"No don't do it that way." Mother says with a sigh. She wipes her hands on her apron and takes the ladle from me. "Do it a little slower or it won't cook at all." She gives a few slow stirs and hands it back to me. Whatever, not like it matters. All we're eating is old food and water. It's the same every night.
I silently stir the broth and a heavy air of silence descends upon us. She keeps cutting but I can tell she's just as bothered as I am. Neither one of us want to discuss it. Especially not in front of the little kids. Last thing I want to do is upset them. I look over my shoulder at the others.
Alisa watches the others from her chair, her light blue eyes and golden hair a contrast to the others. Also her doll is clutched tightly to her as always, and both of them have the same raggedy white dress.
Meanwhile Jake and Bane play a game of riddles, both of them looking like the mirror to the other. The only exception being the color of their eyes, Jakes green eyes remind people of forests and peaceful valleys. While Bane's eyes remind people of cold slate and dark mountains. Their personalities show through their eyes, or so Riri puts it.
Riri sits at the grimy window watching the people passing in the streets below. Her orange hair falls straight down to her lower back. She's so small for being eleven, and the second oldest.
I turn back to the broth and stir it a little lethargically. Just watch Mother will tell me I'm stirring it to slow. I sigh and look at her. She just keeps sowing at the small dress in her hands. Alisa's birthday present, as Mother calls it. No, I would much rather call it what it is. A dress to pretty her up, just liker he doll.
"I know you don't like it." Mother says not looking up from the sowing. I turn my head slowly back to the soup and answer quietly.
"No, I don't. Though I didn't say I thought you where wrong." I add. I get this is in her best interest, but it just seems wrong. To have to take her away from the others.
"I know, I don't like it any more than you do, but it will be good for her." Mother keeps sowing not bothering to look up. I don't bother to reply seeing the conversation over.
I hope she'll be happy there, but I'm sure she will be. She's so quite and withdrawn, it will be perfect for her. It's just the others it's a problem for. Riri, Bane, and Jake are all going to ball their eyes out in the coming weeks.
Speaking of the coming weeks I need to go see Soel. I'm sure he'll have something to keep me busy, and possibly earn more money on my debt. Damn, Cabat, raising the interest. I can barely keep up with it, let alone pay off some of the debt. I might have been better off letting myself be sold. No, this way is better. I met Soel and the little ones. I wouldn't trade that.
I look at the disgusting brown pot of broth and sniff it. The smell burns my nose and makes me cough. Nix, that's strong! I let go of the ladle and turn to Mother.
"It's done." I wipe my hands on my pants and grab my coat off the table. As I throw it on she gets up and checks it with a nod.
"Are you not going to stay?" She looks a bit worried, but that's normal.
"No, but you know where to find me." I head into the main room. "Okay hugs!" I say to the little one's snatching Riri out of the window seal. She squeals and I swing her around in a big hug.
"Stop! Put me down!" She giggles and I put her down laughing at her face. Her hair is a complete mess and her cheeks are all red. A small pout on her face tells me she's upset I'm leaving, as usual. "Why can't you stay?"
"Well I have to go work. If I don't we'll have to sell your long hair!" I give her orange locks a pull. She squeals and runs for Mother. I laugh and give Jake a hug.
"I'll see you tomorrow, right?" He says looking up to me, a huge grin on his face.
"Of course he'll be back you moron, he always is." Bane grumbles. I just rub his head and move onto little Alisa.
"You keep an eye on them." I crouch down at eye level with her. "You know what to do don't you?" I give her a hug and she nods.
"Be careful. Tell Soel to watch for a woman in green with long hair." She warns in a hushed whisper. She always sends me with some bit of information. It's why we're sending her to the temple, isn't it?
"All right." I get to my feet. "I'll see all tomorrow." I head for the door waving. A chorus of little voices screams goodbye. I laugh and shut the door, leaving me alone in the dark. At least for a moment.
A rustle tells me the Watcher has arrived.
"Keep an eye on them. Anything funny and you get them out." I tell the shadow figure in the dark. He remains silent, but I know they'll do as I say. It's his job to listen.
