The city lay in darkness as the night reached its peak. A few flickering street lights shone in the streets, giving the few folks who had still some taverns left to visit a beacon to navigate after. Not that it helped them; a drunkard was a drunkard, with or without light. No, only cats, and rats, were active at this hour. And they were too busy noticing the small figure slightly outlined across the dark sky.
The clouds were dark and heavy even as they had loomed in the horizon. To most people, it had meant rain and a nasty storm, but to Fania, it had meant possibilities. A moonless night such as tonight was the perfect night to work.
No sounds were made as the elf carefully made her way across the rooftops looking for an open window or a hatch not properly closed. She was quite familiar with what to look for and where to look for it. A small rattling sound indicating a window hatch was open, a soft tugging sound indicating a window was half open… She spotted a fellow thief on a roof a few blocks away and instinctively covered. It was common etiquette to not acknowledge a fellow thief. It was easier that way, not having to judge if the other was a guard, or a friend. Not that all thieves were friend. Although there were what one would call a “Thief’s honor”, there was really no laws in the thieves guild apart from the 10% ‘tax’ it required.
And of course, one usually stayed away from a property once a thief had entered. Two thieves in one house only lead to quarreling, which would not be profitable to anyone. This, of course, meant that the “first come, first serve” rule applied. Meaning she might have to fight the other thief for the most profitable houses.
Peaking up, she saw the other thief sneaking up to a window, open it, and enter quietly. It was a good target; he would get away with good loot.
She considered her first target; it was a well-built house, home to one of the merchants in the town, and rumor had it he had been dishonest in almost everything he did. His wife, it was said, had jewelries worthy that of the mayor’s wife. Fania doubted it was true, but even so, there was bound to be a few items of worth.
She quietly made her way there without any further obstacles and managed to find an unsecure window. The roof was slanted, like most of the roofs in the city, but it did not bother her much as she tried to open the window. The lock was, as she expected, solid, but the wood around it was soft and showed strong signs of decay. A few minutes with her knife, and the lock was easily removed through the hole she had made.
She sheathed her knife, checked the blades on her whip if they were properly covered, and opened the window.
At once, she felt uneasiness from the empty house, and the hairs on her neck stood up like that of a cat. Nonetheless, she made her way through the window, with a high disregard for the feeling in her gut. It just felt wrong. And it did not help to remind herself that he was a cheating bastard, quite deserving his fate. Clenching her jaw hard, she silently made her way through the dark house.
Fluffy white clouds covered nearly half the sky, casting a cool breeze into the shadowed parts of the city beneath. When they drifted far enough, the sun's warm rays shone down onto the city's happy people. It was an almost-perfect day. The temperature in the shade was just a little too cool, but it made the sunlight feel uplifting. Children ran along the packed earth streets, laughing as they played, tagging one another in games that would last for hours. Even some urchins participated, their woes forgotten in the early summer's weather.
On the interior of a textile shop, a teal-eyed man bartered with the merchant who owned the building. There was a rumor that he sold more than fabric, thread and yarn... that if you knew the right order, there was also devil's salt and white brandy in the building, but no guard on the beat could ever prove it. There was a rumor, too, that the proprietor owned a slipping razor - a counterfeiting machine that shaved a sliver of the edge off a coin - and that he minted as many as two gold coins a month in the building's basement. No one could ever find it, though, and those things were heavy.
His name was Iskandr Sofis, and what was more substantial than just a rumor was that the man was crooked. Most locals avoided his business, but since his shop was located on the thoroughfare between the eastern and western gates of the city, he got plenty of the most gullible sort of customers... travelers. Unfortunately, the sort of crime he committed daily wasn't important or severe enough for the guard to seize Iskandr's books, as no judge cared enough about him to issue a warrant. Iskandr Sofis was a consummate gouger.
That's not as bad as it might sound. Unless you're in the merchant's guild. Or the thieves' guild. Iskandr stabbed people right where it hurt most, but only when he felt they invited him to. If a long bolt of spun silk came into his shop, and it cost him 40 platinum, then he charged three gold and two silver to the yard on a middle barter. The reason that's a scandal is a little involved, but in theory it can be boiled down to export, overhead and wholesale.
