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D.T - Irene the Sly: chapter 2

Tags: fantasy, drama,

Finding the torch inside the sewer entrance was more tedious than Irene expected but in good time she had it. Near it she found a pair of smooth feeling jagged rocks. She had a hunch of what they were and began to strike them together. In the pitch black she missed her first few strikes, feeling awkward for it even though it was just her around. But when she finally hit the small stones together, sparks flew out and she saw briefly for a moment their lime green color.

Indeed as she had believed the rocks were flint stones, designed to light fires for those who were not a magister. She remembered her father teaching her a little about them before he died (that's how she knew what they were).

With the torch lit she made her way through the sewers, Eliah was right they were not very complex, but they were long. As simple as they were though Irene did have some trouble finding the access path to the sorcery district. All the other paths led back into the slums or into the structure district, but only the one led into the sorcery district.

To her dismay the path just so happen to put her into the only back road right next to the bridge gate. It was past the bridge, and indeed in the sorcery district but at night it was well guarded, and if she walked out there with a torch she would be spotted right away and questioned by the guards. Her best chance was to come back tomorrow afternoon and sneak into the street when there was a heavy traffic of people crossing the bridge into and out of the sorcery district.

For the time though she turned around and went to her former homestead and slept. The next day she went straight for the sorcery district and waited as far back in the back road as she could, while watching for a crowd large enough to pass through the bridge gate, so she may slip in with them. That day proved fruitless and she had to leave before dusk to get herself some food.

The next couple days proved just as futile as the first time she went but she had been smart about it now and acquired herself some bread to eat throughout the day while she waited. On the sixth day she finally caught her break, as the traffic of people on the bridge entering into the sorcery district in-fluxed greatly.

Quickly and quietly she snuck into the crowd, walking as if she belonged there with them. She was not noticed by the guards at the gate, but as she went further into the district the crowd rapidly thinned out until she had to walk on her own; at least now she was in, but the hardest had yet to come.

Now that she was alone, and had time to notice and enjoy the scenery, Irene was overwhelmed. She had never seen anything like the sorcery district. The very streets beneath her feet were paved with bricks instead of compact dirt or simple gravel. The houses and shops were made of a strong wood and looked beautiful in comparison to the clay buildings in the other districts.

And as she went she could even spot a few larger buildings that had a peculiar lime color to them, which made them all the more exotic to her. She kept heading north through the district trying to stay within the center of it as much as she could until she found the great white stone temple.

The temple's design was so simple (square shaped) yet it was so beautiful to Irene. The white stone walls reached near thirty feet in the air. It had its own little garden in front of it too, with a fountain and statues depicting some sort of female goddess. Irene had never been one to believe in the gods, but she heard talk about them from the people in the structure district near everyday she was there.

Inside the temple was warm and well lit with natural lighting. It had more statues of the goddess in there, far back at the end, and rows of benches for people to sit down in and pray. Only a few scattered people sat in the benches and a single elder man in a clean white robe was on his knees in front of the great statue at the end.

Carefully Irene looked around the temple, trying to be inconspicuous as possible, searching for an extra door that might not belong in there. But to her dismay there were only three doors in the entire temple, the first being the entrance and exit into the temple, and the other two leading into a small office stacked with books or papers about.

'Was she in the right temple?' she thought to herself. Eliah had said there were two but she was sure that this was the center temple. She began to give up hope and walked to the end of the bench row and sat in one, what if all of this was nothing more than misinformation. Eliah never stated his source, maybe the passage underground requires a secret phrase, a magical one; was that the final piece Eliah needed to enter the vault?

Irene stood up ready to turn and go when she spotted the two men in armor, guards no doubt, walking towards her. She quickly sat back down and lowered her head; fortunately they were going to the center isle to leave. She stood back up to leave once more until the realization dawned on her; where did those two guards come from? She turned back around, they certainly came from near the statue but there were no doors around there.

Were they also magisters? She had never seen magic at hand so she didn't know what sort of powers it was capable of, or the people wielding it. Perhaps there was a secret door over there, hidden by a veil of magic. She wouldn't know until she got a closer look at least.

Carefully Irene crept past the man in white robes, still kneeling down at the statues foot, and she searched for anything out of the ordinary. She found nothing that she could see but pressed further on to the walls and felt around them, tapping lightly to listen for an echo. She put her ear to the wall to hear and that's when she saw it.

Hidden so well but not with magic, instead with simple perspective misguidance, a narrow set of parallel stairs behind the statue leading down into some sort of tunnel. Irene looked about her to make sure everyone still had their heads down in prayer. They did and she proceeded down the stairs into the dim tunnel.

