Private Tales Contraband

Vale

Dreadlord
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It was a peaceful night in Val-Anir. At least as peaceful as a city such as it could be. Vale had been looking forward to his quarters and finally laying on his bed but the duties of his house came first. That resulted in him in a somewhat small but lavish room, the furniture clearly made with care and appreciation as were the rest of the items. It was tucked in the underbelly of the city and acted somewhat as a small safehouse and despite the location of it, no expense was spared in its comfort. There was a large window that just revealed the stone intestines of the city but there was one thing that interested Vale and that was the warehouse connected to one of the manmade rivers. It was used as a makeshift dock with the small river allowing the transportation of cargo through the congested parts of the city.

There were reports of contraband being exported from the dock he watched, it varying from simple to drugs to weapons that could possibly contain magical abilities. For the last few hours, Vale had utilized the shadows in order to scope out the building but the only thing out of the ordinary was the raised security presence around the perimeter. The Dreadlord could have rained on the parade already but discretion was asked for the mission and because of that, he asked for assistance from the Anirian Knights to help make this more efficient.

Vale remained by the window as he leaned against the wall and kept his gaze locked on the warehouse, his silver eyes flicking between each new arrival and departure. The shadows nearest to him pooled around his feet, slithering like snakes after a few moments as they would disappear into the corner of the room where it was the darkest. Vale was practically half-submerged in the thick darkness as it appeared drawn to him but it was one of the side effects of his magical abilities if he gave no conscious effort to control or hide it. It would be a few more minutes before it was time for the Knights to arrive and Vale remained patiently where he was until they did.
 

Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

Now I'm filling the role of a police force?

Every day that Sibylla remained in the city seemed to poke and prod her much like a burr in her boot. It was an annoyance -- a necessity - but an annoyance none the less. In the Army of the West, she'd been useful and able to use her abilities to the fullest extent possible. To actually make a difference in the ideals and ambitions of Vel Anir. Now she was subject to every whim of the Houses and politics that gilded the city with ambition and plots of power whispered in the dark.

Another mission, another Dreadlord. It seemed as if House Luana was a rather busy bee indeed. The House Luana, Urahil, Banick, and Sirl publically claimed that their interests were to ensure the future of the city.

More like their own Houses instead, the Knight thought wryly, a snort managing to escape with her internal musings.

Boots clipping as she jogged up the steps, twin swords sheathed at her back, the woman in black scale armor made her way through the polished corridors decorated with luxurious tapestries and art.

The Dreadlord she was to escort -- or babysit more aptly - for this particular mission was named Dreadlord Vale. She'd yet to be introduced, but Sybilla was already preparing herself for another entitled mage who would use her to do all the dirty work while they waved their hands or uttered some rubbish in some foreign tongue.

Lessat's rings, if this is another bloody ball...
 
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Vale

Dreadlord
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Vale's gaze remained concentrated on the building but it was broken when he started to hear the footsteps coming up the stairs. The shadows whispered to him but he already knew who it was. The only people who could know of this place were fellow Dreadlords or the Knights. Since he was the only Dreadlord assigned to this, that left one answer for him. This would actually be the first time he would be working with them and he knew the relationship between their two parties could be... tenuous at best. He wondered if that relationship would infringe on the mission today.

The door swung open and Sibylla would see Vale push himself off the wall, the shadows spilling off of him like water as they slowly retreated back to their normal places. To her relief most likely, she would see that the Dreadlord's attire was that of armor as well and would mean no ball was taking place. Vale's armor seemed more of leather then iron and metal plates most of the others carried, giving him lighter and more graceful movement. He made his way to the table in the center of the room and interlocked his arms behind his back. "Sibylla, I presume. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Vale's silver eyes met hers's and he kept their gazes locked there for a few moments as if he was inspecting the contents of her being before deciding to continue. The shadows around her seemed to inch closer as this happened and the feeling of there being multiple eyes in the room would be present. After a long second, he nodded for her to come to stand by him near the window so they both could view the warehouse below. "Can I assume you were already briefed before you arrived or will you need me to provide clarity about the mission?"
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

Well, thank Lessat's Rings for small miracles.


There was a measure of relief that swept over Sibylla's olive complexion, evident in the way the furrows of her brow would relax and smooth flat. No fancy vestments, no visual indication that this Dreadlord would be asking her to follow him into some political meeting to make sure he wasn't going to get stabbed in the back.

While Sibylla had done her rounds as a Home Guard after her knighthood, she'd never particularly enjoyed working with mages. Admittedly, rumors abounded regarding their training, but it was for Vel Anir's prosperity. However, more often than naught, their ability to conjure battlemagic unlike anything she'd ever seen meant that the Dreadlords were a complex if an elitist, group of individuals with varying, perplexing quirks.

Take Srash, if he could get a rise out of her, the Dreadlord seemed to be well pleased with himself. How will this one turn out?

Well, at least he was wearing armor. Meant he wasn't going to be as easily struck down if anything went sideways. Either way, she couldn't help feeling a shiver creep up her spine, the tiny hairs at the nape of her neck standing on end.

Call it a sixth sense or maybe just because she was that prone to picking up on people bullying her, the Knight's eyes would slightly narrow. Was he using glamour? Something to tweak his looks? Oh, he had that scar over his eye, but something in the area was off.

Coming to a stop in front of the pale-haired Dreadlord, Sibylla closed her fist and struck her chest in greeting.

"Knight Sibylla, reporting as requested my lord."
all the proper la-de-da, hello, respect, look in the eyes pomp and circumstance. Mentally, she checked these off like a list. One to remind her to be somewhat tactful so she wouldn't let her tongue or her expressions run away from her.

At his query, the dark slash of her brows bent forward in musing, "To a degree my lord, it was indicated that this would be some sort of police work."

Whoohoo... if this meant she was going to end up investigating the Lady of the House's lost jewels or if she was cuckooing her husband, it would ultimately irritate her.

Even if her attention drew away towards the warehouse in the distance, her expression was transparent enough to relay this; that she expected the worst.
 

