Afien’s Howl Extra: Kateti Part Three
- Shotput of Power - final edits in progress.
- Antis - final edits in progress.
- The Mist Thief - plotting.
- Forged in Magic - structural edits
- Wandless - plotting.
- Forbs - taking a backseat to the others.
- The Stars of the North - that's a secret...
Kateti’s story continues in part three! As always, this is a fairly rough version and may be subject to edits later on. If you’ve been enjoying the Kateti story, please be aware that it will be available for free as an ebook for all that join my email list – join in to get the story once it is finished, for free! First released here, 6th June 2015, instead of Google Plus.
The paperwork took far longer to deal with than using both return envelopes and explaining why they wanted to go over the Sizaeling-Lemorien Border. Stepping off the second return envelope, Kateti leaned over to pluck the pieces of charred parchment paper from her shoes. The warm heat of Lemora greeted her skin as she glanced around, making sure her companions were with her. Between them, they looked like something out of Sizaeling literature; Hanjour was already grinning, eyeing the city around them, cloak fluttering at the edges from the smooth breeze. Aleera, the muscle of the company, stood behind him, anubian tail ever so slightly wagging as she awaited orders. Then there were the other two: Kelsey looked a bit too much like a jateri pirate for Kateti’s taste, and the last was the odd one out. Isla had the appearance of an anubian, but was the result of some unexpected jateri blood in the family lines. Her jateri heritage showed by the horn stubs between her pointed triangular ears. They looked abnormal, as if they should have been longer but had been ground down. The ranger diverted her eyes, looking to Hanjour to hide her discomfort at Isla’s disagreeable racial heritage. “Can everybody still see?” asked the guild leader. Kateti nodded, as did the others. “Good. Last time I did that, I was blind for an hour. Kelsey, you know Swelithi better than me. Where should we set up our base?”
“There’s a pub nearby with a few rooms spare sometimes, but it’s run by two pirates. You ok with that, Hanjour?”
“As long as everything stays civil for the moment between us and them, yes. Lead the way.” Kelsey gave a nod, then started to move. Hanjour followed, gesturing for Kateti to join his side.
Unlike Sizael, where most settlements had enough room for two carriages or wagons to pass one another on the streets, Swelithi was the opposite. As Kateti strolled alongside the guild leader, she and Hanjour took the majority of the street. In front, Kelsey meandered through the jateri, anubians and humans coming towards them, and behind, Aleera took the rear, with Isla between her and their guild leader. “May I ask something?” asked Kateti, her voice low. She stepped over a horse’s digested breakfast, noticing Hanjour did likewise. He gave a nod. “Isla. Doesn’t she draw too much attention to you?”
“Just because the majority of the world sees a person with anubian and jateri blood as a bad thing, that doesn’t mean they do not have a purpose on the Mortal Plane of Seno.” He gave a soft smile, though his voice was quieter than normal. He rested an open palm against his chest. “My purpose in life is to bypass the complications of the law and assist others in their aims. My cousin’s is to assist the law to achieve better results where it fails. Knights are to uphold the law and protect their kingdoms. Isla’s purpose in life is yet to be discovered beyond that of a regular Unreputable Assassin, but us Rouches rescued her and folded her into my guild. We are her family, and we look out for family.” They quietened as they walked under an old wooden walkway above them, its rickety state hinting of its hasty construction to keep the foot traffic in the tight city under control. The feet walking above them sounded like heavy rain against a glass roof, unforgiving and so loud that Kateti stuck a finger in each ear. Hanjour winced at the sound.
“But it doesn’t make sense,” said Kateti, the sun greeting their faces once more.
“Says the ranger,” stated Hanjour firmly, the smile gone. “You could not help being born a druid. Neither could Isla help having unknown jateri heritage somewhere in her family tree. Assassins live a short life – we just gave her more of a chance than her parents did. Her mother committed suicide from the shame when her horns broke the surface. Her father abandoned her in my gentlemen’s club. Shane and I picked up the pieces, but she remained with me because of her horns, and because she and I had already formed a bond by the end of her first day. Why don’t you share why you became a ranger?”