Since Iskandr owned the building, his only overhead was guild protection and city fees. Due to the luxurious nature of his imports, these came out to three platinum per month. In a canny move, Iskandr hired his own tailor, so export was reduced to as little as the tailor’s pay. Each month, he paid his tailor the four platinum for his services. Since rent in most homes was four gold, this was enough that no one would ever complain about his employer. Now here's the rub... the wholesale for that fabric would be two gold. Even if Iskandr sold nothing but that one bolt of silk in an entire month, he was profiting 17 platinum coins on it. And for some reason, his shop never grew any larger.
"Three astral electrums," the teal-eyed man said, looking at Iskandr evenly across the counter. His host coughed instinctively. It wasn’t clear what he was making an offer on; he had only just walked into the building.
“Ex… exactly how much fabric did you need, sir?” Iskandr asked, clearly flustered by both the mention of merchant’s astrals and their extreme volume.
Merchant’s astrals are called that because they’re coins not commonly found in the business of non-merchants. They have cross-ish shaped stones in their middles (a shape properly called an astral), which mark them as being worth much more than normal money. Whereas coins can be measured by their worth in coppers, astrals are measured in platinums. An astral copper was worth two platinums, and an astral electrum was worth one hundred astral coppers.
“I’m not interested in fabric, Mister Sofis,” the man with the strange eyes answered, his voice cool and metered. “That is my offer on your home, and everything in it. Take it, and you and your wife will be out before sundown. My offer is fixed; take it or leave it.” For proof of his claim, Omentus produced three astral electrums from the red leather pack on his right hip, and set them on the counter.
Even though the stranger had spelled out his offer, Iskandr still needed a minute to process what he said. Obviously, the merchant was immediately suspicious. Immediately after, he didn’t care. He could buy a home twice that size, fill it with new belongings, buy his wife enough jewelry that she wouldn’t ask questions, and still have more than two hundred platinum left over! “Deal,” Iskandr said fervently, doing his best not to shout in excitement.
* * *
That night, Omentus waited in his new home. He laid on his new bed, over the covers, for an hour. And then he couldn’t sit still any longer. He went for a stroll through the house, not needing a lamp to see with. His teal, cat-like eyes drank in all the light he needed.
Why the merchant was called dishonest she did not know, but she had no doubt he cheated his customers in the most sophisticated ways possible. As her eyes grew used to the dark, she saw there were carpets in the small attic cupboard she had entered through, (and as she moved on, carpets in the hallways, carpets on the stairs, and, to her amusement, even a carpet on the floor of the loo, the fluffy and hairy kind). The walls were completely decorated with everything one could imagine, from some cheap wooden tribal masks, to great chandeliers (who thankfully were not), and enormous paintings of the owner. And if one were to judge the merchant by his house, one would clearly say that this was a man who loved to show his wealth; every nook and cranny was filled with a display case or a stand.
Fania’s eyes could not find a place to rest; always there were a new and more valuable thing in sight. From the attic hallway it started (or ended, depending on where the tour started) with shiny relics from unknown origin, which Fania suspected only an archeologist would recognize, on the second floor the hallway were filled with jewels, ornamental weapons and armor and other generally impressive, shiny, really easy to steal (and transform into what really mattered, silvers) enticements. And that was only in the hallways. She expected some even more valuable stuff in the many rooms. After this, she would not have to work for at least a month!
However, being the always careful thief she was, Fania excitement faded and was replaced by common sense. There were just so many things that were wrong in this image. The merchant was well known in the city, and while the rumors were not nearly giving him enough credit, he was bound to have had some thieves visit him before. Why did he then so carelessly flaunt his wealth with no protection? Did he have some agreement with the guild she did not know about? It was not unlikely; many merchants paid the guild to “restrict” the amount of looting. And now that she thought really hard about it, hadn’t she heard about this thief that had been sold out by the guild after a previous owner had “sponsored” the guild?
And even so, most merchants with their head in the right place had a guard, or at least a guard dog, guarding the house at night. Or, was the goods protected with some kind of magic? That at least she could check; just the other night she had bought this splendid powder that could detect magic spells and magic wards. Or at least, so the old cone had enthusiastically told her… She tried it anyway; if it reacted she knew not to touch it, and if it didn’t, well, then she had not lost anything; the powder was cheap. So she grabbed a handful of the fine dust and sprinkled it above a display case. And lo and behold; the powder, so fine that it merely floated invisible in the air, created a faint glow around an amulet in the case. So faint was the glow, that whatever magic was enchanted into the amulet was not any danger, Fania assumed.
Reassured that the powder worked, she grabbed a new handful and threw it at the next display case. But so fine was the powder, it stopped just an inch after it left her hand and disappeared as it dispersed across the corridor, wasted.