Vale

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Vale stood there as the Knight went through her whole introduction to him. He just stared at her through it as she did everything correctly. Her expressions and posture betrayed nothing but even he could see the small glint in her eyes where she resented having to do it. Vale couldn't help the half-smirk that tugged at the corner of his lips like he caught her red-handed but he just nodded to her when she was finished. "You can ease yourself, Knight Sibylla. I would rather have you more worried about the task at hand then making sure you respect my position. We are in the Undercity, not at court." Maybe it was just the way he was raised or the fact his magic made him sort of an outcast but he didn't put any precedence into appearances if he could help it.

"To an amusing degree, you could classify it as that." Vale's silver oceans that were his eyes met Sibylla's and he motioned silently with them to the warehouse. "There have been repeated reports that highly illegal items are being stashed and exported at this location. Even whispers of items with magical properties but it's unclear to what extent." Vale finally turned to her, the sun above slowly dipping behind the walls and casting a dark overcast over the entire city. "Discretion is advised and I do hope that falls within your skill set." His abilities aided him greatly in remaining unseen and why he mostly trusted himself in matters such as this but for now, he would have to place his faith in Sibylla.

Vale directed his eyes back to the window and stared up at the sky, watching as the clouds slowly passed overhead. He was silent for a few moments until he finally saw the moon, a full one as it cast its silvery glow upon the city. He unfolded his arms as if that had been the signal he had been waiting for the entire time. "It's time to depart." With a simple flick of his hand, all the lights in the room were extinguished and it plunged the room in darkness except for the light coming from the window.

The Dreadlord didn't even make a sound as he moved, the only evidence he actually did being when he opened the door on the other side of the room and stood in the middle of the doorway. "We're you the only one they sent?"
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

Every Dreadlord had their quirks and skillset - one might say as many as the grains of sand upon the shores of Vel Anir. Dreadlord Vale would be no different. Each of the mages had their role and specific method of service, whether it involved the delicate skill of investigation gathering or the brute strength of a battle mage.

Throughout the mage's explanation, Sibylla made an attempt to keep her expression somewhat unreadable. Of course, she failed when she caught the upward tick of the Dreadlord's lips when he'd studied her earlier.

What's so funny? That's what she wanted to ask, but she caught her tongue, listening to the mission parameters. Discretion, illegal items, the Undercity... A curt nod was her answer.

Well, Commander Raj would say otherwise... This is why being reassigned to the city was absolutely ridiculous!

So I'll just keep my mouth shut and just make sure you don't get stabbed, Sibylla thought wryly in mild annoyance. Not that there was time to consider everything, all the lights were snuffed with but a mere twitch of the Dreadlord's fingers.

Nice parlor tricks, came the wry thought, unable to help the way her mind kept wandering. It took a bit to register his movements, figuring he was using some sort of magic to make himself move as quietly as a prowling cat. Following his steps and matching his stride, Sibylla quipped, "Numbers are counterproductive to attempts at discretion, my lord."

Oo, did that come off too glib?

Her footsteps were noticeably quieter, as muscle memory allowed her to move more deftly. She did not wear heavy armor as much as the medium weight scale that would provide protection and freedom of movement. No clanking of metal with every step, thankfully.

"Only me." the Knight added, admitting that she was the only one who was going to make sure he didn't meet the pointy end of a stick for the night.

The moon was full and it was a relatively clear night. Not the best if one wanted to go sniffing around without being noticed. Eyes the color of ice went to rest directly at all that white hair glinting under the moonlight. Ah, likely the envy of socialites for that hue of color. However, right now, it made him stand out like bleached whalebone on a black sand beach.

"Do you... have a cloak perhaps, my lord?" she inquired ever so carefully, her olive features scrunching in consideration, still probing how to interact with him. Covering his head would be best for them both so he wasn't so obvious.

All the Dreadlord's she met was touchy in one way or another.
 
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Vale

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Vale was surprised when the Knight didn't answer the question directly and instead gave a smart reply. It almost made him halt in his tracks but instead of feeling a flash of anger, it did the opposite it made him like the Knight more. Possibly to Sibylla to be surprising, he chuckled softly before responding, "Never scoff at efficiency." It was a slightly barren response but it made perfect sense to him. Even with a Dreadlord and Knight, there could always be an unknown factor they don't have an inkling of, and having a few tricks up their sleeves never hurt.

As they walked down the stairs to exit from the building, Sibylla would be able to see each light Vale passed dimmer slightly before eventually returning to their full blaze when there was distance. Even he could feel the woman's gaze burning into the back of his head before her question of a cloak came. He actually tilted his head slightly to catch her out of the corner of his eye, an unfamiliar glint passing through it. It could have been misinterpreted as anger but it was more... amusement. "Of course." Vale tied his snow-white hair quickly into a bun, removing the possibility of it used against him as it exposed his neck. The top half of the rune on his neck would be visible past his collar, it raven black and elaborate and beautiful in its own way. It almost appeared elvish in nature even though it wasn't. Instead of a cloak, he pulled up a hood that left only his nose and mouth visible. "Follow me."

From her tone and the way she spoke, it seemed to Vale that Sibylla didn't appear certain about his abilities. She would learn quickly that the use of discretion for him was something that he could willfully wrap around his fingers if he wanted to.

---​

The street was completely empty, the sign of life being light that shone through the cracks of some windows. The only audible sound is that of the wind as it gusted and screamed between the buildings. The moon's bright touch could provide some light but down in the veins of the city, the buildings towered like mountains and shielded the people from much of it. Eventually, the sound of the wind was cut short as a pair of footsteps echoed throughout the buildings. It was two guards who were patrolling the perimeter as both of them held a lantern, providing a shield of light.

"You know when we suppose' to get paid yet?"

"If I knew, I woulda sure been tellin ya."

The two guards had set up a small campfire by the outside wall of the warehouse, each one taking up a chair as they got comfortable and sat diagonal from another. The first one who spoke rubbed his hands above the fire before letting out a snort. "Hopefully we get paid the coin were deserved." The second guard barked out a humorless laugh, "What else you gon' do?" The first one wiped his nose before turning his head to spit on the ground and wipe his mouth, "I'll tell ya no-" When he turned back around, his partner was gone. The chair he sat on tilted slightly and the lantern flickering but there was no trace of the man.

