Chapter Seven, Part Two

Shalassah appeared to have given up. Either that, or she was plotting a means of escape, an option that had all but been proved improbable after half an hour of Kal's methodical inspection of the room. Jacques had taken them into a southern section of the city into something of a medicinal shoppe, through the back door and two levels below where it was cool and where good were kept. None were lethal, Kal noted as he went through his surroundings with the thoroughness of his nature and the curiosity of a scientist.

He had told her almost two hours ago that there was no legitimate means of escape from this dismal place. Though it was cool and smelled faintly like herbs, the lighting was minimal and yellow, and the air was still. Shalassah had curled herself into the corner beside the stairs.

At first, Kal attempted to comfort her, about Leucrota, that Jacques would not cause them mortal harm, that this was only temporary, that once things were figured out, she could return to her calling to save her people from a civil war. To all this, she said not a single word or gave a sign of acknowledgment. Admired by her steadfastness, and thus shrugging at her lack of response, he told her he would look around for anything that could help them escape.

Of course, he had found nothing, and settled upon entertaining himself with what was in the room. He had read every label on the jars and vials: things that were used to treat wounds and minor cuts, balms for aches and pains, powders for mixing or otherwise used to treat a specific condition. Hours had to have passed. He had no way of keeping track of time.

Only when a rattle upon the door at the top of the stairs resounded into the chamber did Shalassah suddenly raise her head.

Kal looked upon her with pity. Her eyes were swollen and slightly pink, though it appeared that she had stopped crying quite a while ago. Her eyes met his for a moment, and Kal was the first to look away. The once proud and powerful princess was now sitting upon a dirt floor in the second story of a storage basement in a crumpled brown habit that was slightly ripped along the bottom, strands of hair spilling over her face with hardly a positive thought.

The door opened and a girl, not much older than twenty, began descending the stairs lightly. Her legs were in dark red tights, brown work boots that practically sprung down the steps that suddenly halted with a thud. Straight and short blonde hair whisked away from her face and wide brown eyes stared at Kal.

"Who are you, and how did you get down here?"

"I am Kal--"

"Oh," the girl exclaimed as Shalassah stood up and turned to face the girl poised mid-stride on the stairs. "Oh!" It was louder this time. "The Princess!" Her hand went to her mouth. "I didn't -- I didn't realize you two had come here, I mean, I knew it would be at -- but not here! Oh! Wait!" She ran back up the stairs and slammed the door. The lock turned quickly and they heard her steps thudding up the next flight of stairs in a sprint.

Kal and Shalassah exchanged glances again. Of course anyone in this city would recognize their own princess. But this meant that more than a couple people knew of this plan to abduct the princess. Someone including a young girl such as this.

"Do you know where we are?" Kal asked, hoping to finally receive a response from the princess.

"Yes. In a seedy side of town. This is the guild's territory, and that girl is no doubt a runner of some kind."

"A runner?"

"A thief," Shalassah stared straight ahead, her eyes glazed over. A faint grimace pulled at her lips, but she held her composure. Within the minute, the thudding work boots were heard again and as it came closer, Kal began to feel a slight tension in the air. The princess was on guard. He hoped that was all.

The latch was turned, and the door flew open. The girl ran down the stairs, holding a blued glass in one hand, a small basket draped on her arm. She began chattering as soon as her legs came into view.

"This is all I could find. Oh, Princess, I'm so sorry that I didn't know you were here, I would have delivered these sooner! Why didn't that -- well never mind, here I am now." She reached the bottom and quickly approached the princess who stared down at her not quite disapprovingly.

The girl held the glass out to her while reaching into the basket and pulling out some bagged foodstuffs. "There's only water, I don't think you'd want the mead upstairs, and some fruits and wild nuts, here," she began handing them to the princess who politely took the various packages from the stranger. "A piece of cake, just made an hour ago, see, it's still warm, I was going to eat it on the sneaks, you know, but well, I think it'd be more polite to let you have it, being that you're the princess and all." The basket now empty, she looked at the princess who stood there clutching bags and packages to her chest. The girl was still holding the glass out.

"Oh! So sorry!" The girl began grabbing the items Shalassah held and stuffed them back into the basket. She switched the glass in her hands and took off the basket from her arms, finally succeeding in giving the glass and basket to the princess in a more presentable manner. She looked at Kal. "And who are you?"

"A monk that the princess had so kindly offered transportation to," he glanced at Shalassah whose eyes accepted his answer.

"Really? From where?"

"Mono Luthor," he hoped that reply didn't give too much away.

"Mono Luthor! I've always wanted to visit your monastery; I hear the views are fantastic. Princess," she turned to Shalassah. "I'm so sorry, really, if only Jacques had told someone that you were here, I would have come down immediately. What did I come down here for anyway," she looked around the room in thought.

"What is your name?" Shalassah said after taking a sip of water.

"I am Lyxxie, and well, I know who you are," she smiled, making a small curtsy with an imaginary skirt.

"What does your Jacques have planned for me?"

"Well," she scrunched up her nose and inhaled, squeezing her shoulders up to her ears. "I really don't know all the details, it's kind of complicated and there are a lot of caveats and ideas here and there."

"To the point, Lyxxie," Shalassah prodded.

"Right. Well the guilds--"

"Have nothing to say about it," a voice came from the top of the stairs, a voice most similar to Lyxxie's. Another pair of legs in dark red leggings and brown work boots descended the stairs, and Samael could hardly hide his surprise as a girl identical to the one that stood in front of Shalassah appeared. Even their hair was cut the same, probably much to their advantage.

"Jyxxie, please, it's the princess!"

"There's nothing to say, Lyxxie," the girl stopped midway, looking down at the three of them. She glanced at Kal, bowed her head to the princess, then raised her head with a scowl at the girl who wore the same attire as herself. "My apologies, Princess, my sister tends to babble about things she knows nothing of."

"It seems more likely that you are keen on not telling me what the purpose of this debasing and criminal act is," Shalassah frowned.

Jyxxie raised an eyebrow.

Lyxxie quickly turned to the princess, moving closer to her. "Just ignore her. She's so serious all the time. If you want --"

"We're leaving, and the princess and monk are coming with us," Jyxxie cut off her sister's hushed words.

Lyxxie whirled around. "Leaving? Why?"

"Some... things... are not right at this moment. We've been told to escort the princess to higher ground."

"Where? And why?"

Jyxxie rolled her eyes. "I don't know. But we're not safe here, and we need to go to the Baird’s Section now. Maybe leave the city altogether, I'm not sure."

"Because of the princess?"

"No, it has nothing to do with her," Jyxxie replied flatly.

"Would this have anything to do with what Jacques saw on the way to the city?" Kal interjected, taking a step forward.

Jyxxie cast a sharp glance at him. "I think so. I don't know what, but I think something bad is going to happen here, to Morra."

"Magick?" Lyxxie exclaimed, excited.

"'Magick?'" Jyxxie scoffed. "You and magick; you'll be taken to the crazy house if you keep talking about that!"

"It's just a suggestion," Lyxxie shrugged.

"A moot one, at that. Now come on, we have to leave now."

"We'll get there in five minutes," Lyxxie began to whine.

"We're taking the wagon."

"Aw, really?" Lyxxie's shoulders slumped.

"Now." Jyxxie began treading up the stairs, her work boots hardly making a sound.

"Come on," Lyxxie began dragging herself to the stairs. "I guess the airship's too eye-catching. It won't take too long, I promise."

"And keep your mouth shut!" Jyxxie's voice carried from the stairwell above.

The End

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