Kateti looked over her shoulder at Isla, watching as she flinched when a man walking past spat on her cheek. Without a word, she wiped it against her blue sleeve, eyes meeting Kateti’s as she did. She gave the ranger no smile, but she squeezed a circular silver pendant resting against her collarbones. Kateti returned her attention to Hanjour, whom was watching her. “I was one of the hunters, though not high due to the length of my ears. I was neither a Lesser nor a Higher Hunter, but a Middling Hunter.” Kelsey took a sharp right turn ahead, then paused just out of sight until Hanjour and Kateti could see him again. Hanjour stopped walking until Isla could see him and the ranger, then he continued to follow his assassin. “I had seventeen victims. I would have had eighteen, but Roberyt survived my attempt.”
“The same one who paid my men and me to be here?” Kateti nodded. “How?”
“He almost gutted me, and then he ran away.” Hanjour hummed in thought, folding his arms. “It was that day I realised that Hirra did not care for me, that the idea of druids being protected and watched over by Hirra and her allies was wrong. Which meant everything about being a druid had to be wrong – why were we special? What gave us the right to kidnap and sacrifice others who shared the same racial backgrounds as us?”
“You can change into animals. Even sorcerers can’t do that.”
“Yes, but that’s the only difference aside from how we conduct ourselves. Amigari are just as unlucky, living on the fringes, but at least for them it was not something they were born into, and some have managed to have normal lives.”
“The Amigari are a completely different class of people now,” stated Hanjour with a shake of the head. “What few are left of the Red Feather Society’s victims have still to find a niche for themselves industrially. For rangers, as long as you gain a person’s trust, you are welcomed back into normal society and given a great chance to make something of yourself. So, why, if Roberyt nearly gutted you, are you two so buddy-buddy now?”
“When I next came across him, I had just left my clan, and he was being attacked by the Watercrest Smugglers in Morthimet. I joined his side; saved his life.”
“An oddity. That’s what you two are. Abnormal.” Kateti frowned at Hanjour, but he didn’t elaborate further.
“It’s this one,” said Kelsey in front of them, pointing towards a small building in front of them. The roof sagged in the middle with several slates missing. The front door was missing entirely, along with half of the wooden doorframe it had once been set within, and one of the four front windows was boarded up.
“Looks good enough,” said Hanjour. He stopped walking, turning to face back the way they came, observing both the rooftops around them, and the people squeezing past them. His brow was furrowed as he watched two men walking in an animated discussion. “Kateti, join us until you know what you are going to do here. At least let yourself warm up to us. Everyone can always do with more friends.”
She frowned at the assassin. Why did this guild leader seek her friendship? Did he suspect that she would be useful to him in the future? It wasn’t unheard of for rangers to get career opportunities alongside the assassins and knights of the kingdoms. Deabition was always eager to employ them straight into the army as intelligence gatherers right before an invasion; Lemora’s assassins used them for insurance purposes and to reduce risk of death on contracts; and Sizael’s knights used them as messengers. Or was he still after a ranger for his gentlemen’s club? Hanjour seemed like a person she would further enjoy spending time with due to his easy-going nature, but not if dancing almost naked was what it required. She opened her mouth, but Hanjour raised a finger, pointing back the way they had come, towards the wooden walkway. Kateti frowned, looking over her shoulder. “What is he doing?” As she watched, blue and purple magic motes blinked into existence around two human men, one with his palm raised. The other slid towards his palm, his chest thrust forwards as if pulled on an invisible string by the other. As he slid towards the other magic-user, he grabbed at the railings of the walkway, but it didn’t stop his glide as his feet lifted from the bridge.
“I’m not sure. Something magic. Kelsey.” The jateri gave a silent nod, his blue eyes watching the two on the walkway. “Go to the right. Let’s go make a few rens. I’ll approach from behind.”
“What can I do?” asked Kateti, keeping her voice low.
“Stay with Aleera and Isla,” ordered Hanjour, as the two other assassins joined them. “This is assassin work.” Kateti’s frown deepened, but the two assassins were already running in opposite directions to one another, pushing past several citizens of the city as they did.
“It is a tactic,” stated Aleera, clasping her hands together. “Local currency is easier to obtain by doing a ‘good’ deed, than it is to go to a bank.”
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