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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Sevra watched from the fireplace as Warden Gwendolyn left the World’s End tavern. Her fingers lightly played over the keys of her accordion as the other end hung limply. The other patrons had lost interest in music after the fight, and were slowly disappearing off into the night.

“Well, there she goes. You know Gwendolyn won’t do anything to the Captain even if she catches him, right?” She gave Dante a hard stare, but he just gave her his insufferably smug smile.

“All according to plan. You worry too much, Sev.” He propped his legs up on the nearby table as he tuned his guitar. She rolled her eyes.

“Lyra, you tell him.” She shrugged off the accordion, rubbing her sore shoulder as the young girl pouted, a distance look on her face.

“Sev is right, Dante, I think Gwen is actually looking forward to seeing Turgis more than anything.” She looked up at Sevra looking especially small beneath her harp. “How did you know, she’s broadcasting her emotions so faintly I could barely hear them.” Sevra smirked, ruffling the girl’s blonde hair.

“I don’t need Empathy to recognize that she cares about him, kiddo, you could see it in her smile when she figured out who Dante was describing.” She turned to address Dante again. “So, Fearless Leader, what’s the plan then?” Dante rubbed the greying stubble on his chin.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Sevra stared at him slack-jawed.

“Precisely. It’s pretty obvious that Turgis has no intention of slaying our dear prince tonight. In fact, he may have saved him should a less-than-friendly Warden have been the one on scene tonight. So I’d say our directions as convert bodyguards is mission accomplished, wouldn’t you?” He smiled at her knowingly. Sevra scowled at him.

“I’d say this strategy of yours is ridiculously short-sighted. We’re talking about Turgis Balborkanon, Captain of the Iron Hawks. He’s practically King Jaximus’s right hand man, and you’re letting him wander off with the Crown Prince in the dark!” A few curious patrons glanced over, alarmed by her raising voice, but Dante’s smile didn’t falter.

“What would you suggest then?” He asked, quietly strumming his guitar. The curious patrons’ eyes looked away, their eyes glazing over as they decided nothing interesting was going on by the fire. Sevra lowered her voice to a harsh whisper.

“I would kill Turgis. Without him, Lucien would see no reason to come risk himself out here every month.” Dante’s smile widened.

“I see. And what of the Wardens?” Sevra shrugged.

“This neutral zone is only as strong as the people enforcing it. And behind their magic, that’s all the Warden are. Mere people, not omnipotent gods. They can’t be everywhere at once.” Dante nodded, turning to the young harpist and fiddler who watched Sevra with wide eyes.

“Lyra, Liam, what do you think of Sevra’s plan?” He asked the twins. Liam exchanged a look with his sister, putting down his instrument.

“I think it’s dangerous to attack him in a neutral town. If the Wardens caught us, we’d be lucky if they let us live.” Liam said cautiously. His sister nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, we’re supposed to be the good guys.” Dante nodded in approval, making both twins glow.

“There you go, Sev, no murder tonight. Liam, where are they now?” The boy closed his eyes in concentration.

“Lucien is with Curtis, they’re moving fast towards Avesta. Turgis is walking with that other girl still.”

“I see. What about Gwendolyn and Raike?” Liam screwed his eyes closed tighter.

“Raike is near Turgis and the barbarian. Gwen is approaching their location.” Dante nodded.

“Alright.  Sevra, I want you to go find Raike, send him back to me to report. No murder.” He added playfully, his fingers already striking up a new song. Sev sighed, sliding her accordion under Liam’s chair.

“Watch that for me.” She requested as he whispered an address in her ear. As she slipped out of the warm tavern into the rain she could hear the music rising up behind her.

After a brief search, she sidled up beside Raike’s dark form on the rooftop. He watched the figures below with the calm of a stone gargoyle, acknowledging her arrival with a gentle squeeze of her hand.

“Gwen let them go with a warning.” He whispered, his voice seeming to be for her ears only. Sevra held back a huff of frustration.

“I told Dante she would.” She whispered back fiercely. Raike squeezed her hand gently as she watched the two dark figures wander down the street. “Dante wants you to head back and give him a report.” She whispered softly, “I’ll watch these two a bit longer.” With a final squeeze, Raike vanished off into the night, leaving her alone. She got up to find a new vantage point.

She tailed the couple on foot, not liking the look of the rain-slicked rooftops. Luckily the pair took a straight path through the streets, confidentially not looking back more than once. It seemed cocky to Sevra, almost too trusting of the Warden’s power. Her fingers drifted towards the small brooch on her sleeve, a simple serpent cast in silver. The pin was fused with a potent poison, a simple prick would be all she needed to kill the man now. Dante’s voice echoed in her brain, warning her off, but he wasn’t here, and she was. As she watched, the pair paused outside an inn, the taller Turgis pulling open the door for the smaller girl. He paused outside the door, looking skyward as if to calm himself. She was closing the distance quickly, soon she’d be close enough to touch him. A simple pinprick was all she needed, it wouldn’t even take effect for days. Enough time to clear the scene, enough time to alleviate suspicions. She could be safely in Avesta before he knew anything was wrong. He glanced her way just as she bumped into him, muttering a quick apology as she pushed past. She thought she caught a flash of recognition on his face as their eyes met, but then she was off, hurrying down the road.

She safely pinned serpent brooch back to her cuff. Frowning slightly, she took the next corner, heading back towards the warmth of the World’s End tavern.

To be continued

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