Leon, the Mighty Gale Chapter 3
Black Rose Street
By Samara Secor
“Wow, look at all those ships!” Raven exclaimed, her eyes full of wonder.
“Hey, be careful, now!” Leon cautioned. “If you lean over any farther, you’re going to fall into the water.”
“Sorry,” Raven straightened and said, “It’s just that the only time that I’ve been outside Vane was to visit Althena’s Temple. This is a totally new experience for me.”
“That’s all right. I’ve never been outside Riviera before, either.”
“But you look so clean! Uh, that is...” Raven lowered her head, cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
Leon grinned and said, “Not all of Riviera is a pigsty. You just had the misfortune to be wandering around the wrong part of town. Don’t worry about it, though. I’m not offended. The docks are a mess. No amount of pretty words will change that fact.”
By the time the ship docked, Leon had stuffed the magic book back into his pack and slung it over his shoulder. With his staff in one hand, he waited impatiently for his uncle to finish giving orders to the crew so that he wouldn’t have to supervise them the whole time.
When all the preparations were finally taken care of, Captain Arek walked over to where Leon and Raven were waiting and said, “I’ll go on ahead ta the tavern ta deliver the rest of the wine. The two of ya can do a bit of sightseeing around town, if ya like. I’ll be at the tavern waiting for ya.”
As Captain Arek stomped off, Raven turned to Leon and commented, “Your uncle sure is quite a character.”
“Yeah, he is, isn’t he?” Leon smiled ruefully. “Well, let’s go have a look around like he suggested. The biggest trading town in the world is sure to have some surprises in store for us.”
Leon and Raven wandered around for a bit, just looking at the buildings. One huge building in the northeast section of town caught their eye because of the number of people milling about the front gate. Leon grabbed the arm of one of the passersby and asked, “Excuse me, but could you tell me what’s going on over there?”
“Someone broke into Lady Filina’s mansion last night and stole her diamond necklace. There have been guards on the gate all night, so we know the thief didn’t get away. The bad thing is that no one here can leave until necklace has been found. If I don’t make it back to Saith soon, I’m going to miss my little girl’s birthday,” the man said sadly before excusing himself and hurrying off.
“I guess that means that we’re not going to be able to make it to Vane, either, unless somebody finds that necklace. We’d better go tell my uncle about this...” Leon looked up at the buildings and realized that he had no idea where the tavern was. “Uh... Raven? Do you remember which way Uncle Arek went? These buildings all look alike to me.”
“Well, if this place is anything like Riviera, then the tavern shouldn’t be too far from the docks, right? That means we have to go this way,” Raven answered, pointing down a street to the south.
Captain Arek was all set to haggle over the price of the wine barrels, so he named the outrageously high sum of 4,000 silver per barrel and was surprised when the tavern owner said, “Deal.”
“What? Er.. that is, I won’t complain if yer willin’ ta give me 76,000 silver for 19 wine barrels, but why?” Arek asked with a puzzled look on his face.
“Oh, that’s right. Your ship just came in, didn’t it? You haven’t heard what’s happened. Let me get your money, and then I’ll explain,” the owner went into the back room and came out with a fair sized chest that was obviously full of money.
Grunting with the effort, the owner set the chest down onto the counter with a thud. He used a key on his belt to unlock it and began counting out 500 and 100 silver pieces. Once he had the right amount, he pushed the stack of money over to Arek and then relocked the chest. Then, he carried it back to its hiding place and motioned for Arek to take a seat at the bar. After collecting his money, Arek did so. He listened as the owner told about the theft of Lady Filina’s necklace. “So, what yer sayin’ is that we’re all stuck here? Of all the rotten luck,” Arek muttered, frowning at the countertop.
When the door opened, Arek looked up and saw Leon and Raven come in. From the looks on their faces, he could tell that they had already heard the news. “I’ve already heard about it, Leon, so the question is, what will we do about it? According ta this guy, they’ve already searched all the houses and found nothing,” Arek said.
