wincing as her joints popped from being in one position for so long. She sighed. Too bad we cant go back ho She broke off suddenly.
What? Frog and Rat both asked.
Home might be the one place they wont find us
Dont Slash and Flea live there? Rat asked skeptically.
No, no, no. Not that home. The place I lived before Flea found me. Its so small that most people overlook it. Its on the beach near the Magic Cave, but Slash and Flea found me trying to get away. They wouldnt expect me to go back. Of course, the people there hate me, but I can wear my cloak. But well have to disguise the two of you somehow.
Frog closed his eyes, trying once again to talk to Doreen or Masa and Mune. But the three siblings were silent except for a slight buzzing in the back of his head, signifying that they were talking to each other. He wondered what they were talking about.
You magic users, Rat said scornfully. Yere always thinkin magics the end-all solution to everthing.
Do you have a better idea? Mariel asked scornfully. Rat grinned, showing her pointed teeth.
The King of Thieves was rather nervous. There had been no sign of Mariel in two days, Adreagon was dead, Frog had escaped prison with the help of that over-grown rodent and vanished, and Garret, who had gone looking for them a few hours earlier, had yet to return. His Highness sighed and began pour a glass of bourbon, then changed his mind and drank it from the bottle. A hard knock on the door caused him to start and drop the bottle; it shattered on the desk, sending bourbon in all directions. The King cursed and jumped back, but it already spilled into his lap. He sighed again before calling, Come in!
Garret entered nervously and bowed. Your Highness, I have located Frog and Rat at the inn across from the Gilded Dove.
Ah, wonderful, the King said jovially, brightening considerably.
Garret relaxed since the King seemed appeased. Yes, Your Highness. They are on the third floor. I dont believe they realized I could see them. Fleas sight-enhancing spell worked quite well.
Good, good. Well send someone after them, then. If we can catch them now, I can turn them in to Guardia for a reward and stop them meddling in my affairs once and for all. The King laughed loud and long, bordering on mania. Garret joined in. Although he didnt think it was very funny, he always tried to be as agreeable as possible. The King liked to kill people who didnt suit him.
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