There was a thunderous clatter at the old oak door of the Blind Dog Inn. Before anyone could stand to investigate the commotion, the ancient door groaned as it was thrown open on its old brass hinges. Hell howling winds billowed behind a huddling mass of cloaked rain soaked cavaliers tumbling into the dank, musky Inn. There was a wrestling amongst the group, and the door was shut.
The first gasped with relief while the others choked on the hearths smoke. Snow and water poured off the ebony cloaks, fur was shaken and the clatter of armor rang clean against its self. The leather squeaking as three men, one more fair and far taller than most , found comfort in the rickety chairs against a worn looking table. Three approached the bar, the sound of fluid over pouring snapped a barmaid back to her work as fresh hops poured over hand and the tankard she’d been filling.
Behind the bar stood a tall Sand walker, his dark eyes tracking the approaching women, red, blond and brunette. He eyed them quickly and more suspiciously than the well armed men relaxing just a breath away. The first approached, she spoke the language clean and fluid, it rolled from her tongue naturally. He squinted, the low lamp and weak candles reflected fire across her head. Wild long red tendrils twisted in braids, and wrapped in bunched cascaded over thick leather and metallic spaldings. Her thick black cloak guarded an entire side of her small compact curvy body. He caught the tightening of wrinkles around the corners of her wide teal eyes.
She wasn’t a patient woman.
The Inn Keeper reached for his belt tucked under his own long burgundy wool robe, he watched, his hand slowed as the blond and brunette had both casually rested their hands on the gilded tangs of their spatha. With a reassuring smile he withdrew his keys between two fingers . Counting quickly he drew the 12th and 13th key.
Always room 13.
With a smile bereft a cobra, or a wily croc by the shore he extended the brass keys to the woman. Exchanging silent nods, the red head turned on a smooth knobbed heel. While the blond reached into the depths of her cloak withdrawing the Inns fee. The other two women left her side, weaving between tables she walked the length of the smoky, dim-lit room, dodging chairs and stools, keys in hand. Aurora slowed at the sound of boot steps approaching the Inn’s door.
She tossed the other to one of the men sitting back comfortably in a darkened booth, a grin on a strong jaw. A pair of gray eyes gave his dusty blond brow a raise.
Aurora kept the other. With a smile she swirled her finger through the air towards he and the men. He rolled the baby grays eyeing his bedroom company. His brother Max, and his Dux’s second in command; lackey to Heiberias, Cassius.
She rested her boot on the stone edge of the hearth, her teal eyes watching the flame shimmy and dance before her, the burning white moved its flame in long hypnotic rhythms, the blue roared like a furnace under its brilliance, the red creeping into the lapping light, changing and shifting to a robed figure with boiling blue eyes peering from the blackness of the cowl. She blinked drawing back from the fires heat, sweat beading on her brow. Dei`dra stood beside her, long fingers resting on her spalding. Her violet eyes concerned, a long dark eyebrow was slightly raised. Her lips pressed tight.
“You were leaning into the fire.” Dei`dra slipped a long rush of ebony hair behind a tall, thick tapered ear, pierced seven high on each lobe.
The great oak door open and shut without much notice from the silent drunkard customers bent over their ales and whiskeys. Roar felt herself snort with the same inane curiosity. Without missing a breath she looked up, drawing back a loose strand of curls.
His face was hidden deep beneath long cascading brilliant blue robes. Her scarlet brows furrowed with an uncertain familiarity, her red lips began to part speaking allowed when Ma’ta grabbed her by the arm, a wild eerie cheer always gracing her sweet pale face. Roar shook her head, relived for the distraction, her heart peculiarly prancing beneath her armor. Licking her lips she followed her junior officer to their table in the back corner.
Ma’ta slipped bedside Max, she pushed against his hip, she nudged with her thigh until Max moved. She eyed the newcomer with sharp eyes, leaning an elbow on the table, alongside Aurora she ducked her head beneath the bounty of untamed curls.
Aurora stood at the end on the table leaning on her hands, she glanced under her pile of wild scarlet hair. She watched with a bated breath as he drew back his cowl with a gloved hand.
A Sand walker like the rest of the village, but the dye of his robes was familiar as was the dark indigo inlay along its base and sleeves. He must have felt the burning weight of her eyes for his head slowly turned towards the dark corner where the six Wraith sat hunched together, elbows on the table eyes cast to the other. The red head was bent over the table speaking in hushed tones to a small cohort of well armed cavalrymen. He looked away, not wanting to draw any more attention, he laid the five silver in the Keeps wood like hands, thick and cracked.
The Keep slipped the silver into a pouch he stuffed just under his apron, tucked away behind the pounds of ale sitting on his belly. He snorted taking another beaten mug from a sink filled with oily water, suds caked to its edges, he towel dried another, putting them in line on the counter. He cocked his head at the tawny elf, than pointed up the stair with the toss of his hand, the other bowed and headed up the short length to the second story and a line of small rooms. He stood before his door just around the corner from the steps, his hand on the frame, he could hear the deep tones of a man in Legion Latin.
“We’ve been riding for twenty-one days and we haven’t found this temple.” His thick brows furrowed at the sight of Aurora’s teal eyes narrowing, it was her tell, her one twitch. Max raised his brows suddenly.
“Have none of you been listening, it’s not a temple. It’s a tomb.” Their Dux slapped a hand to her hip, her spatha rattling in its scabbard.
“We’ve been looking for a tomb?” Ma’ta piped, her curls bouncing. Aurora drew her hand to her head, squeezing the bridge of her nose, she felt her body take a long breath and her back tighten.
“Aye Lt, a Tomb.” Still shaking her head she took a seat backwards on a chair, it was missing an arm. ” A tomb somewhere sitting in the middle of a ghost town, swallowed by a lake.
“So now we’re looking for a lake?”
Aurora met eyes with Marcus, her lip curled beneath her white teeth. Marcus grinned, his gray eyes turning to their Lt, he cleared his throat waiting for Ma’ta to join the table. The young archer puckered her lips, her green eyes searching the table, her companions waited, eye brows raised
It takes a thief…