“If there’s really no way of getting out, they can’t have searched everywhere,” Leon said.
“Well, there is the sewers left to search, but no one seems to want to go down there except some red-haired wacko packing this huge broadsword. He’s over on Black Rose Street trying to get some people to go down there with him. All, I know is I’m sure not going down there. The place is crawling with snakes and a bunch of other nasties,” the owner said with a shiver.
Arek got up from his stool and said, “Then, we’ll go find this guy and talk ta him.”
They found him at the far end of the street, yelling at the top of his lungs, “I can’t believe this! Are all you magicians a bunch of sissies? Where is your courage? Or was that all bluster? Maybe it’s really all your hot air that’s keeping Vane in the sky, not Althena.”
“Watch your mouth, you impious young whippersnapper!” one old mage snapped. “We can’t go down there, because the Thieves Guild captured Raven Ausa, our future guildmaster. If we make any move against them before she’s back safely, her life might be in danger.”
“That’s enough!” Raven exclaimed and began to push her way through the crowd.
There were gasps of recognition from those who recognized her, and whispering her name to each other, they parted to let her through. The red-haired man watched as she came closer to him, and then he turned to the mage that had spoken to him and said, “It looks like your excuse is gone, old man. As for me being impious, if you went to the temple more often yourself, you’d know that I’ve spent more time there than some of the priests.”
Raven walked in front of the old mage before he could reply and shouted, “I said STOP!! Even if you’re not impious, you’re extremely rude! You should have respect for your elders, not be insulting them.”
For some reason, the red-haired man found this very funny and started to laugh. “Oh, yeah! You’ve got me pegged to a tee, don’t you? I suppose I should watch my mouth a little bit more, but in the heat of the moment, I just kind of lose it, you know?”
The red-haired man gently nudged Raven out of the way and bowed to the old mage, “Forgive me, sir, but there are lot of people trapped here in Meribia who want to go home, and I’m one of them. You can smack me over the head with your staff if you like, but I’ll probably be this way till the day I die.”
The old mage grudgingly nodded his acceptance of the apology and said, “If Miss Ausa is okay, then there’s no reason that all of us can’t go down there, now. Miss Ausa, since you’re here, would you like to direct the search?”
“Thank you, sir,” Raven nodded her head in acknowledgement and said, “Since there’s twenty-four of us.....”
The red-haired man interrupted her and said, “Excuse me, but counting you and me, I only see twenty-two. Where are the two others?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Raven motioned for Captain Arek and Leon to come forward and said, “This is Leon and his uncle, Captain Arek. When I escaped the thieves, I had to go the long way around by a ship sailing from Riviera that belonged to Captain Arek. I hope you two don’t mind being included in the search parties.”
“Not at all, lass. I don’t mind a bit. I’ll just go back ta the ship and get me axe if ya don’t mind,” Arek tipped his hat to Raven and walked off.
“What about you, Leon?” Raven asked.
“Why not?” Leon shrugged. “If nothing else, it’ll be good training for the Cave of Trials.”
“It’s settled, then! Now, as I was saying before, there are twenty-four of us, so I think we should split up into groups of four to cover more ground at once. If we all stick together, the thief will be able to hear us coming long before we get to him and hide until we pass. In groups, it will be harder for him to avoid running into us. Here’s how I want the groups to go: two attack mages, preferably specializing in different types of magic, and two assist mages. As for myself, I will take Captain Arek, Leon, and...” Raven looked up at the red-haired man with an inquiring look in her eye.
“My real name’s disgustingly long and hard to pronounce, so you can just call me Ember, Miss Ausa,” the red-haired man said with a grin.
“Fine then,” Raven nodded and turned back to the assembled magicians. “Now, does anyone have a staff that I can borrow? Mine is still at home in my room if the thieves didn’t take it.”
