‘She knows,’ Bash said, sounding more surprised than Griever. But, then again, nothing was surprising Griever anymore. These last few days had been enough insanity to make him almost expect this woman to know about the Gears. Hell, she might as well know their abilities, names, creation, and every other fucking thing as well!
But, he had to be smart about this.
“These?” Griever asked the woman, fingering Jaden. The unconscious Gear did nothing to respond, of course. “Worth a kingdom? Have you lost your mind, woman? Metal bands are just little pieces of iron and, depending on the quality, worth a meal at the best.”
“You’re a very good actor,” the woman said, putting the bloody arrow she had back in the quiver she probably had on her back after wiping it off on her cloak, of course. “But a poor liar.”
‘Your wounds.’ Griever glanced down to see the cuts he had received were no longer there, but the blood from them was. ‘Exactly. Better start getting better lies, bonded.’
“I stole this shirt from a battlefield, so of course it’s cut up.” The woman was sharp, so he was sure anything he said would be uncovered as a lie, but he needed time to plan. He had a disadvantages when it came to this confrontation. The first was his lack of food, despite being able to down a few rabbits he happened to trap the day before. The second was his lack of a good weapon. Sure, he could turn Bash into a sword or his gauntlet, but he liked having an ace up his sleeve. Then again, if this woman knew of the Gear, it was fair to say she knew of their innate ability to change shape. And that brought him to his last concern. If she knew about the Gear, it was likely she had one and Griever couldn’t even fathom what power it might hold.
‘I can’t think of it either,’ Griever’s own Gear said, ‘But I have not seen anything to indicate it’s power, either.’
“Your lies should stop,” the figure snapped, “It’s getting to be annoying. Now, what is your name?”
“Why should I tell you? Tell me yours first!” If this woman was his cousin, her name might give him a clue as to who his Aunt Ruby had married. It wasn’t important, but Griever couldn’t help but be curious about that, as well as who his cousin was.
The woman smirked. “You can call me the Night Hawk.”
Well that wasn’t bloody obvious. Dammit all! “So, you really are Ruby’s daughter, huh?”
The woman seemed to tense and it was only natural. Some unknown man with two artifacts you know to be powerful gear had just told you who your mother was. “How do you know that?” the woman asked, reaching for an arrow.
A plan unfolded in Griever’s mind just then, stopping him from trying to get the first move.
‘This is ridiculous…’
‘Thanks for your support,’ Griever growled in his thoughts. He hated it, but he would have to start talking to the Gear like this. Plus, he didn’t want to foil his beautiful plan, now did he? Honestly, he was starting to feel like a kid.
“There is much I know,” Griever told the woman, forcing Bash into the shape of a chair, and then sitting down. The Gear couldn’t lose contact with Griever at any point, so it was a tricky thing, but he managed. “Your mask reminds me of your grandmother.” His own grandmother.
The woman pulled an arrow and knocked it on her impossibly large bow, aiming for Griever’s head. It took all his control to stop from attacking or even moving. If he did that, it would ruin every thing. “Who the hell are you?”
Griever chuckled menacingly. “You may call me the Red Lion,” he said with confidence. “Other names have lost their meaning.”
The woman stepped back ever so slightly. “So you have the Red Lion Gear, Bashenthar?”
“Among others,” Griever murmured, acting amused. He was still wary of that bow, but found this to be fun. After being treated like a lesser by that damned Black Dove and Gallag, as well as the recently deceased Black Wolves, it was good to be controlling again. “But that is irrelevant. I must ask you to ease yourself. I am no threat to you.” Griever paused for a moment, letting the words sink in before adding, “For now.”
“I think your bluffing,” the woman said, gaining confidence. “Ruby is a common name, after all. And this mask is weathered. It was a lucky guess.”
“You may be right,” Griever said slowly, “Though your grandfather Leonard Dominos and his wife Jem both wore the mask better.” The woman cursed, loosening the bow string. “Though that was when they were part of the Night Hawks.”
‘Think it’ll work?’ Bash asked Griever.
‘Let’s hope so. I hate to admit it, but I do not want to test my mettle on her right now. Not before I kill Droil.’
‘Because there’s a good chance you would die, based on the given information about this woman?’
‘Something like that.’
The real reason was that either way, he would feel like shit. If he lost, he might be able to survive with his Gear’s help, but that would wound his pride. But, on the chance that he won, he would be responsible for killing his own cousin. It was a lose-lose.
“Who are you?” the woman asked him again, this time sounding somewhat worried.
Griever smiled. “I told you already, but I guess I can tell you my real name if you tell me yours.”
The woman seemed to take it in for a moment. It was enough time to make Greiver think she was conversing with a Gear, if she had one. The evidence pointed to her having one, but it would always be simple skill. No need to jump to conclusions.
She finally nodded and removed her mask, making Griever almost jump. “My name is Katherine Twynam, also known as Bloody Kate around these areas. Your turn.”
So, the men who had been hunting her… Damn, though! His own cousin was a wanted criminal! Well, he couldn’t say much. He was a mercenary, only barely considered lawful. In many countries, mercenary bands were apparently outlawed. So, who was Griever to judge?
“My name is Schujerkarmen,” Griever said with a smile. “But, if you would be so kind, call me Karm.” His play had worked. Kate was in shock, most likely a result of her Gear telling her the implication of the name. He had, after all, introduced himself as the man who, supposedly, created the Gear.
‘Don’t be too pleased,’ Bash sneered, something new coming from him, ‘You’re nothing compared to my King. He was a great man, full of compassion and care for his people! Why, all the Fae nearly worshipped him! His deeds were said to be so great, that any King that would come after him felt insignificant and-‘
Griever ignored the rest of Bash’s monologue and focused on Kate, who had backed away some more. “I see you have found one of my Gear, Katherine, but you’re hiding its magic. Why is that? I will not take it from you.”
He had said something wrong. Kate went from a sense of awe to a look of anger and concentration. In no time, she had her massive bow docked and aimed at Griever’s heart. “Lien says the King would be able to sense and talk with any of his Gear despite who they were bonded to.”
‘You didn’t mention THAT bit, Bash!’