Raven, Chapter 5-b

For the first part of this chapter, posted some time ago now: Raven, Chapter 5-a

Inside the manor, she crouched down and looked around. It was a carpeted hallway with two doors down one side of it. Paintings hung on the walls, but she wasn’t interested in them. To her left was a staircase.

Quietly, she rose up and moved the window so it was only slightly cracked. Then she made her way over to the stairs and was able to make her way down them silently until she made her way to the ground floor.

It was dark and she spent a few minutes letting her eyes adjust to the darker lighting. There was no outside light filtering in down here. She was in some kind of large hall that had heavily curtained windows. That would explain the lack of light down here. From the map, she knew the parlor where the seed of magic was located would be to her left.

She started to move in that direction, but was stopped by the sound of footsteps. Heart pounding, she scooted behind a potted plant, crouching down, but also hoping the lower leaves and the darkness would help to better obscure her.

Two boys came into view. The Almis’ twin sons. They were about nine years old and always full of mischief. Raven wondered what they were doing up in the middle of the night.

She heard a thunk and then one of the boys said, “Watch out, stupid. Mother won’t like it if you’ve damaged her big clock.”

The other boy muttered a response, but she couldn’t make out any of the words.

“Come on,” the first boy said. “I want to get back to bed. Let’s hurry up and get your milk already.”

The second boy grumbled, but followed his brother off to the right, in the direction of the kitchen. They vanished from sight, but she could still hear their heavy foot falls.

She waited patiently, barely breathing, until they passed back by, one boy carrying a glass of milk in one hand. She watched and waited as they made their way back up the stairs and then disappeared around a corner. She waited an extra moment for caution, and then moved from behind the tree and made her way into the parlor.

Just as the burglars had said, the seed of magic was encased in a glass box and was sitting on the mantle. She walked up to it and picked up the box. It felt fragile in her hands and she spent a moment debating whether she wanted just the seed or the seed and box. The box had a clear glass front, but the sides had beautiful stained glass panes. It would be a lovely addition to her spoils, but, really, how useful would a delicate little thing be? Making up her mind quickly, she released the box’s catch and it opened with a quiet click. Opening up the front, swinging it out like a door, she reached in and grasped the seed. It fit nicely in her palm and really looked just like a peach pit. She didn’t for the life of her know how to use magic or what to do with a seed. It was safe in her possession.

Carefully, she closed the box back up and quietly placed it back on the mantle. Pocketing the seed, she looked around the parlor for an exit. None of the parlor windows were open.

Cursing to herself, she knew she would have to look around and hope someone had left a window open down here. She didn’t relish having to exit back the way she had come in.

Quietly, she left the parlor and then began to make her way around the first floor. She passed from room to room and explored the hallways. So far, nothing. She was growing more frustrated by the moment, imagining Aven’s impatience and she took more and more time to find a convenient exit. Spending more time in the manor also increased her chances of being found, and that made Aven even more nervous for her. After all, the Almi twins had already made their way downstairs.

Frowning to herself, she made her way into the kitchen. And there it was. There was a service door that was kept ajar to let in a light breeze and cool off the hot hearth. The kitchen didn’t have any windows, just the door. And unattended door. Smiling, she made her way over to the door, keeping a look out for anyone who might be slumbering in a corner.

Raven gave a silent sigh of relief when she made it out of the manor. She was on the opposite side of the house, in the herb garden, from the direction in which they had approached the manor. She waited, crouched behind a citrus tree, for Aven to find and join her. He would have been circling the gardens, on the lookout for her, ever since she entered the manor.

It didn’t take long for Aven to join her. With a silent nod, they rose up and made their way back into the deep shadows. They went back the way they had come, heading for the Sarlik Manor now.

They slunk through the shadows the manors and their gardens provided. Dawn was just a couple of hours away when they reached the Sarlik Manor. Already the sky was showing the slightest hints of a brightness heralding the approaching new day. Aven waited while Raven stole her way up to the stoop.

Half hidden behind a handful of leaves to one side of the door, where a thick grape vine ran up the wall, was a velvet pouch. Raven pulled it open and reached inside. Her fingers closed around a handful of coins. She counted the money after withdrawing them and smiled as she counted out the correct amount. Satisfied, she dropped the seed of magic into the pouch. She hoped Lord Sarlik was as pleased as she was.

Raven made her way back to Aven and they melted back into the shadows. They didn’t worry now about being caught now that the job was done. No one could arrest them for strolling through the city. They didn’t have to slink through the shadows, but they liked the practice.

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