The spy left their house and wandered through the village. Torchlight flickered off the walls, leaving dancing shadows floating across the cobbles. The ‘council’ had left for a few days to go along with Axel on his mission to find further spots to mine. Overall, the spy considered that this wasn’t a bad use of their time. It would be a shame to lose Axel as he was a convenient way to get into those mineshafts. The organisation would see that the council wouldn’t be able to change Axel’s mastership test and if he did find more ore, that was just convenience. Still, they would only be away for a few days at most so the spy would have to take good advantage of this time.
Off to the spy’s right, the militia were doing night-time training with Holk and Robin. Strange how much things had changed in merely a few months. In times past the militia had been overeager boys with blunt spears and scrappy armour, with merely a burned out soldier to lead them. Looking at the well-defined ranks practicing formation drills on the cleared out practice yard, the spy saw little resemblance to the ragtag bunch they had once been. Robin screamed insults and knocked over a man who had been marching out of step and the he picked himself up without a word and leaped back into line within moments. Since the farm, they really had changed.
The spy considered the ‘council’ – he wasn’t convinced the higher ups had made a wise decision. It made sense to pick people who were competent – otherwise nothing would get done – but from what the spy had seen of them, these people were something else. Rammus, the Houndmaster, had the air of a natural leader about him. The men leaped at his command and he was the one who had beaten them into shape. He was utterly fearless without the unbridled insanity of one like Robin – the man had set himself on fire, for Heluso’s sake. Solun on the other hand was just as worrying without having Rammus’ leadership abilities. The man kept to himself mostly, but the spy had heard the men talking about his prowess on the battlefield. Cleaving several men in a single swipe, shoving blows aside with his body, ignoring pain that would have felled a lesser man. The spy had watched him practice with the recruits and the man fought with an unrestrained ferocity that the spy had only seen in drugged up Truils. Speaking of Truils, Warwick was another worry. The spy had never seen anyone as good with a bow, and the man seemed to have the eyes and ears of a hawk. Plus, the man seemed to be magically attuned which meant nothing good – Truil magic was powerful and dangerous. The spy had seen Warwick drag the unconscious Tulia back from the battlefield, seen the bleeding bite marks on the man’s neck where she had tried to tear his throat out, seen him ignore the pain and seen the broken and bloodied huntress. Tulia was one of the most dangerous women he knew and Warwick had brought her in alive.
As the spy waited in the square for people to move away and give them an opening, they considered the rest of the council with trepidation. Svar could ride a biauchrus – the spy had heard he was well travelled but that was unheard of. As far as they knew, a biauchrus had never even been seen on this continent and here, suddenly, was a man who not only owned one but could ride it like the rumoured air warriors of the Matriarchy. The spy wondered what other tricks Svar had picked up on his travels. More worrying still was Felix, the Fire Dancer. Any flame mage was a potential threat but the spy had heard what happened in the Lightless Jungle and heard rumours of what happened to the bandits who attacked him – the man knew spells the spy had never heard of any Flame Dancer using. Worse, the spy had seen him fight. Most mages barely knew more than the basics but Felix moved like lightning. The spy had received a report that he was seeking training from Danzig, the Sword Saint. The organisation was trying hard to keep the master busy – they did not want Felix learning more about blades. This Eris was a concern to the spy. Her arrival was unexpected and she seemed to possess skills that no performer should have. As dangerous as they were, the rest of the council at least seemed to be relatively unsubtle and the spy was not too worried about being uncovered. Eris, on the other hand apparently slit a dozen throats without being seen and thus warranted being cautious around. Lastly, this new merchant, Lace was definitely a threat. The spy wasn’t sure of the details but had been informed that she was Imperial trained. They had seen her in action, she moved like the spy did. They recognised the light step and sharp eyes of someone who knew how to remain unseen and had heard that she broke into Fraener’s house and stole valuables. The spy had tried that themselves and had difficulties – Lace must be good. Of most concern is that the spy suspected that she may be trying to sniff them out. If she was, it was subtle. Still, instincts should be trusted and perhaps it was time to be more cautious.
People had moved away from the square and the mercenaries around Fraener’s house were deep in conversation. Now was the time to move. With practiced noiselessness, they slipped into the constabulary and silently shut the door behind them. Sliding open the bar to one of the cells, the spy opened the door and put a finger to their lips.
“What is it you want?” Tulia snarled, still manacled to the far wall where the guards had left her.
“Your freedom” said the spy, tossing her the key to the manacles.
Her eyebrow rose as she caught the key. “Why? What’s in this for you? Why should I believe you?”
“Believe me or don’t, but suffice it to say that Nina has her means” said the spy
“Nina? I had a feeling she might try something like this” said Tulia
“Of course, you didn’t think she didn’t have an insider, did you?” the spy lied effortlessly.
“I suppose not,” said Tulia, “it seems like her.”
Tulia finished unmanacling herself and accept the bag the spy offered her. Inside was a shortbow and arrows, a long hunting knife and food and water for a few days travel.
“I trust you can find your way out undetected?” asked the spy.
“Of course” scoffed Tulia.
“Good. You’ve been ordered not to kill anyone, you’re needed elsewhere.” when Tulia scowled, the spy added, “On the other hand, I’ve been told to tell you that you need to eliminate the other prisoners. Nina thinks they’re too much of a threat.”
Tulia’s scowl was replaced by a grimace of a grin. “Good. At least some shall go to the Gravedigger Queen tonight.”
The spy turned to leave. “Just be quick about it. And quiet too – don’t let yourself get captured again.” Tulia was already making her way to the next cell along, knife in her grip.
Back outside, the spy looked around and saw nobody around. There was a bark of laughter from the far side of Fraener’s house as the mercenaries made some joke to each other. Good. Tulia should make it out just fine. Just to be sure, the spy decided to go get some hot wine from Oleg’s and strike up a conversation with the mercenaries. No sense in leaving anything to chance. The spy smiled. For once they would be able to send a positive report to the higher ups. Uldholm was in good hands.