Raven, Chapter 6-b

He almost didn’t dare to look. Could Raven have delivered the seed of magic already? She had said two days’ time, but she always delivered early. Which was one reason why he didn’t mind having to pay so much for her service: one amount to the City Guard and another to her. Both nice sized lumps of coins and some of the new paper money the country was trying out. For Raven’s services it was always worth it.

It was still early, nowhere near Caidy’s ten o’clock waking time. The girl did enjoy her sleep, but they did often spend evenings out at the theater or balls until the early hours of the morning, so he didn’t begrudge his little girl her sleep. Besides, they had a play to attend that night and they wouldn’t be home until after midnight.

Throwing down the morning paper, he decided to take a peek. While his innocent daughter was still slumbering, this really was the best time. He hoped Raven was still delivering early; he had immediately put out her pay after returning from the slums with that hope in mind.

He pushed aside the curtains of a front window, a window where he could look at the door to his manor. The velvet pouch still hung there, but it looked different. He breathed out heavily, calming his beating heart, knowing it no longer held the coins he had placed inside it for the Thief Lord.

Holding his breath, Sarlik shuffled over to the door in his house slippers and cracked it open wide enough for him to slip though. He closed the door behind him, but keeping it slightly ajar. He reached for the pouch and felt that its weight was lighter than it had been when he had put it there. It was also much slimmer, almost flattened, with an arcing shape at the bottom.

With a shaking hand, he opened the pouch and, eyes closed, stuck his hand it. His fingers closed around a small warm object that felt like it was the right size for a seed of magic. Holding his breath, he pulled it up towards the opening, but didn’t pull it out. Grasping the seed between his thumb and forefinger, he saw it was indeed a seed of magic.

Quickly, he dropped it back into the pouch and headed back inside. The Almi Manor wasn’t too far away. He didn’t want to risk having one of the Almis see him with their seed of magic. As it was, he was expecting retaliation at any moment.

“Papa?” Caidy’s voice floated down to him from her bedroom on the second floor as soon as he had closed the door firmly. “Papa?”

“Coming, love,” he called back, dropping the pouch into a pocket of his morning jacket.

He made his way up the stairs, wondering why his daughter was calling to him so early in the morning. It was still a good two hours before her usual waking time. Had something happened? That thought had him doubling his speed as he began to take the stairs two at a time.

Sarlik arrived at his daughter’s bedroom to find her in her sitting room. She was perched on her floral settee, an open book resting on her lap. She was dressed in a peach dressing gown and her hair was done up with colorful ribbons. Her head lifted up from her book at the sound of her father’s footsteps.

“What is it, Caidy?” Sarlik asked, approaching her to join her on the settee.

“Papa, I have a bad feeling that something’s going to happen,” she said, her voice troubled.

“What do you mean?” he asked gently as he came to kneel before her.

She shook her head, loose ribbons flying around her face. “I don’t know, Papa. I had a bad dream that something was going to happen and then I couldn’t fall back asleep. Something’s going to happen. I know it. Could we stay here this evening?”

Sarlik took her hand in his and gently squeezed it. “Of course, my dear. You must be tired from the ball last night, anyways.”

She gave her father a small smile. “Yes, that, too, but I mean it, Papa. I think something bad is going to happen.”

“Well, your intuition has never led us wrong, so we’ll stay here tonight.”

She gave him a wide smile and wrapped her hands around his, squeezing his hand gently. “Can we walk in Aster Gardens again today? We didn’t really have much of a walk the other day.”

“Of course. Go get dressed and then we’ll have breakfast. After that, we can go to the gardens and then pay the Market District a visit.”

Smiling, Caidy stood and placed a kiss on Sarlik’s cheek before skipping off into her bed chamber. Chuckling to himself, he left the room and closed the door after him. Her words worried him, but he was expecting something to happen, too.

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