“You don’t have any proof-”
“Well, we can’t just openly-”
“It will blow our cover if-”
Wahisietel listened to his subordinates bicker among themselves. They brought up valid points on the matter, but lacked the focus to pull together to form a solution.
His subordinates were taking too long, time was ticking away from them. Their bickering was becoming more and more heated by the moment, focusing increasingly on snide comments directed back at one another.
Things were getting out of hand. The insults became more and more imaginative.
When Wahisietel shifted to speak, the others all fell into silence.
“Enough of this infighting. There is a matter at hand that must be dealt with. Speculation and vitriol does little for us like this. It is what we know that’s important.”
“And what do we know, oh mighty Wahisietel?” The frustrated human sighed.
The Legatus cut the man down with a critical gaze. “We know that we don’t know...but I bet I know someone who does..”
The chair scraped the floor as the Legatus stood.
“What are we supposed to do?” One subordinate asked, also standing.
“Stay here, don’t raise any alarms yet. Keep the situation as it is now, don’t let the ranks panic.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see my ‘adorable’ little niece.”
The air was musty, wooden slat floors creaking under his weight as Wahisietel finally made it to the top of the Temple belfry.
No humans were in sight. That could only mean one thing. She was here. He could hear her, sense her.
The drone of auloi played from the shadows. Somewhere, here, she was lurking.
His pacing echoed against the marble walls, each step carefully measured to take him to his goal and not a step closer.
“Trindine.” He called, unsure of which shadow to direct himself towards. She could be anywhere. The sound of her auloi seemed to be breathed out by the walls themselves. The drone it created carved it’s way into his mind, resting heavy in the back of his thoughts.
When the auloi showed no sign of stopping, no figure stepped forth, he tried again. Positioning himself in the center of the belfry, he called her once move. His voice, steady and commanding.
The auloi ceased. For a moment, it was silent. Completely silent. Too silent.
Then, like a long held breath being released, a breeze blew through the tower.
Flowing out of the shadows, as if born from the wind itself, Trindine appeared.
Wahistietel said nothing more, nodding his head in greeting.
Trindine slowly circled. Unblinking, unbroken, he could feel her gaze upon him the whole time.
He did not turn his head to follow her as she passed behind him. He kept his eyes focused ahead until she crossed once more into his line of sight on his other side.
She seemed to consider every line of his face before speaking, reading his body language carefully.
“Evening.” She crossed her arms behind her back.
He chose a greeting in their native tongue.
“What brings you to Senntisten?”
“I find myself in a situation where I need some information. Do you have time to talk?”
She looked up at him for a long moment in silence, as if juggling all possible responses and actions in her head. When she finally broke eye contact, she nodded ever so slightly.
“You know I’m made of time.”
She spoke for a while more, but Wahisietel found himself listening less and less to her words. The more time he spent in her presence, the more and more he found himself monitoring her body language for any signs that she might turn. It wasn’t that she ever had been violently unpredictable, but he could see so much of Sliske in her at times that it hurt.
“Is that a new horse?” She asked suddenly, interrupting the flow of conversation.
“That horse you rode in on. Where did it come from? It’s not one of yours.” Her glowing yellow gaze cut right through him.
“I have a brown horse.”
“Not like that one.”
Wahisietel took too long to respond.
“You rode in on a brown horse, but the hair on your hem is white, suggesting that you rode one horse as fast as you could, then switched to a new horse so you could keep riding. The horse isn’t yours, which means this visit was spur of the moment and not carefully planned. Which implies that you were in a hurry, which implies that the information you seek is vital in some way.”
The striking analysis made him distressed. She had pieced that all together just from the horse hair on his robe, that gave her the upper hand if she decided she wanted to bargain.
Again, Wahisietel took too long to respond.
“Uncle, you are far too stressed,” Trindine laughed as she cross the room to him. Her long, slender fingers fidgeted with his uniform, straightening the lines as she spoke. “It shows after your manic ride, too. A Legatus, in uniform askew? What is Senntisten coming to? Maybe you need a little bit of tea to relax.”
