Nara Nakki was careful when she stepped out into the fields near the ocean's roar. It was the first time out of the city in perhaps a century. She was Queenly, but unconfedent of the outside. The air was different now than then. Strange.
Surrounding her were four of her finest fighters, just to be sure. She didn't fear Anna Goldeyes, but there was fear of other elements and, although the sisters spoke to calm her, the distance she placed between herself and the outside worry was enough to highten her axiety. Anxiety. A lost feeling.
The wait was pleasantly not long. The Red Guard had been waiting for her, it seemed, in full uniform. Brave, but there was something different about her. She was the same only her hair. Perhaps her skin. Nara Nakki noticed burn marks that didn't use to be there as the Red Guard approached.
Madeline wore a huge grin. "Hello, Nara Nakki."
Something wasn't right. How could Madeline be here? Agonycrust had only arrived home this very day. If Anna sent her, Madeline must have been waiting for her, but the information couldn't move that fast.
Madeline laughed. "Your expression. I love it. You really have no idea what's going on?"
"Perhaps you could explain. I didn't put myself to this disadvantage for you, Priestess."
Madeline laughed again. She was loving this. She pulled out a scroll from inside her jacket and said "Calm yourself, I'm here as an agent for a trade. I was ordered to bring you this and have no one else see it." She handed the scroll to a Sister who handed it to the Queen.
"How did you know we would be here?"
"Oh no, Nara Nakki. I only trade information with you. I've learned my lesson. However," Madeline put her fingers to her chin in thought, "I guess this time I'm trading the lack of information, huh?"
Nara Nakki didn't respond. She unfurrowed the scroll and read. As she did, her eyes grew wide and her smile grew broad. "This is amazing." She said, reading on. "Oh, this is delicious." Rolling the scroll back up, she knelt on the grass. "I'm at her mercy. I've never been so undone." The words were genuine, but Nara Nakki's smile was still present. "I can only assume she used Effee Magic. Is..." She looked up at Madeline, "Is she here? In the city? I must speak with her!"
"All things I'm not willing to devulge, Nara Nakki. You should know, as I do, that Anna Goldeyes is a rogue, now. Hunted by the Red Guard. If I were to see her, why it would be my duty to arrest her in the name of the church."
Nara Nakki giggled insanely as she rose to unstudy feet. "Such a mind. Such a mind as her's, Madeline. How in the face of Mash'ta did such a mind come to be?" She held her head high. "Girls, we return." The sisters followed.
"Miss, uh. Miss Eleanor?"
Harri Eleanor hadn't left her office in a day. Her eyes were red, but her chin was firm. She turned away from the window to see some White Maiden she didn't recognize. She was spry looking with red hair bright enough to show under her vale and she was carring more towels than she could handle. "What do you want? Speak clearly." Even in the depths of her guilt, she knew she needed control.
"Well, I was just walking around when my old friend had this delivered to me and things, but I think I was meant for you. Anyway, Here's this scroll, right? It's got your name on it and I was asking around," Cherry rambled. Major Eleanor couldn't stand rambling.
"Yes yes. What is it?" She took Cherry's scroll and read it out loud. "You are invited to a public speaking tomorrow, an event that shall end in the arrest of Lily Ripper. Bring enough guards to stave off a riot...something something." The further instructions was strange. She looked at the seal. It was the Effee council seat. "Who was your friend?"
"I don't think you know her, but I call her Goldy." The major shot Cherry a look. "Anyway, I was just told to give that to you. I have to go. They need towels in the lower levels."
Captain Erick laid in bed, staring at the ceiling that night. There was a crack in the stone he focused on when lost in thought. The last hand of days were aweful and he honestly couldn't tell if this was an orcestration by the church or the council, but he was certain his downfall had been planned by someone in charge. It occured to him that the information might have been true and even the church couldn't predict Lily Ripper's action, but that made it all the worse. And then the murder at the Carr'dine statue? This seemed an orchestra of events meant to drive him out of the office. The council decides who would succeed him, but they had also seemed to be taring themselves apart.
These are the thoughts plaguing his mind when he felt a cold clammy touch on his arm. Erick sat up and checked the room. There was a hissing noise. An asp? It was coming from under him. He looked over the side of the bed and jumped. "GAH!"
The hiss laughed, as a pale arm snaked out of the bed and held to him a scroll. Hesitantly, Erick took it. "Thank you for your fear." the hiss said and snaked down under the bed again.
"What are you?" Erick shuddered.
"Such things as the Ripper is made of." The hiss replied.
It startled Erick into hopping off the bed and toward his club hanging by the door. "Guards!" He yelled, ducking down to see the under of the bed. Two borc rushed in to see the captain searching the floor. "Someone was just here. She gone now! She was pale, like bird skin. Search the parameter!"
