Chapter 46Artificed

The night was kind to me. Though I dreamed, nothing but vague shards of their presence remained. It was a bit of a shame that I didn't wake up directly next to Deirdre. But I knew she wasn't far. For a while I laid still and tried to just listen to everything. I wasn't quite sure what time it was, but listening to the people outside, it felt like quite a while after sunset. I was missing something too...

Deirdre's breathing.

I opened my eyes and turned to her bed, panicking slightly when she wasn't there.

Her bed was neatly made and her clothes were gone, so I immediately assumed she'd woken before me. And left, somewhere.

A bit worried, I got up, dressed and ready to go downstairs. There was almost no one there. Just two patrons and the bar-woman. While my stomach was asking for my attention, I wanted to know where Deirdre was as well. Dilemma...

Thinking that searching her on an empty stomach was a bad idea and that Deirdre was more than able to take care of herself, I opted to get some breakfast first. Hardly a word was needed for the bar-woman to get me a plate of goods. I just took the first table available to me and sat down. The bread here was a lot 'fuller' than I was used to. But together with some honey it was actually quite nice. Some sort of tea finished it off neatly and made me ready to face the day.

I hoped.

I got up and headed for the door, almost bumping into Deirdre coming in. I was very surprised to see her, not to mention happy. Of course she knew I was probably worried and spoke as casual as possible.

"Oh, good. You're up."

I blinked. "Where have you been."

There was an evil grin on her face, I wasn't sure if I should be in awe or fear. "Buying some things and talking to nice stable boys."

Now that I looked at her, she seemed to have done some effort to look cute. Her hair gave the impression of carelessness but still being quite neat. Her lips were tinted only slightly deeper red than normal. And, I wasn't sure, there looked to be some subtle makeup on her face. She didn't look rich, just cute and accessible.

What had she been up to?

"Should I start to worry?"

She giggled. "Not at all, come on."

Deirdre led me outside, through the market and out to one of the small fountains on the side. There were some wives getting water, but no one else. I took a quick look at the houses around here, even if there was little to see. The windows were all closed, on this side at least, and the doors weren't any more inviting. The smell here definitely wasn't as nice as the market, but at least the running water made up for that. Mostly.

"I've been to the castle of dark, talking to the stable boys there, getting some gossip. Maeve was right, there's some creatures kept there in a study, in cages. The downside is that it's on the second floor in one of the Master rooms. The upside is that they've only got three creatures, two satyrs and a young nymph." She took a deep breath. "They mostly should be able to escape on their own if we can get the cages open."

I smiled. "Alright, well done. But that's way deep in the castle. How would we even get there."

She smiled back. "Well, you're not dressed as a student of Light, just a normal messenger. Of course you'd need to be, as you don't want people to know you're carrying important matters. This will work in your advantage, however."

I nodded. "Faking a message for them."

She nodded. "Exactly. How's your writing?"

I laughed. "Good enough. But it has to be something... sinister and yet not dangerous. We don't want to cause more trouble."

Deirdre thought for a moment. "But if you free them, they'll grab you instead. That won't do."

"But if I give the creatures something to free themselves with, wouldn't that be better? Most of them don't talk to humans, but if they heard of Maeve's news..."

Deirdre finished my sentence. "They would talk and listen to you."

"Of course I can't talk to them with the Master still in the room."

She frowned as she realized that was yet another hurdle. But then she smiled, grinned and laughed. "Oh, I think I have a simple idea to give you a minute of time to talk to them."

I was curious. "What?"

"You'll see."