Suggested by: Me
"Serenity's Light, Part 8"
Relaya felt her heart lurch in her chest as she followed Nerissa into the house. She glanced warily at the humans—one of them stared at her guiltily, and Relaya wondered if this was the stranger who had accosted her outside the Druid Circle—but where was the sword he had stolen? The other man was not so tall and broad, but Nerissa seemed to regard him as the leader, and she observed that he carried himself thusly. Everyone seemed to have already established a trust with one another, from the old woman who wore the Fae sigils hanging from her ears, to the small wood-sprite staring up at her, its arms wrapped around the golden eagle who had traveled with Relaya to this strange place.
“What news, Relaya?” Nerissa asked abruptly.
The young Fae only realized she had been about to salute when her hand was already halfway to her brow. She quickly dropped it.
“Lady Nerissa,” her voice came out short and clipped; the number of strangers wholly foreign to her comprehension flustered her greatly. “I am afraid I have failed in what I set out to do.”
“What do you mean, failed?” asked the one Nerissa had introduced as Ken, the Lore-Master.
Relaya winced. “I followed the traitorous fairies, the two in league with the one calling herself Lady Jocelyn—but I was not able to ascertain her true identity, as you wanted. As far as I could tell, they are no longer in direct contact with her. I followed them to secret rooms and alleyways frequented by the most disreputable humans—but none bore the marks of Darkness, which you warned me of.”
Ken shook his head and looked at Nerissa. “You mean you’ve known about Lady Jocelyn this whole time? Sarah was just saying that she is behind the whole fiasco.”
Nerissa frowned. “But if her henchmen are visiting criminals—why? Who is this woman, and what benefit to her if the artifacts remain tightly secured? Does she want another to steal it? What if the others get caught in the process, or, if they do succeed, what if they decide to keep the Relics?”
The burly Norseman—Jens—leaned forward and raised a thick finger. “This minds me of a tactic my people once used, to reclaim certain treasures from an enemy who had taken them while pretending to be our allies. We hired a clan of ruffians to create a blanket of chaos and cause much bloodshed, while seeming to take everything, and yet when they were beat back, the only things taken were the treasures we sought—and because our false friends did not know of this temporary alliance, we could feign ignorance as to how we came to reclaim those pieces, while their own guards were held responsible for allowing the breach.”
Everyone sat in mild confusion for a moment, as the idea of barbarian Vikings attacking a modern-art museum played havoc with their minds, but then Ken snapped his fingers.
“That’s it!” he cried. “I bet this Jocelyn person is planning a break-in at the museum, and her goons are drumming up a team for the job. She’s even got Sarah roped in, to make sure she can steal the artifacts without a problem, and to take the fall if necessary.”
“Except now that we know,” added the Guardian, Agnes, “we can make sure there is a problem with the robbery.”
Nerissa smiled at Relaya. “Did you happen to ever hear of a time frame for the intrusion?”
Relaya pursed her lips in thought. “I did hear one of the men telling another that the job had to be done three nights before the equinox.”
“Three nights?” Ken cried. “But that’s—“ he checked the calendar, “Tonight! How will we stop them if we only have a few hours to plan?”
“No need,” said Nerissa. “I already have one. Relaya,” she pointed at her friend, “will sneak out of this house, and she will be Sarah’s protector, following her wherever she goes. That way, in case Lady Jocelyn tries to make contact with her, we will know about it before she even realizes that Relaya is one of us.”
“What are we going to do?” asked Agnes.
Nerissa smiled. “We are going to stop the thieves by stealing the Relics first.”
Relaya blinked. “That would work,” she nodded, “since all it requires is getting you all inside the museum ahead of time, because the thieves are most likely planning to force the curator to deactivate the security for that exhibit hall right after closing time.”
Ken chuckled, “Okay, that would mean about nine o'clock this evening; if they have to wait outside till then, we would definitely have the advantage if we come in broad daylight with the crowd, and just find somewhere to hide, without ever leaving. We could steal it from the inside while they’re still trying to break in!”
Nerissa looked at the faces lighting up so eagerly at the idea. “It is going to take all of us together,” she said. “Each of you has a unique strength the others lack, which will help us succeed: Nakoma can fit into spaces too small for a human, Jens is the strongest of us all, Agnes is wise and cunning, and Kenneth is the only one who can actually touch the Relics without succumbing to their effects.”
At her feet, Kharrie the eagle squawked. Nakoma nodded. “What about Kharrie?” she asked. “She want to help.”
Nerissa regarded the bird, who had not left Nakoma’s side since her arrival. “Perhaps Kharrie can be our eyes on the team of thieves themselves, giving us advanced warning of their presence, without them knowing that we are tracking their movements.”
Kharrie bobbed her head and blinked to convey her willingness.
“Then the plan is settled,” Nerissa announced. “Let us disperse to make ready!”
Kenneth sighed and trudged toward the stairs leading to the basement. A hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned to face the wide, caring eyes of Agnes.
“It hasn’t been said in a while,” she murmured, “but I want you to know that I am still thinking of your dear wife, whom you are desperate to save. I promise, we will save her once the Relics are in hand.”
Ken nodded. “Thank you.”
#1 "Red of Morning"