The path below was straight but kept leading her deeper underground as more and more paths opened up, all of them a descending stairs into the same looking passage but further down. Was this a maze, or were these paths all eventually leading to the same destination? To her the time to think was over now as she heard loud footsteps coming from higher up slowly descending; she had to keep moving.

The footsteps grew louder and started getting closer faster; Irene picked up her pace. The footsteps seemed to pick up too as they followed more swiftly. She started running now, until she got to another set of descending stairs and tripped, falling down them in a loud and painful manner.

She got to her feet, nothing was sprained or broken fortunately but still she hurt all over. "Slum rats don't belong down here," a strong voice whispered from behind her. Her heart stopped and she turned around to see a bulky guard staring down at her coldly. She said nothing and turned to run but the guard was faster than she expected and snatched her arm before she could get away. He picked her up under her shoulders putting her face to his level and asked, "What are you doing down here, rat, you know I could smell you from the entrance to these passages; it's how I found you so easily."

Irene turned away and still said nothing, she was too scared. The man continued, "You're here to steal from the vault aren't you?"

When she didn't answer this time he shook her violently and she started to cry a little and let out a low squeak for an answer. She quickly found her voice though before he could shake her again and said, "Y-yes sir."

The man put her down put didn't let go of her. "You're rather good for a slum rat to get this far, all on your own?"

"Yes," she answered losing her stutter and starting to wonder why the guard hadn't killed her just yet.

"How did you get in here, through the sewers? Yes that's the only other way into the sorcery district aside from the bridge."

Out of a strange feeling of certainty Irene said, "You were expecting someone from the sewers to come here..."

The guard crooked a wicked smile and said, "Aye I was expecting three someone's to come here until I took care of em. So behold my surprise when I find a fourth someone."

The guard was silent in thought, deciding what to do with her now when a voice shouted from down the passage and a pair of guards appeared from around the corner, swords in hand, "Who goes there?" They demanded to know.

The guard kneeled down and whispered in Irene's ear swiftly, "Be quite and do as I say or I'll kill you, and don't run either." Then he let go of her and held out a hand saying, "Easy pals it's just me."

The other two guards studied him for a moment then relaxed and sheathed their swords. "Aye Kail, who is that with you? She smells like the sewers." One of the guards asked.

"This here is my daughter Maura," Kail said. "Other kids been picking on her a lot recently and decided to poor rancid stench water all over her today. I'm sorry for the disruption I told her to come find me should they ever pick on her again."

"Aye those magister kids can be real cruel to non-magic people and since they don't dare to target us directly they go after our kids. My son Travis got his hair lit on fire by some of them little pricks."

"I remember Travis he's a tough lad, bet he paid them back in full?" Kail asked.

"Indeed he did, broke one of the other kids arms and knocked a few teeth out from the one who cast the spell." The guards had a laugh. Kail then turned and grabbed Irene's hand, "Alright I got to get this one home and cleaned up, you think you can cover me for the rest of the day Samuel? I would really owe you one."

The guard, Samuel, said yes and Kail led Irene out of the temple and back to his small home. She could see Kail better now that they were far out of the dark tunnels under the temple. He was an average sized man, height and build, a stern face and to Irene unattractive. His hair was short trimmed and dark like a raven.

After shutting the door and pulling out a tin tub, Kail demanded she undress as he grabbed some rags. He filled the tub with water and looked over to Irene who was still fully dressed. "I told you to remove your cloths," Kail said, irritated.

Irene took a step back and put her arms close to her chest defensively. Kail walked up to her and grabbed her arms pulling them to her sides and started to remove the clothes against her will. She struggled violently and Kail shoved her against the wall, pinning her there with a single hand like she was a straw doll.

Kail pulled out a large knife and put it close to her face so she could see it clearly, she turned away and he said, "This blade is very sharp if you struggle you're going to get hurt very badly, understand?"

Irene nodded and Kail started cutting her clothes off, she sobbed quietly to herself. When Kail was finished he wiped the tears off her face and said, "Don't do that. I'm not some pervert who's interested in violating children, especially a sewer rat. Now get in the tub and if you come out of it before you're done I will hurt you."

Still afraid of what Kail might do, Irene moved very slowly to the tub, crossing her arms over her chest as she was now very cold. She stepped into the tub, the water was even colder than she anticipated; and slowly sat down in it, shivering right away.

Once she was all the way in Kail dropped a small round pink stone of sorts into the tub with her. As soon as it hit the water it began to fizzle and bubbles rapidly filled the entire tub consuming her. Startled she jumped to her feet and tried to dash out of the bath but Kail was expecting this and swiftly placed his hands on her shoulders and pushed her back into it. "Relax, relax," he said. "It's a soap marble it won't hurt you, you need to be cleaned up so just soak in there for a while."

