When Legin arrived at the North Quarter Faction house the area surrounding it was a bustle with activity as Aurora had set about her followers to get things organised. The Yineth was now the leader of two Quarters and it was clear that she was already working hard to solidify her new position.
Legin gave it little thought and moved through the prisoners and into the old Faction House, where yet more activity was happening. But it was nowhere near as busy as outside and here it was mostly Aurora setting about giving orders to her closest followers.
“Aurora,” Legin greeted as the Faction Leader sent one of her whores on a job, “May I have a word or two. Not too busy are you?”
“I am,” Aurora replied, “But I have a few minutes for you.”
The Yineth smiled pleasantly at Legin and he grinned awkwardly.
“How much did Vythe tell you of our plans?” Legin began as he scratched the back of his head.
“Not much at all,” Aurora shrugged, “He asked me to cause the riot, but that was the extent of it.”
Legin nodded slowly and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“So you are making new plans than?” Aurora asked curiously, “What is it this time? Another escape attempt or something else?”
Legin’s eyes snapped to the perceptive yineth’s blue and green eyes, which sparkled with curiosity.
“Can we talk in private?” Legin asked as he continued to study the beautiful diamond shaped pupils of her eyes, which was indicative of all yineth.
“Why? What are you selling?” Aurora was quick to ask.
“Information of course,” Legin smiled and the yineth laughed.
“Well done,” Aurora smiled, “Very Vythe like, I’m impressed. But what kind of information?”
“The very best, I assure you.”
Aurora laughed again, “Stop acting like Vythe, Legin. You are not him, nor do you need to be. You have learnt his skill at gathering and selling information, but you do not need to adopt his mannerisms as well. Be yourself, it is just as effective, and charming.”
Legin snickered awkwardly and he felt his cheeks go red with embarrassment.
“Alright,” Legin said after he took a breath to compose himself.
“I’ll ask you a simple question instead,” Legin lent forward and lowered his voice, “What if the Four Quarters were to become one?”
Aurora narrowed her eyes slightly and a slight smile came to her beautiful face.
“Let us talk privately, you and I,” Aurora said after a few seconds and motioned for Legin to follow her.
“Wait for me here, Pip,” Legin said to his friend as he fell into step behind the yineth.
Pip sighed in irritation, “Whatever,” he huffed as Legin and Aurora walked from the main meeting hall.
Legin followed happily behind Aurora as she began to climb up the stairs to the second level of the building. A slight smile came to his face as he watched the blonde curls of the yineth dance atop her shoulders. Aurora wore a satin gown of blood red which had a low cut back and hugged her figure. The sides were slit high which showed her long legs each time she took a step up the stairs and Legin smiled wider as he watched her hips sway.
Atop of the stairs there was a small landing and Aurora led the way to the single door that opened into her private room. Legin looked about as he walked in and to the large feather bed that sat to side and the many pillows lay upon it. On the floor was a thick rug and two comfortable chairs situated to the side of the entrance, one of which Aurora took up and motioned for Legin to sit at the other. He did so and Aurora poured two drinks of rich red wine from a silver pitcher, handing him one and taking a sip of her own.
“I did not think you would be so quick to make plans after Vythe left you behind,” Aurora remarked pleasantly, her demeanor seeming friendlier than it had in the main hall.
“Well, I wasn’t about to go cry under a tree,” Legin replied with a smile.
“You seemed upset when you read the letter I gave you,” said Aurora, her fascinating eyes studying him closely.
“I was shocked of course,” Legin shrugged the topic away, “But despairing wouldn’t have solved anything.”
“No it would not,” Aurora smiled again, “Please have a drink.”
Legin looked to the chalice of wine that had been offered to him, “Thank you, no,” he declined politely, “I don’t drink alcohol.”
“Shame,” the yineth shrugged, “It is not that bad considering where we are situated. Speaking of which, tell me why you wanted a private audience. I hope it was not simply to leer at me as I walked up the stairs.”
“Of course not,” Legin smiled, “But have you got an answer to the question I asked you?”
“What if the Four Quarters were to become one?” Aurora recited and Legin nodded, “Presumably there would only be one Faction Leader. And considering you are talking to me I guess you think I will be that leader.”
