:: Unday Night, the 98th of Jhyel's Slumber ::
Theo woke from a nightmare about treason accusations and horrid beasts, only to remember through the sleepy haze that that was the unfortunate reality. He looked past the pooled and cold remains of the candle, as well as a fair number of wine bottles to see the sleeping form of Cory.
Theo, with a nudge of his foot, was rewarded with a change in Cory's gentle breathing pattern. A push that would be considered a kick if it weren't between friends finally woke the sleeping scurry.
"What, did we run out of wine?” came Cory's sleepy and sarcastic voice. Theo kicked and heard a muffled "oof" from beneath the blue, faded wool blankets.
"We have to figure out what we're going to do. We need information, because right now we don't seem to have much. My guess is that whoever is planning on assassinating the king is the one behind these false accusations. We've made some influential enemies, we just have to find out who they are, or we're next to powerless. Also, if they *know* that we have some information about the plot, they may hurry their plans ahead,” said Theo in an anxious, yet matter-of-fact voice.
"Isn't it possible that you just snubbed one too many scurry lass and that their powerful parents are now out to get you?” smirked Cory, who dodged Theo's right foot as it lashed out. But Cory wasn't fast enough to dodge the right and was entangled in his blankets as he lost his balance.
"That is quite possibly the most intelligent thing I've heard out of you since I rescued you from Tisden Weald” laughed Theo, unable to contain his mirth, despite the incongruity of the remark.
* * *
Cory and Lizbeth were valiantly trying to hide their smiles, but were losing the battle. Theo stood before them, dressed in a drab grey shift and was stooped over, leaning on Kindle, which was wrapped in rags and strips of random cloth.
"What are you laughing at you nasty children?” came the cracked and aged voice from beneath the dreary cloak.
This was unfortunately the deciding victory and both Lizbeth and Cory, unable to stand, fell to the floor with tears of laughter and aching ribs. The sight of two scurries laughing so hard is funny indeed, and Theo, unable to contain himself, joined in their infectious laughter.
* * *
Theo, looking cautiously from beneath the brim of his cloak, spied the oak sign swinging wildly in the wind which whipped down the cobblestone street.
The Sign of the Ancient Oak was a wondrous sight indeed for Theo. Few people were out on a night like this, despite the unseasonable lack of frigid temperatures. Just as Theo cracked open the door, the first plump drops of cold rain began to fall.
"Ahhh” breathed Theo, as he pulled the wonderful tavern air into his lungs.
Losing himself momentarily in the delicious smells, Theo recovered and immediately scanned the patrons that were enjoying themselves this evening. He looked about for someone who might be suspicious, anyone who might be a spy for the city watch.
Giving a quiet sigh of relief, Theo hobbled past the first line of rough hewn, but finely polished tables, past the well-used chairs and finally settled at a bar stool at the far end of the bar.
Due to the slow night, Bink came right over to the disguised Theo.
"What can I get you young woman?” flattered Bink with a disarming smile and a twitch of his tail.
"A taste of your Bink's famous Oakleaf Cider would suit me just fine,” came the old, but equally flattering voice from the depths of the hood.
"Aaah, a taste for the cider. It's likely to put dent's in your memory, so be sure to keep count of the number you're drinking,” said Bink, gobbling up the adulation as he poured the cider from the battered wooden hogshead behind the bar.
Placing the cider in front of Theo, Bink stuttered when the disguised scurry lifted the hem of his hood and winked.
"That'll cost you a ..."
"How are things Bink, miss me?"
"Theo! You're wanted for treason!” Bink whispered harshly.
"Thank you Bink for reminding me of the painfully obvious, I did notice that a number of city watchmen had arranged a welcoming party for me upon my arrival. And would it put you out to not draw *quite* so much attention to me?"
"Oh, sorry, sorry. Where's my head. Too much time has passed between tending bar and all my youthful adventures. Enough about me though, what are *you* doing here?"
"I'm here for information. There's a plot to kill the king, I can't explain it know, but it seems like the people who want the king dead have decided to throw a few extras into the bargain. Seeing as I'm one of them, I'm not really excited about it. I don't have long though, what news do you have?” continued Theo in a conspiratorial hush.
"By Phoshaina's tears, who would want to kill King Orson? I really haven't heard much about your treason charges, except what you probably already know. Saw is being held in the dungeon of the castle, along with some sort of metal construct. There's a lot of talk about the man of metal."
"Yes, that's Tinker, but they're in good health? They haven't melted him down? And they haven't ... *hurt* Saw have they?” spoke Theo, raising his voice a bit over the noise as a few customers left and two entered.
"No, they're both hale and healthy, but who knows for how long. As for you, Chief Advisor Corbin has offered a large reward for your life, he cares little if you're found dead or alive. Apparently he'd prefer it if you're found dea..."
The sound of the door slamming open startled everyone in the bar, especially Bink, who seemed to almost jump out of his skin. Theo whipped around at the noise, and immediately wished that he'd finished his cider.
Five city watchmen poured past him into the large tavern's main room. The fire that blazed in the mason fireplace illuminated the slick wet chain armor and drenched uniforms of the grim guards.
A stocky, powerful man, unkempt black hair and beard dancing in the strong winds, strode into the bar as if he owned it and, pointing a thick finger at the disguised Theo, bellowed "Seize the assassin!"...