Realizing Kail was right Irene settled back into the tub, it was still freezing to her but the soap at least smelled very nice. After a minute she started to sneeze uncontrollably and Kail sighed then grabbed another small marble, a red one this time, and dropped it into the tub. It fizzled inside just like the previous one but kept fizzling making the water shift around Irene a lot. Within moments the cold waters of the tub warmed up and was now steaming.

The sensation was incredible and Irene found herself easily relaxing in the tub now, she never before had a hot bath. "Tilt your head back into the water, I need to wash your hair now," Kail said reminding Irene of his presence. She was glad the bubbles had filled the top of the tub and covered her naked body but still she felt uncomfortable at the fact he was there.

Irene did as he said and Kail put a few rags into the tub with her. As they absorbed the water and sunk to the bottom he put a hand under her head and gently started combing her hair with a brush. The process took him a while, for every time he ran into a knot in her hair he had to stop and undo it with both hands. Finally he straightened her hair out and combed out most of the dirt and grime along the way.

"Use some of the rags in the tub to clean your face and body," Kail said. He then left and grabbed a small bucket filled with water and dropped yet another strange marble into it. "Keep your head up and out of the water now I need to clean your hair."

Irene did as he said and he put his hands into the small bucket and lathered her hair with the soap inside. After a few moments it started to burn and she had to resist dunking her head into the water. "It burns," Irene said trying to sound as weak as she could.

"Aye and it will keep burning for a few more minutes," Kail said. "It's killing off all the lice and other germs on your scalp, if you had cleaned more often than it wouldn't burn so much. Although I suppose you couldn't help that given your life style."

After the bath Kail started a fire and Irene stood in front of it while he quickly dried her off with a larger towel. She insisted she could do it herself but Kail was impatient and did most of it for her. He did however let her finish drying her waist line as he went and fetched her a blanket to cover herself with.

He returned and wrapped it around her telling her to dry her hair with the towel as well. "I have to run to the shop to get you a nice pretty dress for tomorrow's charade. And while I'm gone I can trust you not be stupid enough to try running away can't I?"

Irene scowled her face at him and said, "My name is Irene, and I had clothes until you cut them apart."

"Those things were filthy and rancid smelling, would have taken days just to get the stench out of them and I don't have that kind of time. Besides you still need to be in something more pretty; more feminine." Kail then left the house leaving Irene to contemplate her options.

Her first thought was to run away immediately and go back to the slums, he wouldn't be able to find her there, and she still had her boots intact. But she wasn't stupid, even with the blanket and her boots it wouldn't be enough to survive come next winter and she doubted she would be able to steal a pair of clothes or enough money to buy clothes if she went around with only a blanket to wear. She still feared what the man, Kail, would do with her when he was done but he didn't entirely seem like a bad person either.

When Kail returned with the new outfit, Irene was still there warming by the fire. "Good to see you're still here," he said. "Means you're not as stupid as I might have thought."

"Should I be insulted by that or complimented?" Irene asked rhetorically.

"Either way you won't be having the attitude tomorrow," Kail said sternly. "I'll explain when we're done but for now hurry up and try this on; I need to make sure it fits properly." He pulled out a blue woolen cloth dress with white cuffs from the bag he brought in and handed it to her. He also handed her a small pair of shoes of the same color.

When she finished putting them on he brought her to his bedroom where he had a tall mirror resting against the wall. She hadn't remembered the last time she looked at herself through a decent reflection and almost forgot what she looked like herself. Her long ginger hair, the freckles dotted over her face and cheeks, pale skin.

She smiled at how pretty she looked in the dress and twirled around in a moment of glee. "It fits you well," Kail said, bringing her back down to reality. "We just need to make one final adjustment, you need a haircut; then you will be set for tomorrow."

Grabbing a pair of scissors Kail said, "Keep your head straight and don't move it until I tell you its okay, understand?"

"Yes," Irene said. And then Kail started snipping away at her hair. Long strands fell to the floor as he began to slow down when he was making finer cuts around her ear. He trimmed her bangs and sheered her hair to neck length. Then he combed her hair to the sides in as best a feminine look he could do, for a man at least.

Irene looked like a completely different person, which was the point of all of this. "You still have not told me what you need me for tomorrow," Irene finally asked him.

"I thought it a little obvious for someone as smart as you," Kail said a little mockingly. "We're going to raid the mystic vault tomorrow."

"But why do you need me?"