She was about to apply a new dose of powder (directly at the cage, this time), when a shiver went through her spine; someone was coming. The carpet muffled both her and the stranger’s footsteps, but the faint sound of cloth sliding over cloth, possibly a cloak or saggy pants, alerted her that danger was coming. But it was not the sound that made the hairs on her neck stand up, like they did when she first entered. Nor was it the sound that gave her a sudden dread. Sound only made her alert to what she was actually feeling; terror. And that feeling of terror came her way…
For a few moments, she was paralyzed with fear, which was a quite unusual experience for Fania. She had been in the same situation before, but it was just to hide until the guard passed. She had even been caught a few times, but the fear… She had never been afraid?
The moment passed quickly and Fania hid behind a rather big piece of armor. She could not see any light in the direction of the stranger, so she assumed he had no candle. Even so, several people could see in the dark; hell, she could too, but in the dark, one had so many more ways to hide, all known to Fania, and accompanied with her social stealth, she would be practically invisible, unless the stranger happened to look directly at her.
Another moment passed, and she could hear the sound of the cloak, for she assumed it was a cloak, turn the corner of the hallway; the stranger was now in the same hallway as her.
From behind the armor, she could barely see the stranger without moving, which she dared not to, but from the little she could see, and from what she could hear, he did not stop, nor slow down as he approached; a good sign. And as the stranger passed, it took all her willpower not to move or make a sound.
But he did pass, and for a second or two, Fania thought that everything was over.
Then the man passed the magic dust…
And the hallway was lit up by a golden glow.
The stranger stopped, but did not turn. Nor did he act surprised, or angry, or suspicious. But the very presence made her skin crawl. Somehow, the man knew… Somehow, he could see her…
How had morning come so quickly? The whole hall had lit up in just moments. Could the apothecary have really been so engrossed in his thoughts that he spent all night standing in the hall? What a waste. He thought for sure she would have been here tonight. Perhaps tomorrow evening, then, he thought, chewing gently on the side of his lip. He hoped this venture hadn't been a waste of his time.
No, wait. That's not right, Omentus thought. He glanced around the room, not bothering to move. It was just that hall that lit up. There had to be a reason for that. Maybe it's an alarm of some kind, he mused.
After a moment passed be, the light still hadn't disappeared. Maybe someone was at the door. He turned around, and thought he saw something. "Is somebody there?" he asked, his voice too old for his young features. There was no answer. "Just a moment, I'll be right there!" he called out, looking down toward the front door. He walked briskly back the way he came, turned a corner and stepped quickly down the stairs. The light still wasn't gone. "Just a moment," he called out again, "I didn't know about the door light charm when I bought the home!"
Fania’s first impression of the man was quickly replaced with confusion. The very aura of the man told her subconsciousness to stay away, and to disappear as quickly as possible. And surely enough, the terror that she felt, the darkness and pain that radiated from the man was still there. But, somehow, she did not feel that threatened anymore.
And, she told herself, he did not see me. It was all feelings and sensations, not real. It made her feel better and somewhat braver. But not enough to stay. She hid behind the armor until she heard the front door open before she moved. Quick, and silent as a cat, Fania moved across the hallway and reached the stairs… And went down instead of up…
She caught herself as she was halfway down the stairs. What was she doing? The owner was downstairs, in the very next room, to which she was heading towards… She heard the front door closed, and panicked. The house was still mostly dark, only lit up by the magic powder on the second floor, so she needed a proper hiding place. And the most proper hiding place she could find right now was on a small alcove in the wall above the staircase; a small cavity featuring a pedestal with a bottle, or something.
Quickly, she ran up the wall, making a little too much noise for her liking, and used her knife to get some extra grip the last part. And not a moment too soon, she heaved herself onto the alcove just as the man entered the stairwell. She dared not look down, but she could hear him mutter something.
She did not know what to make of any of it. The man did not seem like a merchant, nor did he act like a concerned house owner. And she could remember, along with the fear she had felt, that she had heard him say something about buying the house. Had he just bought the house with everything in? Or did all this belong to the man? And why did she feel like knowing more about him? She should be running away from this house this very instant. Preferably with some valuables.
There was nobody at the door. "That's so strange," Omentus muttered, walking back the way he came. "If it's not a light for the door, then..." his words trailed off, but he continued mumbling.
