Chapter 6: Guards

Jevil led the way with Elien walking beside me and Orias brought up the rear. They led me through many twisting corridors past empty rooms and ones filled with people. It slowly dawned on me that this whole place was a veritable maze of rooms and that it must spread underneath the entire neighbourhood. It was the best possible hiding place for the Dreil rebellion. Because of our need for lots of space, the Caslo were under the mistaken impression we couldn't stand being underground. More the fools they, I thought as I walked through complex. We just need to have plenty of room to move around and we obviously have that here.

Finally after a good ten-minute walk Jevil stopped in front of a large door flanked by two men who could only be guards. The old man rapped on the door and called out. "Gazit are you busy?"

Surprisingly, a woman's voice answered him. "Not particularly. Come on in."

Jevil opened the door and ushered me inside. When I entered I was surprised by the lack of ornament. The walls were all plain white and all the room contained was a huge wooden desk, three wooden chairs; two in front of the desk and one behind it.

On the chair behind the desk sat one of the prettiest women I'd ever seen. She had her long black hair braided and coiled into a ball at the back of her head. Her eyes were a shade between amber and hazel, her body like that of a cat slim yet well muscled. Her lack of even a hint of tan told me she was Dreilin and she was dressed in black leathers and regarded me seriously.

"I hope this isn't another recruit you want put into intelligence. I told you after the last two that I don't have time to train newbies anymore. That's why I have an assistant."

Elien smiled at Gazit. "Shastree isn't a new recruit."

"Oh?" The woman replied volumes of meaning in that single syllable.

"This is who we've been looking for." Jevil said.

"Who you've been looking for old man. I don't believe in heroes."

Jevil sputtered and I smiled though my rage was still seething just below the surface. This woman seemed to have more sense then the other three.

Gazit seemed to see everything for she noticed the smile as well as Elien's flush. "Stop blushing Elien. You do what you believe is right to help the rebellion and from the looks of it your 'hero' seems to agree with me that a hero is well nigh useless."

"Oh I don't believe I'm useless just that I am no hero. They decided this not me." I replied.

"And you agreed." Snapped Jevil finally recovering from his rage at being treated so disrespectfully.

"Yes I did. I want revenge pure and simple. The Caslo destroyed my life and now they too shall feel the pain of loss."

Gazit raised an eyebrow. "That's a lot of anger."

"Yes but I will not let it cloud my judgement."

The woman nodded. "You might do after all. So Jevil want to tell me why you came here in the first place?"

"Shastree wished to speak with you." The old man said in an annoyed tone.

"Oh really?"

I nodded. "I served as a light spy in Lord Xalian's household. I wasn't sure how capable the spymaster, or in this case mistress, was going to be so I came to offer my help. It seems you know more then I do so it was a pretty useless gesture."

"You were in Lord Xalian's household?" Gazit asked eyebrows shooting up.


"You know who his spymaster was?"

I nodded again. "I reported to her directly. Lady Histmia was his spymistress."

"Wait a second. His wife? And what do you mean was?"

"She's dead. They're all dead. All the ones in the Dining Hall I know are dead. The others?" I shrugged at this, my voice cold and uncaring, the rage consuming any feelings of guilt. "Some might have escaped with horrible burns, but that is very unlikely."

"Then how did you survive?"

I stretched my lips into a smile that in no way had anything to do with amusement. "I'm the reason it burned."

Gazit seemed completely unfazed by my statement. "How?" was all she said.

"I sang. They killed my friend and I screamed some song. I don't know the tune nor the words all I know was the emotions were filling me up and pouring out through that song."

"That could be a very potent weapon."

"I know. I intend it to be."

"Huh. So I'm assuming your singing caused things to burst into flame?"

I nodded for a third time.

"She wouldn't stop singing. She was in some kind of trance." Elien explained.

"If you trance when you're doing it you might be caught unawares. I'm going to assign two of my best agents as your bodyguards."

Orias made a noise of protest and the spymistress turned to look at him. "I know offence, defence and guarding are all your duties but these two are the best. I'm sure you know them. Ashli and Taira."

The huge warrior actually paled. "Those two? I thought they were on a job."

"They were. They're done now and complaining about lack of anything to do. All the rest of the places they could be of any use already have well-established agents. Now if you want to undertake keeping them busy, by all means do so and assign your own bodyguards."

