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Chapter 13: Passage
Anna helped Clarine pack her travelling gear while they talked about the best way to continue South. The pull on The Librarian had intensified.
“I think we should travel by sea” said Clarine.
“That would take us perilously close to the Chent Archipelago” frowned Anna.
We could go back my Library and travel South East across land” Anna said, tapping her chin.
“Or go the land route through Chent, hoping to avoid those pirates and brigands?”
“Both land routes will take longer but maybe safer.”
It was a hard decision. No route was easy.
- South via pirate waters 50%
- South East over land 21.4%
- South West via Chent 28.6%
After some debate, Anna shook her head. “We need to get South as quickly as possible. The girl is moving. If we go over land then we may be too late.” Intense worry rippled through Anna at the thought of harm coming to the girl.
“Okay” Clarine nodded & smiled. “Pirates it is!”
“We need a ship” said Clarine. “Few will be travelling South. Few legitimate traders, anyway. We could petition the Chancellor to grant us one of the University vessels?”
“Or perhaps we need to find one of those less legitimate traders you mentioned?” replied Anna
- Find a smuggler ship 60%
- Ask for University ship 40%
Clarine looked sceptical at Anna.
“Who better to know the waters, and how to evade Chent pirates than smugglers?” reasoned Anna.
Clarine reluctantly agreed. They both headed to the University Portal Room, activated the link to Harnport and stepped through to the coastal town.
They exited the University lodge in Harnport. It was dark, though people still walked the streets.
“I know a place where we may find a captain” said Anna.
They entered a tavern in a dock side-street. There was no sign on the door but the common room bustled & music played.
- Speak to the innkeeper 28.6%
- Quiet man in the corner 42.9%
- Speak to the server 28.6%
- The wealthy merchant 0%
The Librarian scanned the room, her eyes settling on a solitary figure sitting in a shadowed corner. They watched the room while absent-mindedly pushing food around a half-empty plate.
Anna and Clarine were half way through the busy room before they were noticed.
Anna stopped in front of the table, Clarine just one step behind her.
“Hello again” she smiled. “It has been sometime”.
The figure lowered their hood revealing
- a young smiling woman 9.1%
- a handsome smiling man 9.1%
- an angry looking man 27.3%
- a mature smiling woman 54.5%
“Anna!” the woman said with a grin. She had short, cropped gray hair with a thin rat-tail braid tucked behind one ear, her face thin & wrinkled. Her smile deepened the creases around her kind eyes.
“Mara” Anna smiled back. She lent down & kissed her cheek. “We need your help.”
“Anna told me you were a beauty, Clarine, but she didn’t come close!” Said Mara.
“You always were a flirt, Mara” teased Anna. “Don’t think it will mean we will pay more!”
They explained they needed a ship & crew.
“Who’s paying?” shrugged Mara.
- “I am” said Anna 20%
- “The Library’ said Anna 30%
- “University” said Clarine 10%
- “You owe me” said Anna 40%
Mara barked a laugh. “You ask a lot for an age-old debt!”
“You’d have spent the last ten years in prison had it not been for me, Mara.” Anna said. “I need help. And you really do owe me.”
Anna explained her need to get South as quickly as possible.
Mara shook her head.
“There are more pirates than loot. It’s not worth the risk.”
“Mara, we must. This is vitally important.”
“Like I said. This is more than debt repaid. You’ll owe me…” said Mara.
“Agreed” Anna nodded. “You have a crew? We can leave tonight?”
- No, I need a day 66.7%
- Yes, tonight 33.3%
“It’s not possible. My crew are ashore for the night & I cannot recall them. Plus there are a few… errands I need to make if I am to leave port so soon.”
Clarine rested a hand on Anna’s arm. “One more night won’t be too bad?”
Anna grimaced but nodded. “It can’t be helped”
Later, Anna & Clarine were back in the University lodging. Anna’s stress was palpable & Clarine squeezed her arm in silent support.
“I need to do something” Clarine said. She concentrated & drew a sigil in the air. Anna felt a cold wave wash over her from the detection spell.
- “You’re being tracked!” 71.4%
- “I sense something but..” 28.6%
- “Everything seems normal 0%
Anna’s eyes widened in worry! “Can you tell who is tracking me…?”
“It’s unclear from the divination. There’s a sense of darkness about it, though. This doesn’t feel good.”
Anna knew who it was. She mentally kicked herself for not considering the possibility sooner.
“Can we do something about it? How deep is the tracking spell? Surely it can be dispelled?” Anna’s voice was quick in panic, almost feeling his dark, sharp blade at her throat.
- It cannot be removed 37.5%
- I can transfer it 50%
- I can remove it 12.5%
“It’s not so deeply imbedded but it can’t be dispelled entirely. I think I can transfer it to someone else?”
“He will know it’s been passed to someone else”
“Not if we find someone similar to you.”
Anna frowned. She hated the idea of that monster hurting someone else.
“Anna, we have to,” Clarine said with sympathy. “This thing you are chasing. It’s important. Larger than us. You must succeed.”
“Can I really do that to someone else?”
“Do we know he will hurt someone else?”
“I’m not sure. Do we care if he knows?” Anna thought a few moments.
- “I can’t. We run faster.” 71.4%
- “Ok. Someone similar.” 14.3%
- “Ok. But let him know it” 14.3%
Anna’s eyes held fear. “I know what this man can do. I can’t inflict that on someone else. I just can’t.”
Clarine’s hand touched Anna’s cheek. “I love you” she said. “And in any case,” Clarine smiled to break the mood. “We are far from helpless!”
“And stronger together”.
Next morning the two arrived at the dock. Many boats had cast off in search of the first catch.
Mara’s boat was moored at the far end of the dock, crew busy loading crates.
“Permission to come aboard” shouted Mara from deck.
Anna steeled herself & climbed the gangplank.