The Alarna Affair – Chapter Eleven – Into the Tomb

Kara sat in the dirtiest, darkest tavern in the village of Alarna, surrounded by unhappy thieves. “This is not good,” Negal said, laying a nearly empty purse down on the table they shared.  “These strangers are not good men.” “Good men do not hire people to do their thieving,” old gap-toothed Himar said, pushing a cup of weak tea toward Kara.  “Drink, little one.  When you are bigger you can have something stronger.”  Himar was having something stronger. “They took the stone, but what of us?  They promised us payment, and we have received nothing.”  Negal slammed an empty cup on the table. “You were promised,” a terrible hissing voice said, from behind them, “a due reward when your work was done.” Kara tried to duck under the table, but a robed man’s hand clamped down on her collar, hauling her up out of her chair.  The dark-robed men stood at all the exits, keeping Negal’s band of thieves trapped within.  The tall rotting man advanced on Negal, part of his face visible in the dim light, partially desiccated, but oozing. “Your work for me is not done,” he said.  “You have assembled the specialists I asked for, have you not?  We will need them.  I wish to open a door.” (more…)

The Alarna Affair – Chapter Twelve – What Was Found on the Warrior’s Grave

Jon heard Kara’s voice echo down the passageway as dust settled around them.  A rock had fallen and rolled not far from Tam’s feet.  Jon shivered and looked at the others. “She’s alive.”  Djaren smiled.  “That’s good.” Ellea was still frowning.  The remaining robed men stood around them, looking with dismay at the fallen rubble, and their comrades under it. (more…)

The Alarna Affair – Chapter Thirteen – Against a Terrible Foe

“I said we need you to move, Jon,” Tam was saying, standing beside Jon.  Jon obeyed uncertainly, still staring at the mark on his hand.  Tam and Djaren pulled as hard as they could on the lid of the coffin.  It slid slowly.  Inside the stone coffin was a painted clay sarcophagus.  Djaren and Tam hauled the stone lid across the floor, and with Kara and Anna’s help began to wedge it against the door. Jon flexed his hand.  It felt normal, except for a slight tingle in his palm and in his fingertips.  “Tam,” he said uncertainly.  “I touched something.  I think I shouldn’t have.” “Father will understand if we break some things,” Djaren said, trying to lift the heavy slab to lean on the door. (more…)

The Alarna Affair – Chapter Fourteen – Concerning Gifts and Legacies

“I’m confused,” Tam said, staring about him.  Jon gripped his brother’s hand in his unmarked one and stared at the mess around them. Hellin Blackfeather leapt down into the corridor, where Doctor Blackfeather caught her with practiced ease and set her down.  She left his arms to gather Ellea and Djaren close to her in a hug.  Jon was caught up next, along with Tam, and then the still shaky seeming Professor.  “I’m sorry, dears, he was never meant to come here,” Hellin said, breathless.  “He won’t bother us again.” (more…)

The Alarna Affair – Chapter Fifteen – A Few Words in Parting

Kara stayed for dinner and resisted the temptation to pocket any more of the interesting trinkets that passed before her.  She refrained from commenting that the food was too bland, and she didn’t stare at the scar-faced man’s scars or at the winged freak’s lack of wings.  She even remembered to use the wooden tableware instead of her fingers.  Being polite was much more difficult than she’d anticipated. After dinner it was quite late, and Kara was determined not to lose any more time, in case the lady realized just how much silver was in the bag of coins she’d handed over. (more…)