The White Badge of Deceit; Chapter 13

Twitch moved through the building to where the front door was. He was in some sort of meat shop. It smelled terrible. But they could at least appreciate the butchery in their back room. He slipped the lock and went right out the front door. He got a bearing, and headed back to the palace at a good pace. He had no time to lose. While they were looking for him, he had to get this mission finished. He crossed paths briefly with the soldiers responding to an earlier call for assistance down Relger Strasse. A serious-minded looking man wearing very similar armor to what he had on now was leading a large contingent of heavily armed guards down that street. Twitch smiled as they went by. He could hear the leader swearing that the dweomer had worn off. Imagine that, thought Twitch. The elf then raced on towards the gate.

Using the authority invested in him by the fancy black leather armor, Twitch walked right up to the gate house and said in a demanding voice “Open up! I need to get through!” This was answered immediately with a smaller side gate being opened for him. A group of guards saluted as he entered and he just said “Seal it up!” and they slammed and bolted the gate behind him. He didn’t even pause or bother to make small talk as he made his way back out the other side of the gatehouse.

Safely away from the gate he broke into a run again. If this distraction was sufficient, and he figured it probably was, then the next part of this was going to be tense but very doable. He ran right up to the courtyard of the palace, stopped and gathered his composure, and then went boldly right up the front steps of the building.

There were far more guards here than there were earlier in the day, and for very good reason. Twitch jogged up the steps of the palace two at a time, and commanded them the stand aside. They did. He went in through the front door where more guards were standing about. He ignored them and headed up the grand staircase. There at the top was the fractured statue, now pushed aside. The damaged double doors with traces of blood on them. Twitch turned to a guard here an asked “Where is Lady Faustenburg?”

The guard replied “In the conference room, sir. The delegates have left for the evening.” Twitch nodded and headed through the doors and down the hall. He could hear voices around the corner, and knew instantly it was that accursed sorceress. She would identify him instantly. He quickly ran through the images from the dossier. He wouldn’t have to get all the way around the hall and into the conference room. He just needed to be on the other side of this wall.

He grinned as he cast his spell. He held his hand out, touching the wall with his fingertips. As the spell was cast he stepped into, and through, the wall. He found himself in the conference room. He looked about the dimly lit room. There was the main entry to his left that would lead right out into the hallway. And there along the wall opposite where he was standing was a small iron door. That would be the room where the document was stored. He rubbed his hands together.

Twitch moved quickly around the huge table in the center of the room and examined the lock on the small door. It was a beautiful lock. He hadn’t seen anything like this in a very long time. He drew out his tools and set to work. It seemed to take forever. The tumbler was amazing! Just when he thought he had it, it would slip out of place. The sound was deafening in the silent room and when at last the lock gave up he had to struggle to not let out a victory whoop. He carefully opened the door.

The trap was aimed for a person standing up, not hunched down on one knee. It was a lovely trap, and Twitch missed it just as completely as it missed him. The dart flew and landed someplace on the table. Twitch slipped inside the little room, and closed the door. He took his tools and began the process of locking himself in so he could work. It was easier now that he knew what to feel for. The click was a solid, delightful sound.

This small closet was completely dark. Twitch casted a minor illumination spell and the little room was bathed in a warm glow. There wasn’t much to examine in here. On a wooden pedestal in the middle of the room was a goodly sized book. Twitch looked it over for any signs of it being trapped. It had a lock on it, but there didn’t seem to be a magical or even mechanical trap. He listened at the door. He didn’t hear anything.

Carefully he opened the lock on the book, a very simple task, it was tough to not just break the lock. Then he opened the book. For the first time he read the title page of the agreement he had been sent to obtain. He tried to stifle his laughter, but failed. He shook his head, more in delight than in amazement. He pulled the empty spellbook out from under the back of his clothes. With the armor on it was more difficult. He finally wrestled it out, and set it next to the pedestal. He opened it, and set one hand on the agreement documentation and the other hand on the open, empty spellbook. Twitch took another breath, and let it out slowly. If this was hurried it would be less than a perfect copy. No rush, he told himself. Just a guy in a closet with a couple of books. He began his next spell.

