The White Badge of Deceit; Chapter 15

Twitch was by this time already through the Grey Alps, and nearly home. He was about half a day south of Turda when he spotted the platinum blonde woman on the chestnut horse. He chuckled as he approached. She was sitting on her horse, watching him and waiting.

“Allo, Yvonne!” Twitch sang out, his voice lyrical and upbeat.

She sighed, lowered and shook her head, and then looked up at him with a smirk on her face. “Hello little brother.”

Twitch rode Sixx right up to Yvonne, and stopped. The horses nuzzled each other while their riders looked at each other in silence. Finally Twitch asked “How does your butt feel?” as he stifled a laugh.

“Sore, you twit.” Yvonne shifted slightly in her saddle. “You could have killed me. What if I hadn’t turned around?”

Twitch snickered. “Do you remember what you did on my sixth birthday?”

Yvonne glared at him in disbelief. “I have no idea what that has to do with anything. I stuck my thumb in your cake. How does that end up with me getting a dagger in my keister?”

“You weren’t holding a cake.” Deadpanned Twitch.

“Oh, you’re hilarious.” Replied Yvonne. The two of them began riding down the road together. After several minutes of silence she asked “I take it then that everything went off as planned?”

Twitch smiled and nodded his head happily. “Yup. The cover distraction was a screaming success. Everyone thinks a foreign power copied the diplomatic agreement, and in the resulting security fallout you fled for your life.” He looked at Yvonne. “And of course you brought that engagement ring with you.” Twitch laughed. “A lot of work just to get a ring.”

Yvonne smiled at him, held up her hand to show off the jewelry, and laughed. “The Herzgraf spent a long time looking for this ring.” She said as she held up her hand. “His wife has the rest of the set. He found them before they were married, when they adventured in Forkanza. After all of these years, it will be nice to see the set complete.” She looked at Twitch. “A very romantic thing, is it not?”

Twitch shook his head incredulously. “I suppose so. Romance is, by my reckoning, better left to song and saga.”

Yvonne laughed at his response. “For a minstrel, you aren’t much of a bard, are you?” she kept laughing. “I suppose you didn’t even bring a gift for the conjuress that keeps saving your hide, did you?”

“Bex?” asked Twitch. He looked somewhat puzzled. “Bex doesn’t like gifts. Not the way women do, anyway. She likes magick.” He looked at Yvonne. “I’ll give her the payment for the job. I almost always do. She uses it to keep the inn running.”

Yvonne just shook her head. “And did she give you that gate spell scroll? I know you can’t cast magic that powerful yourself.”

“No.” replied Twitch. “I used an enchantment on my badge to alert her and she tossed the gate spell up for me from the inn. I gave her the book through the gate, waited a day for everything to die down, and then walked out of the cathedral like anyone else.”

“Did she enchant the badge then?” asked Yvonne. “The infamous white badge of deceit?”

“Of course she did!” laughed Twitch, ignoring the insult to his office. “She handles all of that stuff.”

“Naturally.” Scoffed Yvonne. “All you did was throw a knife and hit your own sister in the butt. I must say though, you look good in dark hair. The skin is pretty creepy, but I like the hair.”

“Oh thanks.” Twitch laughed as he said “I thought your hair would be longer for having been away so long.”

 Yvonne made a snarky face and snapped at him with “You could have incinerated me, you know. Who uses a fireball spell to launch themselves out of a stained-glass window? Who does that? If I hadn’t had a shield spell up the damage would have been a lot worse! You destroyed the contents of that room. You know that, right? It looked like a volcano had gone off in there.”

Twitch heard her but he kept going with his train of thought. “How long until your enchantment can be removed? You make a pretty human, but you have to miss being an elf.”

Yvonne took a deep breath and said “I have to see about that. Not sure how long I have to remain in this form. The spell was very complex, so getting it lifted could take a while.” She looked at her brother. “Three and a half years is what it has been. I had to get the archduke to fall in love with me, fend off innumerous rivals for his affections, and secure the only ring that would be acceptable for my engagement. That was a lot of work. And what did you do? Maybe two weeks’ worth of horsing around?”

They both laughed. They rode along in silence for a while and then Yvonne asked “How did you get out of the cathedral? Surely that had to have been a challenge with so much security present.”

“Polymorphed into a dog.” Snickered Twitch. “It was my one remaining spell, and it got me past all of the barricades and out of the city. You remember Malek?”

Yvonne nodded her head. “The huntsman, right? Big jor, clever, very dangerous?”

“Aye, that’s him. He met me out of town with Sixx and his own horse. He rode back by a different route, I guess. He said he had to kill a stable hand because the guy wouldn’t let him take Sixx.” Twitch grinned. “I made the suggestion too specific. He was told to only give the horse to me.”

“Oh that’s just lovely.” Said Yvonne sarcastically. “Get some innocent hay wrangler murdered, because you were so concerned about that horse.” She sighed. The two of them rode for quite some time before she asked “Who do you think they will blame for the theft of the agreement?”

Twitch shrugged. “I don’t know, sis. I do know they won’t think it was Slothjemia. That’s all that matters. Because we didn’t need to steal the agreement between Geldenreich and Romillia. That wasn’t even what the agreement was. The document that was the focus of all of this intrigue was a mutual pact between Geldenreich, Romillia, and Slothjemia against common foes.” Twitch paused before continuing on. “The carriage that was so familiar to me outside of the Governor’s Palace was the carriage of the Slothjemian ambassador to Geldenreich. Slothjemia didn’t need to swipe a copy of the agreement. We had been given one, and have been sitting in every meeting taking notes.” The two of them laughed, and giggling they chatted all the way to the next town. The ruse was perfect, and had gone off almost flawlessly. Probably the greatest jewelry heist of recent memory and the entire thing was cloaked in fake espionage.

All for a ring to complete a set. The Empress’ husband had gone to a lot of trouble for this. Like the old Slothjemian saying: “There isn’t much point in having power, if you never intend to abuse it.”

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