“You don’t want to be?” Legin asked in surprise.
“What would be the point?” Aurora was quick to counter, “I would still be inside a prison. Attaining such a position would be pointless, new rivals will always come along, and as a yineth I am blessed with long life. My troubles would be never ending.”
“Aren’t they already?” asked Legin quizzically.
Aurora’s delicate shoulders shrugged, “Not as much as they could be. I am currently in control of two Quarters, yes, but I will soon hand leadership of the West Quarter over to someone else.”
“I see,” Legin nodded slowly, “What if there were only two Quarters in the prison? Would that make a better balance in your opinion?”
Aurora narrowed her eyes slightly, “Depends on who the other Faction Leader was?”
“Saiross, would be the best choice,” Legin smiled.
Aurora looked away and took another drink of her wine, “Saiross is old, he will die soon enough, though he is being stubborn about it. And even if there were only two Faction Leaders the same problem exists: this prison operates on conflict, constant conflict. New rivals for control will continuously come along, and I will be forced to fight them back, lest lose what I have.”
“It’s already like that,” Legin said in exasperation as he was beginning to see that Aurora was not interested in his proposal.
“Yes, it is,” said Aurora and a sly smile came to her features, “I can see you are set on your devious plan though. If I will not cooperate you will go to someone else no doubt, and thus put my position in danger. Perhaps I should kill you now to protect myself?”
“No need,” Legin huffed, unafraid of the threat, “If I was going to put in place one sole Faction Leader, my only choice would be you, Aurora. If you are not interested in my plan then it won’t ever eventuate. I’m sorry I wasted your time. I can show myself out.”
Legin rose to leave but Aurora grabbed his hand.
“I like you Legin,” Aurora said as he looked to her, “That is the truth. You are different to anyone I have ever known, and it is not because of your tail. You were right when you said that this prison is already filled with conflict and my position will continuously be threatened, perhaps even by my own followers. I have been in this prison a long time, and lived longer still. Perhaps I was hoping for some quietude here in the North Quarter, but I can see it was a false hope.”
The yineth paused and looked to the window, her hand still holding Legin’s.
“My life has been filled with conflict,” Aurora said as she looked back to his eyes, “I guess it will always be so.”
She let go of his hand then and moved over to the window.
“Go ahead with your plan, Legin,” Aurora decided with a sigh, “But I expect your loyalty to always be with me and no longer being sold to the highest bidder.”
“Of course,” Legin replied honestly, “I like you as well Aurora, you have always been nice to me. I’ll do right by you, don’t worry. I’ll come by again when things have begun. But I’ll need you to send someone you trust to Saiross now to tell him to be ready. I’m going to speak with Argyle.”
Aurora nodded, “I will send Borris immediately.”
“Alright,” Legin smiled to the Yineth, “I’ll be back when things get under way.”
Aurora returned the smile and looked back out the window as Legin left the room and skipped down the stairs to meet up with Pip.
“I wasn’t lying when I said that, honestly Lilly,” Pip said emphatically as he dodged a slap from a wood elf.
Legin laughed to himself as he walked over to where Pip was in a heated discussion with the whore, Lilly. To make it even more amusing Pip was not much taller than the Valenthōr, who were the smallest of the elves, and was of a similar slight build. Legin thought that Pip could have actually been a Wood Elf if were not for the obvious fact that he did not have the long thin ears of a Valenthōr.
“Liar,” Lilly yelled and tried to slap Pip again, “Where do your lies end?”
“I swear on Artāre, I’m not lying,” replied Pip emphatically.
“I don’t care for your Gods,” Lilly shouted back, “I’ll kill you.”
“Hey, slow down,” Legin jumped to stop his friend from being stabbed by the dagger Lilly pulled from a hidden fold of her satin dress, which was cut just as promiscuously as Aurora’s had been.
As quick as lightning Legin grabbed the Valenthōr’s wrist and bent her arm behind her back, causing her to drop the blade and squeak in surprise.
“Let me go. He lied to me.” Lilly yelled angrily once she gathered her wits, “I’ll kill him.”
“I didn’t lie,” Pip shouted back, “We did escape the prison, but we were caught. Tell her Legin.”
