Getting into the castle wasn't a problem. We blended into the crowd of chattering nobles, and I did my best to smile and look like I was excited for the ball, though behind my mask, I was more nervous than I could ever remember being. Kate looked stunning in her green and gold dress, and even Griever, beside me, had cleaned up well in his red and gold tunic. He'd even polished his boots.
"Don't we look like a bunch of peacocks," I heard him mutter. He looked uncomfortable, and I had to agree with him. My own dress, midnight blue, and the fanciest thing I'd ever worn, fit me well enough, but though the corset hugged me tightly and the skirt was designed to come off quickly, in case things didnt go well later and we all had to make a quick getaway, I still felt restricted. Our little group was ushered through the doors and I slipped my arm into Griever's, laughing and trying to sound excited, but I wasnt sure how sincere I sounded, Griever stiffened momentarily at my touch, but he seemed to relax and began to act like the nobles around us as well.
Once inside, Kiara and Kate would head for a position on the dance floor where they could see the sheriff and Twynam, and the rest of us would wait for the dances to begin before slipping away toward the vault.
We entered the ball room with the crowd and I adjusted my mask and focused on the comforting pressure of the knife tucked into my boot. Since most of us werent going to be dancing, I didnt see the point of wearing the slippers most noble women wore.
The music was lovely and the nobles were already parading around the dance floor elegantly. I quickly stepped toward a smaller door, one that would lead to a servant's passageway, but then decided it wouldn't work. The servants would be busy, serving this crowd and we would be spotted for sure. The larger, main passageways would be more convenient anyway.
"Come, I need some air." I said for the benefit of anyone listening, and I pulled Griever with me toward the passage to the rest of the castle. "Lets go find some balcony or private corner where we wont be seen..." I hoped to sound seductive; any noblewoman worth her salt would probably admire a man like Griever, he was not an ugly man and did cut a fine figure in the bright clothing-I pushed the thoughts away, I needed to focus. A shameless flirt and actor, he grinned down at me.
"Of course, miss." He said, and followed me into the dim passage way. We'd both studied the layout of the floors and knew the way to the vault by heart, and we walked side by side, neither leading. The acting was over now, and it was all business from here. As we walked, I took the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity on something that I had been unable to bring up before.
"So, now that we're alone, do tell me about this Bird in Battle." I said. "Who are you working for?"
"I work for myself." Griever replied calmly. "The Bird is a friend. You dont need to worry about him."
"Here's the door-" I pulled out my lockpick and put it in the lock. "Stand guard." Griever put his back to the wall and watched down the hall from whence we came.
"The rest should be here soon." He muttered, not looking at me. "How did you find out about the letters?"
I focused on the lock for several seconds before answering. "You aren't that good at keeping secrets. You used all the oldest tricks in the book to try to fool us. The double paper was good though."
Suddenly, footprints sounded down the hallway. It was Kiara.
"We have to go, the Marshal has captured Kate."
I clenched my fists and pulled the pick out of the lock with a little too much force.
"Abort the mission." I said, then hiked up my skirts and ran toward the ballroom. "Get everyone out." I called back to Kiara and Griever.