The guard stood up as his chair scraped back, "Godfrey?" He quickly glanced around, trying to find a discernable shape outside the ray of his lantern's light. He was about to step out to search for his missing partner but movement on the ground caught his eye. The shadow of the guard that was projected onto the ground in front of him by the lantern started to shrink ever so slowly. It continued to shrink until it just turned into a pool of darkness that resided right under his feet and submerged them like he was in water. "What th-" Before he could finish his sentence, the guard was unexpectedly yanked off his feet with incredible force and resulting him smacking right into the pavement and nearly bite his tongue in half.

The pool suddenly moved backward and dragged the guard, the man spitting out blood as he tried to let out a yell and scraped his fingernails on the ground. He was slammed against the wall before being pulled up. When he was nearly at the top, he stopped and hung there for a moment before the shadows slithered across his body like tentacles and forced him into a T-pose like he was being crucified. The guard could only stare down at what was happening, terror filling his eyes to the brim. His mouth opened to scream but the shadows whipped toward his head, slamming it against the wall and keeping it in place as they also wrapped around his throat, closing it enough to prevent him from speaking but not enough to kill him.

Vale stepped out from the darkness, walking silently to the guard suspended on the wall. From his position and his head locked in place, he wasn't able to see the pair approach him but would be able to hear them. The Dreadlord stopped a few feet away from him, pulling the chair so it was directly across before sitting down and crossing his legs. "If you think to scream, your throat will be ripped out. Nod." The guard tried to glance down but was still unable to discern who was speaking. Realizing the situation he was in, he nodded in agreement.

The Dreadlord stood up from the seat before he grabbed the spine of the chair and spun it toward Sibylla as an indication for her to sit down. "Find out what he knows."
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

What. The. Hell?

Really, Sibylla should have known better than to assume the Dreadlord had the standard sort of Battlemage magic. Most of the Dreadlord's she met could use glamour to make people believe they were seeing things when they were not or perhaps powerful elemental or enhanced strength magic that would slam at the Elvin raiders.

This, well, was a bit different.

There were few times Sibylla would be left speechless. Point Dreadlord Vale. Well played. At first, back when she'd inquired if he had something to cover his head there was a measure of relief that he had a hood. She didn't miss the etched rune. Whether it was branded on or tattooed was hard to tell in the low light. Runes were often used to store magic, used as protection, or on the rare occasions when a Dreadlord decided to go rabid, to keep them contained.

A few seconds had been spent wondering where Vale lay on that spectrum, but the necessity to focus on the mission at hand allowed Sibylla to fine-tune her attention. That and the relief that this wasn't going to require her trying to do her best to do all the pleasantries with Nobles or other Dreadlords.

Thank Lessat's rings that there wasn't such a thing as a Dreadlord Ball. An internal shudder at the thought was barely contained. Nothing would be more tedious than that.

Not that this train of thought mattered much when standing in the wake of the Dreadlord's weird shadow manipulating the use of magic.

Okaaayy, this is why House Luana took him in. Honestly, the whole incident was rather creepy, and it made her slightly uncomfortable. The tightening around her mouth was a tell, as was the way her eyes swept over the entire thing.

Dreadlords were a law unto themselves. The things that they were able to do... well, there was a reason why Sibylla held a slight prejudice to the group. Few knew, but being part of the Army of the West let her have access to the end result of the Dreadlords that went seven sheets to the wind of crazy.

At the Dreadlord's words, Sibylla mentally shook herself out of her reverie, settling her face into as much of a deadpan expression as possible.

Did he think I'm some sort of interrogator? A couple of blinks at that internal musing prompted a short exhale of air from the Knight.

"As you wish, my lord,"
was her curt reply, striding over to a stop by his side. At the same time, the cold, hard, and alarming, swish of a blade being drawn from its sheath was enough to get the pinned man's attention.

"For posterity, how much am I allowed to cut off?" she added with the air of boredom when in reality, she was just trying to do something. It was far easier to punch someone in the face than do the mind tricks.

"Wait, wait! Whatever ya want, I'll give it to ye. Just don't cut me!"

Well I guess the threat of potentially chopping off parts was enough to make anyone talk.
 

Vale

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Vale stood there beside the chair, his arms crossed as his eyes went straight to Sibylla but he still remained silent. They followed her like a cat and she would be able to feel them burning into her and past her flesh to her soul itself. Truth be told, he didn't think she was an interrogator at all and was something he could have most likely done quicker. It was to witness if she had a breaking point and sort of a little test for her if she had a stomach to continue the work that would be entailed for them. There had been a few incidents where his methods raised... concerns. There may have been rules and etiquette for the Dreadlords and Knights but in the world of shadows, everything was different.

He didn't need to be an empath to see the visible change that took Sibylla when she saw his power. It was a reaction that he was used to at this point but she was smart enough to swallow her tongue and go along with it. When asked how much she was allowed to cut off, Vale's eyes glanced at the guard before answering her question with is own, his voice almost as dry as gravel. "Is that something you really believe you need to ask me?" As far as he was concerned, the man was a traitor and he cared more for answers than his wellbeing.

Before the two could even ask the man questions, however, he spoke out loud in a strained voice to reveal he didn't mind sharing what he knew. Vale brought his gaze to the guard again, "How many?" The man tried his best to peer down at who he was speaking to but it was practically impossible. The shadows around his neck slowly loosened more so he could speak freely but remained around his neck and slowly moved along his body. "Round fifteen, I don't know the real count. The guards are switched frequently."

"Why the heightened security?"

"They don't tell us shit. The only thing spoken was that of valuable items that only needed to be a few days to be offloaded. We were pose' to get paid heftily for it when it was over." That at least confirmed illegal items were being transported through the warehouse.

"Will it be offloaded tonight?"

