In the newly revealed area was a boy no older than sixteen and obviously mature for his age. His skin was of a tint similar to Mister Saint-Christopher's, but it seemed to alternate between a darker and lighter tone at the same time. His eyes seemed like black pools, and looked terrifying even to me, as they covered the entirety of his eye sockets, coating even the white of the eye. In my very small studies of shamanism and the tribes of America, I had re-called that the garb he wore and symbols there on denoted him of great importance. The symbols of Coyotes on his skins revealed to me this was the one I had heard so much of, and indeed, he was Elder of his tribe.
His face was focused on Joanna most intently and he spoke with great power, yet controlled, "Ghost." said he, simply.
Joanna knelt down in front of him, "Please accept my apologies, Coyote. I lost track of time."
She had always been precise when she came here, and this was the first deviation from her chosen times to visit the warehouse. Coyote narrowed his eyes, then smiled in the warmest fashion one could do so to someone who was of no relation to them.
"You're not my slave, Ghost. You may come and go when you please, I only want to teach you what I know," he said, leaning back on his hands while his legs remained crossed.
"Thank you, how kind you..."
"Thanks later hush now and concentrate. You are late, and we won't be able to get as much done to-day as I wanted to," he said, interrupting Joanna.
Looking a little sad, Joanna sat and crossed her legs as well, "I will concentrate then, but are you not going to ask why I was late?"
"I know why you're late, of course," Coyote said, sitting forward and folding his hands together.
Joanna looked back to Mister Saint-Christopher, but he had retired from the area and Coyote raised a hand, "He mentioned nothing to me, but I know of certain things which go on."
Nodding, the young woman placed her hands on her knees and closed her eyes, breathing deeply. All these activities seemed quite unnatural to me and quite un-expected as this was a side of Joanna I had not imagined or been exposed to before. She seemed quite adamant in her disbelief of Mister Saint-Christopher's ways in the open and whenever it came up; why she should embrace this shamanism, I could not say.
It was at that time a most extraordinary thing happened. After a few minutes of silence, the entire warehouse seemed to shift and turn, as if the grounds, crates, and walls were melting. Both Coyote and Joanna had their eyes closed and I figured my mind must have been going mad. I re-called my cameras and crept off the boxes as they became slippery to the touch, but the paths began to blur and I could not find my way. It seemed like all objects began to take on another shape, and appearance, and to my surprise I found myself standing now behind a thick tree, taller than the skies it seemed.
( Continued behind the cutCollapse )
"Cesily is joining the Eagles on their mountain," she said simply, placing her hands on the table, but not sitting.
"Cesily?" She questioned, blinking in surprise.
"Are you alone, Joanna?" She asked, in a fervent voice.
Cesily shook her head, "I have big, big news for you, but I can't explain, here," she said, moving off the screen.
A moment later, another sat down in front of it, but it was not a woman. The man before her was of the same faction of Eagles as Cesily, though his features were more human in heritage and obviously American. Joanna blinked again, in another wave of confusion.
"She's a bit too giddy, I suppose, what do you think?" asked he in quite an American accent.
Joanna continued her confused face and shook her head a little, "Making a guess on such a brief encounter is never a good course," she replied, slowly.
"Ah ha," he said, placing a finger on his chin. "Cesily has told me of you, Ghost. A red shaman in training?"
The petal thin and needlepoint wide camera hovering near the booth lost its flight briefly, before regaining itself as Joannas observer flustered in surprise at this turn of events. In the conference room, Joanna laughed delicately at his use of her street-name, "In training, indeed," she said, in agreement.
He nodded and there was a brief silence before he continued, "The Eagles are taking Cesily back to the mountains; we have accepted her."
"Hmm," said Joanna, sitting back in the chair. "And why now? You leave her out of your tribes for her life until now, and suddenly wish to see her re-join you? On the other hand, even join you, as she has not had the chance before. When you are taking her back, are you not taking her, indeed, for the first time?"
The man grimaced, slightly offended by the words, "You don't know me, but I am Elder Waking-Feather, one of the oldest Were alive in the Eagle. I have decided that she will suffer no longer for the sins of her parents."
Joanna resisted the urge to roll her eyes at reference to the 'sins' of her friends union; one a Were, the other an elf. She nodded pensively, "And you wished to tell me this why? Cesily could have easily relayed the information to me."
The man sat back in his chair, revealing some of the eagle feather inter-woven in his hair, "You are Ghost," he began.
"This you have stated already," Joanna spoke, half to herself.
Elder Waking-Feather nodded, "You are also Joanna Tolson, are you not?"
Sitting forward, Joanna furrowed her brow, "Cesily of course told you." She said, coming to that conclusion after a moment’s silence.
