“Tove asked me to seek you out, that we may reach out to Whispers contacts,” Ambrosine said as she sat down to tea with Xia. She couldn’t fully keep the smirk off her face.
“Ah, so they haven’t sussed you out yet.” Xia saluted her with her dainty little cup.
“I am the soul of discretion, unlike someone else I could name.”
The Canthan merchant’s daughter shrugged, smiling. “The Vanguard is unlikely to gossip in circles where father–or anyone else of import–would hear. And some of us must be a little more noticeable, so that the rest of us can properly sulk in the shadows.”
Xia’s house was nestled in a fashionable district of the Reach, as she played the nobility game with higher stakes than Ambrosine cared to. Ambrosine got herself invited to the good parties because she owned a currently-in-favor brewery, not because she had clout or riches.
It was so tiresome. Fighting dragon minions and the ilk was refreshingly straightforward.
“What do you need Whispers contacts for?”
“Intel in the Drizzlewood Coast, mostly. I know we have people out there, but I’m not that sort of field agent so I don’t know who to ask.”
“Honestly neither do I, but I’ll see what I can find out and filter back to you.” Xia sipped her tea but let her careful facade slip as she frowned. “You could be that sort of field agent, Unlike myself, you have actual combat skills. It feels utterly useless to be back here playing politics when there’s so much more on the line.”
“Having someone back home playing politics is of dire importance right now. You know that every Charr-hating idiot is going to be frothing at the mouth to use the Dominion as an excuse to rip the treaty to shreds. We need to keep that faction in check as much as we can. This is absolutely not the time to succumb to petty bullshit.”
Xia shot her a grateful smile before retreating behind her cup. “But I bet it’s not quite as viscerally satisfying as smacking someone in the face with an axe.”
“No, but at least there’s no risk of you being hit in the face in return.”
And the two women had tea and parted, as if they had only discussed pleasantries.
Tove may still have disagreements with her spirited skyscale, but the raptor Sestet was a steady companion. He stepped quietly through Drizzlewood, as Tove kept a sharp ear out for the tell-tale sounds of Iron’s warmachines. The ones that no longer belonged to Iron proper, that was, which would be…any of them, out this way.
She had suggested them as targets, after all. It would only behoove her to find out where they were. Ideally, recapturing them would be best, but failing that, destruction would do. (Did Iron even have anyone left to drive them? Tove shunted that unpleasant thought away.)
There’d be more nerves about being so deep in enemy territory if she wasn’t aware of Cap’s presence in the trees above. Her raptor, her fern hound, her mate–all together, a pack worth reckoning with.
But better if they didn’t have to test it. Tove slid down Sestet’s shoulder, crouching to dig her fingers into her earth. It was a weird twist to her druid powers, to use them for scouting–but useful, nonetheless. No great hulking machine could go through the forest without leaving destruction in its wake, and the trees would whisper of it. Tove closed her eyes and let her awareness tug along some vines, and there, ah, a nice little fungal system–
West. One rumbled along the west.
She jumped onto her raptor’s back and slid through the forest in that direction, never faster than her shadow could follow.
“The Legions are stupid,” Eurydice Stormfire muttered even as she stepped foot in the Drizzewood Coast. “This fight is stupid, everything is stupid.” She stomped up to the nearest sentry. “Put me somewhere useful,” she said before the poor young thing could even open his mouth. “I’m good at hitting things.”
“I came out of retirement for this,” she snapped. “I don’t have all day.”
He blinked and took in her sword. A lion on the hilt! Yes. Lionguard. Eury was Lionguard. Gladium, then. He pointed mutely, and she stomped off.