“He is telling the truth,” Legin said as he struggled not to hurt Lilly as she struggled against his hold.
“Let me go,” the wood elf growled.
Legin felt an explosion of pain as Lilly slammed her heeled shoe into his foot. Yelling in pain Legin jumped back and grabbed his foot and hopped on one leg as he tried to see if he was missing any toes.
Lilly was quick to pick up her dagger and point at Pip aggressively.
“Just pay her Pip,” Legin said in exasperation, still holding his foot.
“Fine,” Pip said with a sigh and grabbed his money pouch at his belt.
“To the Abyss with your money,” Lilly was quick to snap and strode off into one of the back rooms of the building.
“I don’t understand women,” Pip threw up his hands in irritation, “If she doesn’t want the money what does she want?”
“Come on,” Legin said as he gingerly tested his stomped foot, which seemed fine, “Let’s get out of here, you’re getting strange looks.”
Legin waved to a couple of rough individuals who were looking at him with staggered expressions before they continued on their way mumbling to themselves and shaking their heads.
“You do well with the ladies, Legin,” Pip said as they walked towards the door. “What’s Lilly’s deal?”
“Maybe she wants you instead of your money?” Legin offered and looked to his friend.
“That can’t be it,” Pip shook his head.
“Well, she works at the brothel,” Pip shrugged.
“Not by choice,” Legin replied, “The women that are unfortunate to be cast in here would see the brothel in the West Quarter as a safe haven. Think about it Pip, if they didn’t go over to Aurora they would have to fight off the men every second of every day. Aurora and the brothel provide protection against those sick bastards, and she shows them how to survive in this wretched place. It may not be appealing, but it’s either that or death. Which would you choose?”
Pip scratched his head, causing his brown locks to fly about in the wind.
“I’m still not sure what you mean?” Pip looked quizzically to Legin.
“Maybe Lilly actually likes you but she doesn’t know how to express it?” Legin offered with a shrug. “I know it’s hard to believe that anyone could like you.”
“Hey,” Pip exclaimed and shoved Legin in the arm.
“I only like you because I can’t get rid of you,” laughed Legin and took off at a jog before Pip could hit him.
“I’ll get you for that,” Pip yelled and took off after his friend.
“I’ll meet you at Argyle’s then,” Legin called over his shoulder as they ran down the Northern Hill.
“Wait, what?” Pip exclaimed, “If you are going to Argyle’s then you can count me out. See you later bro.”
Legin laughed as Pip broke of the chase and retreated back up the hill. Legin understood his friend’s hesitance, for Argyle was one of the most unlikable convicts within this prison. He was overly aggressive, tried to solve everything with violence and with a volatile temper it was a bad mix. In truth Legin believed that the Faction Leader had some kind of mental imbalance and always made every attempt to avoid him. But this time it could not be helped and if his plan was to succeed he needed to go and talk to the Faction Leader of the East Quarter and hope that Argyle did not try and kill him, or try and chop off his tail like last time.
With a slight shudder Legin picked up his pace, eager to be done with the business a quick as possible. Moving from the road that wound down the Northern Hill he took the straight route to the bottom. Off the short cliffs he jumped, landing in a roll before continuing on his way. Sometimes he would jump a higher tier of the hill and into the branches of a tree, nimbly traversing the limbs and swinging to the ground. With his carefree decent of many plateaus of the hill Legin was out of the fruit and vegetable plantations soon and jumping the north-eastern wall as he made a direct path to the township of the Eastern Quarter.
Down from the rugged foothills the flat and rocky quarter greeted him and the road took him on a straight course past the large constructs that straddled deep holes in the ground. These constructs were designed to lower miners down into the earth to dig up iron ore and other valuable metals. Near on a dozen of the metal shaft and pulley constructions littered the East Quarter’s landscape with only a small clutch of buildings closer to the east wall of the prison. It was well known that many of the prisoners who called the East Quarter home spent most of their time underground, sleeping and eating in the holes they were digging. The few Dwarves in the prison lived down one of those holes, no doubt quite comfortably, keeping to themselves and making the largest profit of the entire populace.