"Have a good night." I give him a pleasant wave and head down the dark corridor for the archway streaming moonlight. As soon as I hit the street the sound of late night bustle fills my ears.
People move down the street in groups and pairs. Women cling tightly to their men, and little children cling to their parents. This is the hour to truly guard yourself. My eyes shift to the rooftops where I can see a few people watching the crowds. My eyes drift further up into the sky resting on the moons, or what's left of them.
Gran Luna sits perfectly full and engorged, but half of Mira is drifting like a band in front of Gran Luna. The pieces seem to have a life of their own and the moon dust sparkles like glitter. Watching long enough I can catch the slightest movement of the debris. It's so beautiful against the starry sky.
My feet start moving down the familiar boulevard towards the Slums. What is it they say about the broken moon? That it was a sign, that something increasable evil happened, something unbeknownst to the entire world. Didn't they round up all the children born that day? Strange than that I would still be here if they where looking for something evil.
Something unfortunate probably happened to prevent me from being round up. Usually something bad happening that saves my skin. Hm, perhaps I'm the ill omen they all feared. An unlucky brat who barely escapes with his life on a weekly basis.
Like yesterday, that damn thief nearly got me killed. He should have known better than to lead the guards straight to a safe house. Poor Jinx nearly had a heart attack. Must have jumped six feet when they knocked down the door. His expression was priceless! I laugh out loud shocking a few passersby. Oops.
I cover my mouth and try to stop laughing as I near the first houses of the Slums. They're all crooked and crumbling. Mold and some sort of black goo are all over them, only adding to the already poor smell that is part of the Slums. People sit on the porches or in the windows, each one looking sicker than the last.
That's why Soel dose what he dose. It's all for these people who the Crown have forsaken. The one's stuck in the lower district starving and dying slowly. Not just the men, or even just the adults. It's the children as well, they're just as bad off as their parents. Perhaps worse so with the Slavers running amuck. Stealing the young from their homes and selling them off to other provinces. Makes me sick to think of some poor kid like the little one's being sold into slavery.
I grimace and look at the passing people. Some of them are middle class at best, but I mostly see the poor and needy. The few stands are nearly deserted, and the shopkeepers don't look much better than the crowds. Strange that Soel cares for these people, or perhaps he simply understands where they come from. It just doesn't seem like the stories about him coming from the Slums could be true. He's well educated and very refined. Than again so am I, but it's thanks to him.
I smile to myself as I reach the gate's of Soel's mansion. The tall brick wall and gate loom over the nearby homes, imitating a powerful aura that makes people stop and stare. I look up the twelve foot tall and gawk. The gray rock and clean mortar lines are something you just don't see in the Slums. Even the roads down here are poorly made and only good for walking. I pick up my feet and walk past the guards waiting at the gate. Neither one of them so much as looks at me as I pass.
Inside the wall the Mansion is just as out of place. The large yard is mostly dead and the tree's have already lost their leaves. The mansion is clad in dark gray siding that makes it so very boring. The large windows are dark for the most part, only a few of them are lit. Their light casts onto the dying lawn in the darkening light.
I hurry up to the front door, passing another set of guards, again neither bothers to stop me. I stop short in the foyer, unable to immediately figure out what's happening.
A few people in black cloaks stand on the stairs quietly talking amongst themselves. Another set of people clad in the red armor of Royal Guards stand in another corner watching the rest of the room. Yet another group of three elf's are conversing in their native tongue by an open doorway. Only on other person is there who doesn't belong. Her long brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and her small frame covered in green.
Alisa's words ring in my head. So that's the problem causer, but could she really do anything? No, Alisa is always right about these things. Which means I need to find Soel and warn him before anything goes awry. Plus, what is going on here. I've never seen any of these people here before. I mean guards yeah, but never the Royal Guards. Something's up.
With a sigh I move past the red clad guards and into the hallway. I travel down the poorly lit corridor and keep an eye out for people. Last thing I need is to find someone trying to sneak around the damn house. Which reminds me, I don't remember seeing any of Soel's people in the main room. I stop and turn back looking at the doorway.
Voices carry down to me, but what they're saying is to muffled. Crap if why didn't I see anyone, and what in the name of Nix is going on around here?