By the clamor that arose, it seemed that every magician there wanted to be the one to give Raven their staff. All the noise made Leon’s head start to hurt, so he pounded the end of his staff on the ground and yelled, “QUIET! I’ll give her my staff. Unlike the rest of you, I don’t know any spells powerful enough to require the use of a staff yet. I can make do with this dagger for now.”
Within a surprisingly short amount of time, everyone had assembled by the first walkway, which was still raised. Raven pressed the activation switch for the drawbridge, and it lowered with a groan. At Raven’s signal, her group and four of the other five went across the bridge. The remaining group stayed behind to guard the entrance.
True to the tavern keeper’s word, the place was full of snakes. Ember and Arek charged right in, chopping to bits any monsters that were unfortunate enough to get in their way. Any that managed to get by those two were soon dispatched with a few of Raven’s fire spells and some quick thrusts from Leon’s dagger. After several of these battles, Leon, Raven, and Arek were beginning to tire. Ember, on the other hand, seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of energy. Leon could have sworn that no one could move such a huge sword so fast, but somehow, Ember managed to take out a whole group of monsters before any of the others even had a chance to lift a finger. While they rested, Ember stood a few paces off with his sword still drawn, and his eyes were constantly watching the shadows for any sign of movement.
When they were finally ready to press on, Ember continued to stay a few steps ahead. They stopped at an intersection and Ember said, “We have three choices. Either we turn to the left or right, or we can keep going this way. Does anyone have any suggestions?”
All three pathways appeared equally dark and murky to Arek, so he shrugged and said, “They all look the same ta me.”
Leon couldn’t figure out which way to go either, so he looked down at the walkway as if he could gain some inspiration by staring at it. That was when he noticed the bloodstains. “Hey, look down here!” he exclaimed.
“It looks as if our quarry has been wounded already,” Ember said, straightening from a crouch. “Unfortunately, there are no footprints, so that only eliminates one direction. Shall we go left or straight?”
“Well, which way is the mansion?” Leon asked.
“I think it’s straight ahead,” Raven answered. “I guess that means that we should go left since it would be stupid for the thief to head back towards the mansion.”
The party went left and came to a staircase leading to another level. Ember motioned for everyone to be extremely quiet and led the way. As they got closer to the other end, a voice screamed in pain, “Ahh! Stop, sis, that hurts!”
A soft voice growled, “If you hadn’t dropped the necklace in the water, that fish wouldn’t have thought your arm was a tasty lure and snapped at it. At least you managed to hold on to the necklace. Dad would kill us if we went through all this trouble and came back empty-handed. Now, hold still while I fasten this bandage....”
“Why don’t you let me do that? I’m a bit more experienced at dressing wounds than you are,” Ember said, stepping out of the shadows.
A young girl and an even younger boy looked up, startled to see anyone there. The girl reached for the knife at her belt, but Ember shook his head and said, “You two are in enough trouble already without trying to attack me into the bargain. Wouldn’t you say so, Raven?”
“Undoubtedly,” Raven agreed, coming to stand beside Ember.
“Who else is hiding there?” the girl asked, glancing towards the staircase.
Leon and Arek joined the others, and when Arek caught sight of the young thieves, he exploded, “Yer the kids of that jeweler back in Riviera, aren’t ya? I always thought that guy wasn’t on the up and up, but I didn’t think that he would be involving his children in such dirty business.”
“As if Dad would ever risk his own neck to acquire merchandise,” the boy grumbled. “Since you’ve caught us, you can go ahead and take the stupid necklace back. Here, catch.”
The boy tossed it up into the air with his uninjured arm, and Leon just missed the end of the chain with his fingers. It fell to the ground, and the stones shattered. “What?” the girl’s mouth hung open when she saw the chain lying in a heap of broken shards. “I don’t believe this! That necklace was supposed to be diamonds, but it’s just a bunch of worthless pieces of glass!”
“I wonder....” Ember took a pouch from his belt and swept the glass fragments and the chain into it. “Did Lady Filina know that it was a fake, or did someone else scam her before you two swiped it? I think that we should have a talk with her to find out.”
To Chapter 4