The man stops beside a door in the alleyway and knocks out a 5 knock pattern on the door. The door opens and he goes inside. For just a moment I debate whether to follow him or wait for him to leave. I hear the flutter of Gral's wings and a moment later he lands on my shoulder. "I need you to return to base and let the others know what we have found. I'll need some backup if we're to take all of them tonight.
Gral nods his head and takes to the sky again to relay the message. As soon as he disappears I move to the door and repeat the knock that I heard earlier. The door opens and they allow me to enter without question. I take up my place on the outskirts of the group, analyzing the faces and filing them away in the vast banks of my memory. No matter what happens tonight I will remember the faces that I see here and one way or another they will be brought to justice.
An alarm is going off and I find myself falling through space. Something tells me that something horrible has happened. A moment ago I was surrounded by people, rebels who believe that the continents of Pravania can live in peace, fools. But by some magic that I cannot explain I am now falling and fools or not they are now gone from my sight.
I hit the ground with a thud and lie there for a moment mentally gauging myself for injuries. Something touches my arm and barely misses my head, causing the hairs on my scalp and the back of my neck to rise. Instinctively my muscles tense but I don't move. After 14 years living on the monster continent of Parada I've learned a thing or two about survival. Where ever I am I know I am in danger. The sirens are still wailing and red lights are pulsating through my eyelids.
I hear voices but can't make out words over the sound of the alarm. Suddenly the sound stops and I allow myself to breathe as I listen to the voices around me. From what I can tell there are three others in the room with me a woman and two men but their accents are unlike any I have ever heard.
"Is she dead?" Says the voice of the woman.
"Dead, dead? Quince no dead, Quince hungry." The second voice sends a shiver down my back at it's high pitched crazed sound. The only thing I can even ascribe it to is the sound of the juju bird as it decapitates its victims.
The third voice speaks then, close to my face and it is deep and gentle in my ear. "No, she's alive. The transition must have been hard for her. She seems to have passed out."
I feel a hand on my neck and I react then, grabbing his hand and twisting it behind his back, jumping to my feet and pulling a dagger from my boot all in one swift motion. He's shorter than I had anticipated and his feet dangle a good two feet above the floor, "One wrong move and I will slit your throat."
The woman looks terrified at this and the juju man jumps up and down excitedly clapping his hands.
"Put him down, Aliora." A new voice speaks behind me and I jump at his use of my name. I let the man fall and he lies on the ground gasping for breath as the woman runs to his side. I turn to this man but he is not one I recognize though it's rather hard to tell in the still pulsing red light that illuminates the room.
"Who are you and how do you know my name?" I say suspiciously, pulling the dagger from my other boot as I speak.
"My name is Cobalt, I'm an agent of the Oubliette which has brought you here. But there will be time for that later. You see these flashing red lights? Those are because someone has escaped this house before the Oubliette deemed she was ready. If we don't get her back through the blue door than the anger of the Oubliette may destroy us all."
I'm not at all sure what this Cobalt person is talking about but it seems rather urgent and if Parada taught me nothing else it taught me how to handle the unpredictable. I lower my daggers to my sides as I ask, "What do you want from me?"
We need to find her and bring her back, she's lost and confused and a danger to herself and possibly to others as well. You are a warrior who can handle that which this world may throw at you." He turns to the man behind me who has recovered and picked himself up off the floor, "Vollomeer, you are to join her and two others who have been waiting for your arrival. You will need to find someone named Adventurous, she will be able to help you find Demure."
"Why is this so important?" I ask finding it hard to believe that anything could be more important than the rebellion.
Cobalt smiles, "Because like you, the people in this house need something to do. By the time you find Demure you will probably all be within your second rank. I honestly don't expect to ever see any of you within this house again."