The slap of bare feet on the roughly cobbled street, the occasional splash as unshod feet cut through a puddle. The occasional mutter or growl from someone run into, or pushed ineffectually out of the way as, behind, the sound of booted feet and the clank of armor kept pace. Lyssia ran, a loaf of bread in hand, the ragged skirt of her dress flying i nthe wind of her passage. Her breath was already well beyond ragged, great sobbing gasps as she tried to push herself harder, ever hard, filthy red hair flying out behind her as she darted around a corner, ducking between a pair of people, man and wife and wife who shouted in anger, but were soon too far behind to be heard over the susurration of the people walking the streets. I shouldn't have, I shouldn't have, I shouldn't have done it! she thought to herself, frantic. It was a silly risk to take, when she could wait and dig through the refuse behind inns or eateries later in the night, fight over the scraps with the other street urchins. Only the faintest memory of a proper meal remained to her. Kind of like memories of a proper bed, a proper roof over her head without the constant threat of being found out, of being tossed back to the street, cold and hungry again. Or worse, there were always worse fates than that. The girl ran on, pale legs flashing through rents in her clothes, ducking into a narrow alley. The sun was nearing the horizon, such that the alley was shrouded in shade. She tried not to think overmuch on what it was she was stepping on, or in, as she went. This was not the richer part of the city, and the smell of dumped chamber pots permeated the air. She could still hear the boots behind her, but they were growing more distant. A miracle, she thought to herself. Out of the alley, across another cobbled street, and then into a warren of twisting pathways that made up part of the Old City, the ancient streets wending drunkenly between two- and three story buildings, ancient stoned mossy where the shade was deep. Lyssia ducked into an alley in this place, ran for several hundred feet until she could no longer see the mouth, then came to a stop, panting savagely. She leaned her back against the damp stone, ignoring the reek of this place, until she had her breath back, and then listened, hard, for the sound of pursuit. There was none. She looked at the loaf of bread in her hand, and shook her head. All of this for a meal for a day or three, if it wasn't stolen by some other urchin or riffraff. Taking a deep, calming breath, she continued into the depths of the Shades, coming out, eventually, on another narrow, winding street. There were few people out in these parts of Mericet. The law, such as it was, tried to avoid the Shades and the Old City in general; the narrow ways made ambushes too easy, and the criminals that called this place their home had little compunction about stringing a Royal Guard up on a lamp post and leaving them to kick out their last breath. A way on down, there was another alley, but a short one that ended at the back of a storage shed to some place. Lyssa stopped down with her prize, looking at the board she had pried away to gain access, and stopped. A piece of paper, damp and dirty, was pinned to the board that served as the door to her humble abode, a thin bladed dagger of poor quality serving as the pin. The girl-child knelt, looking at it with deep suspicion. She hesitantly reached for the hilt of the blade, and pulled it free, taking up the paper. The words were written in a script she did not recognize, though the words were plain enough to read. The cowbird has settled its new nest, the note read in precise letters that gave no hint as to who might have written it. Under the eagles' eye in the pale, seek me. No signature, no name, nothing else. Lyssia held it, looking at it and thinking like she had never done before in her life, trying to decipher the code, adept at the game despite her nineteen years.