"Ah, you mustn't be angry with her... it was necessary that I have this information from her, and she was very hesitant to tell me. She downloaded to you the information regarding Flies with the Dragons, didn't she?" He asked, letting his change of topic ease their conversation.
"You know she did or you would not have mentioned that," said Joanna as her annoyance began to grow.
The man on the screen sighed, "It's nothing to me, but to you, the documents inside will have a greater meaning if you pay more attention to them. They have significance for yourself and your brother."
Joanna stood and folded her arms, "I am an only child, as Cesily would have you know, Elder," she said, greatly perturbed now.
"Are you, now?" the Elder spoke as the screen flickered and connection broke.For a moment, Joanna stood in the silence of the room, her mind abound with all the questions that now sprang into her mind. Any thought of an excavation to-night had passed her and now her curiosity concerning the information almost totally occupied her mind. She opened the door of the room and placed a hand on the door to shut it, paused, then headed to the table where Mister Saint-Christopher waited.
"Is everything all right, Joanna?" said Mister Saint-Christopher, taking a step into the room.
Out of the trace she came, quickly, and turned away from the mirror, knocking the brush onto the floor, "All is well, just plaiting my hair," she said, standing up and tying the braid off with a twist.
Mister Saint-Christopher raised an eye-brow, "Since when has it taken twenty minutes to plait your hair?" He questioned.
"Such questions," Joanna said, walking past Mister Saint-Christopher, "We have a meeting to-night, off we go."
Mister Saint-Christopher put his hand on his head, feeling the temperature in the room cooler than usual.His eyes drew to the brush and, quite un-like him, he walked over and reached down to re-place it on the vanity, but immedietly he dropped it.Searing into his hand was the heat of the wood and metals around the rim of the item.He grasped his hand in his other and looked at it, but there were no burns and no more pain to be had.He bent down to pick it up again, and doing so set it on the vanity, now cool as a brush may be.Shaking his head, he followed Joanna, deciding it must have been some wild imagination of his.
They walked out into the mildly polluted air of south Huntingdon and the large western man let a grin creep onto his face, which Joanna immedietly noted, "And what are you grinning about?" She asked, puling around her a warm wrap made of wool.
Mister Saint-Christopher nodded and put his hat on, adjusting his own woolen jacket, "Just wait and see."
Her eyes studied him for the briefest of moments, then she smiled as if not to a friend or mentor, but to a family member.The calmest of sensations passed through her and she nodded.Although her fondness for surprises was lacking greatly, she accepted this one.As they walked down the walkway, hardly a carriage passed them, but over-head their observor moved with the grace of a ghost, across the roof-tops, until they reached the modest enterance of the Rising Panther.A nod at the door allowed them in easily to the large building and likewise through the honey coloured hallway.Their coats and hat were checked, and Joanna made her way to the booth which was their usual seating.
Wearing his own fine attire, their silent observer gave a known nod to the doormen as well and entered un-molsted to follow them.Having fore-knowledge of their common places of dinner, he took a seat behind them, his back to the seat of Joannas.
"I shall return momentarily," said Mister Saint-Christopher, placing a hand on Joanna, then heading to a back room.
The mixture of technology and history blended in perfect unison as through-out the mixture of a club and a restaurant were oak and cherry-wood, rose-woods and metals, and screens across the bar area with pertinent ordering information.Mister Saint-Christopher returned momentarily, and along side him was a short man of Italian heritage, dressed smartly in a pin striped suit.Joanna stood promtly at the sight of the gentleman and curtsied mildly as they came to a stop near her.
He smoked a large cigar and smiled in a cripped and twisted manner, "Miss Tolson," said he in a thick accent.
"It is an honour to meet you, Sir Tuero," Joanna replied, composed in her admiration for the man before her.
"An honour to meet you as well.On this, your birthday, I wish you a safe one an' many more," the old man said, tilting his head in a small nod.
Joanna smiled and her eyes sparkled, "Thank you," she said, simply.
Mister Saint-Christopher has told me about you, an' I've heard a lot of your projects meet with success.You have nothing t'worry about here, or in city, you have my blessing," he said, taking a puff from his ill-smelling cigar.
"That is a singular honour to have said to myself and Mister Saint-Christopher, and I thank you for it," Joanna replied, in the utmost respectable and lady-like manner.
Tuero nodded his head a few times, satisfied and then nodded once to Mister Saint-Christopher before turning his back and walking into a back room.Joanna sit down at the table and put her hand on her chin as Mister Saint-Christopher sat opposite to her.
"Good heavens, I cannot believe you did that," Joanna said to Mister Saint-Christopher, placing her hands on the table.
He smiled genuinly, for he knew the blessing from Tuero was not given like penny candies, "You are beyond your years, Joanna, and having a connection with Sir Tuero is one many older than you or I strive for in this under-world we live in."