"I don't entirely, but my former assistants in the matter had plans to backstab me once I got them inside, so I took care of them beforehand. Now though I can at least have a sentinel to watch the hall and alert me if anyone is coming. And that's where you come in. Tomorrow I shall pass you off as my daughter, as I did today, and pretend to take you on a tour inside the vault. Once inside I will swiftly acquire the treasures I need and we will leave."

"Won't there be guards right next to the vault entrance though?"

"You won't have to worry about that, I will take care of them. Anyways if there is no more questions on the subject then I would like to start cooking supper so we may eat soon, for I am very hungry."

They ate their warm meal in silence and when she was done Irene finally got the courage up to ask, "What will you do with me after you get what you need from the vault?"

Kail responded to that with a question of his own, "What did you intend to do with the treasures you stole from the mystic vault, assuming you got away with them that is? Sell them for enough money to pay your way into an apprenticeship, or perhaps just one final score to get you paid off enough to survive on for a few good years?"

"I was going to use them to climb that dark tower!" Irene half shouted, feeling embarrassed about the answer.

Kail burst into laughter at her answer and her cheeks flustered a glowing red. When Kail settled down he said, "Well I'll be. Out of all the answers I could have expected, or even guessed, never was that one of them."

"It's not a joke," Irene muttered to herself still feeling embarrassed about Kail's reaction.

"Aye, I believe you young missy, in fact it makes much more sense than anything else given how dangerous your plan was, you're willing to risk everything to reach the top of that tower are you not?"

Irene nodded in answer.

Kail scratched his chin and said, "Well let's see how tomorrow goes and then we will figure out what to do then."

"Remember you're my daughter 'Maura' if anyone asks, and I am taking you on a tour of the vault since you have been asking me to see it for a year now," Kail said while brushing her hair neatly to the sides.

"Yes I understood you the first time," Irene said annoyed.

Kail then grabbed a brown leather bag and put the single strap over her shoulder. "Once we're inside we will have about ten minutes to get whatever we can before we must leave. I know exactly what I’m going for and you may fit whatever you can carry into the bag for your own sack. But don't grab anything too heavy or that would make lots of noise even in the bag."

When they were set they left straight away to the temple, Kail wearing his guard uniform as he had the day before, and Irene her new dress and shoes. Outside the cold cut right through the dress and gave her chills, but she bared it as much as she could until they got into the warm temple.

They made their way down into the passages, encountering no one else until they made it to the vault doors. To Kail's great surprise they were not only wide open but there was half a dozen men and woman, all wearing fine silk clothes, down there speaking with the guards. The guards saw Kail approaching and one of them said, "Ah Kail you're a little early, the kings magisters are here to get," he paused a moment in thought before continuing. "They're getting a um," he turned to one of the woman and asked, "What was it you said you were grabbing my lady?"

The woman turned around annoyed and said to the guard, "It's none of your business anyways." Then she turned to Kail and Irene and stared at Irene and demanded to know who she was.

Kail was too nervous to answer right away so Irene beat him too it, she bent her legs in a light bow and said, "My name is Maura, if it pleases you my lady."

"And what would please me more is to know what you're doing here, Maura?" The woman said skeptical of Irene.

The other men and woman had now turned their attention to Irene and Kail and asked about her, but in a much more kind fashion. Irene displayed the same manners she did of the lady to the others and politely said her name was Maura. They turned to Kail then asked him, in a more stern fashion, what she was doing down there.

She answered before him, again, "Oh please sirs and ladies don't be mad at him it's all my fault. I have been asking him for so long to show me the inside of the vault, it always sounded so amazing and I couldn't help but dream of what was behind those doors."

The men and woman looked about each other then one of them said, "I suppose it is no harm at all since we are all here and the doors are opened anyways, but try not to touch anything young lady; some of that stuff is dangerous."

"You really mean it?" Irene asked with such glee that even Kail was buying into it.

They smiled and led Kail and Irene into the mystic vault.

The mystic vault was lined inside with numerous magic items, tools, and weapons. Some of them stood neatly on pedestals, others just sitting on the ground. The place was a bit of a maze and Irene was small enough to disappear entirely in there; which was exactly what she did.

As the group moved forward, gradually Irene stepped out of pace with them and slipped away to fill her bag with treasures. She made sure to get as far away from them as she could before looking around for stuff to steal. Knowing nothing about magic she had no idea what would be best to take, but being limited on space her options for items were limited.

The first thing to catch her eye was a small thin dagger with a dim blue glow to it. It stood on a pedestal next to its handle; Irene reached up to grab it, and had a little trouble reaching it but managed to get it down without making any noise. After admiring its beauty a moment longer she slid the dagger into its sheath and put it into the bag.