“I am fine, but thank you.” He bit back a sigh of relief when she finally finished straightening his collar out.
“You really ought to take a moment to relax, catch your breath. You know what too much stress can do to someone of such, ahem, advanced age.”
“I know how to make extra time for myself. I take breaks when I need them. Now, Anoni? Anoni never stops working. I don’t believe he’s taken a break from paperwork in the last 300 years. Some say he’s still pushing paperwork to this very day.”
Wahisietel waited patiently for Trindine to finish her line of thought. There was no point in trying to speak when she got like this.
“But I’m sure you’ve caught your breath by now. So, what can I do for you, Uncle?”
He gave her a minute to make sure she was actually done speaking. “I’m looking for some information about something-”
“And you would rather ask me than ask Sliske.” Trindine cut through his veils of speech before he could even finish.
A sigh. “In short, yes.”
A broad grin overtook her face, teeth flashing in pride and joy. Still, an undercurrent of something darker swam in her demeanor.
The expression made him uncomfortable. Sometimes, she was too much like his brother for him to not be a little unsettled. Who knew what inherited darkness lurked in that mind?
“So, tell me your woes and I’ll make what sense I can from them.” She seemed too happy to be of service. It bothered him.
He lingered once more.
Trindine sat on a ledge, smiling as she patted the space beside her, an invitation to join.
Holding in a sigh, he relented. It would be easier and fasting to just get this over with. He had soldiers that he needed to get back too.
It felt strange to him, to be speaking so openly of such worries to Trindine. He knew there was not one secret to spill that she did not already know. If anything did catch her off guard, she hid it perfectly.
Alerting her to the presence of the potential spy could only be helpful, by this point.
“And, I was hoping that you-” He was cut short as something caught her eye, taking all her attention away.
She darted away like a startled fish and skidded to a stop just short of the opposite open wall. Winding a rope around her hand, she leaned out of the belfry. Supported, Trindine’s eyes scanned the city skyline. It didn’t take long for Wahisietel to see what had captured her so.
A flashing light, most likely produced from a small mirror, danced out a code.
Her grasp tightened on the rope, excited.
Another light flashed from across the city, then a third. Something had happened.
She backed away from the edge.
“What was that?” Wahisietel stood.
No reply. Trindine wiggled like a cat ready to pounce.
“Wait! What about-”
“We’ll come back to this later!” She crouched before springing, hurtling herself towards the edge of the tower. “I promise!”
Wahisietel exhaled as she threw herself over the edge. There was no point in trying to speak with her when she got like this.
As easy as water flowing downhill, her fingers found holds on the many bricks and ledges of the Capital. He watched her navigate the rooftops. She crawled up eaves, cleared gaps with seemingly effortless practice, ricocheted off walls until she was lost from his sight among the many buildings.
Wahisietel was left alone, staring out across the city. The pigeons began to return slowly to their nests.
“Has she gone, Legatus?”
“Hmm?” Pulled from his thoughts, he turned towards the speaker.
The human male flinched, sinking down the ladder so only his eyes were visible above the edge of the trap door.
“Has the Praetorian gone, Legatus?”
It was a slow second before Wahisietel nodded. “She has gone.”
“May I come up, Legatus?”
“To ring the bells?”
The human, still hiding away, nodded. His eyes glanced around, inspecting every shadow.
“You may.” Wahisietel turned back towards the city once more. Far away, across the vast city, he could just make out Trindine collecting a member of her squad before they both vanished from sight once more.
The only sound to ruin the ambiance was the scrambling of the human to perform his duty on time.
“I must ring the bells now, Legatus.”
The fearfully spoken words were unnecessary, but Wahisietel grunted to show that he had heard the man.
The ringing of Temple bells filled the air, imposing it’s firm authority over the land with each resonating tone.