"How can I thank you for such as this?" said she, tapping her fingers on the table as a giddy child would.
Mister Saint-Christopher then reached into the pocket of his perfectly pressed dinner jacket and took from it a red velvet box, no bigger than his palm.Behind Joanna, the silent observer paused mid-drink at the un-expected event his cloaked camera recorded.Joannas heart caugt in her throat as she cast her gaze on the box; it was completely un-expected to her as well.
"I can think of a way you can do me an honour, Joanna," said he, turning the small box to her and opening it.
With-in the small box lay a delicate silver band with a small floral engraving upon it, "Niel..." she said, in a nervous voice alien to her.
"I know, I know," interjected Mister Saint-Christopher, "but do think it over.As sudden as this comes to you, the feeling has grown with-in me for many a year.I did well to hide it even from you for fear you might stray from your own studies and deliberations."
On the heels of his words, the waitress came to the table, "Miss, there is a call for you in room two," said she, smiling slightly and walking off again.
Puzzled, Joanna stood and slipped out from the booth, "Did you tell anyone we were comming here, Niel?" she asked.
Mister Saint-Christopher shook his head, "I told no one save Sir Tuero."
Joanna nodded slightly and made her way through the tables and to a small conferance room near the back.Seating herself on the cushioned chair, she shut the door and pressed the view screen to which the image of Cesily immediatly appeared.
Mister Saint-Christopher is a man of heritage on the western continent, but his accent and mannerisms are unmistakably drawn from an entire life in the Kingdom, permitting eastern holidays.He is a tall man of middle-age, and well means through previously mentioned acquires as well as other various businesses, but he is intelligent and sharp-witted, and quite able to fit with any class of society he might encounter.Because of his ties to the western lands, he has been brought up with the mysticism there-in, and his faction of people believe greatly in the spirits of animals, and this, he strives to impart to Joanna, but she finds it difficult to believe in such things.
As eventful as one life may become in eight years, I had found myself often quite bored with Joannas day to day and night to night life.Since her singularily lucky escape from the penientiary, I had observed her in such a way that I knew most if not all her daily activities, and she varied from them on quite a seldom occasion.From the dreary Northumberland, she had hitched passage on various trains through Duram and Westmorland, upon which trek nothing note-worthy occured.Two years of scavenging on the most dismil properties and alley-ways often gave me reasons to question what could possibly have been the use of my particular interest, and indeed, the interests of my employers, as to her worth.It was after many months travelling through Yorkshire and subsequently Lincolnshire, that she settled in Cambridgeshire.And so for three years I have found myself in occupance of a two-floor home in the building directly side to hers.
She had arrived in Peterborough mid-June of '68 and after a meger few weeks of theft and general misery on her part, she happened into a gentleman, for his manner and dress gave him to be such, by the name of Niel Saint-Christopher.Though a gentleman, his hand was deep in the darkest corners of the city.Despite her mere years of age, and a ruffian no doubt, he immedietly took to Joanna in a way that, I deduced at the time, he could sense something profound in her.Having no psychic abilities myself, if there was this in my subject, I had not sensed it, nor had my employers hinted towards it.Mister Saint-Christopher took her at first to a lesser house where she was fed and cleaned, and at this time I was able to see, off-paper, the vibrance in her auburn hair and her pale, yet not over-whelming, palour.Her natural grace and voice had not waned through her rough years and she spoke as a lady would, even so in a hardened manner.
Many of their conversations persued the art of thievery and weapons use, though on occasion she read quite dedicatedly of all manner of interest.From botany to art to politics to medicine.Yet, of these matters, she never spoke to Mister Saint-Christopher of, nor to any others I viewed her with.With-in the seemingly frail woman, Mister Saint-Christopher seemed to see a flexability in the art of criminal advantage, and did guide her in that way.Her proficencies for the firearm were firm, but her interest was lacking in this and she, in the few times she used one, was un-enthusiastic.If a weapon she must use, it was clear that the fine blade of a dagger or sword suited her most perfectly.At hand to hand she knew points and precision, but the contact to another person and herself seemed to unease her in a way I could not fathom at the time.And so, after many months which progressed into a year, I saw that she put forth a firm desire for the blade.Indeed, so Mister Saint-Christopher saw it too and furnished her with a long and thin sword of Ortiental make and style, as well as two smaller blades, smaller than her sword, yet larger than a mere dagger, of the same origin.
In time they moved from the small city of Peterborough to the bustling city of Huntingdon.Most unlike their previous abode, Huntingdon gave way to many more streets and at most hours, the sound of hooves and carriages could be heard.In all this time, Mister Saint-Christopher and Joanna had been no closer than a master and his prized apprentice, and the mention of them both re-settling had come as something of a surprise to me,but move they did and settled well.
