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Swayed: Part Two


by racerfishy

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Thaddeus awoke to a night sky filled with stars and a flickering fire in the edge of his vision. He sat up, his head throbbing.

      "You've been out for hours. I was starting to get worried."

      He looked across the fire at Masila who had her knees drawn up to her chest with her arms wrapped around them. Her cloak was wrapped tight around her and she was staring sadly into the fire. Thaddeus sat up slowly and put his own coat on. Desert nights were colder than he thought they were and a bitter wind was cutting through his fur. He rubbed his shoulder, which was still a touch sore. "Its fine, I deserved it, I screwed up our mission."

      She sighed. "You royally did. Now the whole city is on high alert." She paused before going on. "I've spent half the night trying to think of how to tell the Duchess that we messed up."

      Thaddeus nodded, which was a mistake since it sent his head swimming again. He rubbed his temples as he spoke. "What do you think she's going to do to us?"

      Masila shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe she'll fire us."

      "I doubt that, I can't imagine she would get rid of us after just one failed mission."

      "This was a big one, though."

      "Yeah... Maybe she'll lock us in the dungeons or something like that."

      Masila's eyes widened. "She has dungeons in her castle?"

      Thaddeus nodded. "So I've heard. Besides, most castles do."

      "Good point. Hey," Masila leaned forward. "Know what I heard? I heard that the last acolyte she got mad at had his house burned down while he was on a mission."

      Thaddeus chuckled. "She can go ahead and burn mine down, I don't live there anymore."

      Masila cast her eyes down into the fire. "I don't even have a home..."

      They sat in silence for a few minutes, Masila staring into the fire and Thaddeus looking up at the stars. He finally broke the silence. "Look, this was my fault, I missed the shot, I'll tell her that and-"

      "You didn't make the shot because I messed up your concentration. It's both our faults."

      Thaddeus paused. "No, it really was my fault; I took too long to make the shot and the scared her off. I'll take the blame; there isn't any reason why you should get in trouble too."

      She looked up at him, all of her anger gone from before, and actually smiled. She was a whole lot nicer when she was in just as much trouble as him and he was covering for her, Thadd thought. "You're a sweet guy Thadd, you know that?"

      Thaddeus smiled and his heart fluttered at the sight of the smile she gave him. "We're friends now, and that's what friends are for."

      ***************

      The Duchess looked down upon Masila and Thadd with cold, unforgiving eyes. Not that Thadd could see them, he was too busy staring at his sand covered boots. They had barely been back for an hour before the Duchess called the both of them in to report on the mission, but before either of them could say anything she had locked the door and coldly asked them to sit. She knew, Thadd could tell.

      "We're very sorry, my lady."

      Thadd looked over at Masila with her clam expression. She was by far braver than he was, for she could meet the Duchess' eyes without fear, but whenever he tried to even look at the lenny's face his heart started to race and he had to drop his eyes again.

      "You should be sorry. Very, very sorry."

      Masila responded. "We didn't have a good opportunity and-"

      "Excuses excuses."

      The Duchess walked out from behind her desk and turned her back to them. Thaddeus took this opportunity to speak up. "It was my fault my lady, I had the shot but I couldn't make it."

      The Duchess turned around, her face unchanged. "What do you mean, you couldn't make it?"

      Thaddeus flinched at the icy edge to her voice. "I... I couldn't..."

      "He couldn't do it because he was nervous." Thaddeus looked at Masila in surprise, and she returned his look with that cool gaze and what he thought was a small smile. She then turned back to the Duchess. "He wasn't trained properly, that was the problem."

      The Duchess dipped her head slightly, considering this, and then spoke again after turning to look out of the large picture window beside the desk. "If that is so, why didn't you do the deed?"

      Masila paused before answering. "He saw her first, I wasn't paying attention to the gates when she first came out. I tried to shoot her with the darts after he faltered, but she got back into the city before I had the chance."

