Raven, Chapter 1-d

They made their way out into the slum’s alleys and headed off for the bath house in Ninth Sector. They slipped along in the shadows, their group breaking off, but still heading in the same direction, to keep from being detected.

They stopped within sight of the female bath house at the edge of the slums, the backs of the houses here backing against the towering wall that surrounded the entire city. The bath houses were pumping water from the Needle River, which ran a quarter of a mile from the city. They could see the place was deserted, so knew the other Thief Lord were already there. Onna and the two attendants strolled towards the doors, Sasha and Myria keeping close watch.

Raven gave the signal and the murderers melted into the shadows to join the other ten. In moments, they would be surrounding and entering the bath house. Indeed, a mere minute after the murderers had vanished, Onna had entered the bath house and a pair of murderers slipped in behind her.

Aven rested a hand on his friend and Lord’s shoulder. She was a hard woman, but cared deeply for those in her following. Those feelings, though, were very deeply buried. After all, she sometimes had sent her loyal followers to their deaths. But they knew what they had signed up for, so Raven didn’t spend too long mourning their loss. That was a weakness she couldn’t indulge in. Otherwise she would wind up dead, too.

Raven and Aven wouldn’t be involved in this mission. Twenty murderers would be enough. Besides, they couldn’t risk anything actually happening to Raven. They waited for tense, quiet moments until the first screams were heard. Raven stiffened at those sounds; there was no way to tell which scream belonged to which person, but they would find out soon enough.

Before she knew it, Onna appeared in the bath house’s doorway and made the all-clear motion before disappearing back inside. Raven and Aven waited a moment before one of the murderers who had been one of Raven’s earliest and most loyal followers appeared and made the same motion.

Without a word, Raven emerged from the shadows and strode over to the door, Aven following close behind. They joined the man on the low stoop and stopped before him.

“The kid was right,” the murderer said. “All three of ’em were waiting inside, ready to gut ye.”

Raven nodded, her eyes hard and her lips pressed into a thin line. “Thank you, Jesyre.”

The man saluted her and they followed him into the bath house. They walked through a short, narrow hallway, a door on either side opening into changing rooms, before entering the bath chamber. It was large and round with a domed ceiling. In the middle was a sunken hole about three and a half feet deep, filled with river water that was now tinged with red. Smooth white stone encircled the bath and was likewise streaked with blood. Pillars of the same stone stood around the edges of the bath and a couple showed interesting streaks of red and brown.

Raven took all this in with a single sweep of her eyes, but she was more interested in the large group gathered at the back of the chamber. Most of her murderers turned to her and were dismissed with a look. Five stayed behind, along with Onna and Myria. Sasha, unfortunately, was floating in the middle of the bath. It was mostly her blood giving the water its red color.

The three Thief Lords were kneeling with the five murderers standing over them, mean-looking blades hovering above their heads. The three men glared at Raven was she approached. She could see Daryk, the one with the tenor voice, had a bleeding wound in his side, but he wasn’t paying it any mind. Corinn, the silky voiced murderer was glaring with fiery green eyes, darts of contempt hurling her way. Grizzled Edvin with his collar-length brown heard and shaggy brown hair falling to his shoulders growled at her.

Raven stopped before them and sighed, shaking her head. “My fellow Thief Lords. I thought we had come to a peace treaty. My life for yours, was it not? But here you are this evening,” she said, sweeping out her arms, “you three captured and one of my followers dead. You know what this will cost.”

Edvin growled. “You have been a thorn in our sides for too long now, girl. It was time we did something about you.”

Raven looked at the other two. “Anything else you have to say?’

They remained quiet, but their glares said enough to her. She sighed and motioned for her murderers to put their weapons away. Leary of the Thief Lords, they did as she demanded, but didn’t step back.

“There will be no new treaty,” Raven declared. “You temporarily lost your senses. I’m sure this will never happen again. I shall overlook this just this one time. If this happens again, I guarantee you it will mean certain death. Keep that in mind.”

That said, Raven turned and left the bath house, Aven following after her. The murderers ushered the Thief Lords out, making sure none doubled back to make another attempt on Raven’s life. Last out of the bath house were Onna and Myria, Sasha’s body carried between the two of them. She would receive a proper burial later that night.

“Just another day,” Raven said, mostly to herself. “I need some other entertainment.”



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