Sorry for the late post. Holidays etc. The mid week post should be on time. I hope you enjoy this chapter of RoC.
Rage of the Cursed, Part 7
Xallion sat on a nearby bench and worked through what he knew so far. He couldn’t put his finger on the nagging familiarity of the woman on the wanted poster.
“How long you gonna mull over that scrap of paper?” Tieshaie said. “You got the real thing standing right here.”
“Are you admitting this is you?” Xallion turned to find her close. She stooped over, studying it alongside him. Her breasts strained against her low cut top. He cleared his throat and glanced back to the paper, quelling his wandering eye before she caught on.
“It can’t be me,” she said, straightening. “You said it yourself. No one mixes up forest folk and humans. This is either a prank or someone made the mistake on purpose.”
He sighed and stood up. “That last theory incriminates you, but I agree. This can’t be you. The people you’ve targeted are all a certain breed of scum.”
“Oh, ho? Are you a fan of mine?”
“No,” Xallion said. “It’s my job to keep an eye on criminals around the Forest of Eyes. I have more than enough information to arrest you. However, I won’t.”
Tieshaie donned a catty smile. “Maybe I should run before you change your mind.”
“As long as you help me figure this out, my mind won’t change. I have evidence you mean well, this isn’t the first time you helped me.”
“Damn straight, you talk big, but you were just there on a social call.”
“It’s part of the strategy. If the merchant friend approached her, she would have said so. Also, the guard keeps a close eye on her so visits like that are common. Even if this is unrelated, I can use it.”
Xallion had little interest in burglars and thieves, but investigating such things frequently led him to bigger fish– one fish in particular came to mind.
Tieshaie stretched. “As long as you’re not pointing the finger at me, I’m good. How about you treat me to dinner?”
“Oh, come on. You just went on about being glad you brought be along, might as well show your appreciation. Put your money where your mouth is.”
“That’s exactly the problem.” Xallion said. “If people see me going around town with a beautiful woman like you, they’ll make assumptions.”
“You’re acting like these assumptions are a bad thing.”
“I don’t like people thinking I pay for company.”
Tieshaie stared at him, slack jawed. “Did you just call me a prostitute?”
“Oh you’re definitely buying me dinner now.” She looped an arm on his. “And you’re paying me by the hour.”
Won’t that only add truth to the assumption? The people around them whispered, sheltering their passing glances. He scowled down at her. She batted her eyelashes up at him.
Xallion and Tieshaie turned to find a tall stranger. His pale skin had a purplish tint, in stark contrast to his forest green hair. He wore a robe made of a pale purple silk and carried himself with noble pride. Anyone could tell at a glance– he was a pure-blooded Ki-Leinahn. Tieshaie stepped behind Xallion, squeezing him at the arm. Something about him put her on edge. Judging from his smell, the man was confident and calm.
Xallion relaxed. The interruption was exactly what he needed. “Can I help you?”
The man smiled, a practiced one Xallion only tended to see on the brass back in Rhialn. “Perhaps. Are you looking for work?”
“I’m already have a contract with Lady Ireilis.”
“She is lucky to have you. It is wonderful to hear humans help preserve Re’s bloodline. Experienced help is hard to come by.”
The man placed a hand over his heart, keeping his head held high. “I am Lord Vaeronieiakieronai Kilesaer. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?”
“Xallion,” he said.
Lord Kilesaer raised a brow.
“Just Xallion. I’m a war orphan from the Second L’kavrik war.”
“Ah, my apologies. By your skin color I assumed you as Naechee.”
“Most people do.” Xallion shrugged. “No offense taken, the Naechee are honorable people.”
“And your beautiful friend here?”
“Isa,” she said. “Isa Noneofyourbusiness, old man.”
Lord Kilesaer chuckled. “No need for that, Miss Areinare.”
She scowled. “If you were gonna read my mind, you shouldn’t have asked.”
He wagged a finger. “I did no such thing. The mind is a private place my dear, when people lie they wear the truth on their sleeve. I merely plucked it away like a speck of dust. I meant no offense.”
“Well if I had had a name like Veronny Keranny I sure as hell wouldn’t wear it on my sleeve. I’d need a damn billboard or something.”
“It is quite the mouthful, I suppose. Yet one cannot complain about the name given to us by our parents. It is one of the few gifts we retain through our lives.” He glanced back to Xallion. “I plan on staying in Terragrecio for a few days. Do not hesitate to seek me out if you change your mind.”
“Thank you for the offer,” Xallion said. “Never hurts to keep my options open.”
Lord Kilesaer turned on his heels and walked away, disappearing into the crowds.
Tieshaie watched him go with a hard scowl. “I hate people like that. I bet he hasn’t worked a day in his life.”
Xallion smirked. “Probably not. Still, there’s no reason to agitate him. My friend Rhyys taught me the importance of a good first impression. So, I try not to judge people by their cover.”
“Says the guy who called me a tramp.”
“It’s not like that. You’re not a prostitute. You just dress promiscuously enough to be one.”
“You’re just digging that hole deeper, buddy. Now I’m ordering double desert.”
“Why were you so on edge with him. Did it have something to do with him reading your mind?”
Tieshaie rubbed her arms. “No. He wasn’t lying. I’d have known if he was reading my mind. I’m a mind magician too after all. It’s just, his aura was so… odd.”
Xallion raised a brow. He had heard of the extended vision of the Ki-Leinah, an unseen aura surrounded everyone, not just the Forest Folk. It wasn’t something his enhanced senses could pick up. “Odd how?”
“He’s powerful. Really powerful. Like how a mouse feels when a cat has them in their jaws.”
“You think he’s dangerous? Suspicious?”
Tieshaie shook her head. “I can’t say. He’s a jerk, sure, but he’s just powerful. I’ve been close enough to Lady Ireilis to feel the fringes of that power, but him? It’s like standing too close to a fire. How the hell did he sneak up on us? I should have been able to sense that a mile away?”
“Interesting,” Xallion said. “Maybe I should ask this Lord Kilesaer if he has any leads. He seemed genuinely interested in helping Lady Ireilis.”
“Bullshit,” Tieshaie said through clenched teeth. “People like that don’t use their powers for the greater good. They use it for themselves. The only reason he approached you is because he wanted to use you.”
Excellent assessment, and it seems personal. “That’s true of most people. I can respect your cynicism. You don’t mind if I pick the place to eat, do you?”
Tieshaie perked. “I guess not, since your treat.”