The guard just nodded subtlely and Vale looked over to Sibylla. He didn't say anything but his eyes conveyed the message it was time for them to move. They had already spent too much time out in the open street. The guard glanced around crazily before bravely asking, "Will... I be let go of?" Vale brought his gaze over the man and peered at for a second before the shadows wrapped around the throat once more. The guard tried to scream but it was already too late and he was dragged higher along the wall. The air around him grew darker, leaving only his feet visible as they would start to shake uncontrollably. It would only be a second later before there was a vicious snap before the dead weight of the man came crashing back to the ground and into the light. The man's head was nearly turned entirely the other way. "Let's go."
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

Okay, so he was one of those types of Dreadlords.

Not that the idea of having to break a couple of noses or fists would make Sibylla cringe; it is just that the Dreadlords had some all too rather creative ways of gathering whatever information was required by the Houses. The kind that if one didn't have the intestinal fortitude to handle meant you'd be throwing chunks off to the side and earning oneself some form of punishment for losing face later.

It was all rather quick and quiet. Sibylla had been in plenty of fights and battles out West. Those encounters were more black and white. Out in a field face to face fully aware that death could come at any given moment with the strike of a well-placed arrow or the plunge of a sword. As a Knight, Sibylla knew she was on borrowed time. However, even she wasn't able to suppress the tightening of her lips in a grimace at the act. It was obvious that it had to be done, what with the chance that the man would rat to his employer or companions as soon as he could. No one survived an inquisition from a Dreadlord when they were given full reigns to do what needed to be done.

The scent of piss and excrement went wafting up to her nose, prompting a twitch of her nostrils and the subsequent sheathing of her sword. Well, the man had been scared shitless for his life. What a gritty place for his life to end. Of all the places to be left for dead, she mused, glancing about the street.

"Let me place the bodies in an area less conspicuous, my lord," this area of the undercity was dim and odds were that a dead body wouldn't give much concern to anyone -- but if he and his companion were to have scheduled some sort of meeting, it would be best to give them some time before they were found.

Of course, if he told her no, then she'd have no choice but to agree and continue on. A dark brow drew up as if waiting for his response, the woman hovering over the dead man lying in a pool of his own waste.
 
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Vale

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Vale was about to step toward the warehouse but he noted how Sibylla stared at the body for a moment. He stood there silently, letting her process whatever she needed before they continued. He nearly had the same reaction when he first used his powers against someone but because of his rank and position, it was a frequent occurrence to happen. After something is done enough times, you eventually grow used to it, and unfortunately, he was in a position to say that.

"It was a mercy." He was about to leave it at that but thought it would be better to clarify instead of letting her interpret. "You saw how he reacted. If he lived, he would have been petrified of his own shadow for the rest of his life. It's a slow descent into madness if he didn't kill himself before that." It was an unfortunate circumstance of his power and one that he honestly wouldn't wish on someone else. Before he was able to control his magic, he had experienced the very thing he commented on and it nearly broke him.

When she offered to hide the bodies from any prying eyes, he gave her a nod as an agreement. Before she could move the two however, he approached the body with the twisted head and used his foot to open the man's jacket. Vale crouched down, his fingers working quickly through the pockets until he pulled out a small black journal. His silver eyes inspected it for a moment before he finally stood up and gestured to the two, "By all means." While Sibylla did that, he flipped through the contents of the book with quick scans of each page.
 
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Sibylla

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|| Vale ||

Well, aye, you pretty much scared him shitless, Sibylla thought, thankful that her internal musings were free from being gleaned by the mages. She'd yet to hear of any that had the capacity to passively read thoughts. Oh, there were tales of those who were able to rip memories right out of the mind - but thankfully, odds were that she would never find herself in that sort of situation.

Or at least, she hoped not. If her thoughts were audible for everyone to hear, odds were she'd get herself flayed for her disrespectful manner. Again, another reason why she disliked working in the city.

That the Dreadlord cared enough to provide some sort of explanation is what really surprised her. Most just conducted their business and went on their way, leaving the Knights to clean up after them. Such was her surprise that it flickered across her ice-blue eyes and resulted in an arch of her thick brows.

"Of course, my lord." while she gave verbal agreement, it was more to keep things moving than real acceptance of his explanation. He didn't need to give her one, but since he did, she wanted to provide some measure of response.

The man killed a man using shadows after all, and there were plenty of those around her.

As she left him to read the pilfered journal, she bent to pick up the dead man by the arms. Sibylla was strong, but even she had her limits. Thankfully the piss sodden man didn't weight too much for her to drag away towards a stack of cargo boxes. Some investigation provided an easy method of stuffing the bodies away.

All the while, Sibylla couldn't help but sneak glances at the Dreadlord, observing him warily if with piqued interest. He was peculiar. Quiet. Contemplative.

Okay and creepy with the way he managed to manipulate shadows. For sure, that skillset likely had him do rounds of reconnaissance and assassinations for House Luana.

Setting the body on the ground, she took a moment to nudge the lid off the cargo crate. Nothing but straw and what appeared to be pottery. With a shrug, she bent down and gave a grunt as she picked up the dead man and shoved him inside. The second one didn't take long.

Unfortunately, now the lingering stench of shit and piss clung to her. Perfect.

Turning towards the Dreadlord, she gave a quick nod, nose twitching in mild distaste. "Done, my lord."
 

Vale

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Vale flipped through the pages slowly, some of them being just scribbles of the man's guard shifts or boring days of his life. After a few more flips, he arrived at a time schedule for what he suspected was the guard's personal schedule. The times appeared normal but the last few days, they were hours later then what he was usually scheduled for. The end of the man's shift wasn't too far from now and he suspected the pair had about an hour, maybe two before it was all offloaded tonight.

When he heard Sibylla call him, he slid the small journal into his pocket before he turned around. The smell hit him instantly and it made his nose twitch slightly as well. In the very basic way to describe his power, he could manipulate someone's sight under the right circumstances but he couldn't manipulate someone's sense of smell. He stepped forward to the Knight, stopping a few feet in front of her. The corner of his mouth tugged into a smirk again, "You smell quite terrible."

She would be able to see the gears in his head turn through his eyes as he wondered what to do for a moment before he finally spoke, "Take off your scale and your weapons. Leave just your garments underneath." Why go through the trouble of sneaking when they could possibly let her waltz right in.