The magic flowed from his hand into the book full of meeting notes, and coursed back through him to copy the writing, word for word, on to the empty spellbook. It took quite a while to do, and while it was faster than doing this by hand, it was still time consuming. He just let the magic do its thing, and let his body rest.

As the magic faded and the copy was completed, Twitch became aware of noises in the conference room. He closed the now full book, and tucked it under the back of his tunic again, trying to do so as quietly as possible. Then he pressed his ear to the door, and ended the illumination spell. The closet fell into darkness again. The elf strained his hearing to its utmost to listen to what was happening in the other room.

Luckily one of the people was Yvonne, and she was as quiet as thunder. The other person who was talking was harder to hear, but not impossible. His name apparently was Karcher.

It was the lady he heard first. “See? I told you. This room is untouched. The spell on the doors was intact, nothing amiss here. Whoever he was he won’t be coming back here tonight.”

“I tell you he killed one of my best men, and the other man is missing. If he isn’t coming back here then he has vanished into the night. I say we best be prepared for his return.”

“Nonsense!” shouted the woman. “I say he isn’t….” the room fell silent. “What is that?” she asked softly.

There was hardly any sound. Then the man’s voice again. “It’s a dart.”

Twitch’s heart skipped a beat. Uh oh, he thought. “I left that damned dart out there.” He tensed up, and readied to burst out of the little room if the door opened. He drew out the short sword and silently hoped it had some sort of protection against magic.

“Stand back from the door.” He heard the man whisper. Twitch then could hear the soft scrape of metal in the keyhole. He felt his muscles coil up like springs as he prepared to move from his crouched position to full flight mode. He quickly cast a shield spell. The key turned slowly in the lock.

The door swung open with a speed that bordered on violent and Twitch sprang through the air like he had been shot from a catapult. The conference room was very well lit now, and it was tough call to say who was the most surprised by his tumultuous exit. On his way out, Twitch managed to catch Karcher in the jaw with his fist, sending him off balance. Yvonne hadn’t backed away from the door nearly far enough to avoid being struck full force by Twitch who tumbled into and over her, knocking her down. Not caring one bit for her dainty femininity, he pushed off of her with another leaping bound which sent him over the table and towards the closed doors. “GUARDS!” He shouted as loudly as he could.

The doors flew open, and four heavily armored men stormed into the room, two on either side of the table. They got several feet in before they realized they had just run in around the trespasser. They wheeled in their footsteps, and Twitch bonded right out the open doors into the hallway. He too spun around, his back to the huge stained glass windows in the hallway. He then released a fireball into the conference room. As the explosion rocked the room, Twitch hopped slightly into the air to allow the force of the blast to blow him backwards through the glass. Shielded by his spell, he was launched into the air outside of the palace. Startled guards and civilians below looked up in surprise as the elf, encased in a flaming bubble of protection, flew like a cannonball into the night sky over the city. And then, as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone. Poof.

A very badly burned, and incredibly angry Karcher, was in the broken window frame as quickly as he could move. He was in agony. He didn’t see the elf vanish in the sky but he knew it had happened because there wasn’t a dead, burning elf on the lawn surrounding the palace. He shouted orders to the guards, and armed men were sent running in all directions. The gatehouses all over the city were sealed tight.

Dazed and disheveled, Yvonne staggered over to the broken window. She had been under the table when the fireball went off but she had still been charred around the edges. The ends of her hair had been burned off, taking several inches off the length. Her dress was also smoldering, and her hands and face had minor burns. “Who IS this guy?” She screamed, not so much at Karcher as to anyone within range of her voice.

“You need to find that out, and fast!” Yelled Karcher. “You get busy figuring out what magic he used, and why he did all of this! I have to figure out where in this city that rogue is, if he is in this city at all!” With that outburst Karcher turned and angrily limped down to take a better look at what was happening with the search.

Yvonne stood for a bit surveying the scene, and then went to find a healer. She would get to the bottom of this, but first she needed to cure these burns.

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