The next thing to catch her eye was a dazzling blue cloak of silk hanging on a rack. She had to carefully stand on a nearby pile of jagged stones to get the cloak down. She wobbled a lot but didn't fall and managed to get the cloak and roll it up to put in her bag. The voices of the others soon came closer to her and she quickly fled away from the spots of the treasures she had stolen.

She tried moving around the voices, using them as her guide to navigate, but soon found herself actually lost until she bumped into someone. She fell on her butt and started apologizing right away. She looked up and saw the unattractive woman from before; the one giving her a hard time before.

"And just where were you going in such a rush?" The woman demanded to know.

Irene rose to her feet and said, "I'm sorry I was so caught up in the beauty of this place that I lost track of where I was going, and when I realized I was lost I sort of panicked and tried to follow the voices back to everyone."

"And why didn't you just call out for help then or for one of us to come find you?" She asked suspiciously.

Irene's cheeks turned red and she put on a fake stutter, "I-I, d-didn't want everyone to think I was some idiot who couldn't even find her way around the vault." She looked down at her feet now, "And if the other kids heard of how I got lost in here they would make fun of me for weeks."

The woman studied Irene closely for a brief moment, then sighed and said, "A young ladies troubles are relentless aren't they? Men have it easy just punch a few faces, laugh about it afterwards, and your problems are solved. But us woman, we're the ones who must do all the real work. How the gods saw it fit that men would rule is beyond me.

"Anyways enough about that. Come on I shall take you to the others and this will be our little secret." She then put her hand out and Irene took it and followed her back to the others.

Back at the group Kail played the concerned father figure part so perfect that Irene actually allowed herself to believe, for a moment, he cared about her. The woman who escorted her back just explained that she was showing her around to the real treasures. When things were all settled Kail said, "Alright I think I have taken up more than enough of all your valuable time. I should get this one back home, and thank you all so much for this, my daughter will have such a tale to speak of to the other kids.

"I shall be back here shortly without her to continue my guard duties; it has been such an honor to be in here." With that Kail bowed and escorted Irene out of the vault and quickly back to the surface level.

They moved swift but inconspicuous all the way back to Kail's house, once inside they allowed them-selves a very brief moment of relaxation. "I swear if I ever have to bow my head to some magister shit again it better be to dodge an arrow, or better yet a spear, coming from behind me," Kail said exasperated. "You did great back there, where the hell did you learn to act like that?"

"I mostly made it up as we went along."

"Well it was dammed good, aye you might even have saved our skins back there. I didn't get as much as I would have liked but I could not stand to wait another month bowing to those arrogant magister bastards and whores, just for another shot to steal more of their precious mystic tools.

"Anyways get your boots on we have to leave the city right away, the longer we delay here the more time they have to realize some stuff is missing. They do inventory tomorrow and I want to be a few good leagues away from here by then at least." Kail started quickly stripping his guard uniform off and revealed the dark full body leather armor on beneath it.

"You still have not told me what you intend to do to me now that you got what you wanted."

Kail paused and was silent for a long minute. Finally he said, "You intend to go to the Devil Tower to ascend it, no?"

"Yes I will do whatever I must to reach the top."

"Aye, well I'm going too and I figured you might as well join me, at least on the road there. Maybe I can teach you a few things on the way, better your odds of reaching the top. Either-way you cannot stay here in this city, they will find you and they won't be near as kind as they were today when they do.

"So the choice is up to you, get on your boots and follow me, or stay and do as you like. Either-way I'm leaving right now." Kail then went into the other room and came back out with a large bag strapped to his shoulders, there were a couple pots and pans hanging on the side of it; he was well prepared.

Kail left the house without another word, leaving Irene to herself; he meant what he said.

Quickly she got on her boots and chased after Kail. "We'll have to get you some real clothes on our way to the tower; I have a friend who lives in a village along the way. She's a good tailor should be able to set you up with something more, practical. Anyways we need to exit through the sewer, the bridge is too well known and I want them thinking I'm still in the district somewhere when they come looking for me."

Somehow the sewers smelled worse than ever before this time through them, but it would be the last time through, ever, so Irene gave no complaint. They left the sewers entering into the structure district and Kail led Irene to a stable. He paid the man a gold coin for a brown horse and helped her climb up onto it.

She sat in front of him on the saddle and as soon as he was up too he pulled the reins and they were off at a good paced trollop, not speeding down the road to avoid unwanted attention. They left the city at the same pace too and as they trotted along down the dirt road Irene looked back to the city. The only life she ever knew was back in there, she never believed she would leave it, but now as they galloped outside she wondered if she would ever have cause to return; the world outside already seemed so much better to her in every way.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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