Vale turned around to walk towards the nearby curb of the street and scooped up some mud with one of his hands. Making his back over to her, he gently grabbed onto one of Sibylla's hands before giving her a firm handshake with his mud ridden one. Sibylla would find his grasp was relatively cold if she allowed him to take her hand. He closed his other hand over the top of their interlocked ones and held it there for a second before letting go. It would make her hand covered in the mud and allow her to apply it to herself. "Smudge your clothing with it." Even though the clothing under her armor was made more for combat and not everyday civilian life, it was more convincing than when she had the scale donned.

With his clean hand, he reached toward her head and undid her hair from its knot, letting it fall to its natural length and past her shoulders. Vale stared at her for a moment afterward before speaking, "You have beauty and that is something we can use." At this point, Sibylla most likely knew where he was going with this. He pulled out a small knife and held it in his hand for her, the hilt facing her direction as he waited for her to take it.
 
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Sibylla

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|| Vale ||

Sibylla should have known this was going to progress from bad to worse.

It all started with the Dreadlord's rather obvious comment that she smelled. Well, no kidding? I just had to stuff the piss and the shit sodden man you decided to kill after scaring him shitless!

As soon as the Dreadlord's expression turned into one of contemplation and surveyed her from head to toe, Sibylla knew that whatever came next she was not going to be too keen on it.

Who would have known that the man would literally command her to remove her armor and weapons in the middle of the street?! Such was her utter astonishment that she gave no objection towards the deposit of mud on her open palm. Twin orbs akin to the hue of the northern seas, bore into the Dreadlord's own with shock, her mouth swinging open only to snap shut as indignation sent a flush of ruddy color to her face.

There was no holding back her guffaw, no she was transparent in her expression that relayed that she thought his recommendation was utter bollocks.

But oh no, it didn't stop there.

No, in the mere seconds that Sibylla was about to snort out her reply, the blasted mage had the audacity to pull at the ties that keep her hair away from her face. That thick, dark curtain would waterfall along her ears and just past her shoulders, framing her features to showcase her bedouin heritage. Olive skin, dark hair, light eyes - the Ka'nan's were of little notoriety other than conducting their duty within the Anirian Knight Guard. Yet their features were distinctive. A shower, a little cleanup, maybe some kohl to line her eyes, and Sibylla could pass for a third or fourth minor house noblewoman.

If she didn't have the tendency to speak her mind so easily.

"No," the curt, indignant response went slipping out of her mouth, the dark slashes of her brows pinching forward and her eyes narrowing at the Dreadlord. Of course, as soon as she said so, she immediately realized her mistake. Not only did she just talk back to the mage but she did so without properly adding 'my lord'.

Lovely.

With a flick of her hand to send the mud to the ground, the Knight swallowed her tongue of the obscenities she was dying to relay and instead said through gritted teeth, "My mission is to ensure your safety, my lord. Whether or not I smell like shit has no semblance of importance to this mission. Considering we are in the Undercity, I doubt that smelling just like every other vagrant would be an issue."

Not to mention, this was your own blasted fault to begin with! she thought although it would be easy to read that perhaps there were things unsaid that indicated that the Dreadlord's actions caused it.
 

Vale

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When Sibylla's hair was let loose, it did heighten her beauty and made her heritage easier to see. But he couldn't pay attention for long as Vale saw the emotions that were practically broadcasted through her icy eyes and across her face freely in objection. He falsely assumed that the Knight would hold her tongue and adhere to his plan in order to resolve the situation they were facing. But after he placed the mud into her hand and held out the knife for her, the Dreadlord could easily spot the volatile reaction was coming.

There was no immediate verbal reaction from the Dreadlord when she simply rejected what he told her. The only visible difference she would see in the man was his jaw tightening ever so slightly. His glove crinkled loudly as his grip around the hilt tightened but he remained erect as a statue and was silent as one as he let her finish. A few seconds would pass where nothing was said between the two of them but he would eventually return his hand with the blade back to his side as his eyes laid into hers. Now it was his turn to speak. "I don't plan on simply finding whatever is here and be done with it. I want to know where it's coming from, where it is going, what are the strings being pulled. That requires a certain finesse."

Vale placed both of his arms behind as he continued, "What is our plan? We stroll in there without any idea what is truly happening and you drag each shit covered corpse we make into a crate and leave an empty dock for this ship to arrive at? You attempt to follow me in the pitch darkness as we search every crevice until we find something strange?" The Dreadlord's voice was calm but there was certain steel to it as he spoke his reasons. "Regarding your smell, it's called adaptability and offers an opportunity that we shouldn't ignore. You'll be able to walk in freely under disguise and they will lower their guard and suspect nothing of my presence. You are my secret weapon and I am yours."

"I can ensure nothing will happen to you without my intervention but if you still vehemently disagree as you've shown, I'll provide you three choices. First, you follow me in there and stick to the plan and we discover what is happening. Second, you can wait out here until I give you a signal and you act as a lookout until then. I'll let you be the judge if my safety will be jeopardized during that time. Third, you return back to your commander and I proceed with this mission myself and we find out one way or another how I turn out tomorrow."
Vale didn't need to point out that if Sibylla did pick the third option and he turned up as a corpse, it wouldn't end well with her. The Dreadlord slowly brought the knife out again and held it between them, the blade reflecting in the light. "Make your choice. The clock is ticking."
 
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Sibylla

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|| Vale ||

As if you are really giving me any choice!

The thought went racing through Sibylla's mind, the woman's arms crossing over her chest in defensiveness, fingers curling into fists in ever-growing frustration. Oh, he didn't like it when she'd given him a flat out no. In fact, he'd been surprised by it. One that didn't linger long as steel took form in his eyes and his body became tense at her unfiltered response.

That he had bothered to explain himself surprised her as much as did the slight panic that wrestled her sense of indignation. He could report her. It was easy enough to. Simply elaborating that she did not follow orders and had instead placed the Dreadlord at risk to House Luana and the Home Guard would be enough to slander her name. Despite the jut of her chin, in her mind, Sibylla could already see the chances of her being able to find a way back to the Army of the West dwindling.

