The Prophetess's Tale: Part Seven
It had been a while since she'd tracked anyone, but Emilia's feet quickly adopted the stealth mode they had once been so used to.
Grite Lomne moved from his temporary accommodations with a surprising swiftness. It was too swift, too perfect. He did not so much as light a lantern as he moved down the hall, darkened with nighttime.
Whoever he was, he was used to walking in shadows.
The longer she followed him, the more she was sure of it. This Lutari, still not so old, had years and years of practice in stealth. His feet hardly made any noise at all as he descended the servants' spiral staircase.
Anyone who could move so stealthily and would go out of his way for the servants' staircase was up to no good.
Emilia realized that she could be caught following him at any minute; she waited, every ten steps, for him to turn around and appraise her. Her heart pounded in her chest at the anticipation, just waiting to get caught.
She hadn't felt this thrilled in years.
Someone almost, just almost as talented as she was, prancing around right under the king's nose. A worthy opponent. Finally.
She expected that he was part of a bigger plan, probably from one of the guilds in the area. Whichever one it was, they'd raised him since birth. She listed the popular thieves' guilds in her head, but none of them could have created a creature so deft at criminal activity, none so bold enough to mess with a king.
No, it would have taken an expert to raise Grite, to teach him to be the way he is.
Grite turned left at the door on the ground level and swept through the nearest exit, barely opening the door. Emilia followed suit. This was definitely out of protocol for her. If Wentworth found her out of the bed in her guarded room, she would be back in the dungeons—no getting out on occasion due to good behavior this time. She was risking everything.
It surprised her when Grite did not go toward the populated part of the city, where the thieves' guilds were mainly located. Emilia expected him to go back to headquarters, get whatever instructions he was getting next, and then return.
Odd, that they didn't have someone on the inside who could just deliver messages to him?
Why did he have to go himself, if he was the important figure in this operation?
It didn't make sense to have him wander outside of the castle when he had the most to lose from it. They would've assigned someone to get instructions to him, or they would've found another mode of communication which didn't risk blowing their cover.
Grite stopped at the gated structure to the south of the castle. Beyond those guarded gates, a long, stone staircase led to the underground, where thousands of criminals were imprisoned.
Emilia should know. She'd spent quite a lot of time in the dungeons.
He spoke quietly with the guard at the gate. Emilia listened quietly. She would not go into there on her free time. Even the thought of going back in there nauseated her, though she knew it was inevitable she'd be dropped back off after she had been properly used.
The guard eventually nodded and let Grite in. He climbed down the stairs, this time holding a torch. It wouldn't do to look like he was so used to going about in the dark in front of the guards.
Emilia turned back and scurried toward the castle, to her room on the fifth floor. With the use of trees and clever footholds, she was up there in no time, and back through her barred window. She scooted the metal bar in the middle back into its slot and sat in her borrowed bed, breathing heavily.
For the first time, it occurred to her that Grite might be working alone.
She was suddenly mad at herself for jumping to the conclusion that he belonged to a thieves' guild, that she'd stuck to the first thing that popped into her head and gone with it. The first thing that came to mind was rarely the best. She just had to get past the initial conclusions.
"But the dungeons..." she murmured aloud. What purpose did he have for going to them? What was the point of visiting them in the middle of the night? The guard would remember him being there, surely. And the other guards he would encounter along the way, every 500 feet or so. Even to the untrained eye, it was suspicious.
He was either gathering intel for Prince Linus's case, or he had a friend down there.
Emilia sprung from her bed and headed toward the door. She flung it open, sending a red Lupe flying into the wall. "So sorry. I couldn't sleep. I was wondering if you could take me to Mr. Wentworth? I think I have something."
The startled Lupe nodded and prodded at a sleeping purple Mynci's arm. The two of them led Emilia to Wentworth's room.
Emilia swept the door open ceremoniously and leaned against the wall, arms crossed over her chest. "Hey, Mr. Wentworth," she said.
The Quiggle started and straightened up in bed, wiping at stray slobber. "I—what in the—"
"Couldn't sleep, needed to talk." She smiled at the Mynci in the doorway, who sleepily gawked at them with an open mouth. He got the message and quickly closed the door, leaving Emilia and Wentworth alone.
"What time is it... Why are you even...?" Wentworth rubbed his eyes. "I finally fall properly asleep for the first time in days and you had to..."
Emilia snorted as Wentworth gathered his thoughts together and assumed his snooty stance.
"Do you have an idea or lead?" he asked finally, getting out of his bed. He sat himself down at his desk and shuffled around some papers, and extracted a notebook without being asked to, poised to take notes.
Emilia was flattered by how he took her so seriously. She felt a gush of compassion flow through her and couldn't help but grin at him. The only one she ever got to talk to who respected her. "I need information, actually. A list of the people in Tristan's dungeons."
Wentworth cleared his throat and set down his notebook. "People, meaning guards, prisoners, and visitors? Or people just being prisoners?"
Emilia wanted to hit herself over the head. She hadn't even thought that Grite could be meeting with a guard or another visitor. Of course, that guard could have been his connection to a thieves' guild...
"All of them, please. I think except for visitors, actually. That wouldn't be very inconspicuous."
"I can provide this if you have a solid reason for it," Wentworth said, quite generously for someone who had been woken by a criminal in the middle of the night.
She held her breath. It was possible, after all, that she would not be able to get the information. Wentworth didn't like her accusations of Grite. "I've been talking around with some of the servants around here," she lied. "There's a rumor that Grite has visited the dungeons at least once, and I want to know what he's doing there."
Rather than accepting her reasoning, Wentworth gave her a look of pity. "Oh, Emilia, I do wish you'd drop that. Even if he was up to something, that is not our focus here. We need to find out who kidnapped Prince Linus."
"They could be connected, though!" Emilia said. "And what if he really is just investigating? If he's investigating in the dungeons, we should be investigating there too."
Wentworth smiled. "That's a better reason. I'll request a list first thing tomorrow."
Yes. "Thank you very much, Mr. Wentworth."
He nodded dismissively. "May I go back to sleep now, Emilia?"
"Sure," she said. "Do you mind if I look through the newspaper clippings again?"
His eyes shone with approval for using his own techniques. Sure, she was kissing up a little, but it didn't hurt anybody to do that.
Wentworth climbed into his own bed and began to snore almost immediately. Emilia sat at his desk, sifting through the clippings without actually looking at them. Grite Lomne... Grite Lomne...
She must have dozed off. There was someone at the door, knocking politely but insistently. The sun spilled through the cracks of the blinds on the window. She had a painful crick in her neck. How long had she been asleep? She still felt tired, as though she could sleep for three days and still not be satisfied.
Wentworth reacted first, starting again at the fact that Emilia was still there. He recomposed himself for his visitor, donning his clothes and hat with impressive speed. "Is everything alright?" he asked the visitor.
The Lupe from the night before, who had clearly been standing outside the door awake since, stood as professionally as he could muster and said, "Detective Lomne has announced that he has enough evidence to pin the prince's kidnapper. He is making a public statement today."
To be continued...