Welcome to my slightly-belated entry to the Bad News Blogfest, hosted by Francine at Romancing the Blog My apologies, but the time I had set aside to write this was spent in the Emergency Room with my baby's 103-degree fever. Apparently, it's nothing serious, but it took us nearly five hours to find that out. We didn't get home until about 12:30.
For this entry, I offer a segment from the third thread from my story, the spy who's trying to unite separate factions against the Evil Empire. Enjoy.
Yalip never liked to be kept waiting, so the three-days delay in hearing from Pledis had set her nerves on edge. They had learned a great deal – she and her two collaborators – in their time in the port of Manos, but time was short, and she had hoped for news much sooner. By the time Ansel came with the summons, her foreboding was palpable.
As they wove through the Market, Ansel betrayed nothing. Yalip had no doubt that He knew what she wanted to hear, but the young apprentice knew that it wasn't his place to deliver news. The way to the Alchemists shop was a convoluted one, through alleys, shops, and yards of livestock, all to thwart pursuit. Most such shops dealt in innocuous tinctures, and the ones that dabbled in the unapproved potions had to be more subtle.
When they finally arrived, Pledis' face was a mask, giving away nothing. “Step into the back with me, dear,” he offered. Yalip's stomach dropped into her slippers.
Tea had been steeping, since he expected her this time, and Pledis always tried to be a good host. Going straight to the pouring, he began. “I'm afraid the news isn't good. The Hadenatus Gypsies have declined to escort you the the mountains.”
Yalip's jaw clenched, and her hand tightened on her cup until it trembled, rippling her tea. “Tell them I'll pay double. It is crucial to reach those mountains.”
“It isn't the coin they refuse.” Pledis rheumy eyes were firm and sympathetic. “They simply won't venture to those mountains. They aren't persuaded by your cause, or anyone's cause, and they don't wish to get involved with The Ibis.”
Yalip sat bolt-upright, and nearly dropped her cup. “You told them who I was?” Her voice was barely less than a shout.
Pledis' voice took a quieter edge. “One doesn't deal with Gypsies with falseness. We share a currency of trust, and should they learn of your identity mid-journey, it would surely cost you your life.”
“Forgive me. Protecting my privacy is an old, deep habit.”
“I understand. They suggested that the Thelema Gypsies have dealings with the people you seek. They may be met at Darden. I've spoken to a Corsaire who's sailing on the morrow for that very region.”
Yalip leaned back with a resigned sigh. “Darden is crawling with Atlanteans, but if that's are best hope...”
“It may be.” The old Alchemist had always done what he could for Yalip, and he was just as disappointed that it couldn't be more. “These things always work out for the best.”
“Sometimes I envy your faith. Usually, I'm inclined to make my own luck. I appreciate your arrangements, and gladly accept. Please tell the Hadenatus that I don't begrudge them their decision, and wish them well.”
“I certainly will,” Pledis said with a wrinkled smile. “In the mean time, you have a voyage to prepare for.”
“We've been ready for three days. But if you have anything to help with sea-sickness, I'd be glad to have it. Von doesn't enjoy the Sea.”
“I have just the thing...” Pledis always did.