He had her between a blasted rock and a hard place! To top it off, the Dreadlord knew bloody well that there was little choice to the matter because option two meant he would be out of her sight, and option three meant that should his pretty boy body be found floating along the coast, it was more likely that she'd see the bars of a Vel Anir prison than the plains of the West.

No, the only option he was giving her was one where he was compelling her to ensure that she stayed by his side, even if his plan was as asinine as any she'd ever heard.

If he wanted someone that could infiltrate and assist with gathering information, he should have bloody well requested a Ranger instead.


The race of thoughts only took a few seconds, but it was enough to build a pregnant tension. A deep suction of breath loudly indicated her irritation at the Dreadlord, shoulders, and chest rising with the intake of breath. It brought with it the aroma of shit and the reminder that once she was back in the city, there was little she could do but be at the whim of the noble's and Dreadlord's fancy.

"As you wish," came to her curt, gravelly response, her hand reaching out to jerk the blade from Vale's hand into her grip. "My lord." it took all she could to keep the venom from her voice, but even she couldn't hide the way her eyes glittered in wordless defiance. With her legs spread slightly, back straight, and that slight jut of her chin, she was a particular sight to see. Even if she did smell like an outhouse.

It wasn't about pride. It was about making the choices that would see her get the hell from this blasted city as soon as she possibly could.

Without further ado, she gave an expert flick of the knife within the grip of her hand, the way its blade shone silver matching the hue within her almond-shaped eyes. Sibylla's dark head gave a cant to right, thick waves of hair shifting at the motion while her hip cocked to the left. Mental cogs were turning -- and then came the pièce de résistance.

With a tight smile, Sibylla added with a barely discernable edge, "However, my lord, I'll remind you that a Knight's armor and weapons are their bread and butter. Should any of it go missing during our investigation, it would behoove me to submit a full list for recompensation from House Luana." A pause. "Including all magical items."

It was as much of a direct, in your face counter as she could give. One that she was well within her rights to. For a Knight of her abilities, she had been granted specialized armor and given gifts from the Dreadlord Master Forges.

Enough that it would cost House Luana plenty of gold coins to replace them.
 

Vale

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The blade had been offered once more and it would be the last time he would offer it. Vale still remained in silence as it was clear the only answer he really needed from was taking the weapon or rejecting it. The spectrum of emotions played across Sibylla's face once more but there was a lesser intensity to it. Either she realized what his subtle message was or she just accepted his plan. Whatever reason she chose, it didn't really matter to him as long as she accepted it.

Eventually, she gave in to her internal struggle and took the knife from his hand, quite unhappily too. "The correct choice." He smoothly replied before she added the 'My lord." Vale gave her a smile that brushed off her annoyance at least from his mind. "Amazing what a simple conversation can achieve." A streak of defiance radiated off her but it was an amusing spectacle with the smell that accompanied her.

When she picked up the knife and flipped it in her hand, his eyes inspected her face for a moment before glancing down at the blade as it smoothly moved through her fingers with practiced ease. "It hasn't failed me yet." In fact, it had saved him in incredibly sticky situations and a weapon he was quite fond of.

Sibylla then happily pointed out to him that if her any equipment somehow got misplaced, he would be the one who would receive the blow to his pockets or at least a tongue lashing from his house. Vale gave her a slight smirk once more as he started to step past her, "Fair enough." She had spirit, he could give her that and he suspected it was both a blessing and a curse.

The Dreadlord made his way to the crates where the Knight had disposed of the bodies. A couple of the boxes had a canvas covering to protect them from the elements. In the matter of the few seconds, he cut the strings of one of the coverings and carried it in a hand as he made his way back to her afterward. When he drew near the Knight, he tossed the cover onto the dry cobblestone by her feet. "Place your equipment in there." Vale crossed his arms as he waited for her to get ready with what he asked from her before. They were still on a time limit and it would be clear that he was ready to move and desired to but he didn't speak on it yet.
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

There was no helping the mocking, silent, "Amazing what a simple conversation can achieve" that Sibylla mimicked towards the Dreadlord when he made his way towards the crates. It was childish, sure, but really, what else could she do? Her options were limited.

Of all the stupid, asinine, holier-than-thou, stick-in-the-mud mages!

Crouching down to the ground, she stabbed the blade he'd given her into the dirt, imagining that it was his head instead. A litany of colorful curses went dancing through Sibylla's mind, like how if he wanted someone to play the part of the whore, then he was pretty enough to do it himself.

The correct choice! Yeah, sure, as if I have a choice?!

Or perhaps that if the smell of shit was too offensive to his delicate sensibilities, then clearly his own must smell like roses, because any real human shit would reek!

Maybe he wasn't really human. Maybe he was part elf -- why else would he act as if he had a stick up his arse?

Jerky, quick motions from her right hand would undo the laces and straps of her arm bracers, shortly following suit with the left. Each action was distinct, rebellious, silent 'fuk you' to the Dreadlord, those glittering ice shards staring right at him as the Anirian Knight undressed.

Yup, too pretty. Even with the scar along the side of his face. Bet he had plenty of go around with the noble ladies. Too stuck up to do his own investigative whoring, letting us little people have to put up with this shit.

Coming back to her feet, she tossed onto the fabric the gloves, the bracers, the shoulder pads, all with a distinct thump. As if she was imagining flinging them at the Dreadlord's head with every action. It was a good thing that Sibylla wore scale armor, because if she'd been one of the bulwark Knights in heavy plate or chainmail, then she'd be stuck with the embarrassing task of asking the Dreadlord to help her out of it.

I'd have cut the laces myself before asking him! Sibylla told herself, swinging the scale mail chestpiece over her head and onto the sheet.

By the time she finished, she stood in a semi-loose muslin tunic of dark grey fabric with leather ties at the neck, and black pants. There were indentations and pleats where the fabric had been tucked to lay flat under the armor, allowing for breathability, and to prevent as much chaffing to the skin. It also meant that after a day of work, it could very well be damp with the stench and stains of sweat, which in this case, they were. Sibylla's duties didn't mean she had to look pretty, just be practical.