"An alarm?" he asked no one in particular, loud enough that he could be heard clearly. He had stopped at the junction of the hallway and the stairs, and immediately cringed. "Hello?!" he called out, suddenly looking rather timidly around the corner, and most definitely not in the direction of his trespasser. "Is there somebody in here?" he asked again. There was no answer. He stood up a little straighter, looking just the tiniest bit braver than before.
"You'd better get out of here!" the red-cloaked man shouted into the night, walking away from Fania. "I'm warning you, I'm quick with a sword, so you j-just clear out!" he stammered through the last part, jumping a little when the house creaked from settling.
"Ohhhh, I'd better check the safe," he said, worrying loudly enough that he could be heard in the near silence of what he must have assumed was an empty house, full only of his own nerves. He stopped again, and peered around another corner before walking in that direction, doing his best (and a terrible job) of keeping quiet while he went. The old man stopped halfway down the hall, glanced furtively in both directions – as though he might be seen in the security of his own, empty home – and took a painting down from the wall. It revealed a rather unimpressive safe in the wall, with a simple keyhole for the lock.
Omentus produced the key, opened the safe and immediately began to count the stacks of coins he saw inside – stacks of silver and gold, mostly, but a small one of platinum coins, too. Then, once he was satisfied than nothing had been taken, he began to close the safe again.
The sound of the house settling creaked to his right, and the old man suddenly fumbled with the safe, popping the key into the lock, turning it about and withdrawing it, and then he put the painting back up on the wall. Predictably, however, he’d forgotten a crucial step in the process when he was startled – he had forgotten to make sure the safe was completely closed before he locked it. Thus is was left behind the painting, just slightly cock-eyed while its owner went off down the hall to inspect the new sound his house had made, silently praying that it was just his mind playing tricks on him.
It was just a few seconds, but for Fania, it was like an eternity. But finally, the owner left, leaving Fania to the darkness, and to her thoughts. Two things were clear; she was overreacting, and she was making too many mistakes tonight to keep this up. It was probably some bad grog or a bad mushroom she had eaten during the day. The inn was not exactly the most reputable in the city when it came to food. She would try againt tomorrow, if the gods allowed it.
But by then the house would be heavily guarded, every candle burning brightly, and she would have a hard time even approaching the house, most likely. No, she could not let this opportunity go away, not now. She only needed a little courage to face the house.
She produced a small bottle from among one of her many pockets and took a big swig. The spirits was hot as it made its way down her throat, and she could feel warmth spread out from her chest. Another swig and she could feel her body relaxing. She did not usually do this; she needed her mind clear and her body prepared for the worst. But considering the situation, she took the chance. When morning came, finding herself still on the alcove would not be desirable and if she didn’t gather her guts quickly, that might be the case.
So she jumped down, as silent as she could, and made her way up the stairs again. The hallway was clear and dark; the magic powder had mostly faded away, and the owner could not be heard. The hallway was still filled with jewels…
She made her way towards the attic with care, listening for any sound out of the ordinary. The nagging feeling that she should just get the hell out of there only grew stronger as she proceeded. It must be because I’m soon to get out of here, she thought. She felt the pouches on her hip; the hallway was missing several jewels and shiny stones. At least something good came out of this, she thought as she carefully opened the room to the small attic with the roof window.
Two houses away, husband and wife quarreled, as was their habit. A room or two lit up, and one began to shout, while the other tuned them out, and then the roles reversed. They did this every two or three days, and everyone in the neighborhood knew. They had all learned to sleep through it, no matter how many pots were thrown or pitchers shattered. One night, the missus had thrown a large mirror pane down from the wall. The next morning, nobody mentioned the clanging in the night or the surplus of servants dispatched to clean it up. It was none of their business. If the Sofis home made even half as much noise, then maybe someone would mutter about while they washed their face in the morning. That's why this location was perfect.
In the relative quiet of the night that still persisted, the elven thief made her way across the attic room, pouches bulging with the spoils of her hard work. The window was still open. She shook her head, glad that the uneasiness of this mark was over with as she leapt up onto the sill.
She made it halfway, before it was taken by something else. Six feet tall and wildly inhuman, a beast with long legs and sharply exaggerated joints suddenly dropped onto the window sill. Around the core of its body were pupil-less eyes that shone like rubies. A mix of ghastly spinnerets and mandibles that dripped with pale green venom occupied the core of its body, betwixt the legs. It took you long enough, its voice shrieked. It could not be heard with the ears, but within the mind. It felt like a hundred jagged claws that raked numbly inside the skull. The creature blocked Fania's passage, and bent down as if to pounce, even from such a short distance away.