Joanna was, indeed, growing closer to her master's skills week for week, and perhaps, day for day.There seemed to be no pocket she could not pick, no lock she could not master, and no balcony she could not glide across with simple grace in rain or wind.But asiding from her unique skill in arts of a criminal and martial form, she had no head for her own personal space in that she could specificly remember the placement of a pencil in a desk of her next home to burgle, but she could not re-call where she had set her packet of matches, nor where she had last placed her hair-brushes.I found myself quite amused at times by this, as did Mister Saint-Christopher, but she came upon this lack of re-collection with a high temper.
She wore none too elaborate, dark grey or blue dresses at most times, but when she left for an 'excavation', as she put it, she would wear the finest black payden and eatra bodysuits, to better give her movement and speed.Equipped with sheath-bands and a belt of pockets, it held whatever she might need to carry with her.
The leather-bound booklet was closed and the man holding it tapped his fingers lightly upon the cover as he sat back against his cushioned chair.The clay rosewood pipe he held in his hands let a sweet smell of vanilla swirl through his surroundings.It had been three weeks since Joanna had been on an excavation, and on this comming night, she would go on another.She practised her flexability and martial grace much less than she used to, but her skill with either seemed inherent and did not degrade between practise.Standing up, the tall, thin man moved to a window which over-looked the street in front of his home, listening to the conversation of Joanna and Mister Saint-Christopher.The sensors their observer had placed in their home were no bigger than a needle-point and, as all his equipment, been provided by his employers.He rubbed his eyes with his pipe-less hand, then sighed, puffing out small rings of vanilla smoke.He had a clear mental image of their entire home, but none the less, the mico-thin screen in front of eyes followed the movements and scene there-in.
Joanna furiously plowed through the assortment of nick-nacks and junk in her dresser drawers, her lustrious, auburn hair falling in her face more than once.Distressed, she stood and placed a hand on her hip.She then moved to her closet and began throwing dresses and boots around her room, eager to find something she had obviously misplaced.Standing at the door of her room was Mister Saint-Christopher, smiling in the way he usually did when he knew something Joanna did not.
"Looking for this?" said he, holding to the light a retractable blade of sorts, with a fair browne grasp.
Joanna stood with an air of relief, and took four steps to the man, then snatched it from his hand, "Where in hell did you find this?" she questioned, exasperated.
Mister Saint-Christopher folded his arms smugly and tuffed his sleeve collars at each wrist, "It was by your computre, Joanna."
For a moment it appeared as though Joanna would further unleash her wrath, but as soon as it came, it went and she sighed, turning to her crumpled room, "Miss. Sutherland!" Joanna called, and in moments the above aged house-keeper was at the door and on her face one of despair.
"Please see to this," Joanna said, leaving the room.
Mister Saint-Christopher followed her out and they both began the ascent upstairs to the study, "You will give her a heart attack, I fear" Mister Saint-Christopher said, placing a hand on railings at they moved up.
"She is paid for such things, Niel," she said in a most non-chalant manner.They entered the room and Joanna slid the knife into a small wrist pocket, snugly secure in the slightly flared sleeve of her dress, then slid onto one of the two settee's in the room.Frequently, she was taken by this particular mood; it was boredom and anxiety in one, waiting for the night when she would be 'released' as it were.
Joanna pulled her legs up and crossed them under her dress, shrugging and leaning back.Her face was flushed, but returning to normal.Something she had done had worn her out extremly, but their observer could not tell what it was.She had hardly done anything as he had observed to warrent such aggravation.She stretched her legs out, pointing her toes, and stood, forming herself into a larger stretch.Her own desk was opposite Mister Saint-Christopher's desk, one at either side of the room, and both near-to a window looking into the front street.She sat in front and raised the cover to the desk, then touched the thin pad in the centre of the build in keyboard and the screen came to life.
As she began to read, the observer turned his back to the window and came to sit on the singule settee in his room.He took the leather-bound book from his pocket and began to write.
It was in the dark winter of '64 that I began my observation of Joanna Tolson.Word had been sent of an impending prison break at the fascility where she was confined, and it became my singular duty to view her actions, but not interfere.I sat perched and cloaked, on a watchtower near the point where my sources had lead me to believe she, and others, were to make their escape.I glanced at my pocket-watch and noted the time for referance, and soon I could hear the soft patter of several persons heading in my direction.I turned my gaze around the muddy court-yard, peering through the light mist the falling water created.Sure enough, the young woman and three youths trudged towards the fencing, hurried and flushed in the cold air.Patrols of burly orcs made their way past the watch-tower, and the one I had taken it upon myself to rest on shook slightly as the two guards inside sat down in their chairs.