Legin shivered at the thought of spending so much time in a dark hole and wondered why anyone did decide to live in the East Quarter. Of course, wealth was the obvious answer to that for this Quarter was by far one of the wealthiest, with its only rival in the West Quarter where all the craft shops were located, and not to forget the brothel.
The last of the mines drifted past him and Legin strode confidently into the small township of the East Quarter. A few dozen houses sat around the Faction Building at the center which was an old barn from the days when this used to be the town of Pine Vale, before it was turned into a prison. The barn was worn and almost falling apart with whatever paint that used to be upon it faded beyond recognition and its wooden structure riddled with worm holes. But it was a still a sturdy thing and survived many harsh storms that the Gaia Mountains were known for. The front doors were also thick and heavy, Legin noticed as he pushed his way through and into the large room.
“You can’t just come busting in like that,” exclaimed the man who was meant to be watching the doors.
“Can’t stop me when I bare life changing news,” Legin laughed back as he walked briskly across the floorboards and towards the door at the other end of the building.
Before Legin pushed through the door he made a point to coil his tail around his waist as if it were a belt.
“Argyle, my good man,” greeted Legin cheerfully when he opened the door and moved across the threshold.
A dagger suddenly whistled past his ear and thudded into the door frame.
“Damn, missed,” Argyle huffed as he glanced up from the papers he was looking at.
“Sorry for the intrusion, sir,” the doorman stammered, “But Legin just pushed his way through, there was little I could do?”
“Did you try killing him?” Argyle asked looking over the documents.
“Well, no,” the doorman replied uneasily.
“Try that next time,” the Faction Leader was quick to say, “Now leave me, both of you.”
The doorman bowed his head and shuffled backwards out the door, but Legin did not move.
“You do know I did not just come here to say ‘hello’,” Legin remarked dryly, and Argyle looked slowly up from his papers.
The large man’s steel blue eyes seemed to glow unnaturally from under his masses of thick black hair. Argyle was a native of Gaianaus, and looked every bit the part, with wide shoulders, thick arms and thick beard which seemed to join up with his chest hair that stuck out the top of his shirt.
“I have three more daggers on my table here,” Argyle said slowly, “I’d pick what I was saying more carefully, if I were you, crazy monkey.”
Legin let out slight sigh for it seemed the Faction Leader was in a good mood this day.
“I’m on your side you know,” Legin said with a smile, “That Southern Faction leader is a tiresome old coot, riddled with arthritis and senility.”
Argyle suddenly picked up one of his daggers and launched it at Legin. Again the blade flew past Legin’s ear to impale itself into the door behind him.
“My aims getting rusty,” Argyle growled and sneered at Legin.
“Someone like you would be a much better choice to lead the South Quarter,” Legin said quickly, and Argyle moved his hand slowly to pick up the next dagger. “This is why you should attack tonight. Saiross is making plans to take the West Quarter tonight. Take him out while his back is turned.”
Argyle let go of the dagger and rested back in his chair, studying Legin with those cold eyes.
“You don’t like me, and I sure as the Abyss don’t like you,” the Faction Leader said loudly, “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because this place is getting boring,” Legin shrugged, “Saiross is too old and I’m curious to see what the prison would be like if there were only two Faction Leader running this place.”
Argyle lent forward again and grabbed one of his daggers.
“Or you could just forget I came, along with this information,” Legin said quickly and turned for the door.
The whistle and a thud of a dagger stopped him and he cautiously turned back around to see the Faction Leader now standing, his broad frame blocking most of the lanterns light.
“I’ll attack this evening,” Argyle said slowly, “But you’re coming with me.”
“There is really no need for that,” Legin tried to say but the burly northerner cut him off.
“This is my last dagger,” Argyle threatened as he placed a hand on the hilt of the blade, “Do you want to see if my aim has gotten better?”
Legin smiled slightly, “Attack this evening you say? Sounds like fun, count me in.”
“Good choice crazy monkey boy,” Argyle smiled nastily, “Wait here.”
The man strode for the door and barged his way through, “An’ get rid of that hairy belt, it’s hideous.” Argyle shouted over his shoulder.
With a sigh Legin stretched his arms over his head and ran a hand through his hair. That meeting had not gone too bad, but he did not like the idea of going into battle beside Argyle.