      She lied. Not only did she lie, but she lied so naturally. Did the Duchess suspect anything? He looked up at their leader who was drumming her fingers on the windowsill. After a fair while she turned around and sighed.

      "I am ashamed of you both. Not only did you fail the mission, you made a mess in Qasala that will have to be cleaned up. Now, I will have to keep true to my promise."

      Thaddeus felt a chill go down his spine. Again, brave Masila spoke up. "And... just what is that?"

      The Duchess smiled that cold, devious smile. "Oh, you'll see." She then turned her back to them.

      Thaddeus was frozen in fear, but Masila had other ideas. While the Duchess' back was turned she leaped out of her chair and bolted for the door, but the Duchess suddenly spun back around and snapped her fingers, sending Masila squealing to the floor.

      "Masila!" Thaddeus tried to get up, but he found that he couldn't move. He was being kept in the chair by some invisible force. His heart pounded in his chest as he watched the Duchess go over to Masila and pull her up, fear clear in the green acara's eyes. The Duchess smiled again.

      "I wouldn't do that if I were you, my dear. Now, stay here unless you care to make your punishment worse."

      Masila nodded slowly and looked over at Thaddeus in cold terror as the Duchess made her way over to where he was sitting. Thaddeus was trembling. "My lady..."

      "Be quiet." Thaddeus watched out of the corner of his eye as the Duchess pulled out a small vial of a purple potion.

      Brave Masila spoke up. "What are you going to do to him?"

      Thaddeus couldn't see the Duchess but he knew she was smiling. "Oh, you'll see." Strong fingers clamped down his nose shut. Thaddeus held his breath as long as he could, but eventually he had to open his mouth to breath, and it was then that the Duchess poured the potion down his throat. He tried to cough it back up, but it wasn't long before the potion stole his consciousness away.

      ***************

      He woke up gasping and his heart racing. Looking around, he could see that he was in his own room at the castle where all the apprentices lived. He sighed and fell back into his pillow. A dream... it was just a dream...

      Thaddeus raised his hand to his face to rub the sleep from his eyes, but that was when his blood ran cold. Where he should have felt fur there were bandages. He threw himself out of bed and over to the mirror hanging on the wall, where he could see that his nightmare had been true. Discolored bandages covered the entire right half of his face, including his eye. What did she do to me?

      He felt as though his heart was going to burst out of his chest as he carefully removed the bandages, wincing as he pulled them off. When the coverings were finally gone, he looked in the mirror and his heart nearly stopped. No...

      The scar started about an inch above his right eyebrow, stretching down over his right eye, which now had a milky white iris, and continued along his cheekbone. The monstrosity didn't end until it had reached the top of his neck. It was barely healed, even the slightest facial twitch sent shoots of pain through his face. He sank back down onto his bed when he noticed a crisp, white envelope sitting on his nightstand. He looked at the curly handwriting on the front.

      Thaddeus

      He picked it up and ripped it open.

      Thaddeus,

      I wish that I could be there instead of having to leave this letter, but the Duchess is sending me away. She said that we're too dangerous together and my talents could be of better use elsewhere, but I think this is just her way of punishing me. I shouldn't be telling you this, but I am supposed to go to the Thieves Guild to infiltrate it and take it down from the inside. I hope that once my mission is done, however long it will take, that we can see each other again, but my gut tells me to not keep my hopes up. Goodbye Thaddeus.

      Your friend, Masila

      Thaddeus had to read it several times before it completely sank in. His first and only friend at the Sway, gone. His face, scarred forever. He crumpled up the letter and threw it angrily into the fireplace, watching the paper curl and blacken in the flames. His heart felt like that, torn to pieces by the very woman that had promised him everything. As he watched the embers glow and consume the last of the paper, he buried his face in his hands, ignoring the searing pain from the his scar.

      What have I gotten myself into?

The End

I would like to take a moment and thank all of my friends at the Plotters for their love and support, I could never have wrote this without you all! Also a big thanks to my dear friend Tay for the creation of the raw character of Thaddeus. Thanks so much, everyone!

     

 
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