Should we be further harassed or even hear of any additional plans to make trouble for us, down to the meanest member of our troupe, the same affliction that dogs Patches, nay worse, for our wrath will be terrible, can befall even you, no matter how well warded and hidden you believe yourself. Witness my Power and my willingness to use it in the person of low Patches. Any more of this foolishness will be met with the harshest retaliation at our command, as may be justified by the circumstances.
Given this 29th day of April with vexatious oaths and disparagement upon you and your tactless meddling in Great Affairs of which you know naught, this one thousandth, two-hundredth seventy-second year of the Light.
The knot of frustration and churning anxiety in Myranna's gut had been growing for the last couple of days, making her even more irritable and short-tempered than usual. Three days â¦ she couldn't understand what was taking so long. As she waited for her supper she mused in the lowering darkness on what she might do if she couldn't secure the false documents with the forged seals in time, what she would do to the miserable street rabble responsible in return. It had been days since she had sent her people out and she hadnât heard anything. Time had drawn worse than short. Her troupe had picked up a rumor that the king was near and would arrive within the next few days.
A discreet 'tap, tap, tap' sounded on the door of her brightly painted wagon.
Myranna started from her reverie.
"Bandar, m'lady! The response you have been awaiting has arrived."
She stood up hastily, whipping her shawl about her shoulders and yanking the door open.
"What do you mean, âthey're hereâ? You were to rendezvous with them elsewhere!"
The mixture of pique and relief was plain upon her face. Bandar shrugged.
"I guess someone took a greater interest than you hoped and with greater skills than ours decided to back-track one or more of us that night, Mistress. Now they're letting us know that they know where we are, and,â tugging at the bottom hem of his snug scarlet jerkin, "WHO we are â¦.â
She stopped short at that, with a quiet oath. She took in the two men standing behind Bandar with a flick of pale blue eyes.
"So even now they know where we are? And they will already have seen that we wear the scarlet," she whispered.
"To be sure, mistress,â came Bandarâs equally quiet reply.
âWe are put to the test from here on out, must truly live our parts, remain on our guard. You make sure the others are duly warned.â
Bandar nodded his silent assent and turned away to carry out her bidding.
At the foot of the folding steps stood the scruffiest pair of miscreants wearing the oddest assortments of faded, ragged finery she'd ever laid eyes on.