As he waited and the hours began to slip by Legin became increasingly bored and started looking about the room for some entertainment. Sadly there was very little about to occupy his attention and he ended up pulling one of the daggers from the door frame and playing with it.
As Legin was balancing the dagger by its tip on the end of his finger Argyle burst through the door and drew his attention. Although distracted by the sudden entrance it did not cause his concentration on the dagger to falter and the blade continued to stand perfectly. That was until Argyle snatched the dagger and stabbed it into the table top.
“We’re attacking now,” Argyle growled as he turned back to Legin, “And you’re staying close by me, so move it.”
Without a chance to dispute the statement the Faction Leader roughly pushed him out the door and was close on his heels. Feelings of concern started to seep into Legin’s mind as he walked beside the Faction Leader. He had no plans to fight in this battle and he especially did not want to be near the angry man when the Eastern Quarter forces walked into the trap set by Saiross.
“We are all good to go,” one of Argyle’s men greeted as Legin and the Faction Leader walked outside.
Around the sparse buildings quite a number of followers had gathered, and Legin estimated that several dozen must have stood there. All of them eager to get into a fight with the prisoners in the South Quarter, for no better reason than some entertainment in their dull lives.
“Good,” Argyle replied gruffly, “We’ll split into two groups when we get to the southeast wall. You take one group to the Eastern Bridge. I’ll take the other to the western one. Got it.”
“Yes sir,” the other man nodded and he and Argyle pushed their way to the other side of the group, with Legin close behind.
And Legin had to be close behind for Argyle kept glancing over his shoulder as if Legin would disappear at any moment. Of course Legin thought about slipping away into the crowd, but knowing Argyle he would likely stop the march just to find and kill him.
Legin knew he had to wait for the right moment to make his escape, and pray that Argyle was killed in the fighting. If the man somehow survived Legin would be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his days.
Legin dismissed the unnerving thought and concentrated on the task at hand, for they would soon be in the South Quarter.
As the marching group passed by the tall mining constructs many more prisoners were coming out from the lifts and joining the group as they blinked their dark adjusted eyes in the bright afternoon light. To Legin’s surprise he noticed that six dwarves had also joined the horde from the mines and were just as eager to have a fight as the rest of the prisoners.
As they jumped the dividing wall and begun filtering through the houses Legin glanced at Argyle cautiously and the heavy sword belted at the man’s hip, he had to get away from this man soon.
It was then that the group divided into two and one of Argyle’s men lead the way to one of the two bridges that forded the Southern River and Lake.
“Stay right by me, little monkey,” Argyle said as he grabbed Legin’s shoulder tightly, “If you’ve lied to me, you will be the first I kill.”
“I don’t lie,” Legin replied indignantly and shrugged off the heavy hand.
By now they had begun to cross the bridge and Argyle growled in his beard as he glared at Legin.
“Perhaps I should just kill you anyway,” Argyle threatened and his hand moved towards his sword.
“Consider something first,” Legin was quick to say as they reached the other side and the small plaza that was situated there. “If you waste your energy on me, how will you defeat them?”
A smile came to Legin’s face as he timed his clever quip perfectly and the moment he finished talking masses of prisoners from the Southern Quarter came running from the other streets, yelling and baring weapons, ready to defend what little they owned.
As Argyle’s cold eyes widened in horror Legin made his move and nimbly dashed through the prisoners as they all began fighting. Out the other side of the throng he skipped down a narrow street and laughed to himself at his cleverness.
Unfortunately for him though he was stuck on the southern side of the lake and would have to wait until the fighting had ended, which did not seem as though it would be soon. Thinking little of it Legin made his way down some stairs and to the boardwalk that ran along the edge of the water.
“Perhaps I could borrow a boat,” Legin mumbled to himself as he slowly walked along as Inüer glared at his back as it began to disappear below the western prison walls.
No boats could be seen though and Legin sighed as he stopped walking and gazed towards the wooden table and chairs of the outside dinner where he and Vythe made plans at the other day. The long shadows across the area finally vanished as Inüer disappeared below the western wall and Legin suddenly heard the sound of heavy feet on the wooden boardwalk.