In the moment before the demon moved, there was a feeling deep within the air. Like a rock which struck the bottom of a stone pond, a word could be felt echoing throughout the house, "Etunde," Omentus incanted.
Solid sheets of vibrant blues leapt across the casings of the doors and windows, and the sheets were written upon with silver glyphs. The wards forbid all passage to and from the house. Where they bisected the demon, it was thrown out with a violent force, but not heard from again.
Whatever she expected to happen as she left the house, it was certainly not what she expected. Instead of the fresh air, and the dark sky outside, she got a many-eyed monster, and instead of feeling cold air against her skin, she felt the carpet protect her somewhat as she fell backwards, long as she was. Wide eyed and in disbelief Fania raised herself up on her elbows and stared at the thing before her, but outlined against the dark sky the only thing she saw was the eyes… Red, lifeless, and inhuman. She tried to scream, but her voice was lost somehow, as was her breath.
And when she thought nothing could be worse, the creature spoke. Or rather, she felt it speak in her mind; It took you long enough. The voice, if one could call it that, completely overwhelmed her, filling every cranny of her mind with fear and pain as it ravaged her. Her hands instinctively went to her ears to keep the scream out, while her legs were kicking her backwards to the wall. Only after her head hit the wall she realized that it was not the creature that was screaming; it was her scream.
And then the demon leapt at her.
She could see it happening as if time stood still; the monster bending down, the inhuman shape flexing as it leapt, multiple fangs glittering with poison, the many limbs protruding the body. The whole house seemed to respond to the creature, reverbing with magic, words and fear. And just as it leapt, before she could even react, the monster was gone, replaced by a bluish velvet covering the window. Her screams had died out now, but her breath came quick and short and all the color had disappeared from her face. Still sitting on the floor with her back up against the wall she clutched her chest, trying to still her beating heart. But as the door opened, she suddenly found herself standing up against the wall, at the other side of the room holding her breath in.
It was just Omentus. He walked into the room calmly, leaving the door wide open, and stood just inside it. His teal, cat-like eyes scanned the room once, flashing bright golden as the light of the blue ward struck them from a certain angle. After a second look, those teal eyes settled onto the cringing elven woman across the room from the old apothecary.
If it was incantations or a short monologue about his insidious trap that his captor was expecting, Omentus failed to deliver. He held no candle, not needing its light to see clearly in the room. Conversely, the metal of the syringes on his harness glimmered softly in the light of the nearby wall of magic. When he spoke, his voice had the sound of a young man, but the meter of a much older one. "Good evening," he began. "My name is Omentus Anima. I see you've taken it upon yourself to lighten my load of more than a few jewels and coin," the old man went on. Despite the accusation of theft he implied, his tone was genial.
He paused for a few moments, giving his guest a chance to take in the situation. Nearly abruptly, he continued speaking. "I do hope you'll forgive me for not inviting you to tea, Miss Fania. The night is short, you see," he began to explain, his voice gentle and patient. While he spoke, he reached into the red pack on his hip, and withdrew a long object similar to a steel quill. When he revealed it in the light, its end was not a nib, but a thin triangular blade with a single edge.
The old seromancer's lips spread out slowly into a smile, which then broke into a grin. "I was hoping we could get right to work," he said, brimming with anticipation. He walked toward her, the scalpel gleaming in his hand...
[/i]No, no no no![/i] What had she gotten herself into this time? Her eyes never left the man as he spoke. Omentus, that was not the name of the owner. This was all wrong. She should have realized that the moment she entered the home. No merchant with that much value in his house has no traps or guards. She shouldn’t have come. She shouldn’t have entered this house, and now she doubted that she’d ever leave it, alive.
She fought hard to retain her composure, breaking down would not do her any good now, and would have tried to get forth a meekly, what do you want with me, if not Omentus had cut her thoughts off as he continued. But she could not quite catch what he spoke of, as something shiny required the whole of her attention; the deviously looking blade in his hand.
Suddenly he came at her, which snapped her focus back short enough to realize that she needed to escape. She had no intentions at all to fight him having no idea what he was capable of, but given his previous antics she did not want to underestimate him at all. But the room was small, and before she even knew it he had crossed it.
