She strolled casually through the Elven Gardens District, headed to the palace. She paid a beggar to make a scene in front of the palace, so the guards would go to the trouble and she could sneak in with no witnesses.
But plans tend to go awry, I might have to bribe some guards if I mess up. Aja walked through the gate that led to the White Gold Tower. She didn’t know why it was called White Gold, there wasn’t any gold on it to be seen. Nodding to the beggar on the side of the street, Aja stood behind a tree near the tower entrance. She did a final check on her equipment. Daggers, lockpicks, and bribe money.
The beggar took off, running and screaming incoherent things down the cobblestone road. The guards in their shiny white armor jumped at the sounds, and raced after him. Aja took in her surroundings, crept up to the door and unlocked it in no time.
The hallway was dimly lit with torches. It was circular, with large dark notches in the walls, easy places to hide. Aja avoided the light as much as possible. In some areas, it couldn’t be helped. Occasionally, a palace guard would march past her, Aja being easily alerted to their comings and goings from the clink of their armor.
She picked at a few doors before she came to the guard barracks. Some men were sleeping in the beds, while others sat around tables, gambling and drinking. It was a quiet lull, but loud enough for them not to hear Aja slip past them, snatching some food as she went.
A small knot in her stomach formed at she began to work on a hard lock. Aja repressed the feeling and continued to do what she did best.
A soft click came from the handle, but Aja hadn’t finished yet. Someone’s on the other side. Panic nearly paralyzed her. She stumbled back as a palace guard returning from duty yanked the door open, knocking her over. He gasped and drew his sword.
“Intruder!” he cried, rushing to pin Aja. She struck her hand out, a small dagger flying from her sleeve. It merely bounced off of his chest plate. Rolling out of the way at the last moment, the guard’s momentum sent him tumbling down in a loud crash.
Before Aja knew it, she had been surrounded by guards, some dressed in their uniforms and some not. She quickly put a single lockpick in her mouth and held up her hands in angry surrender. One of the younger looking guards padded her down, finding her daggers, lockpicks and sack of gold.
“Satisfied?” she asked, her face holding a blank expression. A fully armored man roughly tied her hands together.
“You’re going to rot in a cell, girl,” he said gruffly.
“I need the holiday anyways,” Aja snapped. He punched her in the gut. She doubled over and gasped for air and coughed, the pain sending shock waves through her body.
“Trespassing and assaulting an officer will put you away for a long while.” He shoved her forward out the door.
When Aja opened her eyes, it was like she hadn’t opened them at all. The darkness enveloped her in it’s embrace. Her face was slightly stuck to the stone floor of her cell. Aja propped herself up on her elbows and tried to determine how she could get out. A quiet, yet creepy laugh echoed to her.
“My, my,” she could almost hear the poison dripping from whose lips were speaking, “What a pretty specimen we have here. Not dark elf, not wood elf.” Aja pounced into a defensive crouching position, her muscles coiled and tense. The voice cackled, unnerving and cold.
“Touch me and lose your most prized possession, worm,” she whispered. The echo ended.
“Sadly, all I can do is watch you,” he chuckled. Aja’s eyes were adjusted now, and she could make out a thin form behind her bars. No, he’s in another cell.
She stood and slowly walked to the door of the cell. The man laughed again.
“You’re going to die here, you know,” Aja could see that he was a dark elf, gaunt and pale, “Valen Dreth will always have the last laugh,” he muttered. She scoffed and turned to go deeper into her cell. The man is obviously senile.
A loud clunk from the stairs, and a small glow appeared. Voices carried down the stone hallway, bringing Aja’s attention back to the present. Dreth laughed manically.
“Hear that? The guards are coming for you!” he then slunk back into his own dark cell. Aja stood her ground and tried her best to look into the hallway. The light was getting brighter, and the voices more clear.
“...-urus lock that door, we don’t want anyone following us,” a strong female voice, with equally as assertive footsteps.
“My sons, they’re dead aren’t they?” an old, weary man’s voice, deep and resonating.
“We don’t know that yet, sir,” a gruff and mean sounding man, with loud thumping feet.
The older voice spoke again, “No, I know it.”
The woman spoke again, closer this time, “Let’s hurry, we’re not out of this yet.” Aja quickly backed away from the cell bars as the woman approached, her torch illuminating the small room.
“What’s this prisoner doing in here?” she snarled, reaching for her sword. She was a medium height woman outfitted in elegant armor. Another man, with darker skin and similar mail rushed up beside her, gently holding the elbow of an old man with red and gold robes.
“Usual mix up with the Watch?” he puffed angrily. The woman hastily unlocked the cell.
“It doesn’t matter, we just need to get him to safety,” the woman glared at Aja, “Stand aside prisoner.” Aja backed away. The three of them filed into the cramped space, the older gentleman vaguely staring at her.