"Sir!" They saluted and left.
Eirck found a new hole under his bed in the wall. He traced the edges of it before determining there would be no escape for the intruder. Up he stood and he checked the scroll he was given. The seal was in black wax and unknown to him. He read it, sitting down on the bed as the words hit him one punch at a time.
When he was finished, one of the guard came back. "Sir, we found no one, sir." The guard slowed his enterence. "Uh...Sir, are you alright?"
"This..." Erick waved the scroll at the borc. "This is very good, Bish. I want you to fetch 3 others and draw your cloaks. It's raining hard tonight."
Council-Effee Pindrop was kneeling in the middle of the room. His rabbit eyes looked further than the walls. Behind him, Anna hid in the doorway covered in a hooded red cloak. "It's done, Madam Goldeyes."
"Everyone has their letters?"
"Yes. Captain Crateshift just received his. I see Major Eleanor, as well. She's calling together many Red Guard."
"Can your ears hear them?"
Pindrop smiled, but it's hard to tell with Effees. "Oh yes. Mine are the best ears." He closed his eyes and listened. "She's telling them to arange a meeting...something about tomorrow."
Pindrop felt the former Red Guard's hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, Council-Effee. This will end tomorrow."
"If you know who Lily Ripper is, why not just deal with him yourself? You owe this City nothing."
Anna smiled. "I owe Mandra everything and would protect Annalow, Mister Pindrop. The only thing that will heal the city's wound is everyone knowing who Lily Ripper really is. They must all see the proof." She turned. "I have to do the rest alone. My friends are waiting for me."
"I know. They're at your pub, I think."
Before she left the Effee's home she turned at the door. "Do you mind if I ask you something?"
"For this gift you have, I am at your service."
"How many are there of you?" Pindrop turned his head in confusion. "Effee's that can do magic, I mean."
"We all know each other, Madam Goldeyes. Myself, My Apprentice, The High Preistess' companion, the Stasis is training a new one, and Quill the free makes five."
"There should be more of you, Council-Effee."
His shoulders shook with laughter. "Lord Rabbit and your Living Goddess has designed it this way for a reason, Madam Goldeyes. Trust in her."
Anna said nothing. She nodded and left.
Peter, Cherry and Madeline talked about the weather, the new Dire Emus, and the movements of the moons. Anything to get their mind off of the oncoming excitement. Their drinks flowed slowly as they chattered and, as sure as they were warned, a red-cloaked womume entered the pub and asked Merick something. He pointed at their table. The red cloak walked up and sat down.
"Hello, friends. My name is Bliss."
"Hi, Goldy. Oof!" Madeline knocked Cherry in the ribs.
"Why look at that, Cherry." She said through gritted teeth. "It's the emesary from the farmlands we were told about. Bliss, was it?"
"What? But that's Gold- Oof!"
"How was your trip, Bliss?"
Cherry Frowned and rubbed her ribs. "Yeah, Bliss. We did just as you said. At least I did. I don't know about the rest."
Peter scratched his head. "Well, I mean. I didn't. I mean I didn't have anything to do."
"Don't worry," Anna had her gloves on. She reached over and gave peter's a squeeze. "You'll be helping the Captain tomorrow."
"Whatever you wrote to the good Queen," Madeline chuckled, "it was brilliant. She knelt. She actually knelt!"
"Queen who?" Cherry switched looking between Anna and Madeline.
Anna waved them all to calm down. "Don't worry. You all have your own piece of the puzzle for a reason. Madeline, did you get the powder I asked for?"
"Sure, but it's so slow acting, it would be useless." Madeline handed over a small pouch.
"Doesn't matter, I need it anyway. Cherry, what about my former Major?"
"Oh god, the Major." Madeline slapped her forehead.
"Oh, she was fine. Confused, but fine. Poor thing looked in pretty bad shape, I don't mind telling you, Goldy...Uh...Bliss."
"Bliss, have you heard what's going on with our superiors?" Bliss shook her head at Madeline. "It's insane! Even if you hadnt' left, and I'm not saying you were ever a Red Guard, you wouldn't have been under Eleanor's command."
"It doesn't matter now, Madeline."
"No, but see, it does, because the Red Guard are still looking for you."
"It can wait. Time is still a factor for me tonight." The red cloak stood up. "I'll see you two at the show tomorrow. Peter, would you come with me? I need to explain about tomorrow."
"Uh, sure. I guess."
Anna bowed to the table and bid a farewell before leading Peter out of the pub and around the back in the rain.
"What..uh...What's this about?"
"This." The red cloak pinned Peter against the wall and kissed him.