With no thoughts of how this would even help, or how effective it was, she grabbed the most accessible thing, a handful of the magic detecting dust, and threw it in his face. Closing her eyes, she darted at the doorway, hoping that the distraction would work. She just needed to get away.
Omentus stumbled backward, exclaiming something that sounded distinctly like a swear word that had been garbled through a sip of water being taken. The dust had gotten right in his eyes. Not only did it sting, but it was so fine that it had actually gotten under his eyelids. His eyes had shut of their own accord – an instinctual reaction to the irritant and their radiance. He clutched at the door frame as the magic inside dust motes flared to life, shining brilliantly right in front of his eyes.
His instincts told him to clench his eyes tighter, which he did, until tears wept from their corners. It didn't actually help, but something in his brain was panicking. There was nothing he could do to abate the blinding light. Mentally, several facets of his animus jewel buried their nonexistent faces in their nonexistent palms.
Like a cold iron clamp, control came down over Omentus. Though his muscles jerked, trying to avoid the light, he mastered his impulses. It had taken over half a minute. If Fania weren't out of the room and at the other end of the house by now, he might just kill her. Mana sparked at his finger tips, in red and pale brown. "Inat-rhlothar, meil kratha," he incanted, his voice low. The magic-sensing dust reacted, suddenly shining much brighter than before. Its radiance penetrated the house, bouncing off walls, vases and ornaments until its light could be seen from almost anywhere inside, albeit in varying degrees.
Fiery pale red streamers appeared around Omentus' hands. He lifted his fingertips, and set them against his temples. "Tularande," he spoke, finishing the incantation. Behind his eyes, his optic nerves came apart, and then anchored into the walls of the channel that led to his brain. He hadn't even bothered to dull the pain. The magic lingered, but the light subsided and he could not see it.
Omentus turned, righting himself as he opened his eyes. It was a sensation he still knew, but open or closed, it made no difference to him. He walked out of the attic room calmly, and close the door behind him. Fingering at the clasps by his neck, he removed his cloak, and set it beside him in the hall. The seromancer reached into his hip pack, and withdrew a two thin, red leather straps. With them, he tied his hair forward, keeping it off the back of his neck with the ease of practice.
There, on the nape of his neck, an eye opened. It was large, with a square, bright lime green iris and a diamond-shaped white pupil. Its acuity was extreme. That eye alone could see detail that his now-blind ones, paired, never could have. The hallway around him was glowing with the dust his passage had brought with him.
The seromancer detached the coppery vassyr scales from behind his ear, directing them through the air as though they were suspended on strings of so many tiny marionettes. He positioned them behind his head, in an even arc. Their metallic surfaces gleamed, reflecting the way in front of him in such minute detail that only this eldritch eye could make out clearly. "Fania," Omentus said, addressing the house loudly enough that he could be heard easily across half of it in the silence of the early morning. "I will find you."
Fania did not bother to check whether her distraction worked; if it did, she got away. If it hadn’t, she would be dead anyway. But the sounds made by the man gave her an indication that it might have worked. So when she got out of the room she just ran, and ran, with no idea where to go.
She found herself at the first floor, trying to open the front door when she got hold of herself. The door did open, inwards, but outside, the same blue velvet that she had seen covering the roof window. She refrained from touching it; it would probably notify Omentus about her whereabouts. Whether that would make any difference she could not tell; for all she knew he knew exactly where she was at all times. The thought caused her to panic again, and she ran again.
Thoughts raged uncontrollably in her head as she ran; what the hell was that monster, and who the hell was Omentus, and what the hell did he want with her? He had obviously been playing with her the whole time, and was probably now just walking slowly to a point where he could cut her off.
She suddenly turned, as to not fall into that trap, but turned again when her thought process went one step further; he’d expect me to turn around. And then she turned again; he’d expect me to not turn, because he’d expect me to expect…
It was futile, she realized that. Her only choice was to hide so well he would not be able to find her, to fight or to kill herself. And right now hiding seemed to provide her with the best odds of surviving.
“Fania, I will find you!” Omentus’ voice boomed through the house.
Hiding did suddenly seem like a bad idea. She thought of suicide, but she was not sure if that would stop him… And suddenly she did not have any more options.
Wery well, she thought as she unfastened her slaih from her back. If I am to die, I won’t go down with a fight!
With the knives of her slaih separated by her fingers to keep them from making noise, she entered the hallway and made her way up the stairs, silent as a cat, prepared to strike at the very first opportunity.