“Cat, Wake Up!” the calm voice was as a dam holding back a raging torrent of emotion, it came in a sharp whisper. Catalina’s eye slowly opened as she acclimatised to her surroundings
“What time is it?” she said as she began to yawn, there was an early pre-dawn glow, but it was still far earlier than Catalina normally rose “What are you…” her voice was cut off as Brook clamped a hand over the sleeping girls mouth. Catalina looked into Brooks ice blue eyes and saw her intensity, saw her urgency and that this was not joke. She nodded to her step sister indicating that she was now fully awake and realised that silence was of the essence. Brook removed her hand leaning forward to offer the faintest of whispers into her ear.
“The Temple is under attack…” Brook stopped Catalina from interrupting knowing her questions before she could answer them “I don’t yet know by who. I don’t know where Lucile is, she was not in her bed. You and I need to get out of here, once we are safe we can observe them and know what they are up to and where Lucile is, if she hasn’t escaped already… quickly put on some warm clothes, your boots and anything you need for your magic, understood” again Catalina nodded, Brook gracefully hopped off the bed and moved back to peak out the cracked door. The temple was silent; the only noise was the faint howl of the wind from outside. Within moments the two were ready, Catalina moved to the window expecting to climb out, Brook shook her head “They are too good not to have someone watching from outside, maybe a sniper, and there is too much open ground on this side of the temple, let us cross to the western end of the temple, slip out the window in the training hall and disappear into the garden and down the cliff” Catalina nodded liking Brooks cool logical thinking. Again the agile elven monk looked to the door for what seemed like an eternity, finally she gave the smallest of hand gestures and the two slipped into the hall. Catalina was no monk, nor had she trained with any real severity with Xillian, but one does not travel with Xillian or the Everlast without at least learning the basics of stealth. Across the upper landing they worked dancing from shadow to shadow, hiding behind tapestries, bookshelves and busts. Carefully they approached the old laundry shoot; Brook daintily held it open as Catalina crawled in, with a whisper of a spell Catalina became an expert climber and silently descended the old shoot dropping nimbly into the wash room. She looked up and nodded telling Brook is was clear and the monk dropped silently beside her. The two crawled from the room, keeping below the counter sightline for cover until they crossed the kitchen and dining room and approached the western training hall. Brook glanced into the room. “Do you have a spell that will make us invisible?”
“Yes, but it will only last about 30 seconds” Catalina said feeling disappointed that her magic was not of greater use
“Fair…” said Brook “…save it until we are ready to go outside… there are two hiding in the room, silence the door so none will hear us, let’s take them out quick and quiet, than we go out the window… ok?” Catalina nodded and quickly cast the spell, it would not block all the noise as its radius was only around the door way, but the stone walls would muffle anything originating from inside the room. Brook sprang into action, and with some work the two girls came out on top, though their battle had been louder and longer than they’d wished. Brook sprang to the window ledge pausing just long enough for Catalina to cast her spell, than she jumped down, Catalina quickly cast again and followed, seconds later they were in the gardens and hiding behind a bench. Catalina was ready to push onwards to the cliff but Brook stopped her gesturing for her to look and listen.
From their vantage they could see around to the front of the building, and as they crouched four men dragged an unconscious Lucile out of the main doors, another two carried bundles of scrolls, Master Xillians scrolls.
“Very good my friends, very good indeed” a short bald man who’d been waiting outside said to the newcomers.
“She put of a heck of a fight, taking her alive was not easy” said one of the newcomers, the bald man strode forward and held up Lucile’s unconscious head to better study it. the newcomer continued to speak “We found the scrolls and books you spoke of, we also found two cats and an old dog, they have been taken care of, the other two girls however…” he let the words hang out there as the bald man continued to turn Lucile’s face from left to right
“Pretty little thing isn’t she? It’s a damn shame…” the words were spoken more to himself than to anyone else, but then the bald man looked up and made eye contact with the newcomers. “Fair enough, they are apprentices of the Everlast and Xillan, that likely makes them relatively good at evading capture…” he turned looking towards the gardens casting his eyes back and forth, it took every ounce of control within Catalina to stay calm, but she could remember the Everlasts advise
“Don’t move, even when you know they’ve seen you. People see movement before they see and often will bluff, if they know where you are let them come and get you, don’t make it easy by walking out to them… besides the shadows has always been friends on mine, better to fight amongst friends no?” Catalina took a breath and held stark still, she was sure that the bald man could see them, he was looking right at them, but at long last his eyes drifted past them and back to his own people speaking in a louder tone than before
“Take the women and scalp her, leave the hair here on the main path for the Everlast to find. She and the scrolls are prize enough” with that the bald man turned to one of his companions, whispered some words and began to walk down the path away from the temple. Catalina was shocked as she several more men approach, they held sledge hammers and crowbars and began smashing doors, windows, lattices and art. She almost cried out… the decades that Xillian has spent restoring it, and in the short time she’d lived here it had become her home. Brook leaned in and whispered to her
“Go to the cliffs, use your magic if need be, but get down to the sea as fast as you can, find a White Raven, put up signs on message boards, ask in inns… if there are none in the village try to find a worshiper of Kelezandri, they should be able to get either you or a message to Rehume… we need Raven Everlast” Catalina nodded but caught the obvious
“Please Brook, come with me, you have to know it’s a trap…” Brook interrupted her quoting Raven
“Step One… identify the trap… Step two…”
“Spring the Trap” they whispered in unison, there was a momentary smile between them but Catalina was not ready to let the matter drop
“There are too many of them, you have nothing to prove here… come with me, we will get help and come back together” Brook looked at her sister with a stern look
“I can’t… those are Master Xillains private scrolls and books, not even I have read them yet… somewhere in there lies the secret to immortality and there is no way I am going to let that bastard become an immortal… I will follow them and sneak in and steal or burn the books at the first opportunity, if I can help Lucile I will, but if not I am counting on you to bring help. You can scry me when you have Raven and that is how we will find Lucile and bring these worthless vagrants to an end.” The two shared a long sisterly hug before splitting up and heading their separate ways.