Dark stains lingered in between her unbound swaying breasts and under her armpits, the hem of the tunic reaching just about hip level and to her wrists. If the Dreadlord wanted her to look like a dock whore, then she was well on her way with it. A bit too clean, but passable.

At least I can still use my boots, she mused, flicking a hand to push the thick mass of hair away from her face, the corner of her eye where one of her moles lay twitching anew.

"There, all done!" she called out, extending out both hands along her side as if to say, happy?! Once again, that chin went jutting out defiantly, as if to indicate what she didn't mention aloud.

You magic shittin' prick!
 
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Vale

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Vale watched unashamedly, his gaze locked with Sibylla's with no hint of retreat in them. Her disdain for him because of what he was making her do was clear as day but it was something she would just have to stomach. It was obvious that her pointed looks wouldn't have an effect on him and the insults that she was spewing at him just threw her eyes. One by one, pieces of her armor fell off and were dropped onto the canvas covering.

When she told him he was done, he cocked his head slightly as he inspected her from head to toe. "And a job well done." The Knight fit into the role quite well but he held his tongue to not make her head explode. The Dreadlord bent down, wrapping the canvas around her equipment and using the leftover string he cut before to tie it securely. When that was done, with one arm, he held it over his shoulder, both hilts of her swords the only thing sticking out from it. "Don't forget the mud." She had almost completed the look but not fully yet but in truth, it was more to serve as an annoyance to her. Either way, Vale would spin on his heel and start to head down the street toward the entrance of the dock.

Whether she actually applied the mud or not to herself, when she caught up to him, the Dreadlord would start speaking. "When you walk in, Godfrey has just finished with you and sent you in to find a man named Henry to utilize your services. A sort of present." Vale just spoke matter of factly, as if it was just something that needed to be done and there wasn't more to it then that. The only reason he found the name Henry was because of the journal and how the original owner continued to complain that Harry cheated him of play. Vale just assumed the man was the dockmaster.

As they approached closer, they could see an archway that acted as the main gate to the dock. On the other side of it, the pair could see a group of four men huddled around a fire as they laughed loudly at one's comments, clearly armed and guarding whatever was being transported. The pair would be walking underneath the archway now, both being submerged in shadows completely. "All you need to do is get inside. I'll be watching." To his last sentence, it was to reassure her that if anything awry happened, he would be there in an instant.

By the time the words left his mouth and the two exited from underneath the archway and entered the dock, Vale had already disappeared without a trace and without a sound. Sibylla would get the sense that she was being watched but not just from one pair of eyes, from every shadow and dark corner she passed as they seemed to react to her presence.
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

"What if Henry likes men, my lord?" the quip went darting back tot he pale-haired Dreadlord with the bite and quickness of an arrow.

Again, a pointed, if semi-respectful barb regarding that he could also do his own improve being a whore. Or maybe that was a bit too much?

Too late to regret it now. As it was, since she didn't want to quite ignore his command, Sibylla rubbed the palms of her hands together, the remaining bits of grime enough to allow a couple of smears across her cheeks and a few barely visible handprints over her bosom, waist, and hips.

Now that they were in the docks, it was up to her to somehow figure out what the hell the Dreadlord was investigating. Something about contraband. Before she could ask for more clarification on what she was supposed to look for, he up and left. Like a fart in the wind.

"Yeah, fat lot of good use you are," the Knight muttered to herself in irritation. This only served to prove her first impression of the mage and Dreadlord's in general. To them, all the Knight's were just another servant to order about. Not a measure of respect.

That creepy feeling of being watched returned, and once again, the hairs at the nape of her neck stood. Even a rush of goosebumps went cascading down her arms. With a shudder and no certain grimace, the woman took bold steps forward into the dock.

She may have the looks of nice flight of fancy for a good tumble, but her purposeful gait and the way she held her spine upright would be a dead giveaway.

Again, she wasn't made for infiltration.

Two figures were up ahead, one holding a lamp while another worked at rigging beside a longboat. It wasn't long before the clipped footsteps of the Knight brought her into sight, the cast of a lamp throwing an amber circle around her, casting her in provocative shadows and highlighting the goods.

"Och, so what we got here?" called one man gruffly, eyes perking at the entrance. The other only seemed to stare warily.

"Looking for a Henry." Right, Henry. That was his name.

"What'ever for, lass?"

Lessat's balls, do I really have to say it?


Sibylla struggled for a moment, her mouth twisting and curving before she choked it out like a putrid piece of meat.

"Gregory... sent me to pay a debt."

Blasted hell, I need a drink.
 

Vale

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One of the reasons he wanted her to come is because it made his job much easier. Vale stood at a fair distance away as he blended nearly perfectly in the darkness and watched as Sibylla approached two men. She immediately caught their attention despite whatever stain she had on her clothing. They didn't have particular care about her or posture in the present moment. The four others that had been huddled by the fire noticed the movement and saw the woman grace their presence. One of the guards elbowed another before they started to walk over.

Perfect. The Dreadlord didn't want to use his magic unless he had to and with their attention seized by the Knight, it wasn't a necessity at all. With practiced ease, he moved silently through the dark without a sound. He was angled toward the warehouse but he kept his watchful gaze on Sibylla, his eyes flicking between each man and ready to act if they did anything.

"Henry is..." The dock worker that spoke to Sibylla then arched his eyebrow at her slowly as he jumped down from the longboat and peered at her. "A... Gregory sent ya here?" The other worker glanced at his buddy and then back at the Knight before standing up as well, his eyes still scanning her greedily but more attentive than before. "Where'd you find Gregory lassy?" The first continued to walk towards her slowly and appeared to have no intention to stop.

Vale stopped in his tracks, his jaw clenched tightly as he nearly revealed his presence with a loud curse. She forgot the goddamn name. A surprising flash of anger burst through as he wondered how such a simple task to recount a name could be spoiled. The Dreadlord was about to reveal himself but that was when the four others joined, the one in front spreading out his arms wide as he got close. "Who... do we have 'ere?"