Orias shook his head. "Those two will be good. Very good. I can't think of anyone better."

Gazit practically purred. "Well then I'll tell them and they'll come find you Shastree. Oh and don't be surprised by their appearance. They're really quite good though they do chatter incessantly."

From her tone I knew we were dismissed. I nodded my thanks, turned around and left the room, the other three scrambling to keep up. I strode down the halls, heading nowhere, just simply needing to move about.

Somehow I found myself in the kitchens. I sat down at the table and watched as the cooks ran this way and that talking and laughing. I felt something stir within my memories but it was swiftly buried beneath the weight of my anger. Jevil and Elien had left before I reached the kitchen and Orias left shortly after assuring himself that I was in no danger.

Not entirely sure why I did this, I began chatting with the cooks, surprised at how natural it felt. At that time any memory that conflicted with the view of all Caslo being evil had been buried in the deep recesses of my mind and I was unable to recall them. There are several theories as to why this happened but the one that I believe is truest is that my power fed by my rage had temporarily taken me over. I know that at that time I wasn't entirely sane. I wasn't exactly crazy I just wasn't entirely myself.

So I sat and talked with them. They treated me with friendly interest. They didn't know who Elien, Jevil and Orias thought I was. They were under the impression that I was a new recruit and told me stories about the different trainers and the celebrities of the rebellion.

I listened avidly. I wanted to know all about the people who risked torture and death to free the rest of our people. When things began to get really busy and the kitchen staff didn't have time to chat I left and loitered in the hall, watching people go by. And that's where I was when I met the two people who would eventually become my closest friends.

"Hey are you Shastree?" a high female voice asked me.

I turned around and saw two young women standing there. One was of the darker type of Dreil, her skin looking like well-creamed coffee. She had her blond streaked black hair tied into a loose bun with a black band around her forehead to prevent any stray wisps of hair from getting into her dark brown eyes. She seemed to have taken to Gazit's style of clothing because she too was dressed in black leathers but hers were a tad looser and looked much more stylish. She had tall black boots on and a slim sword belted to her waist. Taller then me by a few inches, she smiled and jerked her head to indicate her companion.

Her partner was smaller then her and me. There's no other word for it; she was short. She was of the porcelain type of Dreil. Her dark red, blond and brown curls were cut just above her shoulders and hung loose. Her eyes were a lighter brown then her partner's. She was dressed in sleeveless pink silk shirt and black pants much like her companion's. She had a long knife at each side and she was the owner of the voice I'd heard.

"Yes I'm Shastree." I replied.

The two exchanged looks and grinned. "I'm Taira." The short one offered.

"I'm Ashli." The taller one said, her voice deeper then her partner's.

"And we're your bodyguards." They chorused, still smiling hugely.

I couldn't help but smile back at them. I suddenly understood Gazit's warning. They didn't look like they even knew how to use the weapons they carried to defend themselves let alone someone else. They looked more like the girls who were always talking about clothes and their hair.

As I gazed at them I realized that the three of us were each a representative of each type of the Dreil. Ashli one of the black/brown type, Taira of the white type and me of the golden type. This thought amused me.

The thought must have occurred to them as well because Ashli said, "Look we're every type of Dreil!" which caused Taira to laugh.

"So why don't we go get you fixed up? You can't be comfortable in that little dress of yours. Especially since it's the middle of winter." Taira said once she was finished laughing.

"That would be good. I hate this dress. It's always been a sign of slavery to me."

"Well that's a relief. If you'd liked it I was going to have to drum some kind of fashion sense into your head and pray to the gods that your skull is more receptive then old Gazit's. Have you seen what she wears? I wear these to show her how to do black leathers properly, unfortunately it still hasn't stuck." Ashli sighed dramatically.

"Don't worry we'll find something nice for you. I think though we should continue in reds or oranges to show your. . .uniqueness." At my surprised look, Taira winked. "We were briefed on your abilities. Don't worry we don't scare easy."

"Unless you manage to sneak up behind Taira. Then you can scare her." Ashli put in causing her partner to stick her tongue out.

I laughed for the first time in what felt like an eternity. These two were going to be fun.

"Well then let's go!" Ashli said grabbing one of my arms while Taira grabbed the other and they hauled me off.