"I hope you're right about this."

 

Mallory's lips spread into a smirk in the flickering candlelight at Aertemis' words. "You're only saying that because you know I'm right. You hope I'm wrong," she pointed out in a breath, barely even a whisper.

 

Aertemis shook her head from the far corner of the room, shrouded in the shadows of night and half hidden by her own natural abilities as a night elf already. "Don't be cocky," she breathed. "One wrong move, Mal. That's all it takes."

 

Mallory nodded as she locked the door of her room in the inn and, staying well away from the window, she partially disrobed. Aertemis faded entirely from sight as Mallory removed her shoulderguards and priestly robes, leaving her clothed in her black battlesuit.

 

She pulled down the covers of her bed, revealing a belt which held her new dagger in a scabbard. It was an elaborate trap of Mallory's own devising: an earlier rant to Aertemis, observable by outsiders, about how she was tired of being cooped up in her secret location — which was true — followed by her leaving herself in a presumably vulnerable position.

 

Mallory reasoned that as most of the attacks had happened within the inn, Silvergear likely had a good place to watch it, and could see at least shadows in the window. If Silvergear had seen the silhouette of the dagger on Mallory's hip, she might not take the bait. The battlesuit being as form-fitting as it was, though, allowed Mallory this chance to lure her in, without being quite as vulnerable as the Warden would expect.

 

The priestess climbed into bed, blowing out the candle, lying on top of the belt. She softly pulled the belt on, latching it in place to secure her dagger. Once she pulled the covers up to her chin, fully hiding her clothing, she rolled her head to one side and waited.

 

She knew Silvergear would be patient… That was probably what had Aertemis so worried: the chance that Mallory may actually fall asleep and truly be vulnerable to attack. But with her heart hammering in her chest, there was little chance of that. She breathed in deep, clenching her right fist. She was more than ready.

 

Click.

 

That was the only sound, barely perceptible. The door silently cracked open for only a few seconds, and then closed again without a sound. Odd, thought Mallory. That was the squeakiest door in the place. Had Silvergear been standing there oiling it for the last several minutes?

 

She fought the temptation to keep her eyes open. She knew Silvergear could see her better than she could see the Warden. Her head rested on her right cheek, so she kept her left eye closed. Her right one she opened barely a crack. This, she could get away with. That eye was mostly stuffed into the pillows anyway.

 

She could feel the Warden coming closer, and tried her best not to let her breath catch in her throat or swallow too hard. She heard, ever so quietly, the soft movement of her blanket as Silvergear reached to pull back the covers…

 

Mallory's right hand shot out to Silvergear's throat, closing around it. The Warden's arm moved to counter, but was already too late. Mallory focused what little she knew of mana into her glove. It wouldn't take much.

 

The room blazed with blue light. Silvergear strained as electricity tore up and down her body. Mallory stopped the blast for an instant, slipping under the Warden's arm to dart behind her, putting Silvergear between herself and the window. She wound up a punch. Silvergear whirled to face her, but had nothing to effectively block with. The punch connected, another jolt of electricity ripping through Silvergear. This time, the jolt sent her flying.

 

The window's crash shattered the silence that had settled over the fortress. The Warden clattered unceremoniously from the second floor window, glass peppering her on the cobblestone below.

 

Mallory approached the window, detaching one of the miniature grenades from her battlesuit and arming it. "Well, well!" she shouted to catch the attention of any who were outlate, as if she didn't have it already. "Looks like we've found our assassin, boys!" She held the grenade out in the air and let go.

 

Even after an unexpected shock and a fall out of a window, Silvergear was still startlingly fast. In a flash she was on her feet, already away from the blast before the grenade had hit the floor. The blast wasn't enormous, but did kick up a great deal of smoke. And if the sound of startled murmuring around the base was any indication, the grenade had also attracted more attention. 

 

Mallory grabbed her staff from the bedside table and drew her dagger. She leapt down into the smoke and stepped out from it before it could blind her, twirling her dagger in her hand. "Not what you expected?" she asked the Warden, her voice cold and taunting. She was vaguely aware of Aertemis dropping to the ground beside her as she pointed her dagger at the Warden and, focusing her mana into the glove again, directed lightning out of the dagger where it shot straight for Silvergear.

 

The Warden dodged, but her attention was now split as the forms of other Templars had materialized out of the darkness, drawing swords and closing in.

 

Meanwhile, Mallory clenched her fist again. She was really glad she had bought this glove from Zen. It was well worth the coin — and worth the surprise. She would have to limit its use to avoid overloading it, but she wasn't about to let Silvergear know that. Soon, she hoped, they would have some answers.

Author Rann
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