"I was wondering the same thing." A smooth male voice whispers in my ear. I jump back and trip over my own feet. Hitting the ground hard I swear. For a moment the buzz of talk in the foyer stop, but resumes.
Lutheran smiles down at me his red eye's glowing in the dim light. Damn fucking vampire sneaking up on me!
"What the fuck!" I get to my feet trying to get as much of the dust off of me as I can. "You could have given me a heart attack." I grumble. Why dose he like doing that to people so much. He's going to give us all heart attacks.
"I could have also stuck a dagger in you." He says with a raised finger, chiding me as if I where some child. His black hair falls to his shoulders as usual and his red robe drags a little on the floor. His whole look screams evil.
"You can't expect me to hear a vampire." I huff and start digging through my pockets to ensure he didn't pick pocket me. He's such a kleptomaniac, worse than most of the trained thieves, and we teach them to do it.
"True, but you shouldn't get so lost up here." He taps his temple with an evil smile. So he was poking around in my head. That's the source of his thieving skills. Getting into peoples head when he's close enough. Which is why I don't go near him.
"You worry about your job." I glare at him and he just laughs. For a moment I just stare at him, than it becomes a bit awkward.
"You want to know where Soel is, or would you rather just have a staring contest?" He raises an eyebrow. Of course I want to know where Soel is. Why the hell else would I be here?
"Of course." I say politely. I'll get him back one of these days.
"In his study." Lutheran jerks a thumb towards the end of the hall. "He sent me to keep an eye on our guests. Wouldn't tell me why they're here though." He shrugs and brushes past me. As he passes I catch the distinct smell of incense and blood. Never can cover that smell all the way can he? Poor guy, it must be hard, not that I care. I shake my head and move down the hall towards Soel's study.
My knuckles rap against the thick wood door three times. It swings open revealing Soel setting behind his big oak desk writing away. I step in and the door closes with a flick of Soel's hand. While he finishes I take a seat and look around. The wall behind him is totally covered in books and ledgers. The the one to his right has a big bay window and some art, the opposite wall has a door and more artwork. Behind me the wall is basically blank except some plants.
I turn my attention back to Soel. His short brown hair is as usual a raggedy looking mess. His long fingered hands have several scars on them from the years he learned to fight with a sword. Those hands finally stop scribbling on the paper and he looks up at me. His eyes sharing the same gold as mine. The iris like a dazzling gold coin.
"I know your probably wondering why there's a lot of odd people in our home," He says, and I can feel the 'but' coming. "But for the timing being I just want you to carry out business as usual." He digs through his drawers, finally pulling out a piece of paper. Something about him is unusual.
It's his tone, it's not like normal. What ever is going on, it's stressing him out, and I can hear it. I just watch him scribble the list of people I need to visit and what I'm there for. After a few minutes of silence he stops and hands me the paper.
I don't look at it though. I just search his eyes, something's behind them. He looks away before I can tell just what he's feeling.
"I know your worrying." I say. He doesn't answer at first, he just stares out the window. When he dose speak he's regained his usual tone.
"Look, just do what you need to tonight. I'll explain when I get done, because to be quite honest I don't know why they're here yet. I just hope it's not something to big." He runs his hands through his hair only furthering the mess. "Though seeing our company I'm sure it is."
"That is an understatement." I sit down in the foyer chair across from him. "The Royale Guards, Elves, and the Dark Hand all in our home, the only thing worse is the lady with the long hair in the green robes." I add as a second thought.
"The lady in the green robes?" Soel looks at me a bit confused.
Has he not been out in the foyer yet? No, knowing Soel he's staying here until he has a tight grasp on what's going on downstairs. That's why Lutheren is down, to find out just what each one of them wants. Keeping an eye on our guests, I should know how to read that by now. He's down there scoping them out finding out what each one of them wants, poking around in those heads of theirs…. Poking around in the long haired ladies head.
"Soel," I lean in and put all the urgency behind my voice that I posses. "There is a woman down there, and I was told we need to watch out for here. I have the sinking feeling that Luetheren is about to be caught in the act of poking around in those peoples heads and I doubt they take it well."