It was clear they were armed, there was a bulkiness underneath each of their clothing and each had a sword sheathed on their waist. They were the extra security that had been hired but Sibylla would smell the stench alcohol that reeked off all of them. The dockworker who had been walking toward the Knight stopped and both of them turned a little timid at the sight of the guards but remained where they were. "A whore who apparently lookin' for Henry." The guard who spoke drew close to her as the other three spread out, effectively surrounding her. The man was behind Sibylla and she would feel his arms wrap around her waist and pulled her in tight. He nuzzled his head against her neck as she could feel his warm alcoholic breath collide against her neck, "And what do you need Henry for miss?"
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

As soon as the man's frown at the dock questioned the name Gregory, Sibylla gave herself a mental curse.

Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT!

She used the wrong name! A flash of apprehension sent a chill of frost down her spine, and her eyes went wide. What was it again? Gregory? Gimli? Godfrey?!

Oh yes!


"Gregory... Godfrey... they all sound the sa--" Sibylla began, rolling her shoulder in an attempt to back peddle and appear as if she couldn't be bothered with the right name. Strong arms went snaking around her from the back, drawing her tight against a hard wall of a chest and a reeking cloud of alcohol.

Sibylla immediately stiffened, body tensing, and unfortunately for her, muscle memory kicked in when it came to someone grabbing her from behind. The lift and sudden drop of her heel upon the soft ridge of the top of the man's foot would send a shock of abrupt pain through the man. He immediately gave a yowl, releasing her momentarily as he swore, startling the other three to take a couple of steps back.

Likely not the sort of situation they were expecting, and Sibylla knew she fucked up. Again, she wasn't made for infiltration missions.

Immediately she tried to smooth things over, "Och! Forgive me, Sir, you startled me with your big body of yours coming from me behind that I up and slipped!"

Maybe not the best response, but she was trying her best. All the while, in her mind, the Knight cursed the Dreadlord who had forced her to go with this idiotic plan.

This was all his fault!

Not that it mattered, as it was about to get interesting...
 

Vale

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Vale had to think fast, the guards weren't too far from Sibylla and created an unknown factor, especially with the inclusion of alcohol. There were more guards throughout the complex and if he attempted to kill all the men here with the Knight, it would surely attract the others with the noise. His gaze was directed back to the warehouse and with new urgency, he made his way there, acting on from what he was able to hear in the conversation.

A man sat in his office and behind his desk, two candles on the corner of it to illuminate the pages that he was reading from. The night had been relatively peaceful and he hoped it would remain that day with this being the last day of the shipments. The man flipped the page of what he was reading before he heard a soft click and then the squeaking of the door. When he looked up, he just found the door to his office half-open as if by its own hand, moonlight spilling through the crack. "What the hell?" He mostly asked himself before standing up and checking out what happened as the sound of voices also drew louder from outside.

The guard didn't have any expectation of Sibylla resisting and because he was drunk as well, he didn't move his foot in time and felt the full force of her stomp. He instantly stepped away, letting out a painful yelp as she tried to give an explanation. "You stupid bitch!" The man shouted before his eyes snapped to her with his hand ready to strike as he stepped forward, the wave of anger overriding his pain. But before he could reach her, a new deep voice sliced through the air, "What the hell is going on?!"

The guard stopped as his mouth set in a hardline while he stared at Sibylla before eventually turning to the voice. "This pair of legs wanted to see you! We were just makin acquaintances." It was obvious the man was Henry, nearly as tall as the Dreadlord but with quite some heft. He peered down at Sibylla from the entrance of his office was and when he realized what he was, he motioned with his hand, "She don't need no welcomin' party from you. Send the whore up here!" If they weren't getting paid by him, it would have been a different story. The guard grounded his teeth before he slowly turned back to Sibylla, "You heard him." He stared at her for a moment before giving her a smile that dripped with venom and malice, "We'll make sure to wait out here when he finished with you."
 
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Sibylla

Anirian Knight Sergeant
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|| Vale ||

Oh, Lessat's rings, it worked!

Well to a degree. As much as Sibylla wanted to give a sigh of relief, things were only going to get even more complicated. 'Henry' had arrived. A much larger brut of a man than the Knight expected.

Perfect. Oh, and of course, the Dreadlord nowhere to be found...

Really, what good were the crazy mages if they didn't actually pull their weight on these missions? Half the time Sibylla wondered if the city Dreadlord's were so pampered that they'd become used to having others complete their tasks for them.

The threat that was laced with vitriol and the impending threat was not lost to Sibylla. A small smile at an attempt to quell his anger was lost to the man. Instead, the fire in his eyes and the snarl of his lips gave her all the indication that if things went sideways, she was going to have to use a few more skills to get out of this particular fire.

"Come 'ere!" Henry called out, motioning for Sibylla to follow. With quick steps, she made her way up the stairs to the second level. All the while, her eyes would scan her surroundings, picking up what she could find. Mainly exit ways. The office overlooked the docks and there was a balcony. A few cargo crates with lanterns. It was dark, so plenty of shadows.

The sense of being watched had not disappeared, but it didn't matter. By the time she reached Henry's office she knew that odds were, she was now on her own. As soon as she stepped inside, Henry slammed the door shut.
 

Vale

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Vale stood in the shadows and remained completely silent as he used a little of his magic in order to blend in with it completely. Henry passed right by him as the door swung open and with his eyes immediately placed on Sibylla with her subtle beauty. It was a risk as he had been the one to open the door but it had worked as the guards took a step back away from her once Henry was outside and able to see everything.

The man called her up and she rushed to the stairs, as the guards and dockworkers stared daggers into her back. As she climbed up the stairs and closer to Henry, the sense of being watched would grow as she got closer and closer and practically passed him, she would hear the softest of a whisper that even the man couldn't hear, "Calm." It was one word but he thought that she would understand the point. They got through the worst part for now and she was inside. Vale was a Dreadlord and he would find his own way and get to her, he just needed a little time.

When they both entered the office, he remained where he was as his gaze watched the guards and workers that had previously spoken to Sibylla. They stared at the door for a few minutes before they finally turned around and spoke amongst themselves. Vale moved then as he climbed onto the roof of the warehouse quietly. There was a window directly above Henry's office and it let him catch a glimpse of Henry and her but it wasn't openable and he moved onto the next one closest to him.
 
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