Quickly turning around Legin’s eyes widened as he saw Argyle running towards him. Blood was flowing from several wounds on Argyle’s face and body, his sword was brandished and he had a murderous look upon his face.
“I’ll kill you, you lying bastard,” Argyle swore and he bore down upon the surprised Legin.
“I never lied,” Legin replied calmly as he began to back away, “Wait, hold up Argyle. Let’s talk about this now. No point being angry about it.”
But Legin’s words fell on deaf ears and as he continued to back away Argyle drew closer and his heavy sword swung for Legin’s chest.
Nimbly Legin darted away from the blow, and continued to dart away as the enraged Faction Leader continued to swing at him. The two of them were amid the wooden table and chairs of the diner now and Legin rolled over one of the tables before it was smashed to splinters by Agryle’s attack. Picking up a chair Legin deflected the following cuts from Argyle as best he could, but the wood was not match for steel. Very soon the chair was nothing but splinters in Legin’s hands so he threw what remained in Argyle’s face. The Faction leader roared manically and pressed his attack harder.
Legin’s feet were quick as stepped around and out of reach of the blows, never moving further then he needed to. Legin was smiling as he dodged the attacks, but he knew this was no game and that the slightest slip in concentration would result in his death. The smile on his face was to goad the angry Faction Leader to continue his rage filled assault and eventually tire.
Sometime the sharp edge of Argyle’s sword came too close for comfort but thanks to Legin’s ragged half-arm cuffs, which had ribs of hardened steal running through the twisted cotton, stopped the sword from tasting blood as he blocked carefully and deflected the blade from his body.
The minutes wore on and Legin continued to effortlessly dance around Argyle’s attacks. But the burly man was not as fit as Legin and Argyle was obviously tiring. Legin saw his chance and acted before he even thought about it. Argyle lunged ahead with an over balanced stab, missing the target as Legin stepped ahead. One hand grabbed the handle of Argyle’s sword while the other slammed the inside of the Faction Leader’s elbow, forcing the arm to bend. Legin’s feet moved quickly and he twisted his body so Argyle’s sword was forced across his own chest. With another pivot Legin pushed Argyle onto the sharp edge of the sword as he ripped it free of the man’s hand. The Faction Leader gasped and slumped to his knees with a deep gash running diagonally across his torso. With a stunned expression Argyle looked up at Legin just as he drove the tip of the sword through the base of the man’s neck with such force that it went into the wooden boardwalk.
Legin left the sword there and turned away from the morbidly positioned body of Argyle and headed back along the boardwalk. With his hands behind his head Legin whistled a tune and headed back towards the bridge where the fighting had stopped.
He quickly slipped through the blood soaked streets and out the north side of the Quarter, making his way back to Aurora. It was late evening as he slowly made his way along the dusty path which snaked up the Northern Hill.
“Hold there you,” a man said as he came from the shadows of a tree.
In the dimming light Legin could see clearly the glowing lines of Fog running through the tight fabric the man wore. He was one of the prison’s guards, and was accompanied by several others.
Legin stopped in front of the first guard as the others encircled him as he glanced around; noticing that one of the guards was a female. His eyes stayed on the female guard and he smiled as his looked closer at the glowing lines of Fog running along the tight fitting uniform, accentuating her curves. Normally such a uniform would lose its magickal properties inside this prison and the glowing lines would vanish, but like all the guards this lot each wore an Anther crystal ring on one of their fingers.
“Good evening, my lady,” Legin smiled at the female guard, “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
The female guard smiled back, but her companion was not impressed.
“Hey, I’m talking to you cur,” the first guard said angrily, “Don’t look at her, look at me.”
“But you are nowhere near as attractive,” Legin was quick to reply before turning back to the woman, “I know the best place to lie back and gaze at the stars. They are so beautiful at this time of year, and look the skies are clear this night.”
“Hey,” the first guard yelled and grabbed Legin by the shoulder to turn him around to meet the man’s fist.
Legin staggered back under the unexpected blow and blinked a few times before he could feel the unconsciousness take a hold. He managed to turn back to the female guard before his knees buckled and he fell forward into her arms.
His last conscious thoughts were pleasant as he thought how soft and warm the guard felt.